Responsibility, Mastery, Legacy. These are three principles that I strive for, which is why I’ve included them as the subtitle of my site.
I strive to be a principled man, allowing my convictions and beliefs to be at the core of who I am, with the hope that my beliefs will shape my actions. These three words have shaped how I live daily. I think of them in two ways; one, they are words that I want my life to be characterized by, and two, they give me a direction. I want to take some time explaining the second aspect.
These words give me a progression, a journey, a path to walk, beginning with responsibility and ending in a legacy. Each aspect is informed by the other aspects and they build on each other. In order to become a master at something, you have to take responsibility. In order to be remembered and leave a legacy, you have to become a master and set yourself apart. Everyone wants to be great and leave a legacy but who is willing to take the burden of responsibility and put in the time it takes to become a master? Let’s look at these words in turn.
Synonyms may include ‘ownership’, ‘initiative’, ‘stewardship’.
Douglas Wilson defines masculinity as the glad assumption of responsibility. There is nothing more ugly than a man who won’t take responsibility; for an extreme example, think a young man who gets a girl pregnant, then abandons them both. That’s the true ‘toxic masculinity’ we hear much about. Even the most progressive of people find something wrong with that. Responsibility is key to being a good man.
Responsibility means that you takes ownership of the praise and well wishing but more importantly you shoulder the burden of failure. Responsibility is a double edged sword in this sense; when things go well in the things you are responsible for, you get the credit, but if they go bad, you take most of the blame. Think of a ship captain who lets the skipper steer the boat for a few hours. If that ship runs aground, who is to blame? The skipper. But who is responsible for the accident? The captain. This mess took place on HIS boat, under HIS watch. He is the responsible party.
Evaluate your own life and see if there is any part that you are unsatisfied with. There is a good chance that you are responsible for the parts of your life that leave you unsatisfied, frustrated, or angry. Have not as much money as you think you should? It’s probably your bad spending habits. Don’t like your job? You probably picked a bad career or haven’t tried to improve your skill set to either get promoted, change jobs, won’t ask for a raise. Marriage problems? There’s two side to every relationship and only narcissists think they never do anything wrong.
Of course this is not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes your life sucks and it’s really not your fault. But I’m willing to guess that 80-90% you are reason your life isn’t where you want it to be.
Examine your life, don’t make excuses, take responsibility, do the next thing you need to do.
Synonyms may include ‘craftsman,’ ‘competence,’ ‘skill,’ or ‘capability’.
The natural outcome of practicing responsibility (yea, it takes practice to become responsible) is mastery. Let me give an example. Perhaps you think you and your family need to get better with finances, and you’ve bought into this idea of responsibility. You own your past mistakes, bad habits and commit to change. You then examine your monthly bank statements, create a bare bones budget, set goals, and begin to develop new habits. After months of this practice, you slowly become a master of your household’s finances. You know what you spend, you know what you can live without, and you are seeing your financial goals realized.
A different example: your job. Many people hate their jobs and that’s sad because a third of your life is spend working. People may hate their jobs because the haven’t take responsibility and ownership of their tasks, but they think they deserve more status, or a higher position. In your job, you should be the best in the business. No matter the vocation, be the best. I remember one man who I am acquainted with described as a, “master carpenter.” The description in my mind was almost legendary or mythic, and the spirit of it is something I strive to attain someday.
Strive to become a master in all aspects of your life which is hard to do considering masters are a cut above the rest and standout by specializing in something. But I encourage you to at least strive for general know-how and competency in every aspect of life. Masculinity, fatherhood, finances, vocation, social skills like starting and holding a conversation, cooking, public speaking, writing, camping, hunting, fishing, teaching, whatever you find yourself doing, strive for mastery.
Let this bit of wisdom inspire you toward mastery: ” Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).
Synonyms include ‘inheritance,’ ‘heritage,’ or ‘endowment’.
Webster’s Dictionary gives two basic definitions of the word legacy: 1. a gift by will especially of money or other personal property, 2. something transmitted or received by from an ancestor or predecessor. When referring to legacy here, I have in mind the second definition, though there could be some overlap.
I love history. There are many great lessons and inspiring stories one can gain from studying the past. You could think of history as being made up of people who have left, for good or for ill, their legacies on the world. I also love family history, of which I have a fairly detailed account on both sides of my family, both dating to the mid-1700’s. I have relatives that have fought in the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and both World Wars. A stream of my ancestors came over from Scotland and another stream came from Wales. In fact the first ancestor to arrive from Wales made his home in Maine, fought in the French and Indian War, was a shipbuilder by trade, and fathered twenty-four children. I think that is incredible and how I wish I could meet a that man. When I read his life story in the family history, it spurs me on to become like him, to live a life that people remember! Now old man Roberts only got a few paragraphs that gave just a sketch of his life, but at least he is remembered.
Striving to leave a legacy gets to the question, “How will I be remembered?” And related, “What will I be remembered for?” I’m not just talking about being remembered by someone 300 years down the road, though that is part of it; if you were to die today, how would those around you remember you? What memories of you would people frequent in their minds? How do the qualities you have or things you’ve done inspire people on to greatness and duty? These questions are on my mind a lot through out the day, and I’ve come to realize that my desire to leave a legacy is a big motivation in how I live my life.
What are you building and leaving behind? What gift are you bringing to the world? What inheritance, monetarily or otherwise, are you leaving to your loved ones? Leave something.
Responsibility, Mastery, Legacy – Get it.