My dad sent me a picture of a tree we planted in our new front yard when we first moved into my hometown. That was way back in the mid-70s when I was about six. We moved on to another house when I was eight, and then another and another, and the tree continued on without us.
I left my home town for college and then moved across the country, returning for a few years in my early 30s. In between, my parents also moved far away, returned a few years later and have been in the town since. And the tree continued on regardless.
In the coming years none of us will be in the same job. We’ll be promoted, transferred, our duties will change, the job will evolve, we’ll be working at another company, or maybe we’ll retire and move on. When we think of legacies we tend to think big, we think of legends and dynasties, but legacies can be minor.
The fact is, whether we realize it or not, we are always creating legacies. Some are good, some are bad, some are indifferent. But our actions live on past us. The cool thing is we can get real conscious and intentional about it. When we do, we start to think different. We approach our relationships in a more meaningful way. We move from tasks and duties to outcomes and impacts.
What are you creating today that you hope will live on beyond you?
What can you do to interact with others in a way that is building them up, championing them, helping them be their best?
Five years from now, how will today’s work have impacted others?
You will move on from today’s role. How do you want to be remembered?
If you were to return to a previous employer to visit, how would you be greeted?
If you were to quit your job today would people be upset, relieved, or thrilled?
If you returned to a previous job, what signs of your efforts would still exist? What things would you hope are still living on?
That tree is still there and thriving some 36 years later. It’s now one of the big old trees on the street. For at least two of us it serves as a common landmark to a very different point in our lives, a guidepost through the passage of time, and a reminder that we can create things that carry on long past us.