What’s Your Legacy?

Everything we do has the potential to inspire.

It seems with each month that passes, the news announces the loss of yet another celebrity, sports figure, humanitarian or scientist. Each of us mourns the loss in our own way, remembering the impact a person may have had on our lives. Did they inspire us to pursue a certain career? Did their athletic prowess thrill us with every game? Did their good deeds and selflessness make us examine our own contributions to the world?

We celebrate their legacies.

I’m a big believer in legacy. We have different public figures and icons that we admire at different times in our lives — and theirs. Their contributions resonate with different people. In a corporate setting, each leader marks a spot in time by guiding a company based on market conditions, the organization’s health, and clients’ and associates’ needs. In the roles I’ve held, my goal has been to build on my company’s impressive legacy…to add my own mark. When my time ends in a role, I want to be able to look back, reflect on all my team has accomplished, and say, “I was a part of that.”

I think that’s true of most people. Most of us want to be part of a vision that motivates and resonates with us — something bigger than simply turning the pages of daily life. To be fully engaged and succeed, I need to connect to whatever that vision is. In the past 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to lead associates as they focus on helping our clients develop culture, improve engagement and drive business success. They are essentially helping clients — and their employees — create their own legacies by building better workforces that contribute to company success. The impact they have inspires me to do more every day.

I firmly believe each individual has clear contributions to offer and, in turn, the ability to create his or her own legacy, be it big or small.

Over the years, here are some of the ways I’ve learned to create a legacy:

1. Choose who you want to be and how you want to “show up.” Every interaction is an opportunity. Choose to be loud where appropriate, and be wise where warranted. Always be true to yourself.

2. Share your beliefs. Let others in and help them understand what’s important to you and why.

3. Live up to your own values and standards. Hold yourself accountable to your beliefs.

4. Exercise forgiveness. Everybody has a bad day. Everybody has moments they wish they could re-write. Be quick to forgive.

5. Enjoy the ride.

We have the opportunity to leave a legacy through our work, in our communities and in the lives of our families and friends. In the words of that music legend Prince (whose loss I mourn and whose legacy was significant): “We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.”

It was at once an individual statement…but also one born of the teams of which many of us are a part. “We” are gathered…to succeed in the lives we set for ourselves, at work and at home. Every day is a gift. So let’s be purposeful in how we want to contribute to this world.

It’s worth your time to reflect on what inspires you and the legacy you want to leave behind.