Building a Legacy

Midmarket business leaders are not always thinking about their legacy, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.  When engaging your leadership team on any change initiative, it’s best to keep in mind the emotional,  intellectual and spiritual, or legacy aspect of your major change.  Once you’ve got them open on an emotional level to making the change you wish to pursue, and you have them satisfied from an intellectual perspective that your approach makes rational sense, it’s time to convey to your leaders the spiritual or legacy aspect of the work at hand. This concept can be explained using the story of a man who passes three ditch diggers working in the hot sun. He asks the first ditch digger what he’s doing.

“I’m earning twelve bucks an hour,” he says.

He turns to the second ditch digger and asks the same question. “I’m digging a foundation,” the man replies.

He asks the third man what he’s doing. “I’m building a cathedral,” the man explains.

Everyone has heard this parable in different versions, and the reason the story is so important is that it illustrates the point that our attitude about what we do dictates our ultimate level of success. As Zig Ziglar says, your attitude determines your altitude.  When you want to achieve this third level of buy-in from your team leaders,  it’s time to appeal not to their emotions or their intellect but to their sense of themselves as contributors and to the legacy they are seeking to build for themselves.

Years from now, their grandchildren will ask,  “We were studying the early part of the twenty-first century in school, and we learned that it was an incredible time in American business. How did you contribute?”

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