Just a few days ago we celebrated the Fourth of July, marking our country’s independence from England. We can celebrate because of the enduring legacy left by our visionary founders two hundred years ago. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights – these documents describe the system of government they labored so diligently to establish. Our founders not only produced great documents which described freedom and honor, but they demonstrated the essence of these enduring concepts. That’s what makes their legacy so compelling and powerful. George Washington’s integrity, Thomas Jefferson’s idealism, and Benjamin Franklin’s diplomacy set the stage for this country to become what it is today – the most powerful and prosperous democracy in the world, a beacon of success! Our founders left indelible footprints for us to follow.
Indeed, the true essence of success is a successor. The concepts and principles learned and taught must be transferred to others who will carry the torch forward after our demise.
John Maxwell in an article, “Establishing a Legitimate Legacy” delineates four essential standards for building the foundation of a legitimate leadership legacy:
1. Character – Being and becoming a moral example. This is achieved through honesty and integrity. People of good character are guided by ethical principles even when it’s physically dangerous or detrimental to their careers, social standing, or economic well-being. They do the right thing even when it costs more than they want to pay. Henry and Richard Blackaby say in their book Spiritual Leadership, “Integrity means being consistent in one’s behavior under every circumstance, including those unguarded moments.”
2. Choices – Thinking clearly and making wise decisions. According to Theodore Hesbrugh, “You don’t make decisions because they are easy; you don’t make decisions because they are cheap; you don’t make decisions because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right.” As reflected in the book, “The Other Wes Moore,” choices can make the difference between heart-wrenching losses or moments of surprising redemption; from “White House Fellow and business leader” to “serving a life sentence in prison.” It all depends on which road you take when you come to the “fork in the road.” ( Every young man should read this fascinating story)