"What's the most important contribution that you've made to your organization?"
Let that sink in for a minute.
Now take that question a step further. "What will your most important contribution to your organization be after you've left?"
As you start replaying the various initiatives you've been a part of let's clear something up right away. Keeping operations running smoothly is not the answer to either of my questions. While important, no one has a legacy that starts with "she always kept the trains running on time."
That is an expectation, not a legacy.
The most important, and candidly impactful, things I've accomplished in my career required a fair amount of risk and courage. Trying new approaches in very public ways (which means failure would also be very public); and, tackling unpopular issues were always at the top of my list.
Was I a glutton for punishment? Of course not. Did I see opportunities to make a real difference in the life of my organizations? I sure did. The cold reality of pushing issues that are risky is that it is often a lonely path forward. The support often comes after breakthroughs and success.
But that's not what legacies are built around. It's all about the difference we make. Not the slaps on the back, or praise in front of the masses. Not chasing glory to pump up our fragile ego. It is simply about knowing we did the right thing in a big way.
How About You
What will your legacy be long after you've written the last verse? What about the other aspects of your life: family, faith, relationships or volunteering? True legacy means that what we've created outlives the hand that created it.
I'd love to hear from you.