What is a legacy? Is it a gift, money, estate or bequest? It can be. But what we leave behind in life and in death is much bigger and more meaningful that that. What we leave for people is of far less consequence than what we leave in their hearts and minds. With every interaction, every action or inaction, we are building our legacy. Most people don’t think about it. Your legacy can be positive or negative or it can be bittersweet. You’re building it whether you intend to or not.
Our legacy is built at each job we hold, within our families, in friendships, in each aspect of life. Each of us can continue not thinking about it, and just let it happen. Or, we can choose to decide what our legacy will be. This is about you — the person you decide to be, to show to the world, and the impact you have on people and the world around you.
How can you build a positive legacy?
Building a positive legacy means developing the awareness and skills for managing moments. Following are some examples:
- Master Self-Regulation, a core people-skill. How often do you find yourself reacting emotionally in a situation, and saying something you later regret? Self-Regulation is a skill, a key component of emotional intelligence, that takes practice. It involves 2 steps:
- Pause: Stop for a moment and take a deep breath, or perhaps two or three.
- Ask yourself: Is this the right time and place to talk about this?
- By the time you’ve answered those questions in your mind, you’ll know how to respond with purpose. You have choices, for example: You can respond by summarizing the issue positively and non-critically and then discussing it; You can respond by deferring the conversation to another time and place; or You can commit to looking into or giving thought to the matter and get back to them. There are probably additional options going through your mind right now.
- Communicate with consideration.
- Take time to recognize and thank others. All that’s required is to be specific, sincere, and to do this often. Experience shows that this works whether it’s done face-to-face or with a note.
- While praising can be done in public or one-on-one, criticism needs to be given privately, respectfully and with the genuine intention of helping someone. Note: While it’s tempting to text or e-mail difficult messages, this generally worsens things; face-to-face is best, and telephone is second best.
- Learn to lose gracefully. Competition and ambition can be very healthy in life, sports and at work. But, losing gracefully doesn’t often come naturally to us. Sore losers spread anger, resentment and jealousy while undermining others’ achievements. None of that changes the outcome, but all of that negatively impacts everyone. The alternative is to learn to celebrate other peoples’ success, and make the impact wonderful.
Our words have power. With words, we can build up or tear down; inspire or demoralize, help or hurt other people. Our words — the impact they have on others — can be long lasting. Our legacy can be shaped immeasurably by our words and the way we’ve said them. What the world needs from each of us is to choose our words and actions based on the very best qualities of our character. Today, and every day, intentionally create your legacy.
What advice would you like to offer to others on building a powerful legacy? Please share your thoughts, ideas, experience and opinions about this article.
Copyright August 20, 2021 by Rosanna M. Nadeau
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