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?