Business Coaching Legacy: Reflections on What You Want to Leave
Updating my will has been on my mind for quite some time now.
Life circumstances change, kids grow-up, financial situations
changes. I procrastinated for a very long time about this will.
Now that it is, I feel very satisfied and pleased. There is
peace in that corner of my mind that nagged and nagged about it
for so long. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize
that people, myself included, avoid making out wills because
they don't want to confront their own mortality or have to face
up to making difficult decisions.
One of the things I learned from the process of making a will is
that a will is an expression of love for the living. After all,
the loss of you will be difficult enough for your loved ones to
bear. Why add to their angst with legal problems, emotional
confrontations with family members and possible financial losses.
The living, that is, those left behind, will make of a will what
they will. Make no mistake, the will, is taken seriously by
those left behind. Understand there will be no opportunity to
explain what you really intended by leaving some treasured
object to cousin Jo or why you named Sally your executor instead
of your older son Bob. The child who is convinced that you love
the others more than him will be looking for something in the
will that proves him right and may very well find it in spite of
how careful you are not to have anything in the will that might
be misconstrued in that direction. So, it is a good idea to use
the simplest language and clearest grammatical structure as
The Last Will and Testament is exactly that. You don't get a
second chance. After I dealt with distribution of the tangibles
- financial assets, money and physical objects accumulated and
treasured for so much of a lifetime you confront the most
important part of your legacy. .
Making a will is a poignant reminder that the physical stuff,
including the money, doesn't really amount to very much when all
is said and done. Perhaps the appropriate background music for
will making is the song "Is That All There Is?" My answer to
that musical conundrum is a resounding, "No." That isn't all
there is. The tangible things we leave behind have little to do
with the real legacy we leave. The real legacy is the one we
fashion each day of our lives by the way we live and who we are
How do you want to be remembered? Are you living your life in a
way that is consistent with the legacy you really want to leave.
Do you even know the nature of the legacy you want to leave or
are you like Alfred Nobel who was fortunate enough to read his
obituary printed prematurely in the daily newspaper? Much to his
chagrin the obituary described the fame and fortune he
accumulated from his invention of dynamite. Nobel decided then
and there that dynamite and its awful potential for destruction
was not the achievement for which he wanted to be remembered.
And, so he established the prestigious Nobel Prizes. Today, when
the name Nobel comes up the first association is with the
prizes. Relatively few know he is the inventor of dynamite.
Few of us have the wherewithal to create a legacy of the
magnitude of the Nobel Prizes. But all of us can recreate the
opportunity Alfred Nobel had in looking at his legacy and then
taking steps to change it if it displeases us.
Most of us never stop to think of the legacy we would like to
leave. How do you find out what legacy you would like to leave?
Here are two exercises that will help you clarify your thoughts
on the subject. The first is to write your own eulogy. Warning!
This can be an emotional exercise, so keep the box of tissues
close at hand. Make sure you are alone and in an environment
where you will not be disturbed. Before you start, take a few
deep breaths, close your eyes and visualize your funeral. Be
objective. If you were to die tomorrow, what would be said about
you? Look it over. If the eulogy you write does not please you,
write down what you do want to be said about you. Look this
eulogy over and decide what actions you would need to take now
in order to create the legacy you really want to leave. Notice
that the legacy you want to leave has little to do with your
business or job. It is about the kind of person you were, who
you were being when you were at work, with your family, or
handling a difficult situation.
The second exercise is to imagine that you had everything you
needed. Write down the words to complete the sentence "If I
had__________ I would________________." What changes would you
have to make in your life to live a life consistent with your
dreams? This is your real legacy. What is your stand? How do you
live your life?
Here are some immediate actions you may want to consider taking,
with regard to your legacy.
1) If you don't have a will, call a lawyer and make an
2) If you have a will, review it. Is it up-to-date in terms of
your circumstances today? Does the language in the will say
anything that could be construed as hurtful or damaging by
anyone? Are you giving from a generous heart or are you
attempting to control the living from the grave?
3) Ask your accountant if its time to do estate planning.
5) Now, today start creating your true legacy.
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