Guest Post by Peter Giulioni
I’m excited to share a guest post from a new blogger whose work I am confident you’ll appreciate: my husband, Peter Giulioni. He brings decades of management consulting, university administration, and life experience to this article on legacy. Coincidentally, I wrote a blog post on the same topic when Peter’s mom (my mother-in-law) died several years ago. So, I guess this is a topic that runs very deep in our family. I hope you enjoy Peter’s foray into blogging—and he welcomes your insight and feedback.
When I first thought about writing this blog I, like many inexperienced writers, defaulted to the sophomoric style of introducing the concept in the form of a wonderfully provocative question. This, however, is not a topic that demands provocation, but rather quiet introspection and determined action as suggested by the declarative statement: You are the steward of your legacy.
At its core, legacy is defined as how you are remembered. We need look no further than recent news coverage of the deaths of Senator John McCain and Aretha Franklin to understand how truly powerful a positive legacy can be. At the same time, we hear countless stories of those whose successful and often illustrious careers have been scuttled, and legacies forever compromised, by bad behavior.
But, what about this notion of stewardship—what does it mean? Quite simply, it’s the thoughtful, diligent, determined and active managing of our daily lives that ultimately will culminate in a legacy.
Early in our lives and careers, despite (or perhaps because of) the sage counsel of parents, mentors, and elders, we rarely give much thought to how we will be remembered… much less, how we might influence those recollections.
What I’ve come to realize is that the universe constantly presents us with opportunities to steward our legacies—as parents, managers, community members, volunteers, neighbors, caregivers to our aging parents or “lost” siblings—or, as in this case this novice writer, by offering ideas to a greater audience. Take a moment to ask yourself: How confident are you that you are consistently leveraging the daily opportunities to thoughtfully and generously coach, mentor, counsel and serve those around you? It has never been more important to “lean in,” support others, and focus on the individual moments provided to each of us. Because, beyond the contributions in the moment, these moments define a legacy.
If all of this sounds like a call to become servant leaders within our families, communities and workplaces… well, it is. Service builds relationships and it’s those relationships that ultimately determine one’s legacy. But ‘service’ doesn’t require extreme, onerous, or public action. It more frequently takes the quiet—but powerful—form of listening, demonstrating empathy, healing wounds, building awareness and understanding, guiding and influencing, developing clarity, anticipating needs, and building community and commitment. Most of would be pleased to have any one (or hopefully more than just one!) of those words used to describe us and our legacy.
Legacies are built one day at a time, one thoughtful decision at a time, and, most importantly, one human interaction at a time. And let’s be honest… some days, our decisions and interactions are better than others. Avoiding the “heavy lifting” associated with building, managing and sustaining a legacy is an option—but, it’s a poor one.
So, to the laundry list of life’s bumper stickers offered with the best of intentions, let me offer one more: “You are the Steward of Your Legacy.” No one else. No exceptions. Embrace it. Teach it. Live it. Own it.