Monthly Archives: January 2012

#109 – What will be your personal legacy?

My recent posts about a leader’s legacy elicited an enthusiastic call from a reader. The topic had sparked a great conversation for her and her husband, both self-employed professionals. It had led to a related subject – their personal legacies.

Food for Thought ~

Indeed, the principles of leaving a legacy certainly apply to each of us individually, as well as to leaders in organizations. It’s just a matter of context. On the personal level, each of us has our own constellation of family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, and communities. Our actions become our imprint and perhaps an inspiration for others within our circles. Each of us will leave a legacy in the hearts and minds of those who know us. The question is: what will it be?

Question of the day ~

What thoughts do you have about the legacy you would like to leave?

One of my favorite quotes on this subject is from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, ~ 500 BC.

The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny. It is the light that guides your way.

Mahatma Gandhi also addressed this subject. Same message, different form:

Keep my words positive. Words become my behaviors.
Keep my behaviors positive. Behaviors become my habits.
Keep my habits positive. Habits become my values.
Keep my values positive. Values become my destiny.

Keep your light shining.

#108 – Whose shoulders are you standing on?

I have recently been thinking and writing about the importance of leaving a legacy as a leader. That line of thought has led me to considering the opposite perspective – that of the receivers of the legacy – those of us who follow in the footsteps of great leaders and benefit from their contribution. We are able to move the marker from where they left it, rather than starting from scratch. We are able to build on what they created, improving and refining. We are able to contribute to the next iteration of the work.

Food for Thought ~

This was brought home to me recently when I had the opportunity to attend a Master Class by one of the leading practitioners in the field of organizational development, Marvin Weisbord. It’s a thrill to meet someone whose writings I have studied over the years, and to have the opportunity to express my appreciation in person for the contribution he has made to my profession. Organizational development is one of my chosen fields of endeavor, and perhaps the fundamental orientation that underlies all of my other areas of special expertise, from strategic planning to executive coaching. In part, I owe my effectiveness with my clients to him and many others. And from reading his books, I know he feels the same way. We all have predecessors, and let’s be sure we remember to acknowledge and honor them.

Question of the day ~

Who are the leaders in your field or in your company whose legacy you inherited? Whose shoulders are you standing on? Have you expressed your appreciation, either directly or indirectly?

#107 – Relinquishing Leadership

I recently attended a birthday celebration and rite of passage for an exceptional 79 year old, a beloved leader of his community for many years. Although in good health, he voluntarily decided it was time to “move on” and leave space for younger leaders to move up. He chose to transition from active leadership to elder, and hence the rite of passage ceremony. A wonderful party was held in his honor, with many accolades and much affection and respect. Clearly, he earned the love fest, and he is ready for his new role – available for counsel, but no longer centrally involved.

Food for Thought ~

Even if we are not yet personally ready for such a dramatic transition, it’s illuminating to reflect on the antecedents of this celebration. This individual has been a strong leader on both the visionary dimension and the “do the work” dimension. He is gifted and charismatic, yet one of the key testimonials was that he “always shows up.” So in addition to his talent and personality, he was always there to do his part. I would add the observation that this celebration was not a PR event, but a genuine, happy result of a lifetime of meaningful and inspiring leadership, offered with grace, humor and a loving spirit that endeared him to his community.

Question of the day ~

In what way does this story inspire you regarding your leadership in your company/organization/community? And while we’re at it, what is the greatest contribution you can make?

I would love to know your answers to these questions – please write or call! Attending this birthday and leadership celebration turned out to be synchronistic with my new article for the North Bay Business Journal. It’s about leaving a legacy as a leader, and I’ll let you know when it’s published.

#106 – Survey Results

A HUGE THANK YOU to those of you who completed my mini survey last month! About half of my readers responded, which was wonderful. That level of response makes the data more reliable, and certainly gives me a strong sense of your opinions. Here’s a summary of the results of the first three questions. The other questions will require further study and analysis.

1. Frequency? Weekly 62% Every other week 30% Monthly 8%
2. Length? Just right as is 92% Shorter 3% Longer 5%
3. Format? Written 86% Written with occasional video 14%

Food for Thought ~

My “takeaway” message from the survey results could be summarized in the words of one of my readers, who wrote, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

So, for the time being, we’ll keep on keeping on with Tuesday Minutes with Mary in its current format every week. However, you can be sure I will continue tweaking, refining, experimenting, and improving as we go. Just to let you know in advance, I may try every other week at some point. (I have already added one new feature suggested by a reader – did you notice? The edition number is now included with the date, as several people told me they archive my Minutes and numbering them would help.) If you’re like me, you are usually thinking about how you can improve what and/or how you are doing things. But sometimes it’s good to notice and acknowledge that we’re doing just fine – no major changes needed.

Question of the day ~

What are you doing well, just as you are? What can you give yourself a pat on the back for doing just fine?

Thanks again to those of you who contributed to my mini-survey! A few of you wrote personal messages in the comments section, but please be advised the survey instrument was anonymous, so I don’t know who you are! If you want a personal response, please contact me.

Welcoming 2012

Having just returned from my trip to our magnificent Yellowstone National Park, I am filled with new energy for the year ahead and eager to experience the discovery of what 2012 may bring. May we embrace the new year with open hearts and open minds! One of my favorite traditions is to start the new year with this quote from the German author and poet, Rainer Marie Rilke:

“Now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”

Food for Thought ~

The advent of calendars serves as a convenient way to organize our annual cycles. Thus, January provides us with an opportunity to “begin anew” with fresh hopes, aspirations, and dreams for ourselves and our work. Before the busyness of responsibilities and activities compete to overtake our awareness, I recommend taking time – right now if possible – to reflect on what you want this year to hold, both personally and professionally. Like a ship needs a rudder, we all need a personal sense of direction that will help us navigate the unknown seas in the year ahead.

Question of the day ~

What are your personal goals? What are your goals as a leader? What values do you wish to live by? What do you want this year to be?

A hearty thank you to those of you who contributed to my mini-survey in December! We are currently compiling the results and I will report on the outcomes in a future post. I truly appreciate your feedback!