All that we do leads up to something (or sometimes, someone). A number of years ago I wrote a piece that I still think about a lot today. It was called, “Lead With One Foot out the Door” and it led to a lot of feedback, both positive and negative.
First, the positive:
· It encouraged people to think about how their actions today impact their actions (and the actions of others) in the future.
· It helped show the value of consistent and constant planning.
· It highlighted that leading (and learning) isn’t just about the person, but about the organization, and the community-at-large.
Now, the negative:
· It led some to think of their actions as inconsequential, and that the “small things” weren’t really that valuable.
· It made it seem like we can’t enjoy the present and/or our current role, and need to always be thinking about how things will go when we do, in fact, leave.
· It led some to think of this view of leadership as selfish and self-absorbed; missing the present because one is worried about the future.
I still stand by that piece, because I believe that we always have to consider where we leave things when we do, in fact, actually leave. What will we be remembered for doing? Not doing? Who will go on to carry the torch for us? Who might we have lost that will now come back? This morning, when I heard someone bring up “What is Your Legacy?” as a key question we need to be asking ourselves, I thought back to the piece and the reflection it led to.
I believe that the key is that every decision, in reality, is always bigger than us, and if we remember that, then we can more easily consider how what we do today will impact all that others do tomorrow. A humbling thought, certainly, and one that might encourage us to take pause or step back.
But, as a favorite superhero of mine was once told, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and while being a leader (or learner) doesn’t have to always be about power, it does always have to be about responsibility for today, and for the future.