So opens a TED talk featuring the author, commentator, and current columnist for The New York Times.
Within each of us are two selves, suggests David Brooks in this meditative short talk: the self who craves success, who builds a résumé, and the self who seeks connection, community, love -- the values that make for a great eulogy. (Joseph Soloveitchik has called these selves "Adam I" and "Adam II.") Brooks asks: Can we balance these two selves?
I have been thinking a great deal about legacy in the years since I retired from my full time career, and as I have focused more on helping families take a more explicit approach to planning for end of life, I find that how we want to be remembered becomes something we think about the older we get. The list of what matters most to you changes. It is more focused on relationships, what you have done to make a difference, what you can still do to be a better person.
Once one has achieved success, the law of diminishing returns begins to apply…the incremental money we earn has a smaller impact on our lives than it would have earlier in our career.
As that happens, it seems to me that the side of us that also seeks meaning begins to come into our consciousness with greater weight as we cross into our 50’s, and grows in importance as the years go by. Though it's interesting to note that for all the flack given to millennials, that generation seems to be seeking meaning even earlier in life.
Are you leaning more now to your Adam II?