What is the legacy you want to leave?
Knowing what is important to us at life end helps us craft a journey that will be filled with satisfaction and joy and enables us to lead authentically.
Everyday we interact with others, leaving an impression of who we are as we pass them by. This impression is the legacy we leave behind – when we leave our job, our marriage, our sports team, our life, our friendships, and so on.
Our legacy is the end result of the behaviours we exhibit and the values we hold. The clearer we are on what we want from our lives the easier it is to craft our legacy and the easier it is to be remembered as we want.
Values form the bedrock of our existence. Having a life where we live to our values allows us to act with authenticity. Acting authentically helps those around us feel we are trustworthy. At the base level this helps us achieve our productivity goals, build stakeholder relationships, and get our needs met more easily. More importantly acting in alignment with our values means we feel congruent and at ease.
When I ask my clients what their values are, the reply is often a look of confusion followed by a rapid fire recital of the values on the office wall. It becomes quickly clear that their troubling sense of incongruence and stress, comes from this disconnect.
Finding values may take some time and it is important to persist until you feel you know what matters to you. The past and the future are both important here. To start look back into your history for times that stand out – ask yourself why these times are important. What do they mean to you, and why? This will start to give you some insight. Another tactic is to analyse why you may feel annoyance, frustration, or other strong emotion. Maybe a value has been conflicted. When a strong feeling comes up, dig deep. Reflection is a wonderful opportunity to get to know yourself. Ask yourself “why” this situation that generated the emotion annoys / upsets you. Keep asking until your answer feels ‘right’.
Finding your legacy
A life well lived needs a future too. This is where the legacy comes in. So please stop for a moment and visualise summer 10 years from now. As you sit on the beach or maybe quietly on your balcony picture your life as you want it be in all its technicolour beauty. Include the travel, the house, the car and the family to the extent they’re important and also outline the activities that make you most proud in your roles as sibling, child, parent, leader, community member, friend, carer, director … the list goes on. Ask yourself: What would I want these people to say about me?
Now let’s move forward another 10 years. What now fills you with pride? Craft a new life picture carefully. What has changed from the last? What is the same? Why? Life goes through many stages so a constant picture is unrealistic. Gleefully capture the new you. What would you want people to say about you now? Has their message changed?
Finally let’s move to your last day on earth. What do you want to be remembered for now? Create your eulogy, and don’t skimp the words.
Looking over these 3 points in your life, how has your legacy developed? What is common and what is different? Why? Comparing these pictures to your life as it currently stands is there anything that needs to be changed? If so, when will you start? What is the first activity? Who will help you? What could go wrong in the doing? What controls will keep you on course?
Time and impact
You may be like me and take a while to determine your values and legacy. Or not. I started with 5 values, now I have 1. That is all I need to explain the way I act. My legacy is not grand. I don’t want to impact the world, but I AM clear on what I want my impact to be. By knowing my values and legacy, my life is much simpler, decisions are easier, emotions are too. When something feels discordant the source is found quickly and the discomfort eliminated or managed forthwith. This enables me to be consistent and compassionate in my leadership and relationships; a boon all around of course.
Knowing the legacy we want to leave helps us uncover our values as well as embed them in all that we do. Granted our legacy and our values are not the same but understanding their connection helps us see the interconnectedness of life.
Test it out
Summer is the perfect time to see our values in action, and see what works and what doesn’t. During summer our lives are turned upside down for a while. We meet lots of new people, and let our walls drop so it’s a good time to reflect on the activities which make us feel whole, replete and fulfilled. By comparing what we feel, with what we do, we can craft a future that suits us, not those around us. This comparison and reflection allows us to develop our ability to live life to the full.
So use this summer well: craft your legacy; put a voice your values, and then test the concordance in your daily life. When you determine what works for you, incorporate it in your plans for the coming year. As the year progresses keep reflecting on the impacts, never stop. Keep a record of how your life feels as you become more attuned with what is important to you. As you align your life and values, life will become simpler too.
Let me know how you go.
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Jennifer is a strategy implementation coach who helps leaders turn their strategies into remarkable results.
She assists executives and business owners to achieve goals such as improved profit, productivity, leadership skills, business value. Her services are Business and Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and advising on Board Governance. Her straight forward process help leaders achieve results without delay.
To find out how she can help you, call +61 439 520 182 or email.