An important part of the work I do with our clients is working on what we call legacy. I often have two legacy conversations going at the same time. One is around the business and the other speaks to family issues.
I’ve come to believe that legacy starts with mission. This means that before we can even start a conversation on legacy we need to know what the personal and business mission is of the people we are talking with.
Legacy comes when mission is integrated in your life. In many respects legacy is co-mingled with leadership and the role of elders in a family and business. If we don’t have a clear understanding of what our mission is, it’s hard for us to leave a legacy. If we don’t understand what mission means to us, our role as an elder becomes less.
Legacy is how people remember us and what we’ve accomplished. We often hear about politicians and the legacy that they leave. In my opinion most don’t leave any legacy at all. There is little that is memorable because there was no guiding light for how they acted. Had more politicians, or public figures for that matter had a clear sense of purpose we would have more legacies to pay attention to.
The conversations I have with people about legacy is about what’s important. Communicating what’s important is a hard thing to do. Unless we are crystal clear in our minds about what’s important it’s very difficult to tell others what we’re thinking in a way they’ll understand.
This is where mission comes to play. Having a clear mission statement that is integrated in every part of your life makes communicating what’s important to you much easier. You are being congruent in both thought and actions. It’s that congruency that allows others to figure out what you’re about.
Think about the people who have left us a legacy. Martin Luther King, Ghandi, The Dali Lama, Buckminster Fuller and even Steve Jobs have left us important legacies. Their legacy provided a better life for those who paid attention to their messages.
They all were clear on what their mission was. They were able to communicate what was important in their life and as a by-product it also became important in our life. I believe a major part of legacy is how others adopt the teachings and philosophies of those who come before us. This all starts with clarity; meaning we understand our own mission and how it affects our life.
Have you thought about your personal legacy? Do you have a good understanding of what you want to leave behind? Do you care?
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