Learning From a Different Place – Part 21
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

We have come to my final entry in the Learning From a Different Place series. Law number 21, The Law of Legacy, is often misunderstood. When I first read this Law, I understood it to be leaving my mark on the organization I ran. While this is somewhat true, I missed the deeper meaning behind this Law. As the years went by and I began to live out The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership in my life, I soon realized that I was being drawn to a much higher calling. A calling that would cause me to leave my corporate job and pursue an opportunity to bring about real change in the minds of leaders throughout Central New York. I once heard it said that a career is something you are paid for, but a calling is something you were made for.

Finding your calling is key to living out The Law of Legacy. It allows you to move beyond success to a life of significance. The Law of Legacy isn’t as much what you have accomplished as it is what you have left in the lives of others so they can reach their fullest potential. It’s never what we have gained but rather what we have given.

In his book, John Maxwell shares four steps to living out The Law of Legacy. Let’s take a quick look at each of them.

  1. Know the Legacy You Want to Leave – I feel this step is really about understanding your calling. Your calling will be found in your giftedness. Discover what you are really good at and enjoy doing. Then work to develop that giftedness a little bit each day. Remember, growth compounds over time.
  2. Live the Legacy You Want to Leave – Rather than telling others about your legacy, live it out on a daily basis. Be the change that you want to see in others.
  3. Choose Who Will Carry on Your Legacy – The best leaders are always growing other leaders. We learned this in The Law of Explosive Growth. As we live out The Law of Legacy, we must look for those who believe what we believe. Those who share our passion and excitement. These will be the people who can carry our message to a time we will never see.
  4. Make Sure to Pass the Baton – This step is often missed. It’s not easy to come to the realization that our time may be winding down. The key to a meaningful handoff is to have both people running together at the same speed when the handoff is made. If we fail to have a good handoff, all the momentum that has been built up over years of effort will be lost.

I would like to add a fifth step. Become a cheerleader for your successors. They are not replacing you. They are succeeding you. We know how hard the job is, and now we get to be there for them cheering them on toward even greater impact. We should be a resource for advice when they ask. Far too many feel they have been replaced and end up bitter. The Law of Legacy shows that our efforts get to live on in others. Our ideas and callings are picked up by others and are used as a force for good in a time we will never see.

We should all work to help others live a life with purpose, and together we can all be a force for good.