I spent over 10 years working at a company in Connecticut called Micrognosis. I wrote about an aspect of my experience there in this post.
During my tenure at Micrognosis we delivered many, many products and projects. We made millions of dollars on our technologies and our customers were fairly happy with our efforts. All of this happened in the span from 1986 – 1996. If you asked me today whether anyone, and I mean anyone, really cares about the efforts we made (products, effort, blood-sweat-tears, etc.), I’d say no.
One of the hidden factors in all of our legacies, and I know technologists don’t want to hear this, is that what we’re working on really doesn’t matter in the long term. No matter what you’re working on!
For example, Netflix or Google or Spotify of today really won’t matter (technically) 20 years from now. Sure, they’ll be historical notes about them on Wikipedia, but the products themselves won’t matter.
So, what does matter?
So, if it’s not the products you’ve built or the projects you’ve been a part of, what does matter for your legacy?
I think the truth lies closest to the Maya Angelou quote:
Your legacy is every life (person) you’ve touched.
As a leader, it’s the organizations, the teams, and the people who you’ve touched that are your legacy. It’s how you’ve “shown up” to every one of them. Who you’ve helped or mentored or taught. And those who’ve been moved by your role model and journey. It’s your behavior. How have you walked your talk and the example you’ve shown each and every life that you’ve touched. That’s what matters. And that’s what your legacy is about.
A Legacy Example
To be honest, it brought a tear to my eye. I felt fortunate to have found this so that I could incorporate it into this post. It’s a shining example, at least to me, of what legacy should “look like”. I hope you find it as compelling as I did…
And beyond your words, is your role model. I was fortunate enough to have worked at a company called iContact a few years ago. We were going agile and I was leading that effort. I was the leader of the technical organization, but was also an agile evangelist and the primary change agent.
I worked hard to be the best role model I could be along the attributes that the agilist movement espouses. In a phrase, I tried to model true servant leadership.
The true measure of my effectiveness is measured by the lives I touched and influenced during that time. And how they all show up today.
The thing that inspires me is when I run into those folks today – the impact I had on their careers and lives. Many of those folks are leading their own agile efforts today. Walking their talk and staying very principled. Each one of them simply makes me smile. It encourages me that I had a small bit to play in their journeys. And that my efforts are being paid forward.
When you go home each day and review your day, think about your legacy. What did you do that day to make a difference in the people you worked with? How did you show up? And who did you help?
To be honest, it’s the only thing that really matters.
Stay agile my friends,
Here’s the Forbes article that inspired this one…just a little –