If you’ve ever taken a walk on a beach and looked behind you, the impressions of your feet clearly mark the trail of where you have been. It may be a straight path, or it may be filled with twists and turns as you moved to miss an incoming wave or gravitated toward an interesting waypoint. It’s not uncommon for people at the pinnacle or end of their careers to look back and reflect on their legacy – the footprints they’ve left behind. But you don’t have to wait until then to look back – you are leaving footprints in the sand right now. Look behind you, notice the impact you’re having, and ask yourself, “Is this the legacy I want to build?” No matter where you are in your career, decide now what you want your legacy to be and act accordingly.
It’s easy to look at highly successful people in the news and see their legacies. Take Bill Gates, for example. When you think of his legacy, you may think of Microsoft, or his Foundation, or his work with Warren Buffet on the Giving Pledge. But legacies are also built on a much smaller scale. Think of your favorite teachers – the impact they had on you and their other students is their legacy. Think of a particularly effective manager or leader in your organization and their impact on those around them. Think of someone who created something out of nothing through innovation and hard work. Think of an influential mentor who helped you and others go further than you might otherwise have believed possible. A legacy may also be more personal, the result of putting family first and helping them reach their dreams. Legacies come in all sizes, and can extend far beyond the office. Whatever you choose to do, think about the footprints you are leaving right now. Make sure you’re creating the legacy you want.
More information on this tip, and others, can be found in Lead Your Way: Practical Coaching Advice for Creating the Career You Want