Building a lasting legacy

  • Sme
  • Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014

Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

“What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.”

These were the words of a rich and wise king said to have lived a long time ago.

He went on to write that he had great achievements, assets and wealth. Yet at the end he wrote, “When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun”.

“No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them”.

The recent passing of Robin Williams got me thinking about why such a successful and accomplished man had such a sad ending to his life. What went wrong?

One of my friends mentioned that perhaps like some well-known personalities and celebrities, he found his life to be meaningless once he was no longer able to do what he used to do, now that he was old.

For some of us, we let our occupation define us. People know us more so for what we do or the companies we own, more than who we are as a person.

Sometimes, when we mention the name of a person to someone, it goes unrecognised. It is only when we say, “You know, the owner of so-and-so company?” that we see them nodding in recognition.

When I started my company a few years ago, I would frequently attend events in order to get more contacts and foster connections for my business.

Over here, we have the practice of looking at a person’s business card before we look at the person properly (I think).

So it was, that when I handed my new company’s business card to the people I met at events, I saw how differently they responded to me than when I was holding one from my former multinational company. I could not help feeling as if I had the label of “Not a VIP” plastered on my forehead, as my new acquaintances quickly excused themselves and moved on.

As business owners and entrepreneurs, perhaps we need to occasionally reflect on the purpose on why we do what we do in our business.

Most of the time, we are caught up in the day-to-day work of running the business, getting more revenue and making more profits.

But at the end, when all is done and money made, what are we really left with that can last, for generations if not for eternity?

When I reflected on this, the philosophical side of me concluded that the work we do and the services and products we provide must be able to help change things in the world. We do not let our business define us. We define our business. We let our business bring out who we are as a person. Only then, will the work of our hands last and only then is there purpose and real fulfilment. I may sound idealistic, but there have been many rich businessmen who have come and gone that we hardly hear about anymore or remember. We only remember those who provided us with something that made this world a better place.For those who have made it in their business so far, and if they have made your millions or billions, so what now? What is next? Regardless of how big your business empire is or will be, what are you building now that that can last for years to come?

And for those who are starting out, when you have an intention of starting your own business to meet a need in this world, and not just so that you can have flexible working hours and financial freedom, you will find this motivation will carry you through the tough times in your business.

As lawyer and writer Albert Pike famously said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

> Jeanisha thinks SMEs and B2B IT companies are an untapped market due to the challenges in this sector. If you are interested to join her in this challenge, write her at

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