What legacy are you creating? [Before you run out of time]

When I think of legacy, I think of a gift that somebody leaves behind when they move on to other things, and sometimes…other worlds.

Two weeks ago, I lost a precious friend. It was untimely, entirely unexpected and tragic. But, even amidst the sorrow, there was an outpouring of love and support that showed just how much she was loved and celebrated.

Our actions today create the future of tomorrow. So, what unique and lasting legacy can you create? I believe it begins with these 6 steps:

Generate Success Beyond Success

In one of my earlier posts, titled: The Four Domains to the Leadership of Being, I reiterate this framework and how it has the power to determine true success when you act in alignment with your values. When there’s congruence in thought, word, action, and reflection, you create a much more lasting legacy of success. The kind of success that is not dependent on the volatility of life, but instead anchored in your own values.

In Fred Kofman’s  words: “When behavior is consistent with values, we say the person has achieved unconditional success: success beyond success. This success generates an inner peace and happiness beyond the threats of external shocks.”

It’s not about whether you win or lose. It’s all about how you play the game whether people are watching or not. 

Change Lives 

I look at the lasting legacy of world leaders and influencers and wonder about scale. How big of a change-maker must you be to truly change lives? How powerful should you be to ‘become’ an influencer? Attending my precious friend’s funeral service reminded me that true power comes from love. And love changes lives. Love cares deeply. 

I stumbled upon a brilliant post on Forbes.com last week. Using a single concept, the author invites the reader to pay heed to the things they deeply care about. Jessica Hagy writes:

…The world will not magically better itself. The arc of history only bends toward justice and illumination when millions of people hammer on it with all the tools and strength they possess. Your deep cares will not fade from your mind just because you don’t act on them; they’ll haunt you. Deep cares need to become important work, or else they become deep regrets. So start with yourself, and then expand the reach of your action…

Create Unforgettable Moments of Truth

Yesterday, I met one of my all-time, favorite leaders. I was beside myself with joy on reconnecting. And even on video, her energy was luminous. Listening to her speak, I was reminded of a leadership language I had sorely missed hearing. Her influence on me isn’t an accident or a one-time hit. It was the result of her honest, generous, and consistent, belief-inspiring actions over the years.

A few months ago, I reached out to Mark Schaefer for advice and help. It was a difficult time for me and I didn’t quite know how best to proceed. He wrote back to me with a list of names, where they were located, and how they could help. He didn’t say, “Let me see”, “I’ll think about it”, “Sure, I’ll get back to you”. Or worse still, leave me with radio silence. Instead, he created an unforgettable moment of truth.

Embody the Abundance Mindset

One of my last roles in IBM was to lead the Learning & Development portfolio. I needed a strong, thought partner and consulted with someone more senior, experienced, and far better than I. People were aghast that I would consider hiring someone better than me and worse still, have them report to me. I saw it differently. What my organization needed the most at the time was talent, with deep expertise. That was non-negotiable. On the other hand, reporting structure, hierarchy, relationship dynamics etc. were all workable.

Holding back, not being generous, forming a clique, being insecure etc. don’t serve your legacy. They inhibit. But, sharing  power, credit, and appreciation encourage the foundations of great legacy. It allows you to mindfully move away from the scarcity mindset of ‘not enough’. Our time on earth is limited…but ‘there is enough (and more) pie to go around.’

Close Accounts, Make Peace

A therapist once shared with me how some people constantly feel frazzled. They open accounts everywhere and never reconcile them. The untied, loose ends stay untied. One of the 6 steps to create a lasting legacy before you are gone is to close accounts and make peace. Say the sorry’s, the ‘I love you’s, and hug your dear ones. Someday, it will be a huge part of the legacy you leave behind.

Leverage Relational Influence 

Feroshia Knight, a life long entrepreneur and master coach wrote on how Relationships have the power to change lives on the ICF blog. The target audience for this post includes coaches. But its appeal is universal in light of her message:

  1. You can add a positive, empowering, and empathetic presence into your client’s inner world.
  2. Through relational influence, your impact may hold the key to greater confidence and self-understanding in ways, immeasurable.
  3. You have the privilege (and responsibility) to be someone’s internal cheerleader.

What are you doing today to create a positive, empowering presence in the lives of people you impact? Are you their internal cheerleader? How are you creating a lasting legacy despite our physical impermanence?


Anitha Aswath | Coach, Consultant, BloggerAnitha Aswath is a Senior Leadership Coach, Team Consultant, and Global Facilitator. She has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and is trained by The Marcus Buckingham Company in StandOut and Strengths Coaching for Business Leaders. She is currently pursuing Brain-Based Coaching Certification from the NeuroLeadership Institute. An avid photographer, blogger, aviation enthusiast, Anitha is also a student of Indian Classical Music of the Hindustani style.

In an illustrious career spanning 20 years, she has served organizations like General Electric, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Target, and Cisco in regional and global capacities. As a Leadership Coach, she works with clients from all over the world to serve, teach, and enable the success of leaders and their teams.


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