Influential business leader, Ted Coiné, regularly asks his clients: “If you were to die right now, today, what would you be proud of?”
In the year 1912
Exactly 100 years ago, a ship that would become the most famous in history left Southampton Dock in England, bound for New York. Tragically, the RMS Titanic never reached her final destination, but met her destiny instead. She struck an iceberg on 15 April 1912, taking 1,517 people into the icy waters below.
In the year 2012
Among all the great ships in the world, what makes the Titanic so special? Why the continuing fascination with her, a century after her maiden voyage, expressed in countless stories and movies?
Whatever the reasons, Titanic left one thing behind as she sank: a legacy.
Legacy, in a word
So what is a legacy? The dictionary defines it as “something left or handed down by a predecessor”.
On a personal level, based on this definition, the predecessor is you. So your legacy is what you hand down after you've gone.
Everybody wants to be remembered for something when they die. For some, it's an iconic building. For others, it's their selfless devotion to charity.
You can also leave a legacy by raising your family in such a way that they will one day look back and remember your words of wisdom; or the way you embodied your family's values.
Regardless of your life's achievements, you can influence the legacy you leave behind. And if you can influence it, that means you can plan it. If a legacy means making a significant impact on what's important to you, are you ready to create one of which you can be proud?
The starting point
You are a unique individual, with unique talents and gifts that can make a difference. Though you don't always know it, the “butterfly effect” creates a ripple out of every action, making an even greater impact on the world around you. But making that impact can only happen when you develop in your own life.
You have the answers within you. It helps listening to your desires, hopes and dreams to find them.
#1 Your legacy
The first step in creating your legacy is to define what you want it to be.
How do you want to be remembered? For your smile, sense of humour or creativity? Your accomplishments in research or development? Your financial contributions for the welfare of others?
#2 Write it down
When you know what it is, record it somewhere.
Make it official and write it down. When you commit something to paper your goals start to solidify.
Now think about how you are going to achieve it. What are the long and short term strategies? How will you achieve it? What milestones will indicate you're on track? What tangible steps must you take to achieve it? How can you improve your progress? And how will you deal with obstacles?
#3 Create accountability
The next step is crucial. Share your legacy plans with anyone that is important enough; someone that will challenge and support you on your journey.
Checking on progress is essential. Create the opportunity to check in, despite the fast pace of life and business. You may want to set up six monthly lunches with your “accountability officer”, checking in and maintaining the right track.
#5 Be flexible
Change is the only constant in life. So be flexible. Circumstances — and therefore your legacy plan, whether in part or as a whole — might change along the way. If it does chance, go back to step one and follow the process of a new exciting journey.
Get the ball rolling
I urge you to sit down today and start the process. If you feel it is too challenging, use a professional coach that can provide a mirror and objective sounding board. He/she can help you break the barriers towards making the important decisions that will shape your legacy.
As author and famous New York pastor, Dr Ralph Sockman, said, nearly 50 years ago: “What makes greatness is starting something that lives after you”. Do this, and you will with conviction be able to answer Ted's question with: “Yes, I have something of which to be proud.” Asa
Author: Stanford Payne CA(SA) is an Executive Business Life Coach, member of ICF and COMENSA.