“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” – Dr Seuss

It’s been a sad couple of weeks saying goodbye to so many of the legends that marked our generation. Between my personal hero, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman and Glenn Frey, the heavens must be an entertaining place to be right now. But as much as we will all miss these great performers, the legacies they left behind will survive forever, and that’s no small feat.

Legacy is a funny thing, because we all leave one. We might not all be international superstars, but our actions, no matter how big or small, all have a ripple out effect on the people around us and beyond, no matter our status in life. That’s why, a few weeks back on a cold, rainy night that felt better suited to staying at home and watching a Netflix marathon, I found myself venturing out to a book launch. The book in question was Coaching in Times of Crisis and Transformation by Liz Hall and it was a discussion around a chapter on Legacy Thinking by Neil Scotton and Dr Alistair Scott that particularly caught my interest.

Legacy Thinking – a fairly new term but not a new practice – is not an egotistical exercise in crafting a reputation. Rather, it involves,

“Stepping outside of ourselves and paying attention to how our actions will be felt, seen and experienced by others. It’s about looking beyond, to another moment in time, possibly beyond our own life, and imagining what the ripple out of our actions has been.”

And while we may think that putting others before ourselves is too altruistic an ideal for the business world, the authors are quick to point out that, “By thinking of others first, we ourselves achieve greater fulfilment and our organizations gain a better reputation, increased loyalty and perhaps a brighter future.”

Sounds good, right? But how do we actually put it into practice? Scott and Scotton highlight a couple of questions in the book that you can ask yourself that will help you on this path. Here goes:

  • What if… Before making the next big business decision, time is taken to consider what impact the decision will have on all stakeholders, including those who are easily forgotten; the societies you work in, the natural world you draw resources from and give back to, and children in the future?
  • What if… As a member of a sports team, before you step onto the pitch together, the aim foremost in your mind is not simply to win, but to unite and inspire the nation? This is part of an extensive canon of philosophies and practices that have made the New Zealand All Blacks the highest-performing team in any sport ever.
  • What If… When facing a challenging situation, before you respond, you stop to consider: “How do I wish to be remembered?”

Personally, I loved these prompts. I think, collectively, we could all be improving our decision-making processes by considering them. And while I am no performer and you most definitely won’t be hearing any songs from me, it matters to me that the work I do leaves behind a positive legacy.

How about you?

To dig deeper into this topic, check out the book Coaching in Times of Crisis and Transformation by Liz Hall.