I was talking to a doctor recently who didn’t like the idea of being a legacy maker. He thought it sounded somewhat superior and grandiose. In essence, he couldn’t see that what he was doing was creating a legacy.
For clarity, a legacy:
“Anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor”
“Consequence, effect, outcome, upshot, spin-off, repercussion, aftermath, footprint, by-product, product, result, residue, fruits”
What proceeded was a discussion regarding a real life, fly on the wall observation of the fruits of his life saving work, the patients whose lives he had saved but also the strategic and academic endeavors that would inform and lead further work in his speciality. It was clear from the conversation, that he just couldn’t see the legacy in what he was doing. We may well ask why?
It would seem the habit of constantly judging what we do against the achievements of others can leave us feeling undervalued and lacking in contribution. Ironically, if you are in the business of hanging out with people at the top of their game, being anything less than the cream of the gold top can leave us feeling a failure.
The reality is, that everyday all our interactions are the opportunity to leave an impact, or consequence on the people and businesses we work with. Good or Bad. There is a significant difference between aspiring to be the best and comparing ourselves with the best. Comparing ourselves with the best can leave us feeling demoralized and unmotivated. Aspiring to be the best ignites, leads, stretches and grows us. When we are surrounded by legacy makers the bar we set for ourselves can be constantly out of reach – but this is an illusion. Like clinicians regularly exposed to high risk clinical procedures, they stop seeing what they do as risky, risk (in our minds) being associated with something we don’t do on a regular basis which has catastrophic consequences should it go wrong.
It would seem that our legacy makers need reminding that the value of what they do doesn’t diminish because everyone around them appears to be contributing also. This is true whether you are a doctor, nurse, manager, cleaner or CEO, the legacy is created through the consequences of what we do and its impact. In any context it rings true that kind and encouraging words or expressions of gratitude can change someone’s life, if not save it. The good news is, it’s a legacy that costs nothing.