What do you want your legacy to be?

When you move on from your current job, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? It’s a tough question to answer, likely because you’ve never really thought about it before. You should though. And, here’s why.

So many of us make the mistake of letting our careers happen to us, rather than being proactive and making it happen for us. We look around at the successful people in our office and wrongly assume that they’re successful by chance, or that success comes with just putting in the time.

Whether you’re dedicated to a life-long career in the same company, moving from organisation to organisation trying to make a difference in something you care about or creating your own path solving problems as an entrepreneur, nothing comes easy and you’ll never reach your potential without a decent amount of forethought and effort.

So what can you do to give yourself the best chance of reaching your potential and being successful? Think about this.

In his book “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?”, Seth Godin makes the observation that bosses lie about what they want in an employee. They say they want someone who will be on time. Who will follow instruction. Someone who comes in and does their job and doesn’t make any trouble.

So, why is it that the people who follow these rules aren’t getting the promotions? Or more poignantly, why is it that the people getting promoted, the big stars of the show, aren’t the ones following these rules?

“The world no longer fairly compensates people who are cogs in a giant machine” – Seth Godin

It’s because what she really wants is someone who can think for them-self. Who sees possibilities and makes them happen. Who creates. Who connects the dots. Who sets the shit on fire (what ever that means).

She wants someone remarkable – who is worth remarking about. Someone who is exceptional – who is the exception. Someone who disrupts, creates, collaborates, leads et cetera. Being even one of these things would leave a great legacy.

So, how do you become more remarkable? Exceptional? How do you become indispensable?

First, follow these two steps:

  1. Answer this question: If your organisation wanted to replace you with someone far better at your job than you, what would they look for?
  2. Become the answer. Read, learn, work hard and become the person who is far better at your job than you currently are.

Then, do all of these things:

  • Become a connector. Make a habit out of introducing people who will get value from each other both inside and outside your organisation.
  • Pick one new person every week and buy them a coffee. Sit with them. Drink coffee together. Don’t talk about work. Ask lots of questions. Listen.
  • Write something inspiring for your company blog and submit it to be published. It will likely draw the attention of your superiors, so make sure it’s good.
  • Think of one new, properly thought-out idea every month, that solves a real problem faced by your organisation and tell your boss about it. Be ready to produce a brief outline and project plan and make sure your idea has the potential to make a real impact, like increase productivity or save money. It’s not that hard, it’s only twelve ideas a year.
  • Grab with both hands and all your strength every learning opportunity you find.


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