Living and Leaving a Legacy

Who am I? Why am I here? And where am I going?

Perhaps you’ve visited these questions more than once, stopping at various stages; the ones we think of as defining moments. Events like getting married, having children, changing jobs, buying a new house, and moving into that house create opportunities to examine ourselves.

As the years go by, our thinking shifts slightly. I submit that the three questions change too. The trio becomes:

  • How did I do?
  • What difference did it make?
  • How will I be remembered?

All three get rolled together to become the Legacy we leave behind.

Many of my executive coaching clients are concerned about that legacy. They know the company isn’t going to name a building after them, but they wonder whether their leadership influence matters. Just about the time you think you have answers to all the questions, life throws you a curveball.

Life’s Surprises

Recently I received an email from someone introducing themselves as my first cousin from my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. I’ve been following my family genealogy for quite some time. I knew I had reached a dead end on the branch that was my grandmother. Because of the power of the Ancestry.com database, the first cousin found me. She had begun building her family tree only a few weeks ago, yet there I was in the database. We have already spoken by phone, exchanged many family photos, and made plans for future connections.

I had resigned myself to the notion that this portion of my history was going to go unknown. In fact, I’ve been thinking that all of my adult life. Yet now, I have a whole new light to shine in my story. It has brought new energy and excitement to things.

It turns out this family line is a Lewis family; notably of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as well as some Hawkins namesakes who trace relationship to Davy Crockett (of the Alamo). I now have a complete line of heritage that includes military service in the American Revolution, War of 1812, the Civil War and both World Wars.

I realize many Americans can claim similar family history, but it made me proud all over again for the roots and legacy others left me. It has created a renewed commitment to live my remaining years to the full.

So What?

The big so-what is that we all should take time periodically to recalibrate. We need reflection on the things that have happened. We need to reaffirm our purpose.

For the things that have already happened, you can make amends for shortcomings. For those yet to happen, make stronger plans driven by better choices.

I use a tool to define a personal purpose vision statement. Once this has been done the first time, it’s helpful to review it periodically to account for life events that may have changed your perspective. If you’d like a free copy of the Power of the Personal Purpose tool click here.

Doug Thorpe
Doug Thorpehttps://www.headwayexec.com/
With 25+ years in executive leadership, Doug is a been-there-done-that kind of leader. He has senior management experience in all major sectors; the military, Fortune 500, entrepreneurial, and non-profit. He has also enjoyed success as an entrepreneur, building several companies and non-profits. Doug’s clients realized significant cost savings, more effective operations, and higher profitability by using his business expertise. Doug provides executive coaching and business consulting services for executives and owners seeking fresh ideas for development of C-suite talent, high potential leaders, and team development. His firm is Headway Executive Coaching. Doug is the author of The Uncommon Commodity.
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Donna Luisa

Doug thanks for this. Re-calibrating is indeed necessary as we move and live life. For me, the living legacy has been started from the birth of my first son. We are all connected to others even if we are not happy with the ‘mix’ at times :-)

Larry Tyler

Great message Doug. Thank you for sharing

Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.

Thanks for this nudge for some intentional introspection. I requested a copy of the Power of the Personal Purpose tool and I’m eager to carve out some time to dig into it this weekend.

Laura Mikolaitis

I love your article, Doug. You are right, we do need to recalibrate, and I’ve been feeling that nudge for weeks now. But was having trouble getting out of my way – and my head – to push the reset button. To borrow from Melissa Hughes, this is a great nudge. Thank you for this gift.

I am fascinated by your Geneology story. Similar to you, I found out a couple of years ago that William Bradford, who penned “Of Plymouth Plantation,” is my 11th great grandfather. To say it blew my mind is an understatement. However, it does make you think, take stock, and recalibrate. We all have a legacy, and we all need to take the time to push our reset button.

Thanks for sharing this great piece. I truly enjoyed reading it.

Maureen Y. Nowicki

I loved your story Doug, about Ancestry and your connection…genealogy is fascinating. Anyway, as we enter a new decade as a society and I enter a new decade of my life shortly…I feel what you are saying about recalibration and reflection. Thank you for offering us your tool.

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