What’s Your Legacy?

By Chris Parnham.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the sad death of Tim Gasson, who died in a car crash on the night of 20th May 2007. Tim founded my company, Absolute Corporate Events, in 1995 and built the foundations that have created the company that I am proud to own today.

I knew Tim, although while he was alive neither of us ever dreamt that I would one day take over his company, or indeed, follow in his footsteps. He was a charismatic, stand-out leader, steeped in integrity and genuine care for his company and its people. As HBAA Chairman, he produced some of the most memorable events, that are still talked about today. I try to be as good a leader, and I worked hard to create impactful and memorable events for the members of HBAA when I served as Chairman for two years. I hope he would be proud of me. I try to respect, support and inspire those around me, to create a good legacy.

At 40, Tim had no chance to consider his legacy, as he lived life to the full, and never saw his untimely death coming.

Alfred Nobel, on the other hand, had an opportunity to see his legacy, and he didn’t like what he saw. The Swedish born chemical engineer invented dynamite. In a lab explosion, his younger brother, Emil and four others, were killed. A local newspaper mistakenly thought that Alfred himself had been killed, and published an obituary that highlighted how his inventions had made it possible for humans to kill each other. It described him as a man who had made it possible to kill more people more quickly than anyone else who had ever lived.

Alfred Nobel was horrified that this is how he would be remembered. At that moment, he decided to change his legacy. The Nobel Peace Prize was born, and true to his ambition, Nobel is mostly remembered for his public and global contribution to peace.

If Tim had known what his legacy would become, I think he would be happy and proud. His company lives on, his dear friends still talk about him, and he is remembered as a good man who enriched the lives of others.

What would your legacy be?

We all have the power to write our own obituary, to create our own legacy. Legacy can be defined as how you effect those around you. The impact you make, the changes you drive, the examples you set. If you focus too much on personal goals, you may very well achieve them, but who or what else did you positively effect? What will this do for your legacy?

Without a legacy, you live, you do stuff, then you die. Nothing has changed, and no one or nothing is better because of you. A pretty pointless life.

It would benefit all those who know you if you spent a few moments today thinking about the legacy you would like to leave, or how you’d like to be remembered. And if you can’t see others remembering you this way, then you’ve got some work to do to create a legacy you’d be proud of.

Don’t just live and die.

Like my friend, Tim Gasson, leave a legacy, and leave the world a little better, just because you were part of it.