This series of “Lessons from Al” is dedicated to the life and legacy of one of the most influential mentors in my life, career, and management, Al Berg.
It is profoundly true that life and leadership begin and end…with legacy.
We begin with the legacy that is handed down to us; and into that, we weave threads of our own into a tapestry that we will someday pass on to others. It is the cycle of life and leadership.
Like any tapestry, the threads are not all the same bright hue. There are dark threads and light threads; muted and bold. Some are heavily textured, and some are smooth like silk.
We may not like some colors or elements, yet when it’s all woven together, it is a thing of beauty.
This is legacy.
We all have some “less than endearing” photographs – the ones that make us wince as we see the dated hairstyle or clothing, and wonder, “What was I thinking?”
And yet, we smile.
We smile because we remember those times.
And we hang on to the pictures because they are part of our legacy.
In these days of social media, everyone posts the highlights – the special occasions, adventurous trips, and notable accomplishments and experiences. These are part of their legacy, but they do not represent the full reality of their legacy.
There are other parts – the ordinary days, the days that aren’t so special, and the failures. These, too, are part of legacy. Some of the most important lessons and most compelling snapshots come from those “other days.”
Al’s lesson of legacy was exactly this.
You take the legacy you have been handed – with all its good and bad – and you build on it. In Al’s cultural heritage, he valued the admonishment of not removing the ancient landmarks – the markers for boundaries established and places where struggles resulted in victory.
Together with two fellow “optical avengers,” Al built a massive company with a unique branding and service perspective. He used that company to serve countless employees, customers, and communities worldwide. And, best of all, he built a life that blessed his family. It was bright and colorful, dark and difficult – all of that. And it was his legacy.
Today, whether you are leading a company, your family, a community initiative…or all three, whatever you are doing counts. It may be a highlight, a lowlight, or somewhere in between, but you are building a legacy. You are taking the legacy you have been given and adding your own.
What can you do to build a meaningful legacy?
1. Build it daily.
In the “big things” you do, and in your routine daily habits, you are building a legacy. Ask yourself if what you are doing today will create the legacy you want to hand down to the next generation in your family or business.
2. Build it intentionally.
You can live and lead by design or by default. The strongest legacies are built with great intent. They are built by those with a passion to make a difference and the character to make a plan and carry it forward every single day. Do you want to give your children a strong foundation? Build it intentionally. Do you want to build a company that outlives you and serves generations beyond your own? Build it intentionally. Do you want to make a difference in the world? Do it intentionally.
3. Build it solidly.
In this world, there are engineering marvels that have stood the test of time for centuries. This is because they were built with solid craftsmanship, attention to detail, and a keen eye for quality. A legacy that will stand the test of time is built in the same manner – with solid craftsmanship, attention to detail, and a keen eye for quality. Does your team come to work daily, intent on building a solid company that will withstand the test of time? Are you raising your children with a solid foundation? Are you giving your grandchildren strong roots in good values, skills, and wisdom of the ages?
4. Build it completely.
Legacy is a responsibility. You have been given the legacy of previous generations. What are you going to do with it? Will you complete your part or leave an incomplete or broken legacy for the next generation? This is about responsibility to our fellow human beings – a lesson that Al drove home from every imaginable perspective. While we all feel like Al left us way too soon, it was clear that he had completed his legacy. He viewed life and leadership with a sense of responsibility, and he left us all with a richness we would not have had without him.
If you are reading this article, you have experienced the first part of legacy. You have been given the canvas. Good or bad (likely a mixture of both), it is yours.
But you are also given a life on which to leave your mark.
What are you doing today to build a meaningful legacy?
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.