If you were to ‘depart’ tomorrow, when your peers and loved ones gather to discuss what is your lasting contribution, what you are to be remembered for, what will they say?
“Dan really crushed those quarterly PowerPoint presentations.”
“Sally never missed a client call.”
While producing top-notch presentations and 24/7 availability may be important to your job in a tactical sense they represent means to an end in the grand scheme of your career and life. However, the question most people never consider to answer – the most important question – is that these accomplishments are means to what end?
Most of us believe that once the work is finally done, once we have reaped the personal and financial rewards of decades of our labor, that then we will embark on figuring out the answer to that question and go about building our legacy (i.e. start a charity, write a book, fund a scholarship program). That we will be able to create happiness and manifest our legacy with the same fervor and focus we commanded on the job. That we will achieve a final goal, one that will resonate long after we are gone – a Legacy Goal.
The fact is that this is almost never the case.
Intentions versus reality
I have been fortunate over the past twenty seven years to have worked for, worked with, advised, coached and mentored some of the highest performing corporate executives, entrepreneurs and change-makers in their respective fields.
Having spent thousands of hours working one-on-one with these incredible individuals, I can attest that with very few exceptions, and almost to the single person, this is the reality:
After years of work and sacrifice (from time to family to health) an executive retires and receives a large payout, or a founder finally achieves their liquidity event. They embark on the quintessential ‘year off to travel’ that has been imagined as their reward all of those years.
They Instagram photos and videos of themselves and their loved ones traversing the globe from climbing Machu Picchu to visiting the Great Pyramids to swimming with dolphins on some picturesque coastal reef. At the end of that trip they come home feeling refreshed. Then reality sets in, not in a smooth transition but hitting like a brick wall.
These folks realize they are likely to live another 30 or 40 years and have no idea how to spend that time productively, to a fulfilling manner, or to what end. The ensuing search for how to spend their time becomes frantic, unfocused with many potential avenues vying for their attention – board and advisory roles, philanthropic engagement, investing, etc. They spend a little time on each and keep bouncing until settling on one – not due to satisfaction but to a comfortable compromise, unconsciously justified. All of which has the opposite effect on themselves and their families as the initial buzz of total relaxation.
And that is typically the best outcome.
Downward on the scale of outcomes are the habits and vices that creep into idle hands with freshly deep pockets. You can imagine the details – you’ve seen the movies and heard the stories.
At worst I’ve seen exceptionally talented people with so much to offer and give squander their time – without knowing just how little was left – continue grinding away on tactical work goals believing there was plenty of time to focus on “that bigger life stuff” down the line. They did so not for a love of that work, but because they were afraid any reduction in time, focus or energy would result in them losing the status, financial abundance, or lifestyle they believed was owed to them as a trade-off for the sacrifices, struggles and even outright misery on the road to that point in time.
Time is your most valuable asset
Whether viewing from a philosophical perspective as the Stoics or from a pragmatic perspective of science and reality, there are only a few certainties in life:
1. It will end as your time here is finite.
2. Most people can’t control when it ends making it difficult to plan and execute a legacy.
3. Time is the only resource you can’t get more of, buy more of, trade for, or work harder for.
Time should be guarded above all else.
I can hear the resistance as I type this…
“But I already don’t have enough time to do what I need or want to do – how can I spend time focusing on something as big and grand as my legacy?!”
There are two truths:
First, as important as Legacy Goals and planning may be, successful people can’t spend a majority of their time focusing on them. Corporate executives have daily responsibilities and quarterly expectations to meet or face suffering real consequences. Entrepreneurs and founders experience a series of never ending deadlines and fires extinguish, each of which become THE most important demand at any point in time.
The second truth is that allocating just 5% of your time – using a system designed for you to perform at the highest possible level – can yield your most important and impactful results and put your lifetime goals and Legacy Goals within reach.
Isn’t this the most important investment you can make: measurable constant progress towards what will matter most for those you want to affect for generations to come.
Personalize your process
The process of effectively building the blocks to manifesting your Legacy Goal is what we refer to as a Personalized System for Performance. This involves a wide range of customized tools including but not limited to a goal setting, productivity and accountability workflow that requires minimum hard time assets but delivers maximum ROI. I will discuss this process in detail in future posts.
The course of action I am proposing may appear overly simplified but when properly planned and executed it is exceptionally powerful and empowering.
A famous media personality once said, “After love, your labor is the most sacred thing you can give to another human being.” Your labor is precious and your final reward should account for much more than the sum of the efforts made along the way. The time already exists in your schedule – it is your choice whether or not to utilize it.
Focus 5% of your precious time and resources on the work that literally matters most, and the other 95% of your time spent from project and work deliverables to personal and family commitments will become vastly more fulfilling when you know these are a means towards a larger, lasting purpose – and legacy.
You can listen to this BlogCast at: https://soundcloud.com/damon-damore-949191679/focus-on-your-legacy-now-there-is-no-later