Thursday, March 26, 2009

Legacy: As a leader, what do you want to be remembered for?

Legacy: As a leader, what do you want to be remembered for?

I read the account of Methuselah who lived for 969 years, almost 1000 years. This dude lived the life of 10+ people! But his Legacy was written in two sentences. In fact, there was nothing to be remembered about Methuselah except that he was the oldest person that ever lived, and he had sons and daughters. Sons and daughters? The Octo Mom Nadya Suleman had proved to us that that’s not a big deal. Great legacy?

According to global leadership guru, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, “the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.”
I teach college students Principles of Marketing. I have argued that in most ways, we are all marketers or at the minimum, salespeople, without knowing it. Everything we do, say or write, at work, home, in the community or online, is an act of selling. We are selling ourselves—making impressions of ourselves. Thus, we leave a legacy that remains when we are gone. So, it’s not how long we lived but how well.
I don’t mind a foundation in my name, an estate, university, fortune 500 company or a city named after me. However, are these best legacies to leave when we “wash the nets”? What is your best legacy as a leader? What makes a great legacy? Was William Shakespeare right when he wrote “No legacy is so rich as honesty?”

Benjamin Anyacho


  1. Benjamin,

    At the end of the day, it is one's character, not merely one's accomplishments, that make the man or woman.

    I desire that my legacy as a leader to be defined by my integrity, my willingness to stand for principles (even at personal cost), my nurturing and constructive support for my team, and my ability to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons to get the job done.


  2. I spent part of my career as a paramedic. As you can imagine, I got to see a lot of “legacy’s” being left as people past away in my presence. It struck me that you could learn a lot about the person and their legacy by how other people acted in their absence.

    15 years ago a young child was diagnosed with cancer; I got to know him through transports to the infusion center for treatments. This 12 year old boy knew he was going to die, but he always strived to make people happy. He told me that he wanted to see a smile on everyone’s face he came in contact with. Many times, he wouldn’t let me leave his side without seeing a smile. He always brought joy to everyone he met. He made me happy every time I saw him. No matter how sick he got he always tried to make people happy.

    A few months later, this child past away from the disease he fought so hard to beat. Even though I only knew him for a few months, I wanted to attend his funeral. I didn’t know why he made such an impact on my life. But I knew this world would be missing a very special person. The funeral was full of all the people he came in contact with from nurses, doctors, even a taxi cab driver who took him and his mom to the hospital once. As you entered the funeral home, you told there was a requirement to attend- you had to smile and be joyful. His life impacted so many people and his legacy was one of joy while striving against difficulty. He moved and inspired many people.

    The best legacy we can leave as leaders is one that is spent serving others. Our life as a leader should be spent serving the business and people we come in contact with- even the insignificant people like paramedics and taxi cab drivers. If we focus our time investing in others, our legacy will be one that is rich and fulfilling.

    I think anyone can leave an “object” ( a monument, a building) as a legacy, but a leader changes peoples’ lives as part of their legacy. John Quincy Adams once stated, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more, you are a leader.” I think this is a great legacy.

    Smile and be joyful

  3. In the BioPic 'Walk the Line' Sun Studio record producer Sam Philips says to a young Johnny Cash:

    "If you were hit by a truck and were lying out there in the gutter dying and you had time to sing one song. One song people would remember before you're were dirt. One song that would let people know about how you felt about your time on earth. One song that would sum you up. Something real. Something you felt. What would that one song be?"

    My 'one song' really sums me up. An 8 hour self-help audio-book, that I wrote, produced, and read.

  4. GLoLady: a woman who radiates light. Wrote the sequel to the Bible. Revolutionized the US economy using glow in the dark safety products and the profits to heal the disease and decay in Society. Organized 1st Sunday Community Pot Luck Dinners, bring people together in time of need.

    Genius hinges on insanity only when we are not true to ourselves. Walking to the beat of our own drum even when others hear silence.

  5. Humility, integrity and willingness to serve others - I want others to see Jesus Christ through me and my life.

  6. I want my life to be a dynamic representation of my values:

    Standing up for what's right

    These are just a few of my core values. If I live them, my legacy will be that I made a difference.

    Chip Meneley
    Confluence Coaching, LLC

  7. I want my legacy to be outside of the business world...I want to be remembered as a great father and husband. Those areas are more important to me than any business.

    My children will live in my legacy and my wife will work with and even "in" that legacy again.

    This involves loyalty, integrity, faithfulness and hope.

    Just my thoughts!

  8. On 03/26/09 1:14 PM, Barry Bainton wrote:
    Who are the greatest leaders? Those who expressed and gave meaning to life, in my opinion. These are the moral and leaders, who in their time challenged the status quo, inspired others, and found acolites who were so moved that they went on to found universal institutions that captured and promote those values. These would include Jesus, Abraham, Mohammad, Buddha, and in more modern times Darwin, Einstein. A true legacy is knowledge and wisdom that advances the species in the face of the chaos of life..

  9. I have found myself thinking of this question often. I’m still not sure of the answer.

    I think that the best legacy I can leave is not in the big things, but in the little things. I am first and foremost a father, and I want to instill in my children the legacy that my parents left for me. I often find myself quoting my Mom and Dad, in fact I did so in a Linked In question I answered just a while ago. I know that much of what they taught me came from their own parents and grand-parents. So my legacy in that light is passing on to my kids what my parents gave to me.

    Secondly, as a partner, a husband, I want to leave for my wife a good life. That I’ve done my best, to the best of my abilities and opportunities, to be a good partner and provider. To have helped, held, hoped, dreamed, and shared all that life brings us and to have never held back.

    As a professional, and as a person, I want to follow somewhat the Hippocratic concept of “do no harm”. I try to do good and be good for others, but I’m a realist. I won’t save everyone, or make as large a difference as say Mother Theresa, but I can live my life so that I will not have made a burden in any way to others. Professionally this is especially a challenge in that I feel that I sometimes need to push my people to grow them. But that is why I constantly strive to be a better leader, to learn and grow myself professionally, to provide for them the best manager and director that I can be.

    I’m a UMASS Alumni, and a huge UMASS hockey fan. I recently saw an interview with the UMASS hockey coach regarding his team’s loss in the Hockey East championship. His response to the interviewer about being disappointed in not making it to the final was priceless. He said that the only sin would have been to have left something on the ice; to have not given every single ounce of energy, every effort, and every attempt to win. His team did that, and there is no disappointment in truly giving your best.

    I guess when you think about it, that’s the only true legacy that I can leave. To show my children, my family, my friends, and my staff that we all need to give our best; always.

    Don’t leave anything on the ice. Give it your all.

  10. The best legacy I can leave as a Leader, is a whole new generation of truly great leaders that have the spirit and determination to lead and the desire to leave a another generation of great leaders!

    John Pillow

  11. I would not be so quick to disparage Methuselah. His achievement was so profound, so unique, and so well known, that the old fellow has become a noun.

    There is something to be said for becoming a noun. James Watt became a noun, representing power even to this day. Adolf Hitler became a noun, it is true, but his name is a pejorative. We honor Napoleon with a couple of nouns, one a pejorative, the other a pastry.

    Few people in history are sufficiently notable or notorious to even reach the lesser status of adjective. A candy retailer named Morris Michtom honored Teddy Roosevelt by naming a stuffed animal after him. Michtom founded the Ideal Toy Company on the strength of public response to the Teddy Bear, but the toy's association with Roosevelt's name was so tenuous that it is now all but forgotten; few writers these days even bother to capitalize the "teddy" part.

    The adjective taken from Charles Ponzi's family name is much in the news these days, but his unfortunate survivors may have difficulty passing checks imprinted with their names. Franz Kafka became the root of an adjective – although his name requires an added "-esque" to serve that purpose. Almost anybody can be an –esque. Even the pop bubblegum music supergroup ABBA, whose name is an acronym for its members, has lent its moniker to an adjective of the -esque form – though not one that is entirely complimentary.

    One's legacy may also become a verb. Folks caution White House interns these days not to Lewinsky. Good advice, but in another generation it won't be understood – and probably won't be followed anyway.

    Victor Hugo said, "The word is the Verb, and the Verb is God." Buckminster Fuller expressed that line as "God, to me, it seems, is a verb not a noun, proper or improper." Some say that Fuller declared that he, himself, was a verb – which with some logical manipulation might be taken to equate himself with God. I'm not so sure he actually ever claimed to be a verb and I'm pretty sure he never claimed divinity. I am fairly certain, though, that Ulysses S. Grant, shortly before he died, believed himself to be a verb instead of a personal pronoun. Possibly just wishful thinking on the General's part.

    I could accept a legacy as a verb, so long as it is an energetic one.

    I would also be satisfied were my legacy an adjective, but more delighted to survive as a noun. What, exactly, would a Kalsey be? That remains to see. Something admired, or respected, or striven for, I hope. Any good thing will do.

    One thing I do not look forward to being is a past participle, mostly because few people know what those are.

    Bob Kalsey

  12. Delicious, Benjamin!

    I desire my legacy to be the rich quality of people who come after me at every stage of my leadership and as a testament to it...

    Warmest to you... Sharon

  13. Ok, LEGACY, my life's quest...From a young age, I knew my responsibility in creating legacy...I peaked early, in my 20's and 30's, in an industry formed around empowering people and people pleasing, My payback, I had a livelihood.

    On many levels, the best job I ever had. But real life came crashing down, 5 major issues gripped ever aspect of my life, and still 15 years later, trying to pick up the pieces. WHY? After making what I thought were healthy choices, given where I came from, I was niavely leveled to the ground, quite literally...Girl interrupted.

    People said, Now it's time to take care of yourself...A task I found boring, since all I knew was making people smile, feel good about themselves. Helping people to change their everyday life through the mind, body and spirit, was my life's calling, for the first half.

    And now at 47, staring at 50,and not being defined by being a parent, or mother, I believe, I am beginning to feel my self. Through all the stops and starts over the last 15, I believe again, that I have a self worth creating a legacy from.

    So What is a Legacy? Mentorship, Inspiring Wisdom to Change from storytelling, nudging not judging and being happy inside with who you are, not what you do...Balancing who you are with all that you love to you do and be.

    Cheers, Andreya