Empty Temples Are Just Walls

Your wealth doesn’t define you, but it can help shape the legacy you leave behind.

By Libby Wildman

My partner, John, and I attended the celebration of life for one of his best friends. As we left the event, I felt full with love and gratefulness, and couldn’t help but think about the life lessons we learned from Mark.

Our friend Mark was just 66 when he passed away — way too young. He loved and lived life to the max. He immigrated to Canada early in his life, built an impressive career and man- aged to accrue wealth and success. Did money make Mark’s life more interesting? Sure — it afforded him luxurious vacations, beautiful homes, nice cars and the ability to throw unforgettable parties.

But did money define his legacy? Not a chance. Every single person who spoke at Mark’s celebration fondly recalled how he’d referred to them as “brother” and how he’d made them feel like family. When you were in Mark’s presence, you felt loved. He constantly looked for ways to make your life better. Ultimately, Mark’s legacy stemmed from how he made us all feel, a beautiful reflection of who he was as a man. He left us rich with appreciation of life.

Losing Mark made me think about legacy — how too often we aren’t able to define our legacy goals before it’s too late. So, what’s standing in the way? Often, it’s the courage to speak your truth and discover the “why” behind your actions. What’s important to you? Why do you do what you do? What would you do if your money issues were resolved? How can money help reinforce your relationships — rather than be the object in itself? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to feel now, and when
you are gone? These are the questions I encourage you to consider.

Interestingly, I learned that in the Bible, money is mentioned 1,500 times. Money has always had influence. Money is important, but spirituality is what it encourages.

I have arrived at three simple rules to sum up the best way to be remembered fondly:

Do not put money above anything else. Yes, money is powerful, it can build temples, but empty temples are just walls. Money is important in your life, but how will it aug- ment your legacy? Plan accordingly.

Be generous. Consider sharing what you can when you can. Money can be a powerful connector — it can help you share experiences with your loved ones, such as vacations, cottage time or family reunions. It won’t be your money that’s remembered, but rather the joint memories you create with those who are close to you.

Be mindful of money. The last thing you want to do is leave your family with a complicated financial mess. Con- sider enlisting the services of a consultant like myself who can help you manage your wealth wisely, make responsible decisions and, most importantly, build the foundation for your lasting legacy.

Take time to think about your legacy. How do you want people to feel about how you influenced their lives? Think about how your wealth and assets can support that legacy. I am here as a resource to help frame your footprint.

I hope your loved ones will be full of laughter, joy and affection when they think about you. It’s certainly some- thing I’m working on for myself.

Libby Wildman is a Senior Partner at the Toronto-based investment firm Davis Rea and the founder of Liminal Escapes creative curated retreats.
She can be reached at lw@davisrea.com.