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  • Writer's pictureBridget Cook-Burch

Fleeting Fame or Lasting Legacy?

Where is the line between being a famous author with a large following and being a legendary author that makes ripples last for generations?

The trick. . . it lies within you. Let me explain.

Picture two years from now, your book is completed, the speaking gigs are adding up. You’re continuing to build your dream, to spread your message to help as many more people as possible! While you know there is more potential here, you simply are not getting the sales you wanted – and the feedback you receive is that your book is not as authentic as you are on stage. You become embarrassed about your book and take it less and less with you to your speaking gigs. After researching, maybe talking to a mentor and asking yourself some deep questions, you come to realize your efforts to get out there have been focused on making a name for yourself rather than. . . the passionate cause - your WHY - that you started with in the first place.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be famous. Having fame allows you to reach a larger audience and spread your message broadly. There is a phenomenon that can happen when the ego gets in the way and replaces your reason for visibility, bringing in lack and even fear. What is missed in fame for fame itself, is that it tends to last for one or maybe two books, one video, one year, or so on. You’re only as good as your next project.

There are always caveats. For some, fame can even last for a lifetime. But what if you want your powerful, positive influence to last through generations?

That, my friends, is called leaving a legacy.

What exactly does leaving a legacy look like?

Legacy is the juicy, authentic, and inspiring core message that clings to people's hearts and creates a change in thinking - or even better, positive behavior for the long-term.

Think of your favorite author. Did she or he leave a legacy . . . a change in you that feels wrapped in your heart and soul? What did they say, do, write, and embody in their life that made such an impact on you that they are now a favorite?

I have loads of favorite authors. There are several that at one time or another crawled into my heart and stayed, long after they left the planet. One of these is C.S. Lewis. I loved the way he could spin a tale for children (and adults. . . spun in a tale for children :D) that actually meant something at the end of the day. He left a legacy in words and in his actions. Not a perfect human, yet many of those who knew him admired his daily walk.

Another favorite, this time in nonfiction, is Maya Angelou. I had long been a fan. Her books and poetry astounded me with their power. I remember first whispering “Still I Rise” because it was so salacious and irreverent and had something powerful to say. Once I got older, I was blessed to share an appearance with her, and made the mistake of calling her “Maya”.

“Bridget,” she said, “how old are you?”

I was in my forties, and told her so, feeling old enough and confident.

“You,” she declared, "are not old enough to call me Maya–”

(As you can imagine, I was flummoxed and embarrassed and pink-cheeked, wanting to apologize and duck my head, but she continued)

“--but you can call me ‘Auntie’.”

Suddenly, I was no longer flummoxed. While still pink-cheeked, I was now honored and she endeared herself to me, forever.

Writing a book is one thing, but when action alongside your message entwines like that, well that's when legacy blooms! My friend, Gary Lee Price is getting ready to release his story. He’s a remarkable man whose story and ongoing actions and interactions are deeply embodied. His personal and professional mantra is “They rise highest who lift as they go.” Of his thousands of sculptures, each one was created with a clear intention to lift, just like his book.

Gary is a legacy man. His book, “Divine Turbulence” is a legacy story. He is also the sculptor and builder of the monument, the Statue of Responsibility that will be seen in our generation on the West Coast.

I am not saying you have to go build a monument in order to leave a legacy, but choose now to have a clear intention. Will it be fleeting fame? Or will you choose to leave a legacy?

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