How will you be remembered? Few questions delve deeper into global leaders' emotions, self-identities and ambitions. Few inquiries beg the kind of reflection that's required of each of us to sort our personal and professional priorities.
It's been said that time is the harshest critic. The older we get, the more we can appreciate the truth in that simple statement. Yet, as we rise to meet each day, there are decisions to be made about where we will focus our time and efforts. Unfortunately, it seems there is ever more that remains outside our control.
The decisions we make, how we make them, and their impact on others within our enterprises are the very stuff from which our legacies will be built. The time we devote in service to others. Our care and concern for the young and less fortunate. How we act, what we teach and expect of others.
Each of these will fall in the ledger books, either to cast doubt on our abilities as leaders, or in the good column that will magnify our good works and commitments and ethics as examples for future generations, be they in our family or our institutions or workplaces.
The matter of legacy, therefore, really is nothing more than a stringing together by others of the consistent stands we may have taken as business leaders - the things we committed to and the situations that demanded our best and got it when fate fanned the flames of courage and persistence.
We all want to be remembered in glowing terms. When we're gone, we'll each have absolutely no say in the matter. That's why the present is so important.
Today is critical, because it may be the timing of someone else's crucible - one we might help them struggle through and overcome if we make ourselves available to serve others. For some leaders, the best shines through when our respective backs are at the wall. And haven't we all felt that way on more than one occasion over the past year?
It's not too early to consider what our lives and careers will amount to when all is said and done.