“Death is not impressed by what we have done, unless what we have done leaves a legacy of life; death’s tide washes over everything we have taken so long to write in the sand. What is remembered in all our work is what is still alive in the hearts and minds of others.” David Whyte in Crossing the Unknown Sea
In one of my corporate projects, I contracted with a consultant on Long Island. We became friends over time. One day, after our project was complete, he called me to talk about a client he had who was trying to leave a legacy in his multi-million dollar retail business. As he told me about his conversations thus far, it seemed my consultant friend was directing all conversation towards a ‘financial’ legacy.
Upon reflection, my response may have been swift and blunt. I told him if his client’s legacy was one of only financial condition of the larger organization – while necessary and appreciated – he would be forgotten three months after his departure. However, he would be remembered eternally by those who could say, “He changed my life.”
We then went into a conversation about how he could take his client through a dialogue that would allow him to see his personal brand and better understand a real legacy.
About a week later, I got this message in an email from my consultant friend:
“I practiced your approach yesterday with a client – the two owners of a $50M business on Long Island … one of them – whom I had until then experienced as the tougher, less accessible one – felt he had a mountaintop experience, and went home that night to share all he discovered with his wife and family.”