By Doug Lawrence
I was blessed to spend some time the other day with some very brilliant leaders in our community and in the business world in general. We talked about a number of things and one of those topics centered on leaving a legacy. I want to take a few moments to share my thoughts and research on this topic and how effective mentoring plays a role in your legacy.
Webster’s dictionary defines legacy as, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” Your legacy could be something rather small and perhaps to some insignificant or it could be something large and of the utmost importance to a large number of people. You actually get to define what that legacy is going to look like. You get to define what need is being addressed or fulfilled by designing and implementing what will be your legacy. You get to define what the legacy will be for the organization and the people that work for that organization. It more than likely will not look the same. You may want to leave the organization in a very competitive position where the ROI is high for the organization and its stakeholders. You may want to provide the people in the organization with the tools that they need to sustain continued success. The same could be said for the organization.
Your legacy can go beyond the organization and its people. It can also be extended to family and community. Remember that what you decide to leave behind/hand down, can and will impact all of these areas so you do need to give this some thought.
In one of the articles that I have referenced below they talk about the five (5) stages of legacy building. Those are; identity and values, guiding foundational principles, courage and risk-taking, genuine care to advance others, and responsibility and accountability. Take the time to understand what each of those means to you as an individual and how it can and will shape your leadership as you continue to define and build the legacy that you want to leave. When I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror I want to know where we are going, how we are going to get there, and who am I going to be blessed to serve. All of those questions may not be answered on first gaze into that mirror but as we define the journey it will become a lot clearer.
Some things to consider when going on that journey are; “know what matters” – you need that deep sense of knowing what the journey is going to be and how important it is to you. You need to “get off the front line” – leave the day to day stuff for the people that know the best and that is the team that works with you. You need to focus on them – they are your most important piece to the journey that you are about to go on to build your legacy. They will be the ones to most benefit from all of this. “Nauseate yourself” – drive home your non-negotiable items. The last thing that you need to do is “leave”. Dragging this journey out is not the way to go. If you have prepared everyone as best that you can and you have prepared the organization then it is time for you to move on. It is time to begin the next chapter in your life’s journey.
My goal when I was still working in the corporate world was to do myself out of a job. My mission was to prepare someone to be my successor and to do so meant providing them with the tools to set them up to succeed. I leveraged effective mentoring as a means to do that. There were times where we had to engage a coach and we did that but the mentoring relationship continued to flourish and in some situations continues even today. A mentor can walk you through all these steps and help guide you on your journey to building a legacy. At the end of the day when you look in the mirror you need to feel as though you have accomplished something and that you have left things in a better place. My legacy and my calling is to leave the world a better place through the “power of mentoring”. When I look in the mirror I will know that I have helped those that I have touched to be successful, organizations that I have been blessed to work with a more productive and better place to work. I know that my family will be stronger as “the power of mentoring” is a transferable skill. Finally, I know that what we have done has indeed made a difference in the many communities that we have been a part of. That is my legacy – what is yours?