As part of my entrepreneurial growth, I created meaningful relationships with CEOs. Some became clients. Others were sounding boards for my clients and myself. Through those relationships, I have been able to explore and transform leadership at its highest level. In that mix of CEOs, some were running companies, while others were retired. One of the amazing conversations with retired CEOs of Fortune 500s is their desire to contribute. Like all people who contribute, they seek some level of self-interest. That self-interest can be summed up in one word
When they said immortality, it didn’t mean they intended to live forever. In a sense, immortality was a way to describe the legacy they would leave behind.
As I fostered more relationships with C-Level executives, I was able to contribute to them in a meaningful way. One way I did that was to create roundtable discussions. In those CEO roundtable meetings, there were always 2-3 current or former CEOs of Fortune 500s present. These former CEOs had the benefit of what some would call “skid marks”. In other words, they have gone through many tough experiences in their career that some would equate with being run over by a truck.
Through the roundtable discussions, the retired CEOs were in a position to impart their wisdom to current CEOs of midsize businesses - $100 million-$3 billion in revenue. The retired CEOs said if their knowledge and experience could help another CEO, it would be a form of immortality. Their knowledge could live on through others.
With that said, everyone has the same opportunity, especially if you have children. On a recent Facebook post, a woman started a very empowering conversation. She talked about her future children. She said she would ensure they are financially literate. She also talked about how she would encourage her children, instead of belittling their ideas.
From where I stand, this is the same kind of commitment the retired CEOs had with current CEOs. This woman on Facebook succinctly stated who she would “be”, as a woman, not just a mother. From what she said, she would leave a legacy of empowerment with her children. Her children would be prepared for life as they benefit from her wisdom and experience. This kind of care would allow her to live on through her children as the source of inspiration, financial literacy and creativity.
As you can imagine, the comments to her post were just as amazing. I think many men were ready to propose to her.
While not everyone will be CEO or a mother, there is a part of you that will live on in the world. The question is: what will you leave behind?
Every word you think or speak makes its mark on the world. If your mindset is angry, it will leave a legacy of anger in the world. And the next generation will carry your torch of anger. If your legacy is empowering leadership, it will be the torch for the next generation to carry. Therefore, it’s up to you to choose the kind of person you will “be”.
With all the controversy in the media today, you have to wonder how young people are interpreting it. We fill the media with division, hatred and revenge and wonder why young people are so violent.
So take a note from those retired CEOs and that gracious woman on Facebook. Rethink what you think as well as what you say to those in your environment. A quote by Frank Outlaw says it all. “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it will become your destiny.” Not only will it become your destiny it will become the destiny of future generations.
What do you think? I would love to hear your feedback. And I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.