Throughout my formal studies in the fields of leadership and management, I have heard the phrase “think with the end in mind” when it comes to planning for success. While I agree with this notion when it comes to achieving individual goals, I believe that it falls a little short when we think in terms of creating a legacy of significance. But let me take a step back for a minute. Have you ever given thought to what your legacy would be? I would argue that like most people you probably have not given it serious consideration.
A legacy of significance transcends one’s lifetime, influencing the lives of generations that follow. The truth is that we all will have some sort of legacy even if we did not plan for it. Our legacy may come in the form of our children, a business we can pass on to others, or an estate that we leave behind. However, these types of legacies are not what I would like you to focus on. I want you to focus on creating a legacy that is not based on other people, material items, or tangible resources, because these entities tend to expire over time, giving your legacy a finite timeframe.
Instead, I want you to think about creating a legacy that is intrinsically human and touches the human spirit, giving it the ability to last throughout eternity. A sample of legacies that fall into this category include: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of equality, Ghandi’s legacy of freedom and independence, Mother Teresa’s legacy of love, and John F. Kennedy’s legacy of hope and possibility. All of these legacies are significant because they are intrinsic to the human spirit. In addition, each one still lives on today and will influence the lives of generations to come.
However, you need not be intimidated by the legacies of these great leaders. You don’t have to have the kind of impact that individuals such as these had on popular culture to have a legacy of significance. Your legacy can be much more subdued, while still allowing you to live on in the hearts and minds of future generations. But before you can embark on creating your legacy you must uncover within that which defines you and gives your life meaning. This will lead to your understanding of what your gift (legacy) to the world should or will be. Uncovering this gift may take you years to unearth, but the fulfilment, joy, and power you will feel when you begin giving it away once you have identified it makes the inquiry worthwhile.
I will start you off on your journey by telling you what I plan for my legacy, as I refine my life’s vision and purpose. I have come to understand that my belief in personal freedom and the pursuit and attainment of happiness is what drives me. This deep seeded belief led to my creation of The Barrett Center for Leadership Development, LLC (TM) with the purpose of helping clients develop their leadership from the inside-out so that they could achieve personal freedom and attain happiness without depending on anyone or anything outside of themselves. With this gift in mind, I am working tirelessly to create a legacy focused on uplifting the human condition and spirit by demonstrating the importance of leading our existence from the inside-out.
Now, it’s your turn. Start thinking today about what your legacy should or will be. Finally, while it is correct to think with the end in mind when it comes to pursuing your goals, I challenge you to keep your legacy (one of significance) in mind as well.
Mario Barrett has over twenty years of experience with organizations such as the United States Air Force and Verizon Communications. Currently, Mario is CEO of The Barrett Center for Leadership Development, a global leadership and organizational development firm. Mario is an author, frequent speaker, and blogger on leadership and organizational change issues. Mario has a PhD in Applied Management and Decision Sciences from Walden University, an MS in Organizational Leadership from Mercy College, BS in Organizational Management from Nyack College and is currently a full-time faculty member at the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer Universty.