The Legacy You Live Is the Legacy You Leave
Do we want to be remembered as the leader where people say “wow, what an extraordinary and impactful person!” or as the leader whom people are doing high-five’s because you’re gone? I’d like to believe most people would prefer the former. It means that extraordinary leader has the ability to influence change in the lives of those around them in a positive way. It demonstrates that the leader is engaged in an act of leadership and that makes your leadership legacy the sum total of the difference you make in people’s lives. All eyes are on you! But a positive legacy doesn’t just happen by osmosis. What you control right now is the way you interact and form relationships with others. This determines what that legacy will look like today and in your future.
Learning to live by being our best selves is vitally important to how we lead which, unfortunately, isn’t always easy for some people. Leaders can often be people who do not understand their hearts or are simply burnt out. We’ve seen the leader that is dismissive, not inclusive, rude, makes poor decisions, belligerent and ultimately doesn’t care for the people around them. These leaders typically lack confidence, do not skills, and lack the capacity to develop good partnerships with others. Simply put, these folks are in the wrong place to be effective and make long lasting and impactful relationships. Yup, “snap, snap” and poof!
First, it’s about understanding who you are. I am reminded of Tori McClure who is the first woman to ever successfully row across the Atlantic Ocean. Her book, A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean (2009), is about how, through her perilous journey found her heart. She conveys that life is about the storms that twist our lives and shatter our dreams but it’s also about the pearls: the guides, the guardians, and the mentors who lift us up after we fall. There were moments during her journey where she thought she would die and that most certainly provides the space for one to reevaluate how you’re living your life and how you ultimately treat others. McClure takes on an intense journey to learn what it means to be human. This takes incredible courage to do so. It takes a leader.
I would like to believe that one doesn’t need to row across the ocean to find their heart but maybe, just maybe we should? Taking a journey where you’re trying to understand your fears and insecurities is an arduous one. You will suffer. But in this process, we will grow exponentially and learn to understand others, give of oneself, and know that our heart is fully engaged in our capacity to lead others.
Once we understand our heart, then it is true leadership in action! One of my sheroes is Oseola McCarty who was an African American woman who, at the age of 9, was pulled out of school in the Mississippi Delta. She washed other people’s dirty laundry all her life. At age 87, she gave her entire life savings of $150,000 for college scholarships aimed at black students to the University of Southern Mississippi. The example of this 3rd grade dropout using her pocketbook to open school doors for the next generation of black children drew national attention. At the end of her life, she said that the prize she wanted most of all was that “black children wouldn’t have to work as hard as she did.” McCarty was no educator but her actions energized the legacy of uplifting others today by lending a helping hand to the next generation because she understood what it means to give so that others have educational access. It takes a leader.
Being human and living your legacy has far greater potential to be a “thumbs up” leader and not a “thumbs down.” Who wants to be remembered as a “high-five-glad-we-got-rid-of-you…?!” I can only imagine the damage and chaos caused by that type of leader because of their lack of humanness. Simon Biles let us know that know that "People have to realize that, at the end of the day, we're humans, we're not just entertainment," Biles said. Her decision not to compete demonstrated to us the heart and courage it took for her to say “no” and focus on self-care. It takes a leader.
Remembering our ‘humanness’ really is the center of how our legacy will be defined. Keeping our humanness front and center will help us to always do the right thing. We want to be remembered for what we do that impacts others. Finding our own light and tools and learning to lead from your heart is a journey but one that will give ultimate dividends in the end when you share your gifts with others. John Lewis said, “that if you come together with a mission, and its grounded with love and a sense of community, you can make the impossible possible.” And that really is the sum total of what it means to live our legacy.
Dr. Jocelyn Briddell is our anchor blogger for Blogging Out Loud NOW! She is a renaissance women. Her latest endeavor was creating a grove of fruit trees on her land on the East Coast.
She keeps the rest of the TMG team is awe of her energy and curiosity.