The word legacy has many definitions. Most common is that related to being a gift of money or property passed down from one generation to the next. However for our purposes, we are going to consider legacy from a different perspective, that of leadership!
In their book, A Leader’s Legacy Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner begin by posing four questions: “Are you on this planet to do something or are you just here for something to do? If you are on this planet to do something, then what is it? What difference will you make? “ What will be your legacy?
Some say that legacies are about impact, but what kind of impact are we considering? Are we talking about the personal impact that is made on friends, colleagues, and others? Are we thinking about the impact of countless decisions and the eventual success of an organization? Or could a legacy be the quiet but powerful impact associated with the passage of values, dreams and aspirations? I believe we each create our own legacy that reflects who we are and what was important to us. For instance, I believe that one’s legacy is not created by what they do, but rather by what they enable others to do after they have gone.
Jim Rohn is considered by many to be one of America’s foremost business philosophers. Prior to passing in 2009, he blogged and wrote for Success magazine. His legacy? John Rampton in Entrpreneur On-Line writes,”Jim spent his entire adult life giving back to humanity…..he tried to teach people that they could be whatever they chose to be.” Success Magazine continues to publish Jim’s work. This past February the magazine shared a piece entitled, “This is How You Leave a Legacy” The article includes a list of what Rohn felt to be the 9 core principles to live by if you want to leave a lasting legacy.
Rohn’s last core principal is interesting and is a perfect transition to the next posting. He states, “ Many people have accomplished tremendous things later on in life. There is never a time to stop in your pursuit of a legacy.” Likewise, it is never too early to begin creating one. The Perter Baron Stark Companies are a consultative organization that work with large and small companies across the United States. A recent blog entitled, “What Will Your Leadership Legacy Say About You? reminds us that we begin to shape our legacies very early in our professional careers, “Your legacy is not determined by wishful thinking. It is defined by your daily decisions, interactions with others, mistakes made, and what you learn along the way. Thinking about how you want to be remembered as a leader in the future will help you become an even stronger leader today.”
Let me go back to my earlier comment, “Our legacy is not created by what we do, but what we enable others to do after we are gone.” I believe this perspective is best illustrated through a video many of you may have already seen. If you haven’t, I strongly encourage you to take an hour and watch. The presentation entitled, The Last Lecture, is a moving presentation given by Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch. His legacy is without question and his words and actions have enabled others to achieve their dreams after he was gone.
Have a great week and Embrace the Challenge,