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Living Today for Tomorrow: 3 Leadership Practices for Securing Your Legacy

By Maxwell Leadership | March 12, 2024
Living Today for Tomorrow: 3 Leadership Practices for Securing Your Legacy

“If you’re going to live, leave behind a legacy. Make an impact on the world that can never be erased.” – Maya Angelou

What’s on your agenda today? Are you leading meetings? Teaching workshops? Investing in the people under your leadership? If adding value to someone else isn’t on your to-do list today, be sure to pencil it in. the day will come when you won’t have the opportunity anymore.

Unfortunately, it’s inevitable – someday, we are going to die.

And after we have, eventually our lives will be summarized in a single sentence. What do you want yours to be? American writer and U.S. ambassador Claire Booth Luce cleverly called this your “life sentence.” If you are intentional about creating your legacy, people at your funeral won’t have to wonder what your life sentence was.

Your Legacy: Leadership That Lasts

Eleanor Roosevelt remarked, “Life is like a parachute jump, you’ve got to get it right the first time.” Honestly, none of us gets it completely right. So many of us wish we could go back and make some changes in our lives. Yet we can choose to live our lives from today forward in such a way that we continue to make a positive impact on others after we’re gone. We can create a legacy worth living. To accomplish this, effective leaders do the following: 


Nobel Prize-winning novelist Anatole France observed, “The average man does not know what to do with his life, yet wants another one which will last forever.” Most people are not intentional about what legacy they want to create. They should be. Nobody will ever care about the legacy you leave as much as you do. If you don’t take responsibility for it and see it through, nobody else will.

Choose your legacy, and be intentional about it. That way you have the possibility of making a greater impact on a future generation. You can begin doing that today by starting to define your “life sentence.” Consider the values that are most important to you and choose which of them you want to be remembered for. Then, capture those values in one fluid thought: your life sentence. It will take time to refine, but that’s okay – you must start in order to finish, let alone finish well.


It’s one thing to identify a legacy. It’s another to pass it on. The greatest guarantee that any leader will leave the legacy they desire is how they live. In other words, your success, or lack of it – today, tomorrow, and in the future – is determined by your daily agenda. The sum of how you live each day becomes your legacy. Add up each action over the course of many years, and you can see your legacy beginning to take form.

Most people don’t get to choose when or how they’re going to die. But they can decide how they’re going to live. Sociologist Anthony Campolo tells about a study in which fifty people over the age of 95 were asked one question: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?” The question was open-ended and people’s answers were varied. But three themes consistently emerged:

If I had to do it over again, I would reflect more, risk more, and do more things that would live on after I’m dead.

Odds are if you’re reading this, you’re under the age of 95. But you can take those insights to heart today and create a legacy you love.


Charles F. Kettering, inventor and onetime head of General Motors’ research division, stated, “The greatest thing this generation can do is lay a few stepping stones for the next generation. One of life’s most fulfilling things is to take others to places they’ve never been and to heights they never dreamed possible – and as a leader, you have a great opportunity to do those things.

Educator D. Elton Trueblood wrote, “We have made at least a start in discovering the meaning in human life when we plant shade trees under which we know full well we will never sit.” Appreciating the significance of this role will motivate you to choose and live out your legacy today.

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