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The Eight Pillar Professional- Module One: Legacy Developer

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was going to provide a summary of The Eight Pillar Professional Course that I have been working on for quite some time. In my previous post, I outlined the thought process that I went through from 2011 to the present day and how my research and thinking caused me to change my Eight Pillars concept from James Allen's original Eight Pillars of Prosperity to Eight Pillars of Success and finally to Eight Pillars of Significance. I realized, after all that what we really seek in life is to leave a mark on those we leave behind. All of us will die and all of us wish to be remembered fondly to family and friends.

In developing a course for professionals, initially in the healthcare profession and then widening that scope, I realized that the best approach was one that Stephen Covey taught in his 1989 best seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. After the initial habit- "Be Proactive" ( which is great advice and which I cover in several of the modules), Covey goes to Habit #2- "Begin with the End in Mind". While this advice is great in all endeavors both personal and professional, Covey is often speaking of beginning projects with the end result that you want to accomplish in mind. I decided to take that philosophy one step further in beginning with the ultimate end- your death in mind.

Legacy Development is the first pillar in my Eight Pillar Professional program. In a nutshell, it is simply this: When you die, you will have someone giving a eulogy, there will be websites and newspapers with your obituary, you will have your family going through your stuff and reminiscing about the person you were. It is a somewhat unpopular activity for many to look towards that final day of your life. It is, however, a great starting point for developing your values, your goals, your priorities and your habits. Utilizing an obituary form and probing several pertinent questions, we seek to find out the person you want to be remember as. When most people think about legacy, they are simply thinking about money and possessions. This is natural because this is the easiest thing to measure. When you hear about a person passing away and leaving a multi-million dollar endowment to a university or hospital it grabs attention. No where in my Eight Pillars program do I criticize anyone for wanting to leave a healthy financial legacy. In fact, living a financially sound life and working from a budget that takes into account caring for your loved ones after you are gone is just sound advice. My challenge is to broaden your thinking beyond the "stuff" and creating a wealth of the intangibles- books, notes, journals, memories, photographs, and lives changed.

When you look at a life like Abraham Lincoln's or Thomas Edison's you realize that the creative and courageous steps they took in their lifetimes far outlived them. At one point in his life, Abraham Lincoln was a failed businessman, a losing politician and suffered from chronic spells of severe depression. Yet his bravery in pushing for an emancipation of the slave population, setting up voting rights for people of color and designing a benevolent reconstruction for the post Civil War period are acts that survive to this day. Even the leaders after him that did not possess the same goal of equality and integration could not ultimately unravel the work that Lincoln did during his presidency. It might surprise you to comprehend that you, too, have the ability to make decisions and commit acts of kindness and courage that will live far beyond your lifetime.

The obituary exercise that is the cornerstone of the first pillar begins the process of critical thinking- of looking at your life as a completed journey. Once you have worked through the process of choosing the characteristics that are most important to you, you can then look at your life as a "where to I want to be versus where I am today" equation. For example, if you write that you want to leave a trove of photographs of places that you travelled with your family and you have worked so tenaciously that you haven't taken a family vacation in five years, you realize there is work to be done in that area. If your goal is a life insurance policy that will put your kids through school and pay off your primary residence yet you currently carry no insurance or carry two mortgages on your property, who know there is an inconsistency that can be strategically overcome. With a completed obituary in hand as a written document, you can then look at your current situation and prioritize core values that you wish to prioritize. Four to six core values, again written down so that you have a roadmap to follow will allow you to move on to the next pillar of setting a bucket list for your life that will allow for easier decision making and provide you with a blueprint to compare to your actions.

The next step in legacy development once your core values are established is to design a personal mission statement. This is a document that can be as short as a couple of sentences or as long as a paragraph or two. Making this mission statement too long can muddy up the waters of your goal setting. The statement should be precise and to the point and ideally short enough for you to memorize. It is hard work. It involves spending some alone time or time with your loved ones to collaborate and get a clear idea on behaviors and priorities that might need to change. People naturally resist change and your old habits or the fallacy that you have all the time in the world can inhibit you from taking bold action on this mission statement. It would be helpful for you to read books on legacy and one of the homework assignments is watching an excellent movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called The Bucket List. In this movie, two older men are confronted with their demise and discover what is most important beyond the ins and outs of everyday life. Regardless of your personal beliefs, whether you believe in God and in an Eternal life or whether you have a more Stoic believe that this world is all there is, it is still vital that you live the allotted time you are given with purpose and passion.

To some, the work involved in this first pillar is the most difficult. So often we are so busy making a living that we forget to design a life. This course was created to allow you to put your life under the microscope and live with the end in mind. Earlier I mentioned that completing this exercise will assist you in your decision processes. One of the phrases I use in the course is that you will need to say no to good things in order to say yes to great things. It may be more fun to play golf every Saturday, but if one of your values is to have a dynamic family life, you have the decision of saying no to golf occasionally in order to plan some Saturday family time, or develop a love of golf in your partner and children in order to make that golfing time a memory creating legacy. When a client wants you to stay late into the evening to complete a sale, you can easily run that request through your Value guide to see if it is congruent with your mission. Today's social media and the convenience of our iPhones sometimes creates a barrier to personal interaction that some of us aren't even aware of. I am sure that no one wants to be eulogized as a wizard on his cell phone or the champion of Angry Birds or Facebook.

The first Pillar of the Eight Pillar Professional is to become a Legacy Developer. Begin with the end in mind and live life to the fullest. You cannot change all of the poor decisions or misguided pursuits of the past, but you do possess the power to design whatever future lies ahead of you. I encourage you to contact me if you are interested in attending an Eight Pillars Course or if you would prefer, meet with me one on one to discuss how to begin the work of developing the best possible life both professionally and personally. I will end this with a quote from Stephen Covey on legacy:

"There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase; to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy. The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.”

I would love to be involved in helping you design the life you desire. That your family and friends desire for you. The first step is yours.

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