Creating legacy and lifelong learning

‘We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change.’  Peter F. Drucker

The other day, I read in the newspaper about an 85-year old woman, Dorothy Gartell, who had recently taken up a course in bricklaying and was putting her skills to use by bricking up a doorway and a window as part of a major makeover at a community development in Manchester.

A few facts on Dorothy Gartell

When interviewed, Dorothy Gartell said that her lust for learning had become stronger the older she got. Over the past few years, she has trained in dress-making, visual arts, poetry, tai chi, creative writing, swimming, motor mechanics, painting, Spanish, and wood-work. She also helps out as a DJ for a community radio station, and is hoping to start learning Polish after her bricklaying course is over.

Dorothy Gartell as a role model to legacy creators

I have always found that people such as Dorothy make tremendous role models for those of us who want to create legacy. The desire to stretch yourself on a daily basis, regardless of any constraints you may face in your life, is very much part of creating legacy, and something that Dorothy and others like her embody through their thirst for new learning experiences. Dorothy’s way of life is also akin to Renaissance thinking, an approach to creating legacy that I am very much in favour of.

I have been really lucky to have befriended quite a few people like Dorothy over the past few years, and my thoughts about creating legacy have been very much inspired by such people. It seems to me that creating legacy and pushing yourself to learn something new every day go hand in hand. You can’t create something of value if you don’t also keep learning and stretching yourself. You need high-quality input to generate high-quality output. And the more you step out of your comfort zone, the more you stimulate your brain to create something of value.

Lifelong learning makes you fun to be around

And quite apart from the connection between lifelong learning and creating legacy – I’ve found that people like Dorothy are tremendous fun to be around. They’re so excited by all the things going on in their lives, by all the stuff they’re learning, they simply have little time to spend thinking about any  health or any other problems – much less to complain about them to others. That’s not to say that suffering in silence is a good thing – but stimulating your brain with new, exciting material makes it easier to deal with any problems you may have, so in fact you’re not suffering as much, and you have less of a need to tell others about all the negative stuff you are having to deal with.

What about you?

Do you have someone like Dorothy in your life? Have you been inspired by someone else’s desire to keep learning new things? Share your thougths in the comments below.

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Alexa Ispas

I am a social entrepreneur, blogger, and talent scout, interested in helping people who want to create legacy. I have recently completed my PhD thesis in social psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and am originally from Romania. I am writing a daily blog on creating legacy, which you can find at