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"All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine."
- Jim Rohn
"The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."
- William James

News from Goranson Consulting, Inc.

One of the things that seems quite topical as we approach Memorial Day is the concept of legacy. For those that didn't know, Memorial Day originated back in 1868 as Decoration Day, after the Civil War had ended. It is and was designed to honor all who have fallen in the midst of war. But it has become a time when many of us remember fondly loved ones, leaders, those that impacted us in our own journey through life.
One thing that has started to come up in my travels and work with clients again is a common theme I simply LOVE to hear and feel from them. A genuine concern for what their legacy will be when they have moved on from their current position. And it's not just leaders saying it. Clearly, there is a definite link to age and experience in these common occurrences, would be great if more and more people gave this time for a little thought as well, no matter their age, position or "walk in life" they have chosen.
This month, we'll talk in more depth to what can dynamically impact your life and that of those around you. Legacy-style behavior for all is what I am referring to. Not just leaders in organizations, but all of us.
What's Your Legacy?
Most people think about legacy at the end of their careers as they near retirement age. But the time to think about it is now as that will make you a better leader today. And a better team mate no matter your position! A key question to ponder is when should you start thinking about the legacy you are leaving as a leader, employee, friend? So often people feel they are too young or too old to think about their legacy at all. But based on my experience and the rewards that come from doing so, the time to think about YOUR legacy is now.  
That commonly held opinion that most people only think about legacy at the end of their careers is being challenged.  And I am totally onboard with this alternative school of thought.  Robert Galford and Regina Maruca, authors of "Your Leadership Legacy", advocate that "thinking about your legacy now makes you a better leader today no matter how far you are from retirement." Based on interviews they conducted with people at all organizational levels it's their firm belief we all should be engaged in legacy thinking, a forward thinking tool that is counter-intuitive to what we typically think of as legacy work. Another source that supports that same thought would be "A Leader's Legacy", by Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner. They support what I have definitely seen myself firsthand. That is the fact that thinking about our own legacy leads us to view our actions today in a much broader, bigger context. Kind of like my standard practice of asking those I work with what kind of path they want to create and leave behind. Do they want to leave a calming, comforting ripple effect of positive actions and words or.....a tidal wave that swamps the boat and drowns all aboard! The concept of legacy thinking forces us to go break the perpetual, common practice of short-term thinking and consider the past, present and future.
As leaders, front-line workers, friends and colleagues, whether we realize it or not we are leaving a legacy with the decisions we make and the actions we take. Our own legacy is created solely by us. We live our legacy daily, and it can be a good one or it can be a bad one.
Key Questions to Ask Yourself
  • What are two or three personal characteristics (skills, behaviors, or values) for which you would most like to be remembered?
  • What have you learned in your current role, your work, and your life so far that you would most like to pass on to others?
  • How will you convey that learning?
  • What do we want people to remember about us as leaders, colleagues, friends?
  • What influence are we having on others on a daily basis?
What a great thing for people to actually want to leave a positive wake behind them rather than a raging tidal wave. It reflects on how we treat others, personally and professionally. And in doing so, what kind of difference we might have made on their lives. And organizations should love this type of thought and concern. Why? It means less internal focus and potential miscommunication, conflict, stress and reduced productivity. It does mean more outwardly focused thinking. Looking at the greater good but also how the individual exhibiting that behavior and style shows up. In other words, all those things making it a potential win-win for those involved. That is always the ultimate outcome to strive for indeed.
Sooo...what do you want your legacy to be? Food for thought! Thanks for reading. Talk to you all next month. 
Dave Goranson 
Goranson Consulting, Inc.

To all my loyal readers out there, I hope you gleaned some value from this month's article.  Best of luck to you in your efforts to grow and prosper. 
Talk to you next month!

Goranson Consulting

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