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Planning Your Living Legacy

By Verne Harnish and Monte Wyatt

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People often joke that the best moments of boat ownership are the day they bought the boat and the day they sold it.

There are similar punctuation marks in our lives—the day we’re born and the day we pass away. As busy executives, if we’re not careful, our personal lives can end up as neglected as those vessels, forever docked in the harbor (or parked in storage!).
I’m a big believer in building a living legacy. Your life will be more meaningful if you treat every day as if it was your last and, instead of rushing from one obligation to another, you proactively establish personal priorities and align them with your professional goals.

As readers of this column know, there are four decisions you must make to build a thriving company: People, Strategy, Execution and Cash. In your personal life, there are parallel areas: Relationships, Achievements, Rituals and Wealth. Commit to writing your goals in these four areas, just as you weave the Four Decisions into your business plan. To guide you in creating a personal one-page plan, here’s a link to a “ME: Living Legacy” tool. (http://montewyatt.com/gazelles-growth-tools/).

RELATIONSHIPS

At the end of the day, what matters most in life are relationships. The first step in using the Living Legacy tool is to list the key people in your life on whom you want to have a lasting impact.
In business, you have a tremendous opportunity to influence your employees or customers. In your personal life, the important people in your life will likely include your family, your friends, and those in the various communities to which you belong. Limit the list to 25 people, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
At the same time, there may be some people in your life who are destructive and/or distract you from your higher goals. There’s a space on the form where you can note relationships you want to end. Doing so is important, so you can free time for the people who matter most to you.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Many CEOs find that even when they reach critical milestones for growing their company, they feel they haven’t made a real difference in the world. The achievements section of the Living Legacy tool can pave the way to a more meaningful life. Think about the major ways you’d like to make an impact through your work beyond reaching monetary goals—perhaps by mentoring others or setting up a nonprofit organization or pro bono initiative—and set objectives in these key areas.

In your personal life, you’ll want to think about how you can make a real difference to the key people in your life. For instance, you might aim to have a happy marriage, instead of just staying married, as many people do.

When you focus on improving your self, your leadership grows, your business grows, and your personal life grows.