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GS Article 5

YOUR GOAL: LEAVING THE GREATEST LEGACY

by Rajen Devadason

A teacher affects eternity: he cannot tell where his influence stops.

Henry Brooks Adam

 

What kind of a legacy or inheritance do you plan to leave behind?

One thing is certain: If you don't turn that hope or dream into a tangible, clear, written goal, there is a high probability you won't succeed.

So, if you're a responsible parent already, or hope to become one later on in life, you have in all likelihood given some thought to what kind of financial 'gift' you would like to bequeath to loved ones when you 'shuffle off this mortal coil'.

After mulling over the issue, you would most likely have come to one of two conclusions:

1. All my money is mine to spend; let my children go earn their own; OR
2. I want to give my kids a financial head start in life.


Neither answer is categorically right or wrong.

For some people, inheriting money is the worst thing that ever happened to them.

These are the unfortunates who end up being shackled, not freed, by their unearned wealth.

For others, receiving an optimum amount of money as an inheritance is an effective means of trans-generational wealth accumulation that has the potential to do a lot of good.

Money itself is amoral. Whether it is good or bad to leave a financial legacy really depends on the individuals and situations involved.

But I do know of one type of legacy that is always, always, always worth leaving!

That is a legacy of knowledge!

This legacy is transferred not at death but throughout the life of the benefactor.

The mode of transference is TEACHING.

George Bernard Shaw may have succeeded in coming across as a great wit when he wrote, "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches." But Shaw was as wrong as he was eloquent.

You see, those who are able to do would not have reached that point without someone teaching them how.

In my opinion, Henry Adam came much closer to the truth when he noted, "A teacher affects eternity: he cannot tell where his influence stops."

Yet, to achieve such lasting greatness, a certain four-letter quality is required.

A friend, a natural born teacher who lectures in philosophy, lent me an excellent two-volume set, Leonard Thompson's The Speaker's FRIEND. Tucked in one of those volumes is this extraordinary story:

A Johns Hopkins University professor assigned students to survey 200 of the worst children in the worst part of the slums. After extensive research the class predicted that ninety percent of these children would end up in jail. Twenty-five years later another professor found the survey notes and assigned his class to locate as many of the 200 students as possible. They found 180 of them and only four had been to jail.

Seventy-five percent of the boys were asked how they managed to stay out of jail. They replied, "We had a teacher who cared about us." They had all attended the same public school and had the same teacher. This teacher was located and told the results of the survey.

The researchers asked her how she got such good outcomes with these children. She thought for a while and then answered, "I don't know, unless it was that I really loved every one of those boys.


The lesson is clear: If you want to live a life that is full - one that counts for something bigger than yourself in both the short run (say, over five or fifty years) and the long run (perhaps, over five hundred years), then be generous with your knowledge.

Give out of a heart, and mind, brimming over with love.

You achieve that incalculably valuable form of giving by teaching others, be they your children, your friends or your enemies.

If you teach your children, you will be laying the groundwork for them to surpass your accomplishments. That is the basis of all civilisation uplift.

If you teach your friends, you will be making their lives better. That is reward enough.

And if you teach your enemies - in a non-malicious, non-retributive manner - perhaps you can turn some of them into your friends. Things don't always work out like that. But sometimes they do. And that's worth shooting for.

Unfortunately, that only takes care of the 'why'. What about the 'how' - how should you teach others?

Here is a three-step process you will find useful in detecting the correct route for your sojourn to exalted Teacherhood.

First, be honest with yourself about what you do know and what you do not know.

Don't lead people astray by teaching them out of the black abyss of your ignorance.

Nurture and educate them out of the shallower - but completely clean, honest - pool of hard won knowledge and wisdom.

Second, never be satisfied with what you do know. Admit that there is far, far more that you do not!

When we were young, the main sources of learning for us were our parents and teachers. Now that we're grown, our primary sources are the books we read, the audio programmes we listen to, the conferences and seminars we attend, the websites we visit, and the people we interact with. So, keep learning.

Third, do not despise your hard-won knowledge and dismiss it with a mental shrug that reflects your misapprehension that 'everybody knows that'. Trust me, everybody does not!

There are many things you know that most others don't.

Of course, there will always be people who  remain unteachable. But there are many more, perhaps younger or less experienced than you, who would love to know what you know.

Find them, or better yet let them find
you.

Then, teach them with all your heart.

It doesn't matter whether what you teach is as basic and prosaic as tying shoelaces and sliding coins into a piggy bank, or as deep and esoteric as calculating the quantum signature of dark matter in our universe and going perhaps halfway toward understanding members of the opposite sex.

There is always someone out there who needs your help.

So, if you will step up to the plate and extend that needed help, you will be sowing seeds of life into others. You'll be giving them the greatest gift of all - useful knowledge.

It is the greatest gift because only useful knowledge can be applied.

And only applied knowledge can complete the crucial transition within our skulls, from raw data to information to knowledge and finally to abiding wisdom.

If you will take those three steps I've listed here and incorporate them into your life, you will eventually grow into the shoes of a true TEACHER.

There is NO higher calling.
 


© Rajen Devadason

 

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Rajen Devadason, CEO RD WealthCreation Sdn Bhd & RD Book Projects
349, Desa Rasah, Jalan Bayan 7, 70300 Seremban, NS, Malaysia
Tel/Fax: +606 632 8955

 

 

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