As the pandemic spreads throughout the world, it does make us begin to take stock of our present conditions and where we are headed – either personally, professionally or both. It also makes me wonder, and maybe you also, “What kind of legacy am I leaving – not only in my work life but in my private life too?”
How will you be remembered? Just how do we measure our legacy? Is it by the success we’ve enjoyed? And if that’s the case, 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? 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. And if you’re the business owner, probably putting in a lot more hours than that! 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. Everyone can build a legacy at work, we just have to decide what we want that legacy to be. 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 choose to follow as our careers develop.
In truth, we all 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. And in the age of the pandemic, or whatever other emergency you may be experiencing, being proactive is a necessity. 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. How can you do things differently? How can you improve a process now? 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. If ever there was a time to think of others, it’s now.
- 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. It may take some creative thinking. It may mean going above and beyond normal expectations. But by satisfying the needs of others around you, you leave a legacy of caring.
- Encourage Others. An employee with an enthusiastic approach to her work makes a mark that sustains her professional reputation for years to come. While it’s sometimes hard to come by, especially in trying times, it’s still your choice. You can bring others up to your level or you can bring them down. If you are like most people, we want to be around other people who make us feel good – people who inspire others. 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? While sometimes we may just want to “check the box,” going a step further and doing our best not only brings you more satisfaction but enables others to strive further. It may mean that you have to abandon some of the things that worked for you in the past. But striving for excellence also means that you move forward and serve as a role model for others. A legacy of excellence takes effort, but is extremely rewarding.
- Offer a Different Perspective. A different perspective is especially important when times are tough. You have to look at things differently. You have to find other ways to accomplish things that may be beyond the ordinary. Sometimes, these new ideas bring innovation to the company. 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 affects everyone around you. You don’t need to be an orator or politician to make a difference. No matter what your job, or your role within the company, you can leave a legacy. How will your colleagues remember you?