Episode 198 – How to Leave a Legacy of Greatness
Rob Shallenberger: Hello, friends, and welcome back to the Becoming Your Best Podcast. This is Rob Shellenberger, and I’m excited that you’re able to join us today and that we have the chance to visit for a few minutes. I wanted to talk just briefly on this podcast about something that applies to every one of us, and that is your legacy, our legacy. In other words, what legacy are we leaving for the world?
In seminars I’ve talked a little bit about legacy before. Probably 97% of people actually care about their legacy. I have had people raise their hand and say, “You know, I just don’t even care.” I’m confident that there is nobody on this podcast that that is the case with, that everyone who’s listening to this cares about the legacy that you’re leaving. And I love what Maya Angelou said, she said that “People won’t remember what you said, or what you did, what they’ll remember is how you made them feel.” And that’s the essence of leaving a great legacy, a legacy of greatness.
When you think about your legacy, that can come in different forms – as a leader in an organization, it could be as a parent, certainly your legacy will live on in your children if that applies to you. So, how do you want people to look back and think of you? And your legacy, as it comes to that, let me ask you a few introspective questions, just something to think about as you look back at your life, right now, with where you are today. Let me just ask you four or five quick questions. These are great introspective questions I’ve been thinking about them throughout the morning, and I invite you to do the same with an open mind.
So, here’s a few of them: First of all, are you happy with where you are right now financially? Are you happy with your relationships – your family, your friends, your co-workers? Are you happy with your relationships? Are you happy with your health? Are you happy with the direction into your life, right now with where you’re going? If you answered no to any of these questions, then my following question would be, what needs to change? In other words, if you’re not happy with where you are in one of those areas – finances, relationships health, your direction – what needs to change? And in this podcast, although it will be short, I want to give you and share with you a little bit of direction, that’s been very powerful for me and I’ve seen it help thousands of people around the world. So, the hope of this is that this can be inspiring, motivating, and really help you maybe get some direction in your life that would apply to one of those key areas, if you answered, “No.”
And so, let’s talk about what that can be. You hear us say this all the time on these podcasts, and that is something like, “The 12 Principles! Go back to the 12 Principles!” And it’s true. However, having said that many times what I’ve realized along the way, is that sometimes that may seem like a broad statement. You know, the 12 Principles, well, what are they? Because if we say the 12 Principles, then sometimes we’re not thinking about what they are at an individual level.
And so, one of my first and most powerful invitations on this – and I say powerful, because I’m in the process of doing this myself – is to encourage you to read Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, at least one time a year. And as you do that, do a self-evaluation on each principle. And I realized, things happen, life happens. That’s why we’re encouraging you to read this book, once a year. Make it a staple of your life! These 12 Principles are very predictive of success, we know that. They’re powerful, they’re eternal, they transcend culture. So, being that they are so predictive of success, it is good to come back once a year, read the book and do a self-evaluation on each principle. In that way, when you or we or I or whoever it might be, says, go to the 12 Principles, that’s not a vague statement. We can actually internalize every one of them and do a self-evaluation check with number one, number two, number three, number four, and see where we’re at.
Let me give you an example of why this can be so powerful just reading the book and doing that evaluation against each one of those principles. A couple of reasons: Number one, those tie directly into all of those questions I just asked – finances, health, relationships, direction. Number two is it’ll keep us back in line with what works. In the last couple of weeks – I’ll say more than met – talked with two people who are going through a midlife crisis. And this is where this thought process started to come from. As they’re talking, I’m just doing the self-evaluation, both internally and for them on the principles – each one of the principles. And they are powerful and helping us move along.
I mean, so here’s another example of this. I was just with a company for two days yesterday, they’ve been working with Becoming Your Best now for almost four years, it’s a great organization! One of the gentlemen who was there had a son that had recently gone through a divorce. He said, “Man, I just finished the 12 Principles. Reading the book, I saw my son going through this divorce, and realized how powerful these principles would be.” Because he commented that his son was in this funk, it really flipped his life upside down, which I think we can all understand. So he gave the book to his son, and as soon as his son had finished the book and read through the principles, he said, “Man, he just came alive again, the fire was back in him. He realized that life wasn’t over for him and he took control again of his life and he started to lead his own life again.” But it wasn’t until he read the book, and did this evaluation of each principle on where he was, and realizing that he obviously wasn’t where he wanted to be, he took control, and started applying the principle to not only the present but his future, and that’s when it started to change.
So that’s where it gets exciting for us. And I was really grateful he shared that comment. I gave this guy a hug and said, “Thank you for sharing that!” Because, there are times you wonder, “Is this making a difference? That little voice of self-doubt creeps into all of our minds, and I was very appreciative of his comment.
And the principles do work. So let me just give you an example of three of these and how I’ve thought about these just over the last few days, and I’ll invite you to do the same. Think about how these principles resonate with you. So, let’s just talk about, “Be True to Character.” I was driving up the canyon this morning, as I was coming into our office, and I was just evaluating my own life, “Rob, are you true to character? Are you honest in all that you do, in the small things and the big things?” Okay, good question! It’s a pretty high bar to set. When you say, you know, even in the small things, the little white lies, well, I’m trying to do the self-evaluation, holding myself up to that standard. It even goes deeper than that, though. I started asking, “When you say something, do you do it, Rob?” In other words, when you give someone a verbal commitment, do you follow through and do what you said you would do? Well, again, that’s a fairly high bar to set for a lot of us.
Another principle, the second one is to “Lead with a Vision.” This is a great one to hold ourselves up to and introspectively ask, how are we doing? And if you think about your vision, right now, go back to those questions – financially, relationships, health, direction – are those things in line with your vision? And think about this, here’s a different spin on vision. When you think about your personal vision – and I’ve shared this before – it’s a little bit like writing your dash, you know, simplicity. There’s a little book out that talks about your dash, it’s a great little book to get, and I can’t remember where it’s at, or at what website, but if you search for “your dash”, you can find this. The point is that if you go to any cemetery and you look on the headstones, most of them will have a birth date, a death date, and then, in the middle, is the dash. And each one of us, as we have the chance to wake up in the morning, we’re writing our dash, we’re writing our life’s script right now, we’re writing and living our legacy. And so, what does that vision look like? And is your current life in line with that? Are you writing the dash that you would be proud of, that you would want other people to be able to talk about in a positive way, your children, your co-workers, etc?
So, thinking about that this morning, I have my roles pretty well-defined, I have a vision for each role. And then, the question was, am I in line with that vision? So, for example, in the role of spouse – my wife’s name is Tanya – the vision is that I am a kind and caring husband, who always helps Tanya feel like a 10. I’m totally faithful in thought and action, and I constantly strive to serve her, compliment her and be the husband of her dreams. Well, as I’m thinking about that, I’m thinking, “You could do better, Rob! There are some places where you could do better, even in those small little simple actions.” And so, it started to raise my internal bar and put me in the driver’s seat as to what I could do to improve our relationship and take what’s good and make it even better.
And so, that’s what it can do as you start to hold your life up to the Principle. So, number one, “Be True to Character”; number two is a Vision. Think about those, and that’s why you read the book. As you go through each one of those principles, it allows you to self-evaluate how you’re doing, and that should create a very empowering feeling. Rarely do people read the book and get discouraged because Becoming Your Best is about putting you in the driver’s seat so that you can do something to impact your own life and move forward.
Let’s go to Principle number seven, “Be an Effective Communicator”. Here’s how this has resonated in my own life, just in the last few months, as I’ve done this self-evaluation, putting myself up to the principle and saying, “Where am I at?” So, one of the things that you see in high performers and great leaders is that they focus on becoming great communicators. That obviously applies to speaking; you have two ears and one mouth for a reason, so it certainly applies to listening. And that’s where I think most of us have a lot of areas for improvement, is in the listening side, especially with the people close to us in our lives – spouse, children, close friends, family, and co-workers. That’s where it seems to be more difficult, is the closer we are to someone emotionally.
So, recently, over the last few months, I felt myself with my son, Robbie, getting fairly directive. He’s a senior in high school, I mean, this is crunch time, he’s got University applications coming in, you know, you hit these deadlines, and certain doors are going to close – you either keep the door open, or you close the door. And so, it’s kind of an important time, and I’ve started to get more directive with him, like, “Hey, Robbie, do this, do this, do this.” And most of us, when we actually step back and look at it, part of human nature is we don’t like to be told what to do and when to do it and have someone riding us. And so, by nature, he’s been getting a little defensive over the last few months, and I think that’s exactly what most of us would probably do. And I’ve just been thinking a lot, “Man, he’s not happy with this, I’m not happy with this, what needs to change?” Well, I could wait for him, or I could self-evaluate against the principle, “Be an effective communicator”. That puts me back in the driver’s seat to say, “Rob, what are you going to do to improve the communication?”
So, as you read the book, those who read the book, you’re going to see in chapter seven, a way to bring up difficult issues. And this is powerful, it’s so simple, but it works. And that is, to ask this question, “What are your thoughts?” Or, “I’ve been thinking about X, and I’d like to get your thoughts on this or your thinking.” In other words, rather than getting directive and telling someone what to do, we’re putting the ball in their court, to be able to have some agency and express their opinions, their thoughts as part of communication. And this isn’t easy to do when we’re out of the habit of doing it.
So with Robbie, I think I had slipped out of the habit, I had become more and more directive and frustration had risen on both sides. And so, I walked in the room and just very consciously asked, “Hey, Robbie, I’ve been thinking about your application to the university, and just wanted to get your thoughts on where things are, and just what your thoughts are on the application.” And it was amazing because just watching him right there. I saw this calm come over his demeanor, and he turned around, and he said, “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it. I probably have to do this, and this, and this.” Those are the very things I would have told him to do, had I rewound the clock two or three weeks prior. Now, he’s the one talking about doing them. So my response was, “Yeah, those are great thoughts, Robbie! What are your thoughts on when you might do those?” And again, he’s the one who starts to answer the question, “Well, I could probably work on this tonight.” But you see how, all of a sudden, applying the principle, and evaluating myself against that principle changed our relationship for the better. I’ll tell you, over the last two to three weeks, it’s not done 100% yet, but I have been so much more at peace. He’s been at peace. Our relationship is improving in better, far better than where it was even just two weeks ago, over this one issue of the university applications and scholarships. And so that’s the power of the principle.
And I’ll just give you one more example of holding ourselves against the principle and saying, “Where are we?” And again, the whole point and intent of this podcast is to invite you to go back and read the book; go through every single one of the principles and evaluate yourself right now on where you’re at, to the principle. So, if we go all the way to Principle 10, which is to “Apply the Power of Knowledge”, great leaders, high-performers, have a constant thirst for knowledge. Elon Musk reads one to two books per day; Warren Buffett – 80% of his time, he invests reading. So there’s a very strong correlation to reading and success, you know, being motivated.
So if you’ve been a follower of our podcast for any amount of time, you’ve heard us say this in previous podcasts: Well, you know, all of us are very similar in certain ways, and it’s like a roller coaster, there are certain times we’re on highs, and then we come down a little bit lower, and we go through a high. We get that! Life is not always on a high. So, again, why do we come back to the principles? To move us back to the high!
Well, I remember, just three or four months ago, I started to feel a little bit of a low coming in, a little bit of complacency. And just that feeling of, “Oh, man, something’s not quite right.” You don’t feel as motivated to get up and go work out – in my case, do CrossFit or run – and I think most people listening to this can relate to that, where you just don’t quite feel that mojo, the motivation. Well, I started to hold myself against the principles. And I looked at them, and I got to this one, and I thought, “Man, you know, other than the Scriptures, I haven’t really read any other books for a little over two weeks.” And normally, my focus is a chapter a day in some book. And I realized it had been almost two weeks. Now, I could have made excuses saying that, “Yeah, I was on the road, I was on the plane, I was doing these different events, keynote seminars, I just was busy.” But those are simply that, they’re excuses.
When we’re doing pre-week planning, we can make the time for anything that matters most. And so, the reality was, I just simply hadn’t been doing it for two weeks. And even after that short amount of time, I had felt the momentum start to slide, the motivation was sliding. And so, I picked it back up. I started to read just a chapter that day. Within a day or two, just instantly, the motivation started to come back, the power started to flow, the mind started to go again. And so, it’s these little habits that can have a big impact on our lives when we focus on them. And because life happens, that’s why it’s so important to come back and look at each one of the 12 Principles. This is what your legacy is all about. Hold yourself against every one of these principles and evaluate where you’re at. Because I promise, once we have a clear vision, we’re resolute in our character, and we come back to that over and over again, we have a plan, we prioritize our time, we treat people right, and we start working towards these things, it’s amazing what will materialize in our relationships, in our finances, in our health, in the way we feel about our direction – it all will improve across the board. It’s kind of like the old saying, “What comes first? The chicken or the egg? Well, I don’t really know, but what happens is when we do apply the principles, success, and happiness follows. It’s like the night – day. There’s a very predictable pattern to that.
So, the invitation here is a couple of things from this podcast: Number one, read Becoming Your Best again. This is not a one-time read, this is a book that I encourage you to put on the shelf that you come back to every year. Make this one of your staple books, and come back to it year after year, after year again, and evaluate yourself on the principles and then make the necessary adjustments.
The second invitation is to take this up a notch, and that is to share it with a friend. You know, I was inspired by this person who I talked about earlier in the podcast, this father, who saw his son going through the divorce, his son was in the funk and he shared the book. The book became the catalyst to make the changes. He started to look at the principles and it really fired him up, it totally shifted his mindset, as he applied the new skill set. So share Becoming Your Best with someone important in your life – it could be your co-workers, it could be a son or daughter, a spouse, a friend, share it with someone. I know that you know someone who you can make a difference in their life by simply sharing it. Very easy to do.
So, those are two invitations. Number one, read the book; number two, share it with someone else. Apply the principles and think about your legacy in the context of the principles. Because in the end, tomorrow’s not guaranteed for any single one of us, and at some point, that debt day it’s going to show up there and the ability to write our dash, at that point, is over. So, this is the time to make hay, not postponing anything that’s important to us. This is the time, this is the day, and that is the entire spirit of Becoming Your Best.
We love you, we’re grateful for your friendship, wherever you’re at in the world. We know there are people listening to this from Saudi Arabia, Romania, South Africa, Russia, throughout the United States, Canada, South America, the Philippines. So, wherever you’re at, thank you for being a part of this movement, because that’s how we view this. And you’re really the catalyst that’s going to impact other people’s lives. The principles are powerful, and we’re grateful for your friendship, and we hope you have a fabulous week!