3 Ways We Leave A Legacy, So Make It A Great One!

Photo from City of Boston Archives

Photo from City of Boston Archives

Legacy Building

What do all second term U.S. Presidents and failed, former Presidents have in common? They are all on a quest to build a unique legacy for which they will be remembered in the history books after they have passed away.

The reason I know this? At the time of this writing, we still have alive with us the longest surviving/retired former President and perhaps greatest example of legacy rebuilding: Jimmy Carter. Since leaving office in January 1981, Mr. Carter has been working extremely hard on rebuilding a failed Presidential, personal legacy. He has been busy doing amazing charity work with Habitat For Humanity. He also founded The Carter Center whose mission is “guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.”

But, who can blame former President Carter for working so hard on building a better personal legacy post 1981? President Carter has been branded as one of the worst presidents, especially in recent history. Here’s how Wikipedia records his presidential legacy:

The Independent writes, “Carter is widely considered a better man than he was a president.” While he began his term with a 66 percent approval rating, his had dropped to 34 percent approval by the time he left office, with 55 percent disapproving …

… His administration suffered from his inexperience in politics. Carter paid too much attention to detail. He frequently backed down from confrontation and was quick to retreat when attacked by political rivals. He appeared to be indecisive and ineffective, and did not define his priorities clearly. He seemed to be distrustful and uninterested in working with other groups, or even with Congress when controlled by his own party, which he denounced for being controlled by special interest groups. Though he made efforts to address many of these issues in 1978, the approval he won from his reforms did not last long.

In the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan projected an easy self-confidence, in contrast to Carter’s serious and introspective temperament. Carter’s personal attention to detail, his pessimistic attitude, his seeming indecisiveness and weakness with people were accentuated in contrast to Reagan’s charismatic charm and delegation of tasks to subordinates. Reagan used the economic problems, Iran hostage crisis, and lack of Washington cooperation to portray Carter as a weak and ineffectual leader. Carter was the first elected president since Hoover in 1932 to lose a reelection bid.

Ouch! When Wikipedia writers write that about your Presidency, you would be busy rebuilding your legacy, too!

Good And Bad, We’re All Leaving A Legacy

Will President Carter really be able to ditch the legacy of his failed presidency? Unfortunately for him, no, he won’t. But, we will all be able to look back and see that he has done some amazing work after leaving office. He didn’t just roll over, give up, and go on vacation for the last 32+ years. He wanted to make a difference after leaving office, and he certainly has accomplished his mission.

All of us are leaving a legacy each day. Some days, I’m sure our legacy looks amazing. On other days, probably not so much. But, we all have a daily opportunity to leave a legacy to those around us through what we say, through what we do, and through what we give.

3 Ways To Leave An Amazing Legacy, Today

We leave a legacy by what we:

  1. SAY. Our words have an impact on those around us. Proverbs 15:1-2, 4 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” We have to be so careful with the words that come out of our mouths! Just remember that people will remember those words and attitudes behind your words. Maintain a positive, loving attitude with the words you choose! Also, related to this area, we live in an amazing time in history where we can leave our very own personal words to succeeding generations through written digital documents, as well as audio and video recordings. I don’t know about you, but I know little to nothing about my grandfathers and great-grandparents. I think it would be a really amazing to hear their voices and see them on a video recording. I would love it if they had compiled some Jones history in their personal journals. In today’s digital world, you have an amazing opportunity to leave a part of yourself to the next generation!
  2. DO. Our actions really do speak louder than our words. 1 John 3:17-18 tells us, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” It’s easy to tell people that we love them and that we’re praying for them. It’s hard, though, to take the time out of our busy schedules and help others. When we do, though, this is what people ultimately remember about us. Be proactive and take time today by loving others through your actions.
  3. GIVE. We will be remembered for what we gave while here on this earth: our time, our talents, and our treasure. Proverbs 13:22 states, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” If we claim to be a follower of Christ, then our lives should look like His. Our Lord was the ultimate giver; He gave His very life for us! Give of your time and energy to your spouse, kids, and friends. They will definitely recall the time you spent with them after you have gone on to be with the Lord. Give financially to your church and those in need. Also, be proactive in setting up your estate planning to give financially to both your earthly and spiritual families when you pass from this life to the next.

Questions: So, how’s your legacy building going? Like former President Jimmy Carter, have you been diligent in creating a better legacy?

The best legacy building happens proactively, on purpose. Don’t forget to both say AND do, today! Write stuff down regarding your family history. Compile all your writing journals, audio and video recordings and keep them in a secure location. Keep your legacy legal documents up to date. Leave an amazing legacy of love to those you leave behind.

Provide Massive Value First, Then Go For The Ask

Photo by jamesbastow

Photo by jamesbastow

Asked To Complete A Survey

One morning here recently, I was sitting at my iMac doing some writing, and an email came through from a social media/business networking company that I subscribe to. There was nothing outstanding about this email. It was pretty simple and straightforward. In fact, here’s what it said:

Dear Larry Jones,

Thanks for being a member of [company name]! The [company] Research team is conducting a slightly different kind of survey. The 7 to 12 question survey allows you to write answers based on what comes to your mind first after reading the question. Don’t think about your answers too much and feel free to keep your answers short. Your top of mind feedback will guide us in developing products and services to help you.

To take part, please respond in the next two business days. We will close the survey once we receive the desired number of qualified responses.

Please click here to begin the study.

We appreciate your time!

Best Regards,
[lady’s name]
Market Research Lead

See, it’s exactly as I said. A very simple, straightforward email. What I found interesting, though, is that this email immediately pushed me to take action.

Normally, on an email such as this, I would make a mental note and say to myself, “yeah, when I have an extra five minutes, I’ll fill out this survey.” But, not this time. I immediately stopped what I was doing and turned my attention to completing the survey for this company.

One could make the argument that it’s a well-written email with the claim of an easy-to-complete survey with a tight deadline to complete it. Yeah, I can see how that was part of my motivation to complete this quickly for them.

But, for me, the real reason I wanted to jump online and complete the survey is that I really like this company. I have received a lot of value from them. I appreciate what they do for me, personally and professionally. I can’t live without their product. I want to help them improve and become even more successful

You see, when you provide massive value to people, it’s easier to go for the ask and then ultimately get the action you desire.

Provide Value First

I believe the currency of our new economy is adding value. And, you must add a lot of value, too, over a lengthy period of time.

A quality, successful blog is a lot like this. You need to provide months, many times even years of high-value content before you can truly reap the benefits of the time and energy you have put into your content. Michael Hyatt’s blog is a good example of this. He’s currently riding a financial tidal wave of success based on years of blog writing with very little to no monetization on the front end. He built is tribe over several years, and now he’s receiving the financial reward from his tribe.

Of course, building relationships is key to anything we truly want to accomplish, whether it is a quality blog, influential ministry, successful business, or loving family. We must go above and beyond to provide massive value to those whom we influence.

Then hopefully, after we provide value to others, people will read our blog posts, follow our leadership, buy our products, or feel loved and appreciated. It’s as simple as that.

How Do We Add Value?

Adding value to others can be a challenge. I’m not going to over-simplify this. In 20+ years of leadership, I’ve noticed that every personal and professional relationship in the area of adding value varies from person to person.

With some people, you need to add tons of value with them before they completely trust you. For others, you may have an immediate, personal connection, and then they’re willing to follow you to the ends of the earth.

Here are some quick thoughts on adding value with people:

  • Be present. Show up. The only way you can add value in building relationships is to be present on a regular, ongoing basis.
  • Be energetic and magnetic. Is slow and lethargic inspiring? Probably not.
  • Have personal, meaningful conversations with them. Quality communication is key to developing any and all relationships
  • Follow-up quickly. If you promised to do something for someone, make that turn-around time as fast as humanly possible.
  • Provide WOW content. Your sermons have to be amazing. Your blog posts have to be killer. Your products have to be world-class. Your leadership has to be decisive and compelling. Your love must be unconditional.

Once we have added value, once we have gained the trust of those around us, then we can start the process of asking. The starting point, though, is always providing high value to others.

Questions: Are you doing a lot of asking for stuff and not receiving a whole lot in the process? If so, have you examined the value you are providing for others? Has your focus truly been on adding value into people’s lives or simply making the ask?