Even if you’re at the beginning of your career, it’s not too soon to contemplate your legacy. If only more of us were so purposeful. When I was in my 20s, I took the first job someone gave me and kept my nose down on that track until my mid 30s.
On a totally related topic, I highly suggest having your first mid-life crisis in your mid 30s. Then about every 10-12 years following. Good stuff in those moments!
Back on track here, asking “What do I want to be known for” can help us define our values, take the right job, and have more meaningful interactions with our team, our family, our…everyone.
Ever wonder what people think of you now? If you got hit by the proverbial bus, what would people say about the kind of person you are at work? The kind of manager or leader you are?
I can tell you, and you’ll be surprised how simple it is. There are three things you do that give it away.
- Where you spend your time.
At work, are you in meetings about deals or people? Do you go to the kids’ games on Saturday or are you at home checking email? Do you spend your time on self-development? Volunteering? Competitive drinking? The goal isn’t to JUDGE yourself about how you spend your time and fix it for Instagram. The goal is to observe.
I think my calendar would say I care a lot about my team and my kids. And that I have a very sore neck and shoulders. You could probably surmise that I love to travel and try hard to remember birthdays and need to spend time on the water to avoid the madness. As I reflect here, I’m saddened that it wouldn’t show as much as I want it to about other important relationships in my life and my focus on self-care. Good goals.
- Where you spend your money.
I mean, it seems kind of obvious, but if I drew conclusions about your leadership style by what’s a line item in your budget, would I assume you care more about technology than people? Would you find you spend more to recruit new people or invest in the ones you have? Are you focused on automation or connection?
- How you spend your voice.
A few years back, my team and I were hired to do a lot of benchmarks – companies pull us in to see how they’re doing against best practices in digital selling. This might include stack-ranking their leaders among other insights. And to do this, a big part of my process was just sitting on the sales floor observing. Who’s out of their seat, who’s in meetings all day, and the all-important, “What do I hear when a manager groundhogs?”
That’s right, the seat pop. I might hear, “Get on the phones!” or “People in the queue” or “Another meeting for Joe!” Listen, lots of glossy company values talk about how important the customer is, but the buzz on the sales floor is what really tells you how much we value them. I’ve heard customers made fun of on some floors and revered on others. Similarly, managers may say they care about quality conversations, but only bark about dials.
If someone transcribed all the words that came out of your mouth on the job and put them in categories for you, what would you find?
This is an exercise I’ve been doing with myself and my leadership classes for quite some time now, and it gets more and more important as I get closer to my legacy. I feel like my 20s were spent just trying to get someone to listen to me, and then my mid-career was talking as fast as possible so I could just get more done. Now I’m learning to pause, and wait, and trying to ask questions instead. Less breath. More wisdom.
Next step: I’ll run this exercise with my home self. It’s a scary proposition if I’m honest. I’m afraid my audit will come back with answers like dishes, groceries, and bathroom habits. My mom legacy may need some work…
What’s your legacy?