Leave a legacy. You hear that phrase in politics. You are hearing it more and more in business. Many are concerned about it in their personal life. I believe more people today are concerned about this issue as they age and consider their future before entering into the retirement phase of their life.
What is a legacy? It is what you will be known for in the future and with future generations.
In "A Leader's Legacy", a book by James Kouzes and Barry Posner (published by Jossey-Bass and available at www.amazon.com), the topic of leaving a legacy is explored. They make this statement: "By asking ourselves how we want to be remembered, we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter. By living each day as if we matter, we offer up our own unique legacy. By offering up our own unique legacy, we make the world we inhabit a better place than we found it."
I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to "leave a legacy".
Let's explore this topic and, first, give an example of a wrong way.THE WRONG WAY
The former executives of Enron are a great example of doing it the wrong way. Their decisions to build a large, successful energy company were based on fraudulent decisions and actions for personal gain. In the end, the decisions and actions of this company's leaders hurt many people who had faith in them. The fall and bankruptcy of Enron has left a significant scar on many people, corporate companies and America as a whole. Today's business world still is being affected by these actions.THE RIGHT WAY
A "right way" example from history is Benjamin Franklin. In his time and still today, Ben Franklin's worldwide legacy has centered on his accomplishments to help mankind. If you are consistent readers of my articles, you know that I have previously written about Ben (find "Building allies and fostering success" from the September/October 2007 issue at www.reliableplant.com).
I have high regard for Ben's accomplishments completed nearly 200 years ago. He is best known for his kite-and-key experiment in lightning. He proved that lightning was electricity and, thus, could be channeled in some manner. He invented the lightning rod to prevent building fires from lightning strikes. He also invented, among other things, bifocals to aid in reading at an older age, swim fins to aid in swimming, the Franklin stove to efficiently warm homes and the catheter for the medical field. He started the first volunteer fire company, the first fire insurance company and the first public library. His legacy of inventions, writings and ideas are with all of us today.THE CHALLENGE