This political season has been anything but awe inspiring. No matter which side you lean towards, the influence of our leaders seems to be lacking. It sometimes makes me wonder, what kind of legacy am I leaving – not only in my work life but in my private life too? Do you measure your legacy by the success you’ve enjoyed? Exactly what do we mean by success?
If you gave your resignation letter today at work, how would you be remembered by your colleagues? Would they still be talking about you next week, next year, or in five years? How will you be remembered? Were you the deal-closer, the hot head, the star manager, or the person who instituted a major policy initiative? It’s easy to fall into the pattern of just going to your job, putting in 8 or more hours of work, and then coming home. Giving it our best shot is very admirable. But are we capable of even more? Are we considering what influence we have on the people around us and how we can make a difference?
Taking a long term perspective. We can build a legacy at work. Good leaders plan long term goals. They’re not racing the clock to make changes overnight. Instead, they are hard at work building ethics, integrity and honesty into the workplace. These are the leaders we would choose to follow as our careers develop.
We control our own success, our own legacy. Here are a few ideas of what you can do now, in your own work environment, to create the legacy and success you want.
- Take Action. Rather than wait to get past a few things that are happening around you, you can be proactive. You can start to think creatively and with a purpose. Recognize that your boss doesn’t have all the answers. He or she needs your help to innovate and think outside the box. If you are three steps ahead of your team, you pave the way for others to reach their goals. You make your life about something bigger than you. You can live through the positive impact you bring to others.
- Make Customer Satisfaction Your Goal. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of office politics, but it’s not very fulfilling. By working to satisfy clients in the workplace – whether they are internal or external – we can derive much joy and fulfillment.
- Encourage Others. An employee with an enthusiastic approach to her work makes a mark that sustains her professional reputation for years to come. It’s your choice. You can bring others up to your level or you can bring them down. Can you think of others who gave you support and encouragement in the workplace? They are the ones you are happy to have known. Who will you encourage today?
- Create Excellence. Have you ever noticed how one person who strives for excellence influences others? Bringing excellence to the workplace means that you might have to abandon some of the things that worked for you in the past. It may mean that you move forward and serve as a role model for others. A legacy of excellence is striving to do your best every day.
- Offer a Different Perspective. Bringing a different perspective to your work can be helpful for others in the organization. Instead of the day-to-day focus on your work, a strategy of working toward long term goals can help you frame your work differently. The daily ups and downs are less likely to affect you because you’ve built-in a realistic timeline to reach your goals. You have a workable plan that you can count on. Your perspective is a longer term view because you look at your job not in a vacuum, but how it influences and impacts your long term plans.
Thinking about your job in terms of the legacy you leave influences everyone around you. You don’t need to be an orator or politician to make a difference. How will your colleagues remember you?