I lost nearly two hours on Twitter today, “absorbing” all the political news that has come out in the last couple of days. But this isn’t a time-management post, nor will I make it a political post. I think most of us endure enough of that as it is.
Nope, this post is about legacy, because I kept seeing the word pop up in my Twitter feed. People were questioning this leader or that leader with questions, such as “What do you want your legacy to be?” “Is that what you want to be known for?” or the more blatant “Do you even care that you are destroying your legacy?”
Now, hours after forcing myself to shut down Twitter for the day, “legacy” keeps coming to mind, and what it means in the grand scheme of things. In essence, “legacy” is what you leave behind when you’re gone. It’s that “thing” that you did either for better or worse, and it’s most often the “thing” for which you are most remembered.
I remember once seeing a sign that read “You get to decide the legacy you leave.” That’s about as simple a statement as it gets, right? (Calling Captain Obvious!) Of course, your actions, your behavior, your commitment, the effort you put in, your innovation, your creation is that “thing” that you will leave behind.
Still, not everyone cares about legacy. Daily we hear about men and women leaders in business and government who commit acts that will forever tarnish their legacies. They do what they want, when they want to do it, without caring how it affects the people who are looking to them to lead. Perhaps, they think they will have time to make up for their indiscretions. Perhaps they believe that “in the end” people will see that they were right all along. Perhaps they couldn’t care less about how people will perceive them when they are no longer around to take the heat. They just get while the gettin’s good, so to speak.
I challenge you to think differently about your legacy as a leader. I don’t mean just how people will talk about you when you leave your position. Rather, I want you to think about what you will leave behind when you do go. Be the leader that leaves your team or organization better off than when you got there. Find ways to make more money, be more efficient and boost productivity, but also find ways to make life better for the people who look up to you.
The work you do matters. It leaves an impact. It affects people. You can make a real difference. Ensure that you are using that power to do good.