Meet Dobri Dobrev, 100-years old. He has spent decades traveling 15 miles from his village to the city of Sofia, Bulgaria, on foot every day to beg for money. Dressed in home-made clothes and leather shoes, the humble World War veteran, who lost his hearing during the Sofia bombing in the Second World War, spends his day asking for small change.
Scarred by life, wearing an iconic long white beard, he was ignored by most, pitied by many. It was only recently found that this man was not what people thought he was after it became clear that he gives all his money to charity. An estimated 50.000 dollar is donated by him to orphanage houses, churches and monasteries across Bulgaria. An exceptional story of a man who makes a difference in the lives of those he cares about, every day, in the most selfless way possible. The man has an impressive legacy.
It was this story I thought about when I received a question not long ago by my manager, on a sunny summers day; what’s your legacy when you leave Aegon one day?
I have never thought about it but it suddenly made complete sense. I thought legacy was for special people, people who make the world a better place, and people like Dobri Dobrev, changing people’s lives. It’s a great question! In the days and weeks after, I started a small journey of thoughts with one goal; what will be my legacy when I leave the company? I decided to look at the lessons we learn from people like Dobri Dobrev and tried to match them with my personal and professional goals. Here are four lessons I learned;
There are no rules or limitations to make a difference
To make the difference, there are no rules or limitations. The only necessity is a kindness to serve others and an openness to benefit from the gift of sharing. I can write about tons of examples showing that sharing thoughts, ideas, knowledge and passion is a proven concept for making a real difference to customers worldwide.
Often overlooked is the capacity to change lives just by being the example one wishes to see
The western world sees donating cash as the best way to contribute to a better world and help others. But often overlooked is the capacity to change lives just by being the example one wishes to see. I believe people are driven by passion — not by money. Although many of you readers might strongly disagree I believe rewards for the job will increase when one acts on his/her passion. If not money, it will bring you endless joy, energy and support from others by being their role model.
What matters most is the question of “Who will now act upon it?
Every individual has the opportunity and heart to positively influence lives like Dobri Dobrev. What matters most is the question of “Who will now act upon it?”
Visualize your Legacy tomorrow, Value it Today
Just as companies have a purpose, every employee should have one for themselves too. Who do you want to be? What’s the legacy you want to leave behind? A useful tool is visualizing your legacy. By visualizing this you create focus allowing every conscious or unconscious decision to be a step towards that goal. An important guideline is: Visualize your Legacy tomorrow; value it today!
Its todays actions what define your legacy tomorrow. My journey will end with a clear vision of what my legacy one day. A big part of this is my aspiration to be the best I can within my time at Aegon by being committed, open minded and fair. As part of my legacy I want to empower and develop others to reach their goals and connecting cultures through diversity.
I challenge you to build your legacy but remember one thing; “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore” (Columbus)