As a Fearless Leader, you have the opportunity to leave an exponential imprint on the world.  Your imprint will be your legacy.  And your legacy has the power to be legendary. Ask yourself this: what do I want my lasting legacy to be? What lasting impact do I want to leave on the world?  How can I be a LEGEND to others?

It was September 1990 and I was in my senior year of college and was starting to think about the kind of company I wanted to work for upon graduation – Anderson Consulting, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, GTE Communications, General Electric, Digital Equipment, NCR, Sun Microsystems or Michelin Tire. About the same time, I picked up the book On Wings of Eagles: The Inspiring True Story of One Man’s Patriotic Spirit & His Heroic Mission to Save His Countrymen. I’m not sure what surprised me more, reading a book voluntarily or the impact the book had on me. The book told the story of how two American businessmen were held hostage in a heavily guarded prison fortress in Iran during the Middle East hostage crisis in 1978 and how one man took matters into his own hands, that was H. Ross Perot.  Perot was the CEO & Founder of Electronic Data Systems, EDS, and the two businessmen were his employees, Paul & Bill. The US Government was unable to negotiate the release of Ross’ employees during the hostage crisis in Iran, so he built a team of volunteers from the executive ranks of EDS and brought in a retired Green Beret Colonel to free the imprisoned Americans. The EDS executives snuck into Iran to assault the prison while Ross himself made a visit to the prison under a false name to tell Paul and Bill they were coming and to be prepared.  Well they wrote a book about it, so you know how this story ends, they break the EDS employees out and later even made a movie out of it.  I guess you could say Ross became a legend that day.  For me, EDS became the only company I wanted to work for upon graduation.  I didn’t know anyone at the company, didn’t have an interview, but found my way to a recruiter because I was so inspired by how far this company would go for their employees. I joined EDS on July 8, 1991 in Washington, DC working for a manager who was in Iran during the 1978 hostage crisis – it was fate.

Now you don’t have to storm prisons fearlessly to b LEGENDARY, but I will share with you four pathways to leaving an exponential imprint and leaving a legendary legacy.

First, LEAD others through a vision.  When you lead by teaching others to be leaders as well, then they are motivated to achieve success and then instill that in the next person or group. This will be your example that will enable them to lead without fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Second, COACH others to be the best versions of themselves. Take time every week to invest a little extra time to show someone how to improve a specific skill or attribute.  Daily coaching is one of the easiest and best ways you can leave a lasting impact on the most amount of people.  What might take you 30 minutes, might change someone else’s life trajectory.

Third, be a MENTOR. Slow down and take quality time to invest in those around you.  Look around your circle of friends, family members, and colleagues and pick a person to take under your wing and send down the path of leadership. Chances are you owe a great deal of your success to the mentors in your life, both personally and professionally.

Finally, GIVE with no expectation of receiving.  Leaders who serve without hesitation, without quid pro quo mindset, are the legends we remember greatest.  Simply leave your legacy by sharing yourself and your abilities with the world.

At a later point in my EDS career, I had the good fortune to meet Ross Perot, and I was captured by the story he told.  Here is my recollection of the story: “Any of you ever drive down a back road in West Texas and pass by a long fence and see a turtle sitting on top of one of those fence posts?  Well if you do, you know one thing for sure; it didn’t get there on its own.  And ladies and gentlemen, look around the room and see how far you have come and let me tell you something, you too didn’t get to where you are on your own either.”  That is the mindset of someone that thinks like a legend, and left a really big imprint on the world, and my personal life.  So, as a Fearless Leader, what imprint, impact, and stories are you going to leave behind as your legendary legacy?

When you make the decision to LEAD, you will become a legend through the exponential impact of leadership.  Let’s try to quantify it.  If you lead 10 people who then lead another 10 people, who then lead another 10 people to achieve a common goal, you will have impacted over 1,000 lives on this planet.

What if I told you that simply by leading 10 people you will have removed instances of fear, uncertainty, and doubt HALF A MILLION TIMES over the next 10 years.  That’s 500,000 moments of doubt you helped erase, 500,000 flashes of uncertainty you helped beat, and 500,000 bouts of fear you assisted in crushing.  The math is simple – the average person deals with feelings of FUD over five times a month.  Multiply that by the thousand people you exponentially impacted, and you have over HALF A MILLION opportunities to instill Fearless Leadership in others.

Now imagine instilling Fearless Leadership in 100 people during your lifetime and the number exponentially climbs to over ONE BILLION instances of empowering others to win the daily battle against their fear, uncertainty and doubt.  And when you wake up every day and make the decision to be a Fearless Leader, you will intentionally generate over one billion positive outcomes for people across the world.  That’s leaving a legacy.  That’s living a legendary life.  That’s making a difference by being Fearless.

When you make the decision to MENTOR, you will become a legend by making a game-changing impact on a few special people.  Mentorship is a much more exclusive relationship with a smaller number of friends, family members, or colleagues than your leadership circle.  When you mentor someone, you are making a conscious decision to invest a significant amount of time into a targeted person to impart your knowledge and wisdom thus accelerating their growth and development. When you chat to any highly successful person in any walk of life, they will inevitably mention a few people who truly “made their careers, made them who they are, changed their life’s trajectory.” 

I owe any success I have been able to achieve in my business life to five individuals – Val, Bill, John, Gary F. and Gary B. They have pushed me to the limit, invested in me as a person, taught me business lessons beyond my years and put my career in the fast lane, at times when I didn’t even know it. Mentoring is volunteering to develop an individual to achieve their career goals and advancement, with nothing expected in return – and that is what makes my five career crusaders even more special. All the sessions we spent together, all the advice they gave me, all the foolish decisions they stopped me from making and all the ways they encouraged me were just that — for me! All five of these people were always incredibly busy, but somehow, they manufactured time to sit with me and patiently teach me. They taught me both business and personal lessons — from which job opportunity to take, to which wine to choose in a restaurant so that I did not embarrass myself. Legends change lives with no expectation in return.

When you make the decision to COACH, you will immediately see the impact you have on others.  If leading and mentoring is the long game, then coaching is the short game.  Think of coaching as leadership and mentorship in a bite-sized daily single serving.  (Who doesn’t enjoy bite-sized portions that are easy to digest while leaving a lasting impression?) So how can you serve up bite-size coaching every day? Follow these simple three steps:

Slow Down – in today’s world, this can be tough.  You’ve got 50 emails in your inbox, an endless action list and six back-to-back meetings.  Start by making the decision to slow down to help someone else. Trust me, it’s not easy to slow down to help others, but when you’ve made the decision to be a Fearless coach, you determine what is important to do.

Invest Time – as you scan your 50 emails and come across one from a colleague or a mentee who is struggling, instead of replying to that teammate in 30 seconds, get up from your desk or pick up the phone and coach the person.  Real-time, bite-sized coaching that lasts five to ten minutes.  So, invest the time in someone else’s success.

Coach Up – you’ve slowed down and manufactured time to help someone, the next step is to coach the person up not down.  You intuitively know what I mean, but sometimes we don’t slow down enough or manufacture enough time, and our coaching can come off unintentionally as managing.  Coaching comes from a place of empathy; use your teaching voice, explain, show, and demonstrate; listen and learn; don’t tell and dictate.  Coaching in bite-sized increments always leaves the player feeling better for your support.

When you make the decision to GIVE, you will consistently make the same decision repeatedly as you witness the direct impact it has on others.  I was fortunate to grow up with parents that gave endlessly daily.  Mom was a volunteer art teacher at an elementary school, a team mom to virtually every team I was on, a cub scout leader for my brothers, a eucharistic minister at our church and a tireless activist on many fronts for kids with special needs.  Every step of the way, Dad was next to her fundraising or serving as treasurer.  As a kid, my weekends were filled with volunteer activities, I just didn’t know I was volunteering. As I grew up, I found myself unknowingly volunteering for student government, serving Thanksgiving meals, raising money for charity events, and visiting elementary schools as a big-brother.  I am so thankful that Mom & Dad imprinted the legacy of giving on me and that it made a lasting impression.

That’s the opportunity you have right now, to give with no expectation of getting anything in return.  To run a 5k race for a cause, to buy girl scout cookies, to serve meals at a local shelter, to be a big sister at your local Police Athletic League, to coach a youth sports team, to donate blood, to support any cause that fuels your body, mind, and soul with goodness.

Giving is so easy, and incredibly rewarding.  Every single time you volunteer, you will always feel better for it.  Legends give and their legacies are the visible fruit of that giving.  These legacies are able to talk about the impact those legends impressed upon their lives.