Tuesday, December 26, 2006

James Brown vs. Your Legacy

It is hard not let the more recent criminal news surrounding James Brown shadow my thoughts of his legacy now that he has died. After watching the news, it would appear that I am not alone. Last week when I knew he would be passing out toys in Augusta, just three blocks from my office, I thought of stopping in to see him in person. Never giving it a moments thought that this year would be his last. I guess, in this moment of media bliss(lol), I might suggest a modification to the age old "golden rule". Perhaps a new twist that may say, "Share about peoples lives the way you would want others to share about you." No matter what you do, your legacy will have to be delivered by others. That is a bit scary if you ask me. Brown's death makes me stop to ponder my own.

What do you hope people will say and remember about you when you are gone? There are many stages in your life and career that should cause you to stop and take a moment to ponder. As a manager, you need to always be thinking of what your management legacy will be. What are you doing today that will impact others tomorrow.

Famous CEO Jack Welch and others like him, wrote countless times that your business legacy should be as important as your personal legacy. In many cases the two will be like a fine dancer and his partner. Each matching the other step for step. If I were to resign today, what would my team say about me? Your actions each day impact those around you in more ways than you can imagine. Do you give decisions enough thought or do you want your legacy to be one of quick decisions? Do you have a basis for the decisions you make or do you fly by the seat of your pants? Is your planning about today, tomorrow or ten years from now?

There are a lot of people that say they do not care what people think of them. I wonder if people that say that really mean it? Do they truly know what they are saying? Do they understand the impact that type of thought process can have on the direction of their daily lives?

I care what others think, especially when it comes to my team and the way I manage my team. In more recent days I have come to wonder if I have made mistakes in my management initiatives. We have seen tremendous success in many areas and serious losses in others. Have I been to easy? Have I not micro-managed enough? Have I given people enough rope to hang themselves, but put the noose to close to the ground that there feet could touch just enough to keep their careers alive? A wiser man than me said, "The mere fact that you are asking yourselves these questions means you care. Never stop asking those questions."

Overall, I try to see the best in people. When I am gone from my management position, when I pass on to the next place in my career, I hope that others will say, "He gave me the power to do my job. He gave me the freedom to be creative. He gave me direction so that I could shine. He never stole my thunder. He publicly applauded my efforts. I wish I had another boss like him."

As this year comes to a close, I can say I have found another "golden rule", lead people the way you would want to be lead. Live the legacy you wish to leave.

James Brown is an American icon. Period. We all make mistakes. I should consider myself priveledged to just know that I work in a town that he called home. I should relish the times his car passed me by as I walked Broad street. Why? Because there is one thing that the media has never debated or forgot to mention... James Brown, "The hardest working man in show business. " This was his self-proclaimed slogan. He said it, he belived it, he lived it and now others will say it beyond his grave. Legacy? Perhaps. If nothing else, just a small part of what he left behind.

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