Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Legacy Thinking" in Your Worklife

One of the areas for reflection in creating an ethical will is our worklife. For most people, experiences and accomplishments at work -- outside and inside the home -- are a significant part of their life legacy. For some, their work path has clearly been intentional ; for others, work has "happened" as they've lived their lives.

I'm always looking for ways in which people are thinking about their life legacies. Recently, I learned about a new book, Your Leadership Legacy: Why Looking Toward the Future Will Make You a Better Leader Today, which focuses on the value of "legacy thinking" for leaders. It offers a process for individuals to use in creating an "intentional legacy", including writing a legacy statement for themselves based on questions much like those I use with people creating an ethical will.

The authors, Robert Galford and Regina Maruca, say that for people leading an organization (or any group of individuals):

"... your legacy will be revealed in how your colleagues, employees, and others think and behave as a result of the time spent working with you.

If you start thinking about your leadership legacy now, you will greatly increase the odds of leaving a legacy that reflects your best qualities, as well as the elements of your leadership that you would like to see embedded in the fabric of the organization you leave behind.

More importantly, you will be a better and happier leader for the effort. In clarifying what you would like others to take away as a result of having worked with or for you, you will gain a better understanding of yourself in your role as a leader, and you will better understand how the big-picture view of your role is fueled by your actions on a daily basis.

Your legacy is today."

In my experience, the authors' viewpoint applies to everyone who takes time to consider their life legacy -- at any time or stage of their life. Whether or not you consider yourself to be a "leader" -- when you create an ethical will, personal legacy letter, or a "legacy statement" about your work -- you will better see how your daily actions are building a legacy of your lifetime. Thinking and writing about your legacy allows you to be more intentional about what you want to leave behind for future generations of your family, friends, and colleagues.

In upcoming postings, I'll share more of my own worklife legacy as well as some ideas for reflecting on your lifetime of work to "harvest" wisdom for your ethical will.

For more information about "legacy thinking" as described in the book, here's a link to an interview with the authors:

How Legacy Thinking Makes Better Leaders Today

I'd appreciate your feedback about the interview or the book if you've already read it.
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