Legacy: How Will You Measure Your Life?

The single most important article I have read to date is the Harvard Business Review article How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen because it made me really stop and think about my original goal of being a positive role model.

I had strong convictions about why I wanted to be a positive role model and it really came down to leaving the world better than I found it, no matter how small of an impact I would make. This article really struck me because of the following sentence:

"The choice and successful pursuit of a profession is but one tool for achieving your purpose. But without a purpose, life can become hollow."

I did not understand this at 15 years old when I wrote down my 15-year plan broken into blocks of 5 years to achieve my goal of being a positive role model. When I launched my first venture with my brother, Random Media, I purposely chose to spend less time with family and friends so that I could code the Realvibes website and edit videos.

My father sat me down one day to point out that he felt it was unhealthy for me to ignore family and friends to focus so much on work and I explained that I wasn't dropping the ball but instead I was purposely setting them aside in bags and carefully resting them on a shelf to come back later.

That is when dad pointed out that those glass balls would never be the same no matter how much time I spent polishing them later on. Relationships were not supposed to simply be paused and restarted like a movie or a song.

That talk with dad altered my approach to work/life balance and this article reinforced the importance of having a clear purpose and not having the pursuit of fulfilling that purpose lead to me ignoring relationships.

This article also reminded me of advice from another of my role models, Michael Lee-Chin:

"Everything I do as a young person, I'm doing it with the eventual goal of building the most sensational legacy that I can.' Start building that legacy from as soon as possible. Most people don't think about legacy, so one should look at legacy as a work in progress and focus on, 'What do I want for my legacy? What do I want to be known for 100 years from now? Or do I want to go by as a nobody? I didn't add value to society and I was just a number.' Legacy is important."

In my line of work, private equity and hedge funds, it is very easy to meet people who are only fixated on becoming wealthy for the sake of being wealthy. I know how I intend to use my eventual wealth to make a positive mark on society and I started doing so long before I had any money.

How will I measure my life?

My brother-in-law, Jason Alliman, passed away 2 years ago at the age of 27 after a car accident. It was my wake-up call to my mortality and how tomorrow is not promised so be careful what you put off until tomorrow.

It turned my world upside down because I started thinking about what would be my biggest regrets if I died suddenly like that. The first regret that came to mind was not spending more time with my family, especially my two young boys. I justified every trip and day away from them as working towards building a better future for them.

If I died, they would only remember not having me around. The amount of money they would inherit would pale in comparison. My wife was the one who pointed this out and so I asked her to make a list of the things she felt that I could work on to ensure a happy marriage and being the best father possible.

It is a work in progress but it gave me a roadmap and now all my future plans include quality family time and as few sacrifices as possible because nothing is guaranteed. There is no point becoming wealthy and having no one to share it with.

Enjoy your life.