A boat skimming over the surface of a lake leaves a wake, or trail of waves, behind it. In like manner, people traveling through life leave a legacy; their influence ripples out through their relationships. Or, think of a diver plunging into a swimming pool from a platform high above the water. Regardless of how she lands, the diver will send a spray of water shooting outward as she plunges into the pool. Similarly, no matter how we live our lives, we’re bound to make a splash. No one passes through life unnoticed. How we live our lives is guaranteed to affect others.

Although we’re certain to leave a legacy, it’s up to us whether goodness and love follows in our wake, or whether we leave a trail of heartache and pain through the way we conduct our lives. In consciously choosing to craft an inspiring legacy, we accept personal responsibility for our actions. No one leaves a good legacy without effort; we have to work in order to hand off a worthwhile heritage to our children or to our successors in leadership.

How To Achieve the Legacy You Want to Leave:

1) Know the legacy you want to leave.
What life principles do you want your children to follow? What organizational values do you want the next generation of leaders in your company to embrace? Answering the following three questions will help you understand the legacy you want to leave.

  • What are my responsibilities? That is, what obligations do you have and how can you fulfill them in a memorable, extraordinary way?
  • What are my abilities?” Where do you excel? What activities do you enjoy greatly and consistently succeed in doing?
  • What are my opportunities? How can you leverage your strengths in a way that gives you greater influence with others?

2) Live the legacy you want to leave.
You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” People never know your good intentions, and they soon forget your words. What sticks with them is the example you set through your actions.

3) Choose those who can best pass on the legacy you want to leave.
Legacies that matter are connected with people. Our choice of whom we’re going to entrust with our legacy will determine the future success of our business. The ability to develop capable successors is a hallmark of great leaders. Ultimately, if your people cannot win without you, then you haven’t been successful in developing other leaders.

Thought to Ponder
Review the questions above regarding your responsibilities, abilities, and opportunities. Then, in a single phrase or sentence, describe the leadership legacy you want to leave. I invite you to share it by posting a comment below.

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