I recently attended a talk by Erik Qualman where he spoke about the digital legacy that we each create online. The brief exercise he had us complete really caught my attention, and felt compelled to share it – it was about identifying our one word. One of the aspects of leaving a positive digital legacy (simply defined as the content that you leave in cyberspace that will be there forever) should be achieving authenticity. To get at what makes us authentic, Erik had us answer a provocative question, “When you die, what is the one word you want people to use to describe you?” For me, the word “artist” immediately came to mind. It is the truest aspect of who I am, and it is how I want to be remembered on this Earth. It took me a long time to find my way back to being an artist (over 30 years). As a child, I definitely loved art – I enjoyed drawing and painting, writing stories, and reading voraciously. There is a newspaper photo of me on my first day of kindergarten (our local paper covered the first day back to school), and do you know what I was doing in the photograph? Drawing with an intense look of concentration on my little face. Being a proud mom, my mother cut it out and laminated it to keep, and I’m so glad she did because it is a lovely reminder of what I loved most as a child. And what I still love most as an adult.
I would encourage you to take some time to complete this exercise. The word you choose may be as unique as you are as an individual, or it may be as common as a character trait or social role chosen by many others. Erik only gave us a minute to think of our word, but you can take all the time you need to answer this one profound question, “When you die, what is the one word you want people to use to describe you?”