There is a story told of Alfred Nobel, who in 1867 patented Dynamite having discovered how to make nitroglycerin safer and more convenient to handle. This breakthrough had made the Nobel family hugely wealthy and his invention was used in both industry and warfare.
One morning Alfred was alerted to the fact that his death notice had been erroneously posted in a French newspaper. His brother Ludvig had recently died whilst in Cannes and the newspaper editor had mistaken the death of a well known Swedish business man named Nobel to be Alfred.
Alfred was dismayed to find that the column condemned him for the invention of dynamite and said, Le marchand de la mort est mort (“The merchant of death is dead”)and went further – commenting that “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
Nobel, it is said, took time to reflect on his life and work after reading such a vitriolic piece and determined to leave a better legacy.
Alfred Nobel went on to give the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded each year to those who had contributed meaningfully to the world through the sciences, literature or by way of contribution to the international fraternity.
It leads us to ask;
What is your legacy? Ideally, how would you like to be remembered?
Will people think and speak well of you? Will you be remembered as someone who contributed – as one who helped others? As a person who had a positive impact on the world in some way?
Big questions – but in terms of personal success as it matter not just to us, but to those around us – they can give big answers.