As I look at pictures from the recent MLK memorial dedication, the 30 foot tall statue of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. seems larger than life. So it is with the notion of legacy, especially when you consider all that King accomplished before the age of 40, or the contributions of some of the recently departed: the innovation of Steve Jobs, the courage of Fred Shuttlesworth, the scholarship of Derrick Bell. Legacies run the gamut, as attested by my colleague, Rosanne Lurie, in her previous blog on perusing the obituaries as a means of gaining more insight about the world of work.
Reflecting upon the lives of those who have made a notably visible impact in the world can be inspiring and overwhelming at the same time. Perhaps legacy seems less daunting if we look at the possibilities of what we can leave behind every day: A word of wisdom or encouragement to a student following in your footsteps. That spark of creativity that allows for progress, however incremental, in a research project. An initiative that affects positive community change, whether at a local or global level. The good news is that legacy is a process that begins way before our lives come to an end.