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Patti Cotton

3 Keys to Creating Your Leadership Legacy

“If this were my last day, would I still be willing to do what I am about to do?”
– Steve Jobs

One of the most important moments in your life may be when you decide to move from seeking ambition to meaning.  The ambition to succeed turns out to be a never-ending pursuit to a destination that is just beyond the horizon.  On the other hand, meaning, or significance is focused on filling a need that is larger than you.  It’s about creating a leadership legacy through selfless service so that you make impact now, and far after you are gone – through bettering the lives of others in whatever you undertake.

Many professionals long for more meaning in their work and life and to create a leadership legacy, but fear letting go of the pursuit of success, thinking they will lose their aspired financial goals.  The irony is, that living your leadership legacy risks nothing more than a mindset shift to how you approach your life and work.
This can often result in greater financial gain because you elevate to optimal levels the way you engage with others.

As you think about creating your own leadership legacy, keep in mind the following 3 points:

  • Get your purpose on, and follow its trail. Do you know the difference between your purpose and your present role?  If you don’t, you may headed for deep disappointment, and even a loss of identity at some point.  One of my clients we will call Anne first reached out for help when a political shift at the top of her company caused her to lose her position.

“I stayed too long,” Anne opined.  “I was ready to leave 3 years ago, but I just didn’t know who I was without this role.  And now I don’t know what my purpose is, anymore.”

The problem was that Anne was confusing her purpose with her role at the company.  Your purpose reflects your values and specific ways you feel called to make impact, and your position is simply where you live out your purpose at this time.  Should you lose a position tomorrow, or decide that the passion is gone from what you are doing and want to move, you take your purpose with you.  It simply takes different shapes as you take on different roles.

What is your purpose?

  • Anyone can make huge impact – so bloom where you are planted before you consider a different flowerpot. It’s not about how large a position you hold, but about the way you approach your work and life, that creates your leadership legacy.  Leadership is all about making life better for others – filling a   Recently, I was talking with Sylvia, a well-respected executive in the insurance services industry.

“Dad was a man who mentored people before the term became popular,” she said.  “We kids knew that if he spoke, we should listen.  And he was known for shepherding others in the community.  His advice was always solid, because his motives were to help others be better people. That was his leadership legacy.”  She admitted that this influence has greatly affected her success, today, and she has begun mentoring others in her workplace in the same way.

Did Sylvia’s dad hold a prestigious position in the world?  Not by most people’s standards.  He was a modest farmer who decided that he wanted to help others become more of who they could be, starting with his own children.  But, what a tremendous legacy he gifted the world through affecting his family and community.

Are you called to bloom where you are planted, or is it time to move?  What working and life conditions do you need in order to create and live your leadership legacy?

  • Nourish your purpose in mind, spirit, and body. You may have a mindset that has moved from success to significance, and your spirit may be willing, but are you living a life of balance that reflects and nourishes purpose?  What are those activities and distractors that need to be eliminated?  This may sound harsh, but we can allow many “good” things to get on our calendar, only to find that these keep us from the “great.”   A client I will call Mary formed an initiative to help young women reintegrate into society after having served prison time.

“This is my purpose,” Mary shared.  “I want to help young women reunite with their families and get back on their feet so they can become meaningful contributors to society.”

The problem was that after Mary inspired community leaders about the initiative, she did not follow through on their counsel and connections.  She was provided with many offers to fund and help get her initiative underway, but she always had an excuse as to why she could not do the work involved.  When she called me, she had burned many bridges, and she needed help.  What we discovered as we talked was this:  Mary would have the time to follow through if she let go of some activities crowding her calendar.  These activities were simply things that sounded interesting to her, and in fact, a convenient way not to move forward.  At the bottom of this was Mary’s fear of failure.  We regrouped to form a plan that would yield results, focusing on the right activities and endeavors, eliminating those that did not serve…and she got underway.

What do you need to let go of, in order to make room for your leadership legacy?cover

To your success!

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