I would like to share with you my great fascination with lions. This does not emanate from a characteristic or a particular skill or some unique ability in me. Lions possess a physical attribute that has always captivated me. The lion’s paw. You have undoubtedly noticed those massive paws when a lion casually strolls through the bush. It is not only the sheer size that grabs your attention, but it is the apparent weight and power of these weapons that confirm their status as the apex predator.
These magnificent paws leave a distinctive print, and it remains one of the most chilling discoveries while walking in the veld. The tracking of these animals is both mystical and fascinating to experience. The spoor of a lion is unmistakable.
What does your spoor look like and what does it say about you? Will others remember it or perhaps even be fascinated by it?
I came across a wonderful quote that said, “A legacy isn't only about leaving what you earned but also what you learned.” A legacy doesn't call for wealth, fame or even power – you don't have to be a Mandela or Ghandi to leave a positive mark right now, one that will linger long after you're gone.
Here are some pointers to consider that will help shape your ‘footprint’.
Find what is important to you
Start by answering five easy questions:
- How do you want your life to impact on others?
- What are your values?
- If you had to do one thing to improve your world, what would your contribution be?
- How can you leave your mark on whatever you do?
- What legacy would you like to leave for your family, professionally and spiritually?
The answer to these introspective questions will help you to develop a meaningful philosophy of life that goes beyond just creating financial wealth. Knowing what's important, what drives you and how you want to be remembered creates tremendous clarity about how you should live your life.
Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, in their book A leader’s legacy, remind us "when we ask ourselves how we want to be remembered, we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter". When you reflect on your legacy it gives you a compass to help you move with purpose and determination even in the most difficult and challenging of times.
Leave a legacy of leadership
What are you doing to develop the leadership pipeline in your company? John C. Maxwell says, "A leader's lasting value is measured by succession." He calls it the principle of multiplication. This is also the central theme of my book called Raising giant killers
Develop a plan not only to pass on your technical mastery and knowledge of your business or profession, but also your wisdom and your leadership philosophy. Teach about the importance of people; how to create lifelong customers; how to balance profits with ethics; and the value of doing well while doing good.
What are the leadership lessons that you should pass on?
Your significance lies in being a mentor for others.
There is a difference between success and significance. Success is when we add value to our own lives, but significance is when we add value to others’ lives. Mentorship is about significance.
People desperately need the value of authentic mentoring. This applies to families, communities, churches, schools and business.
As a business owner, chances are other people helped you on your path to success. Why not pay it forward by helping young entrepreneurs make their mark? Now take this statement and add your career title and make it your own.
Think about your footprint and answer the question: “If not now, when?” It's never too soon to start your legacy – to pursue both success and significance. Where can I step today that will leave a lasting footprint?
Niël Steinmann is a virtual faculty member at USB-ED and teaches leadership and organisational development. He is a specialist in human resources and management, and authored Fundamentals for effective mentoring (2006). His consultancy uses African analogies to develop people and increase performance capacity.