Steps to leaving a legacy from a transformational leadership expert.
True entrepreneurship involves a mindset of solving problems. But real success goes well beyond the bottom line to impacting lives and leaving a legacy.
Many global challenges need innovative solutions that, no doubt, will be solved by entrepreneurs. Established industries like health care, education, and alternative energy are ripe for disruption. This creates abundant opportunities for those who want to step up and become the next Larry Page, Elon Musk or Bill Gates.
This is how you can do it:
1. Find your purpose or ‘why.’
The pioneering entrepreneur Peter Diamandis says, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
People often say to me, “Kunal, I’m 30 years old and have no idea what to do with my life.” Lacking clarity can waste years of your life. People who change the world have a strong why, and their purpose is clear. For example, Elon Musk said the goals of his companies SolarCity, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity.
If you don’t know your purpose, use this moment as an opportunity to start working on yourself. Ask yourself these questions:
What matters most to you and why? (Maybe improving well-being in your community, access to education and ending suffering or poverty.)
What have you been called to do with your life? What do you think you should do?
What gets you excited every morning and why? (Tip: extrinsic motivators powered by someone else’s values will not sustain you, but intrinsic motivators from your deepest values will.)
What do you enjoy so much that you’d do it for free?
How do simple everyday problems frustrate you and what can you do to solve them?
If you won the lottery, what would you do differently with your life?
What are you here to do? What legacy do you wish to leave on the planet?
2. Revisit your purpose often.
Any plan is worthless without execution. At times, you’ll feel out of alignment; that’s the human experience—plans and reality often contradict each other. Frequently revisiting your purpose will keep you on track.
How you revisit your purpose will depend on your personality. As an extrovert, I get my energy by connecting with my “tribe”—people on the same journey as me. Perhaps you could look for a local Meetup group, attend a seminar or hire an executive coach.
If you’re an introvert, you may prefer to take time out for mindfulness and introspection. Write down everything that’s on your mind each morning and night in a journal. Rewrite the answers to your purpose questions. Unplug from technology for the weekend. Read stoic philosophy for perspective.
3. Cultivate your signature strengths.
Identify your signature strengths and talents so that you can use them every day to add value to others. Maybe you know your strengths based on previous feedback or the outcomes of your decisions. Think about what talents you used when experiencing the most success and fulfillment. If you’re still unsure, take some personality tests like Strengths Finder or 16Personalities.
4. Don’t work in isolation.
An African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Cultivate an exponential mindset—where you view the world as full of possibility and hope. Don’t work in isolation. Instead, collaborate with other transformational leaders and build an exceptional team; they’ll teach you how to be a better leader. And you’ll build something much bigger than yourself and with a lasting legacy.
5. Be part of the team, rather than above it.
In Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek says that great leaders look out for their team before themselves. Most importantly, let them know that you’ll always have their back, so they’re empowered to build a business with impact and legacy collectively.
Develop first-hand knowledge of the challenges the team faces. Just ask. This raises your confidence and credibility as a leader.
6. Lead a life of service.
Go beyond your call of duty to solve grand global challenges. Even after wild success in business, Bill Gates has found a higher calling in eradicating pandemic diseases. Legends like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa aligned their passion with a purpose to change the world.
It takes great courage to have a vision and work for the rest of your life in service to that vision—so you leave a legacy that fosters prosperity for future generations. My mentor David Roberts once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear; the brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.”
Remember: we live in the most extraordinary time in the history of humanity. Will you use that opportunity to take a stand and build a legacy that will help humanity flourish?