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Links and articles about technology, design, and sociology. Written by Rian van der Merwe.

Two legacies to strive for

The Great Discontent just published another great interview, this time with Cameron Moll. The final two paragraphs, where he speaks about the kind of legacy he’d like to leave, really spoke to me. First, on a personal level:

I think the legacy I hope to leave for my family is that they, of all people, knew me in the most intimate way and regardless of how the public saw me, I hope they will be appreciative and thankful for who I was in their presence.

Or to quote CJ Chilvers:

As noble as you may believe your pursuit of excellence is, it means nothing if you go home at night to people who do not recognize you or want you around.

I’ve been thinking about family a lot lately, since the birth of our 2nd daughter 6 weeks ago. The first child is mostly a physical adjustment — the long, hard process of getting used to very little sleep, very little time, and no room for selfishness. The second child is more of an emotional adjustment. Suddenly you’re a family of four. Suddenly you’ve become your parents. Suddenly the people close to you can be scattered in many different places, and your heart somehow needs to stay in your body and not freak out because of all the evils in the world that can possibly hurt them. From physical exhaustion to emotional exhaustion — that’s the move from one to two kids.

But for me it is also a move to a better understanding of what it means to be a family, to be bound together through thick and thin, to care more for these people than I ever thought would be possible. And with that comes the realisation that I don’t want to be that guy. That Dad at the park who’s always on his iPhone. The one who’s never home in time for bath time. So I obsess over these things — it pretty much takes an act of God for me not to be home to give my 3-year old a bath. And when I fail, I fall hard, and sometimes stumble rather slowly back on my feet.

So anyway, I’ve been thinking about family a lot lately. And as much as I love my work and my side projects, I cannot allow that to become more important than my family is. So I identify with Cameron and CJ’s words. I feel like I often fail at building towards that legacy, but I’m going to steal a buzz phrase from startup parlance and say that I think I at least “fail forward”. I hope.

And then, on a professional level, Cameron says this:

I don’t have it all figured out; I’ve made so many mistakes, but I hope that through some of the work I’ve produced or the efforts I’ve championed, people feel inspired to try harder and be better.

These things seem like pretty good legacy goals to strive for. Sign me up.