You Are the Steward of Your Legacy

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You Are the Steward of Your Legacy! Please note that is a statement not a question. When I first thought about writing a blog, like every inexperienced writer, I defaulted to the sophomoric style of introducing the concept in the form of a wonderfully provocative question. This,
however, is not a topic that demands provocation, but instead quiet introspection and determined action, made even more
so by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

For purposes of this conversation, legacy is defined as how you are remembered. We need look no further than the body of life’s work produced by Aung San Suu Kyi and Mahatma Gandhi to understand what a truly powerful legacy can be. Conversely, almost daily the media offers up one or more individuals whose successful and often illustrious careers or legacies have been forever compromised by previous behavior(s).

As for stewardship, well that is defined quite simply as the thoughtful, diligent, determined and active managing of our daily lives and thus our legacy.

Early in our lives and careers, despite (or perhaps because of) the sage counsel of our parents, mentors, and elders, we rarely give much thought to how we will be remembered, much less, how we could influence those recollections. Those among us who are trained in the matters of the human psyche may have a clearer understanding of the “why”; but I will simply propose it may be yet another symptom of the sense of invincibility that comes with youth.

The universe is constantly presenting us with opportunities to successfully be a steward of our legacy – as parents, managers, community members, volunteers, neighbors, caregivers to our aging parents or “lost” siblings, or as in this case this novice writer offering his ideas to a greater audience. Are we confident that we’ve consistently leveraged the daily opportunities to thoughtfully and generously coach, mentor, counsel and serve those in our spheres? It has never been more important than now for us to “lean in” and focus on the individual moments provided to each of us, and while doing so, define our legacy.

If all of this sounds like a call for us all to become servant leaders in our families, communities and workplaces, well it is. Some of the basic principles of servant leadership are listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, building community and commitment to the growth of others. Most of us would or should be pleased to have any one (or hopefully more than just one!) of those words used to describe us and our legacy. Legacies are built one day at a time, one thoughtful decision at a time, and most importantly, one human interaction at a time. And let’s be honest, some days our decisions and interactions are better than others; but avoiding the “heavy lifting” associated with building, managing and sustaining our legacy is an option - but a poor one.

So, to the laundry list of life’s bumper stickers offered with the best of intentions (albeit normally to also sell a book!) by self-help gurus, let me offer one more – “you are the steward of your legacy”, no exceptions. Embrace it. Teach it. Live it. Own it.

Prof Peter (Pete) Giulioni has over 35 years of experience in professional services, talent management and development, change management/integration/adoption, organizational development and business management consulting. After completing his MBA program in 1985 Pete launched his career in professional services as the founder and managing partner of GA Enterprises which he sold to Deloitte Consulting LLP. Immediately following his early retirement from Deloitte in 2004, he was recruited to serve as the Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the USC Marshall's MBA Career Center.  In Sept 2014, he joined the faculty of Nanyang Business School where he served as an Associate Professor in the SM&O Practice and as Assistant Dean of the Graduate Studies’ Career Development Office.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author

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