What do you want your legacy to be? I think we have all wrestled with this question at one time or another in our lives.
For some, the answer is easy. "I want to be known as the best lawyer, doctor, father, mother, baseball player, musician, etc. The list goes on and on. These are all lofty goals and the desire to leave a legacy in these areas is admirable.
But there is another way to think about "your legacy." What kind of person are you and how do you want to be remembered?
Every day you have the chance to have your legacy imparted to those you come into contact with. Are you kind to people? Do you treat them with respect? When you are a boss and you have to reprimand or fire someone, how do you do it? With sensitivity and professionalism? Or are people just numbers to you and for the good of the business, these things have to be done.
As a leader, yes, you want to leave a legacy of excellence. Bold strategic initiatives that come to fruition and make a mark on whatever business you are in. For sure, you want this kind of legacy. But if you left a bunch of dead bodies in your wake in having the legacy of excellence in business, then really, how successful were you? I would argue, not very much. Yes, you have to be hard at times in business. Comes with the territory. But you don't have to treat your employees as commodities.
The legacy you want is for people to say that "you cared." You cared for them as people. You were willing to spend time, mentoring them in their careers. You gave them a leg up in their own leadership journeys. And that when they made a mistake, which they (and you will too) will do on occasion, you were there to correct them, and get them back on track as much as possible. That, my friends, is the legacy you want to have.
At the end of the day, truly great leaders practice empathy. They are present and make people feel they matter. In this go, go world of business and globalization, where the pace is so fast and challenges are daunting, we may tend to forget the "people" aspect of business.
Leave a legacy that will truly stand the test of time. That won't be washed away like writings in the sand that are gone with the next wave.
Help those who need help. Care for those who need caring. Listen to those who are crying out for help. Mentor, guide, and lead. Now that is a true legacy to leave behind!