How to Build Your Legacy Like a Gentleman
Legacy is a funny thing. There are a myriad of outlets describing how to build your legacy these days, and yet we don’t really care much for it until we start noticing our impact on the world. Sometimes that means our children, sometimes it means our coworkers, sometimes it’s just our sudden realization that we’re going to die someday and we worry how we’ll be remembered. Whatever the catalyst, legacy becomes a buzz word for most men in their 30s, and only amplifies as the years pass.
The definition of legacy, however, is flawed. It is often referred to as what is left when someone dies. Now, Merriam-Webster defines it as something that is handed down or doled out in a person’s will upon his or her passing – not necessarily incorrect, but its definition has certainly changed over the years. Legacy is most often referred to nowadays as the personal story, attitude, impact, and influence left when someone passes.
In this podcast, I’ll take it a step further and modify this definition so it’s not only more impactful, but more actionable for you in this moment. [remember to Subscribe Here]
A New Definition
Old definition: Legacy is what you leave behind when you leave the earth.
New definition: Legacy is what you leave behind when you leave the conversation.
I was in a sales training (which was honestly more about personal development than anything else) and a speaker was helping the group of us understand how to invoke certain emotions in clients and customers to trigger the “buy” signal. At one point he very simply stated, “you want to pay attention to your legacy – not the one you leave when you die; but rather, the one you leave with the customer when you leave the room. Are you helping them feel ready and steady or ready to run?”
Wait, what? Legacy when you leave the room?
It was like a bomb went off in my mind. It made so much sense! We are all looking to grow our influence and our impact in the world around us, right? We’re all trying to build a better legacy, we just aren’t doing it in the here and now! Until now!
My perspective was forever shifted, and my life has not been the same since. My invitation to you is to accept the new definition of legacy and start making waves today. The wakes you leave after each conversation are far more important than anything you hope remains when you’re dead and gone. When you start building small waves with each encounter and conversation, you’ll quickly see your sphere of influence and your social capital grow. This is a game changer.
Here’s how to build your legacy like a modern gentleman:
1. Inspire Action in Everyone
Hands down, the single, greatest thing you can do for someone is inspire them. No matter who you are, what you do, or where you are in your life, inspiration will improve everything, even if only temporarily. When your words, actions, stories, or confidence inspires people to take action, you are building your legacy like a gentleman.
Encourage more. Champion and cheerlead more people and their ideas. Be the man that makes everybody feel like a somebody. Even in difficult situations, look at people in their best light, seeing them for all they’re capable of, and champion that part of them. It will help to fuel a fire they may have inside them, and they’ll remember you for it. Plus, it makes you feel great making someone else feel great. Win-Win.
2. Explore & Collaborate with Others
When inspiration isn’t your strongest suit, take the next best avenue and explore possibilities and collaborate. Every single one of us wants to be heard and be counted. Whether we lie to admit it or not, we do not want to be ignored. When someone asks for our opinion, uses our input to create something, and involves us in the process of making it great, we feel like rock stars. We remember the person that made us feel “part of the team” for all the right reasons, right? Be that guy.
Using powerful questions, you can help guide answers, options, and opportunities out of people and situations. Especially when dealing with a negative client or colleague, powerful questions can help offer perspective and lead to inspiration (read above for how, again, it’s the best thing ever). Use questions like:
- What can I do to help?
- Who is in your corner to help make that happen with you?
- Where else can you turn for answers and assistance?
- What would it feel (be) like if you already had it done?
- What’s standing in your way?
- What do you need to conquer this roadblock(s)?
When you ask simple questions, and aren’t attached to the outcome (you think you know the right answer, and you’re asking them just to see if you’re right), they become powerful exploratory inquiries. Let others tell their story, voice their frustrations, and come up with answers with you as a guide, not a boss. Moments that begin as roadblocks can turn into roadmaps with the right questions. Being present and creating possibilities with people is a BIG way to build your legacy like a gentleman.
3. Lead by Example – Be a Leader, not a Boss
This image rings so true for me (and I’m sure it does for you too). I’ve worked for people that were leaders, and I’ve worked for people that were bosses. The leaders did the work alongside you. They pulled the team together and we made things happen as a collective. They pushed us to expand and grow and work together. Bosses pushed the team’s buttons. Bosses pulled rank and established the separation between us and them. Bosses demand performance while appearing to refuse to perform themselves.
“Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hold yourself to a higher standard and lead by example. Make sure your actions reflect you leading by example.
4. Share Your Gifts
Ask yourself what you want to leave or give to this person or group that may help them. In every meeting and conversation, there’s an exchange taking place. Sometimes it’s monetary, and sometimes it’s just ideas. In every case, there’s value being traded. One of the best things to do when learning how to build your legacy like a gentleman, is to get clarity around what value you want to give to others. You can ask yourself questions to explore…
- What is my impact?
- What value do I want to bring to the table every time?
- What can I give to help others achieve what they’re trying to do, or become who they’re trying to be?
- How do I show up for others? What kind of person am I for others?
- What can I do to be more of the man I was born to be?
Remember, gentlemen, legacy is not what you leave when we close your casket – legacy is what you leave when you close a door. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go forward! Now that you know how to build your legacy like a gentleman, practice sharing your gifts, inspiring others, leading by example, and collaborating with people.
What do you think about this new definition of legacy?
What do you want to leave or give to people as part of YOUR legacy?
Let me know! And remember to SUBSCRIBE to the podcast!