If / when you leave your current job, what do you want people to remember you by?
What do you want them to say about you?
Do you want them to smile when they think of you or be relieved that you are no longer around?
What about you – Do you want to feel pleased with what you achieved (or at least confident in the knowledge that you tried to achieve it)?
Do you want to come away with more experience, knowledge, skills?
Then what are you going to do about it?
What are you already doing about it?
What did you do about it so far today?
People will remember you by who you were, what you said and what you did. They probably don’t know (or care) what you think you might do someday. That will not be part of your legacy.
In Steven Covey’s landmark book ‘the 7 habits of highly successful people’ habit 2 is Begin with the end in mind. When talking about personal mission statements he writes:
‘If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default…Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.’
To hammer the point home he suggests that you visualise your own funeral, and even go as far to write your own eulogy. All those nice things you want people to say about you. All those people you want to be there. Imagine it, and then you can start pro-actively doing something to make it a reality.
I’m not suggesting you need to go quite that far, but the principle is solid and can easily be applied to your job.
It’s the difference between saying ‘we’ll see what happens’ and ‘I want X to happen’. Between showing up at work with no intentions or working towards specific objectives. Between leading a team towards a common goal or having a bunch of people around you but working in confused isolation.
It’s never too late to do this. Regardless of whether you’ve been in a job for 5 days or 5 years, there is value to be had in looking forward. So far forward that you look all the way to the very end.
It makes sense when you think about it, if you don’t write down a statement of your intentions, how will you know if you’ve acted in line with them when you:
leave your job?
finish a project?
leave the office to go home tonight?
I urge you to act on this today. To consider documenting your own personal mission statement and write down what you want your colleagues to say about you and what you want them to remember you by when you’re gone.
It’s a truly enlightening experience that allows you to understand what you really value and believe in.
Some people will just sit and wait to find out how it all ends. Then there is you. You are going to stand out from the crowd by starting to build your legacy today, document the principles you want to demonstrate at work and continue on that path every day from here to eternity, and you know what? It’s going to make you feel great. Nice one.