Legacy...we hear that word a lot these days. But what really does it mean? Does it have real value? and why is it important, if at all?
One of my aunts was the CEO of a small business, she was 100% devoted to it, some people would probably say it was her life, that she was a workaholic even. But if you really knew her you knew she worked so much, tried to build the business so much because she was trying to take care of her family and build a company for them to have, to enjoy, and to be proud of. She passed away from cancer a few years ago and I think the legacy she left was something pretty special, something to be proud of, something to be remembered by.
When we think about careers or businesses are they just about making money? is that all we are here to do? I want to make a good living just as much as the next guy, but if it is our sole focus what does that say about us? What does that say to our co-workers, our families, our friends, and our communities? When you are gone will your co-workers or employees say that it was great to work with you or that it was a battle to come to work everyday? Will they say that your mission statement truly meant something or it was just a saying that nobody really believed in or practiced? Are your co-workers or employees proud they worked with or for you or do they tell their friends that work is “just a job”? Personally, I don’t want to work at “just a job” I want to be part of a company that has a culture of excellence, holds its employees in high esteem, values its place in the community, and sets a high standard for how it operates.
Whether you ever own your own company or always work for someone else we all have a responsibility (especially if we are owners or managers) to see that we care about more than just the bottom line. Of course if your company is not profitable it cannot be in business, I am not talking about that, I am talking about the individuals and companies that only care about their own wealth and not about how their actions effect their employees or community. A huge corporation possibly will get by on treating its employees badly but if you work for a smaller company you cannot. If you do, your company will ultimately suffer monetarily and your legacy will not be one to be proud of. Is that really what you want?
I propose that your legacy is something that you can determine but you need to start today. Most of the time we know what the right thing to do is and we just don’t do it. I also propose that having a good legacy adds significant economic value. first of all, individually and as a company, the more you are trusted the more others will want to do business with you. Secondly, the higher affinity employees feel with a company the higher they will produce. Thirdly, a brand with a great legacy will last a long time. Today is your opportunity to begin changing your legacy for the better so how you will be remembered will be something you, your family, and company will be proud of.
I leave you with some of my aunt’s final writings in the company newsletter. She knew what she wanted her legacy and the companies legacy to be long after she was gone. It was a legacy she had striven for and something those after her could strive for, something to come to work for and take pride in, her legacy is something to remember for good. What will yours be?
“In our time, corporate greed seems to be at an all-time high. Ethics are thrown out the window for profit. Honesty is a joke. We did not fully realize that integrity has real value. We assumed everyone has it and many do not…the first phrase of our mission statement says “by striving to honor God and each other…” Striving implies that there is effort put forth to honor God and to honor each other. As the CEO, my passion is to put forth the effort to honor God and you. I hope each of you will join me in the effort.”
Matthew King, Co-founder