Let’s be honest; death is a pretty daunting prospect, which not many of us like to dwell on. But, like it or not, at some point we’ve all got to face up to the inevitable. Of course, there are the practical things to think about such as writing a will, making sure you’ve got suitable life insurance and even considering what kind of funeral directors and service you’d like. However, on a cheerier note, have you ever given much thought as to what kind of legacy you’d like to leave behind? What would you most like to be remembered for? What do you wish you could put a stamp on if you had a chance? If you need a bit of inspiration, here are five leaders who have left the biggest legacies.
The Nobel Prize-winning German theoretical physicist is responsible for developing the theory of relativity. Not only that, but the famously eccentric genius also came up with the mass-energy equivalence formula, E = mc². In 1921, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, having discovered the law of the photoelectric effect. This was to become pivotal in the evolution of quantum theory.
The American Baptist minister was a non-violent activist and a leader in the country’s Civil Rights Movement. He led the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and delivered his “I Have a Dream” public speech to more than 250,000 supporters at the 1963 Washington D.C. Civil Rights March; arguably the greatest speech in history.
Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun and founder of the Missionaries of Charity. Born in what was previously known as Yugoslavia, she spent most of her life in India where she became famous worldwide for selflessly dedicating her life to care for the lepers, homeless and dying in the slums of Kolkata. After her death, she was canonised as Saint Teresa. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
Nelson Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary who spent his early adult life fighting for equal rights among Africans. After violent demonstrations, he was jailed for life on Robben Island, but was finally freed 27 years later. Following his release, he promoted messages of forgiveness and equality. Apartheid was eventually abolished in 1991, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and just one year later he became South Africa’s first black president.
The Polish physicist and chemist became famous for her work conducting pioneering research on radioactivity. She discovered two new chemicals, radium and polonium and used her knowledge to carry out the first research into treating tumours with radiation. She was the first woman to earn a Nobel Prize, the only woman to earn it twice and the first person to earn one in two separate sciences.
They’ve all made their mark on the world, so what are you going to do to make yours? It’s never too late to make a difference.