Today we’re going to talk all about how to define and leave your legacy and how you can integrate it into your everyday life.
One of the biggest mistakes going around at the moment is all these motivational speakers and entrepreneurial marketers out there telling you that you need to quit everything, become your own boss, follow your passion, do these amazing things. It’s just not realistic for 95% of us, is it? You can’t just give up your day job and start a business that’s probably got about a 5% chance of succeeding. So when it comes to legacy, you’ve got to find some smart ways to leave the world in a better place over a long period of time.
Some former guests on the Inner Chief podcast have written books like Stuart Barry, who wrote The Rich Greenie. He’s all about helping people still have wealth but in a way that enriches the planet. Another example is Not Guilty by Nicolette Rubensztein, a book about working mothers at the top of the corporate world. And then there’s one called Marketing to Mums and it’s by Katrina McCarter. Writing a book is just one way to fuel your passion and is actually not that difficult a project to undertake. You can perhaps also do it through a whole range of things such as a podcast.
One of the great quotes which should be our guiding principle is, “If you can’t do great things, do small things greatly.” That is how you build a legacy. A legacy is not necessarily one giant, huge play. It’s many, many, many small activities that most people will never see that actually leave a legacy. So you have to measure legacy on compound interest; you will do something for someone one day and you might not ever even know about what you did for them, but you have to believe that what you’re doing has a ripple effect, even if they never tell you that something happened. Through this podcast, I know we have helped a lot of people, but there’s probably many more that we have no idea how we’ve helped them.
Legacy is about living
In 2004, I was on a father-son fishing trip with all of my old mates. I was sitting around a campfire having a whiskey late one night with one of my best mate’s fathers, who was a very senior executive at a national telco. And we’re talking about purpose. And he said to me, “You know, Greg, you don’t have to work for a charity to live with purpose and leave a legacy. A bank can leave a legacy. It’s just all about the way you treat people, what you do every single day, and then how you contribute in other ways.”
Legacy is living to your full potential and bringing your greatest spirit to the world. When you don’t know your purpose or contribution, life can feel a bit meaningless, like you’re just spinning wheels, and you don’t feel like you’re giving something to the world. It is one of the greatest fears I hear when I work one-to-one with people, and we’re really getting into what makes them tick. Their deepest and greatest fear is that they’ll get to the end of their career and it has meant nothing. They just went to work every day and they tried to make money and hit their KPIs. If all you ever do is things, actions, tasks, and none of those have a depth to them, then life will really feel like it’s lost any sense of meaning and purpose. So legacy is about filling you up on the inside making you feel that you have a bit of fire, happiness and a bit of passion in life.
I want to reinforce that point with a quote from Nelson Mandela. And this is from a great book called Speeches that changed the world. “During my lifetime, I’ve dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I fought against white domination and I fought against black domination. I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Now, everybody remembers the last line, “it is an ideal for which I’m prepared to die.” But never forget the line before that – “it is an ideal which I hope to live for.” That’s what this is for the vast majority of us. That’s what legacy is. Legacy is about living.
So I don’t have to give up my day job to chase a legacy?
I’m actually sick of people saying to just start your own organisation, be your own boss. I can tell you it’s super hard and I’ve been doing for 12 years. And you know, you have so many ups and downs. We’re in a great space now as an organisation, but I’ll tell you what, it has been a battle. Yes, I did a lot of it before I was married and had kids. But if you would prefer to start off small and build those building blocks, then this is how you do it.
First and foremost, work out what is going to be your legacy in three different parts of your life, namely at home, in your day job, and anything extra-curricular. So, think about your relationships, memories, rituals and traditions, and creating a life for the other people who are dependent on you. Then when you go to work every day, how can you connect your people and all those around you in a way that creates a difference. If you do a wonderful job and treat your customer and exceed expectations, then their life will be less stressful, they’ll be happier.
There is some research that found that if your boss is showing full signs of wellbeing, then the people that report to them are 70% more likely to have wellbeing. So if you can do that, then you are leaving a legacy that has a ripple effect across the business and the world around you.
How can you bring purpose to work every single day?
Here are a few ideas. Make sure you’re coaching, developing and improving the team. Whoever your customers are, exceed expectations make their lives better through the work you do. You can leave a legacy by making everyone else’s life who turns up better in a particular way.
Try narrow in on that one portion of the community you want to help. Have a think about the topics you read about in the newspapers or magazines or on the internet and social media. These are things that you’re drawn to. You don’t have to start with your entire purpose in life; just start with something that piques your interest and then get your hands dirty.
Damien Price, our famed spiritual guru, has worked for decades with the homeless and running shelters and food vans. And he just started and it grew to something bigger. I’ve got another friend, a very wealthy guy who works a big investment bank, and his contribution is to collect money for a charity.
Once you know the group you want to serve, what’s the unique value you can bring to them? It could be as a coach at a local sporting club because you want to help kids have a meaningful future that’s away from a device. You might want to be a lifeguard. The point is that there are so many ways to achieve legacy.
So, to summarise. What is the thing that you want to do with your family? What is the thing that you’re going to do at work? And then what is the thing you’re going to do for the greater good of the community? It doesn’t have to be big. In fact, it shouldn’t be. These things build up over time. Like I said, legacy is measured. compound interest, which is the compound of your habits over time, and the ripple effect of what you do.