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Archive for June, 2013

Legacy: Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor of the past. ~Merriam Webster

Your legacy is the impression that remains long after you are gone; it’s the story people tell of who you were, what you were made of, and what your character was.

What does it mean to leave a legacy? One must lead with the future in mind; taking a long-term perspective, focused on others rather than oneself.

This is a topic I teach on frequently, both formally and informally. You see, the potential for leaving a legacy lies within each of us, regardless of our job, our status, our career, or official “title.” Every single person has the opportunity to leave a legacy.

Like so many things about leadership, you get to choose who you will be and what you want to be remembered for when you are gone. Will you be remembered as the kind of person who led by example, managing yourself as a person of high integrity and character, one who worked his/her way through adversity with dignity and respect for others?

Will you be remembered as the person who gave up at the first sign of difficulty, who treated others poorly…as stepping stones on your path to obtain whatever goal you set for yourself?

There was a time when I had a gift bow stuck to the door of my office; it was there to remind me that I should be a ‘gift’ to the people whose lives I touched each day. I want this to be my legacy — that I added value to others any time I had (or could make) the opportunity; that I was a river (allowing my gifts to flow freely to others) rather than a reservoir (holding my knowledge and wisdom to myself). There are other things I want to be remembered for, of course. But these two thoughts may give you some idea of what I’m striving for.

This month, on our Intentional Leadership* journey, we will explore this concept of legacy — the lasting impression that lingers after a person is gone.

Before we get started, take out your journal and spend a little time pondering these questions:

What legacy do you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered?

What can you do to build that legacy?

Where do you need to invest your energy and influence to achieve the greatest impact?

How can you share this concept of legacy with your team and your organization, as you develop them into leaders, as well?

 

*The Intentional Leadership journey is drawn from a handbook of the same name, developed by Giant Impact, purchased at Leadercast 2012.

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As a leader you are always on stage; someone is always watching you. And when you experience adversity, as you no doubt will, your people will be watching to see how you handle it. Will you react — instantly and from a place of emotion — or will you respond — from a place of thoughtfulness and intentionality?

Will you persevere or will you give up?

While we would all probably prefer to not go through the hard times, they are opportunities for growth and demonstration of what you’re really made of. They are opportunities to grow your influence. When you show you have what it takes to overcome obstacles, work through challenges, and succeed in your mission, you are   proving your worthiness to lead.

How you respond in these times will define your leadership more effectively than nearly anything else you do.

The key is, you get to decide.

Who will you be?

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It’s been an interesting week for me. I’m still working to change a “bad” habit I developed in Guatemala, which is staying up way later than I should. I know how much sleep I need, and I haven’t been doing the things that allow me to get enough. So, I’ve been fantasizing about sleeping in and taking naps all week!

I’ve also had the opportunity to connect with some new, interesting people…to reconnect with others I’ve known but haven’t seen or talked to in a while. And I’m working on some really important things that I’ve needed to get done, to drive myself forward. That feels good. I am in need of — and ready to — create some new habits that will help me come closer to the better version of me that I long for.

So, this weekend, I have some homework to do, but am going to limit it in favor of spending some much-needed “girl time” with a close friend, whom I don’t see often enough. It will be about leisure, deep connection, profound conversation, good food, and sleep!

And I will take time to plan out my next week, to set myself up for success.

What are you up to this weekend? What have you done to set yourself up for an enjoyable, intentional weekend?

What do you need to do to set yourself up for success in the coming weeks?

Who do you need to connect with this weekend?

Who can help you be more intentional about how you spend your time? Find that person and ask him or her to spend a little time with you to help you become the very best version of you that you can become!

Have an intentional, enjoyable weekend!

“See” you soon!

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Do you have your journal handy? Let’s spend some time today in reflection.

What are the three hardest aspects of your job? Write them down.

Next to each one, list the reason for the difficulty.

Then, imagine yourself persevering through each of the three areas, and write the rewards you will earn by enduring.

Now that you have greater clarity, what actions will you take to make them reality and move forward, intentionally and confidently, into your future?

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What challenging situation is your team facing right now? How can you lead them to persevere in the midst of these challenges?

Let’s develop a plan:

What’s the situation?

What are the challenges?

How will you lead them through this time?

What milestones will you celebrate?

How will you recognize and reinforce the behaviors your team needs to demonstrate in order to be successful?

What do you think you might learn about yourself and your team-mates through this experience?

What past principles have you learned that will serve to give you confidence going forward?

How will this make a difference for your team?

Who do you want them to experience about your leadership through this time?

Once you’ve taken the time to thoughtfully answer these questions, step forward and lead your team confidently to success!

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They say experience is the best teacher. I beg to differ…Experience is the best teacher when we choose to reflect on our experience and learn the lessons inherent in them. This is when we gain wisdom. If we don’t do the reflection, then we have merely lived through a string of experiences.

Sometimes, we don’t recognize the lesson until much later, following an experience; it may be days, weeks, months, even years later before we can see the positive impact a challenging time had on us.

Think back to a difficult season in your life. What was it and how did you face it?

Looking back, what benefits were there for you as a result of that difficult time, that you weren’t able to see then? (Did the situation redirect your path in life? Did it bring you closer to family, friends, co-workers? Did it prepare you in some way for your current work or some other challenge you’ve faced since then?)

How does your new perspective motivate you to persevere as a leader in your current situation, know that there are unforeseen rewards on the other side?

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Perseverance offers a number of rewards, some of them may even be sweet!

Think about Milton Hershey. Yes, THE Milton Hershey of Hershey’s chocolates fame. He was fired from his first job as a printer’s apprentice, for lack of attention to detail. Next, working in a candy store, he discovered his passion and opened his own shop in Philadelphia. Although he had plenty of financial support, he went bankrupt. He moved to Denver to work in his father’s mining venture, but missed the opportunity.

Again, he went to work in a candy store. Learned some new things, and moved east, again. He opened another candy store in NYC; again, he went broke!

No one would have been surprised or would blame him had he given up and gone to work, again, for someone else. But he didn’t. He summoned his courage and tried, again. (There’s that word, again — “AGAIN”!) And aren’t we all thankful he did? Personally, I’m partial to the semi-sweet variety of his chocolate and am enjoying some now, as I write!

The key is, he was persistent. And his name is synonymous with chocolate.

And what about Walt Disney? I believe he went bankrupt seven times before his dreams for Disneyland were realized. I’m sure we could all think of several other similar stories of passion, adversity, perseverance, and eventual success.

Leadership and failure are inseparably linked. When you attempt to bring your vision to life, you will experience bumps in the road, you will find you have fallen into a pot hole or even a giant sink hole along your journey…or you may be blazing an entirely new trail, with all kinds of unforeseen obstacles ahead. The trick is to learn from these setbacks, grow through them, and move beyond them. You will feel the amazing sensation of satisfaction — along with your success — when you do. And my friends, there’s not much like true satisfaction in knowing you stuck to it and accomplished what you set out to do.

Spend a little time today thinking about your greatest setback in your life to-date. What was it?

How did you get through it?

What was the bittersweet reward?

What did you learn from it that you have carried forward and use in other situations?

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