We can argue whether or not he's one of the greatest of all time another day, but like Jay Z once said, “Men lie, women lie, numbers don't.”
It's human nature to want to leave a legacy. Some people see their kids as their legacy; some see it as their work, and some don't care about it at all. I can only be hopeful you care about your legacy and are interested in leaving a mark and touching those around you.
It's okay to want to create a legacy, to not only make an impact, but also be known for the impact you have made. Instead of looking down on this idea, embrace it and use it to shape a world in which all of us should want to live.
Your legacy starts with the person you see in the mirror. What you say you will do won't build your legacy; rather, the actions you make day after day build it. It's not built by telling people you'll create a nonprofit that solves world hunger; it comes from doing it.
It's not built by putting up a “coming soon” page and never launching; it comes from the launch. It's not built by telling your friends you have a great start-up idea; it comes from starting up.
Legacy comes from action — from doing things that make a difference and an impact. I'm not here to suggest you can't build a legacy by doing the little things, but I suggest your legacy will be limited in doing so.
Your legacy can only reach millions if you impact millions. Your legacy can only be remembered by the world if you impact the world. Your legacy can be as big or as small as you strive to make it.
But, what you must realize is when all the lights are off — when you've said your last goodbyes and you've taken your last breaths — all the toys, cars, money and interests will disappear.
All that will live on are your memories; the memories of what you've done while you were here. Memories combine to determine whether or not you'll be a legend when you die.
Here are four ways you can ensure your legacy:
Help Create A Movement
We don't live in a perfect world. We have issues from coast to coast, causing havoc in the lives of millions of people in different communities, countries and continents.
We have people struggling in our own backyards to have equal rights, and people on the other side of the world are unsure of whether or not they'll see another day.
If you want to be a legend, go create a movement or help people striving to make their own. Look at what's wrong with the world, and then go out and try to make a difference.
Instead of sitting back and pondering who will be kicked off of "The Bachelorette," spend some time putting an effort into understanding what cause or movement you want to get behind. Which social issue are you passionate about? Which community can you help?
What people can you call this weekend and make a difference in their lives forever?
Go do that; go be the change in the world about which Gandhi spoke. Go be the person who saves lives and helps others live in ways that wouldn't have been possible had you not stepped up to make a change. Be the change.
Create Something That Lives On
I was chatting with a mentor the other day about an author who recently passed away. My mentor said while he was at the funeral, the author’s wife said something that struck a chord: "While he's no longer with us, his writing is, and because of that, he'll never die."
It's true. He died a legend.
If you can create something that lives longer than you, you've created a legacy. When we look at people from history, like Socrates or Shakespeare, it's their work that has allowed them to live on.
When we think about artists — like Elvis, Tupac, Kurt Cobain, Picasso or Jean-Michel Basquiat — it's their work that has allowed them to live on. It's their crafts; it's their messages; it's their stories.
Their legacies were built on their memories and actions, and that is what we will always remember.
Write something, film something, sing something or draw something. Do something people appreciate and can enjoy for decades to come.
It won't be easy and you might not even realize you've created a masterpiece until later on in life. In fact, some of your creations may not ever gain public interest while you're alive.
Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists of all time, and at the time of his death, he had only sold one of his hundreds of different portraits and landscapes. Go create.
Give More Than You Take
Of all the ways to become a legend, this is the easiest and can make the most immediate impact. This is the idea of giving more to the world than you take from it. Give more compliments, give more support and give more to others via service or simply show up when they need you the most.
It's our ability to be there for our partners, kids, colleagues, parents and friends that allows us to leave a legacy that lives beyond us.
Helping a colleague through a very difficult time can lead to a change that saves a life or keeps someone on track.
Listening to friends when they just need someone to talk to can make a lasting impact that may be difficult to see at first.
The actions we take to help others live better lives and live the lives of their dreams can lead to your own legacy. Investing in others can result in a return your imagination couldn't even fathom.
I've made it my mission recently to help others grow and to bet on people in whom I see serious potential. There are two types of people in this world: givers and takers. Give more, take less.
Create A Thriving Business
A successful business can leave a lasting impact on the world. If you build a business that can connect the world, like Facebook, then you're a legend. If you build a business that puts laptops in the hands of millions, like Microsoft and Apple, you're a legend.
If you arm people with electric transportation, like Tesla, you're a legend. If you create a business that delivers value to the world and people embrace it, you have the chance to be a legend.
When you hire and train someone, you have the ability to shape his or her future and the future of his or her family. You have the ability to create a ripple effect that will change his or her path forever.
You can influence and change (for good or bad, depending on your interactions and efforts) every employee hire, every partner you work with and every colleague you mentor.
As I said earlier, the steps you take day in and day out are what will result in a legacy. Think about what you want to be remembered for and spend time thinking about the people whose lives you'll touch.
Think of the lives they will then touch and think about how that cycle will continue.
Understand that a legacy can last decades, even centuries. Understand that if you want to die a legend, you need to do things while you're here that people will talk about when you're gone.
Ross Simmonds writes at RossSimmonds.com, where he shares a research-backed studies and his personal perspective on entrepreneurship, life, communications and technology.
He's also the author of the "Hustle Manifesto: A Guide to Escaping the 9 to 5." To get his thoughts and insight delivered directly to your inbox to help your career and life go from 0 to 100, join his free newsletter.