Nelson Mandela. Give me three words that describe him.
We ask this question in every training seminarâ€¦Believe it or not I hear the same three words in almost any seminar all over the world. Why? He had a strong legacy.
It is hard to believe the holiday season is coming to a close and 2015 is tomorrow. While reflecting on the year, I realized that my legacy has become extraordinarily important. What will my children, friends, clients and colleagues think about me once I am gone? What is the legacy I am leaving behind? Is it one I can be proud of? Do people really know me? Have I been authentic and built a legacy that is worth talking about? Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions?
Our family celebrated the birth of Jesus this year along with the death of my father-in-law recently. I say we celebrated his death because we are certain of where he is going to spend eternity and that is the ultimate celebration. Here on earth, his legacy was not something to be fully celebrated for everyone. If you asked one person what they thought of him it might be completely different than someone else. A strong legacy is consistent.
My husband and I visited him right before he passed away. In full transparency, he and I never really clicked fully and I had negative feelings about him because I am so protective of my husband. What I found that day while visiting with him was something totally unexpected. He was kind and loving and I could tell had so much he wanted to share as he was fully aware his time on earth was coming to a close. His eyes were bright and clear without pretense or anger. Finally, after all of these years, I believe I saw the real man. The reality of death had stripped away the guilt, anxiety, fear, shame and frustration that he had been surrounded with in life. He wanted to speak so desperately and could barely get his words out well. He tried so hard and was able to say some things that he hadn't been able to in years when he physically could.
Isn't it tough to imagine that a man who had so much to say, finally, yet had so little time and physical issues which kept him from saying them all? What an absolute shame that he had allowed so much pain from his past to create a legacy that wasn't as incredible as it could have been. Don't allow all of your best moments to be written while near death or because of some catastrophe. Begin your legacy now it is never too late to start. The New Year is a great time to begin thinking about what you are leaving behind what will people think about you once you're gone?
Here are a few tips to begin building your legacy now:
1. Know your brand. Why? If you don't know WHO YOU ARE, you will never make decisions based upon your principles and values. Take the necessary steps to first discern your purpose and create a strong personal brand that speaks for you while making each decision through your brand filter rather than a lens of anger, guilt, doubt or frustration. We help individuals to build strong personal brands every day through brand coachingâ€¦who are you, why are you here and what is your purpose?
2. Determine to be authentic and represent who you are in all you do. You cannot leave a strong legacy if you are one thing at work, another at home and another to strangers. Your brand must leave a consistent impression think about social media and how you act when you perceive nobody is watchingâ€¦are you consistent and authentic? Be real and share who you are it is your brand story and it is unique to you. People go through trials, people fall, make mistakes and get back up again your trials mean nothing if you can't share them, learn from them and help others because of them. People want real. Be you.
3. Ask. Ask people around you what they think of you and how you are perceived. You may think people would say you are genuine and yet you hear that others perceive you are stoic. Hm. We can't grow, we can't improve and we certainly cannot create a strong legacy unless we know what others think about us right now. Be willing to get an F during this process in order to get an A in the end when it matters. In order to have a complete legacy one must be teachable, care about how they are perceived and ensure that people know the real person inside not just a Facebook profile that is only half true. Do you dress, speak, write and interact in a way that tells the world who you are or is your message confused? Does your image say I don't care,' but in reality you are trying hard to do a great job? That is a quick fix with lifelong benefits.
4. Higher Purpose. Ask yourself what your work translated into and how it serves or makes a difference. If you were to quit your job today, would people use your example as they continue to work and lead? Does the work you do serve others in any way and make a lasting impact?
Don't live life half way have a BRAND ON FIRE!
The visit with my father-in-law ended beautifully. My husband was able to share with him and my father-in-law was able to show love in a way he hadn't before. He even told me he was proud of meâ€¦amazing how one word can change a heart. As mine melted, I realized that he was more than what I thought and I now look forward to getting to know him in heaven and am thankful for His salvation that gives me the opportunity to do that. I am certain there will be days spent in heaven talking and laughing. That is a legacy I can be proud of.
2015 is the year to begin building a legacy that will impact generations. Take the first step today.
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