What’s Yoga Got To Do With It?

Here's my definition of legacy: "a conscious and meaningful contribution of your authentic gifts, talents and resources that adds value in a lasting way."

It’s not what comes to most people's minds, but think about it. Whether large or small, financial or not, isn't that what it comes down to? Okay, often it's not all that conscious since even people who don't think about it or design it directly, do create a legacy and are known and remembered for some contribution they’ve made … usually after the fact.

So, being conscious about it is a big shift that makes legacy more applicable to everyone – simply a part of daily life. If you were consciously making a contribution using your authentic gifts, talents and resources to add value to some part of the world, what would you be doing? It’s amazing how such unique expression can develop into significant, positive, lasting change. It just takes a little personal pioneering

Pioneering


One young pioneer pursuing this definition of legacy through her professional practice is Kristin Scheel. Like most young lawyers, Kristin started out in a pretty traditional fashion, earning her undergraduate degree in Economics from Texas A&M University and graduating at the top of her class from South Texas College of Law. She then racked up lots of experience as an associate in other law firms and work as in-house corporate commercial counsel.

What can happen from there is what I call the professional opportunity of a lifetime – the decision to hang out your own shingle and create your own professional practice. When that happens not only does the pioneer spirit kick in, but also an entrepreneurial one, which requires the development of business and other skills not taught in professional training.

For me, it was incorporating into my legal practice the notion of preventing legal problems. Many colleagues thought that was a crazy notion – why do something that would potentially limit the amount of work you could do for clients? But clients thought it was great – investing in legal services to put in place what you need to avoid big legal fees from major, but avoidable, problems. The pursuit gave me the opportunity to incorporate my values into professional practice, and to develop a profitable and sustainable business that continues though I’ve stepped away from active involvement.

In Kristin’s case, it’s about yoga. 

Kristin is a devoted yoga practitioner and teacher.  That doesn’t mean she gets clients on the mat doing various postures and breath work (though that might help in most situations)! What it means is that in her own professional practice, with its own philosophy and approaches to problems, she gets to incorporate her own brand of service.  And perhaps shift the way law is practiced and the way lawyers are perceived by the general public – a legacy feat in itself!

Integration

Kristin sees herself as an interdisciplinary collaborative practitioner providing services as both an attorney and mediator. Rather than compartmentalizing who she is from her work, she integrates it all: her experience as a corporate lawyer, litigation attorney, family law and divorce clinic volunteer,  yoga teacher, family member, seeker of knowledge and rich life experience, and nonprofit board member. She also brings significant training in communication as well as right-left brain balance and other philosophies from yoga to her work in addressing legal matters. 

She has built a private law firm in Houston, Texas designed to provide family law services, divorce and collaborative law mediation, as well as business law services and her vast experience in corporate law and commercial contracts for entrepreneurs and conscious business owners, and nonprofit organizations.  It is the goal of her professional practice to provide clients with ‘holistic legal services.’ It’s an expression of her own personally held core values to honor people and bring a peace-making approach to conflict resolution.

To that end, she brings a deep commitment to helping clients create solutions mindfully, creatively and with minimal court involvement, and with a focus on impacts to community – however that may be defined in a given situation. She has cultivated skills in deep listening, compassionate communication, responsiveness and creative option generation (things not taught in law school). Legal solutions then reflect clients’ needs and customized resolutions from exploration of a wealth of choices, and they align with the client’s life experiences and core values.  Her focus is to support their success and harmony not just in the immediate concern, but in the long run, allowing legal strategies to develop from a place of strength, alignment and responsiveness.

The result? She finds that approaching legal services in this way can save time and money, as well as priceless emotional stress.

A Foot In Both Worlds

Kristin maintains her mainstream involvements as a member of the Texas and Houston Bar associations. She’s also eagerly involved with organizations supporting the delivery of services in alternative ways, including the Collaborative Law Bar Association and Cutting Edge Law. To further support the expansion of approaches available to lawyers in practice, Kristin is also the founder of  the Houston Holistic Lawyers for Transformation.

So what’s yoga got to do with it?  In Kristin’s case, it’s got everything to do with it. It forms a foundational purpose for how to approach people and the world.  It defines who she is in all contexts of her life and work – and what she believes is possible in the way she serves and literally creates the world around her. These things provide a framework for decisions and actions – how she helps people find solutions to their challenges and how she builds her business.

It’s About Courage

It takes courage to be yourself – and be your best self – and then build your work around it.  But that work can change the world … and in this case enhance or change the direction of an entire profession. It’s legacy, consciously created at the level of daily work.

Are you ready to step out and be more of who you are, incorporate that into your business and attract the people who resonate with that and are looking for someone like you to work with? I’d love to explore what that would be like for you.  Join me for a complimentary breakthrough consultation – get on the schedule here and let’s see what develops!

The Legacy of Rudolph … and Robert May

This story is one of my favorite legacies, and stories in general. Like many great legacies, it had humble beginnings. It grew out of a simple work assignment, done with great heart. Its tangible form grew from a single work into a major franchise known the world over.  That's the sort of thing that can happen, even with something that starts out very small.

In 1939, when Robert Lewis May was 34 and developing his career as an advertising copywriter, he went to work for department store chain Montgomery Ward (MW) in Illinois, USA. It's quite unlikely he realized then that a simple work assignment he would create from love and meaning would go on to become a great legacy, or that his employer would contribute to it with a small but significant act of social responsibility. MW ceased business operations in 2001, but its contribution to this legacy story lives on.

The tradition at MW was to give away coloring books for Christmas every year. May was assigned the task of a new promotional activity: create a holiday booklet to distribute to shoppers. Though a copywriter, May also enjoyed writing children's stories. He had a 4 year old daughter named Barbara. His wife, Evelyn, had been bed-ridden suffering with cancer for two years, and May's income and savings had gone for her treatments. Dealing with her illness and their finances, he was pretty down and out at the time. Scrawny as a kid, May had often been teased, so he also knew well the plight of being different and feeling ostracized. He'd written stories to comfort Barbara during this time, so he wrote a poem for the booklet that would help Barbara better understand these issues, as well as the meaning of Christmas.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Is Born Rudolph

The poem was the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. May began by telling it to Barbara and seeing which parts she enjoyed. She even helped decide on the reindeer's final name. The now-famous story known to many the world over tells of a young reindeer ousted from the reindeer games because of his beaming bright red nose.

One particular Christmas Eve at the North Pole, as Santa is packing the sleigh with toys, a thick fog rolls in. Seeing Rudolph, Santa gets the bright idea of having him lead the way and save the day. Despite MW's initial hesitance to use the red-nose image, often associated with drunkenness, the illustrations developed by May's art department co-worker Denver Gillen (based on reindeer at the Lincoln Park Zoo) convinced them to run with it. And it was a hit. Approximately two and a half million copies of the booklet were distributed that Christmas.

May's wife passed away during that time, and he was left with grief and significant debt from her medical bills. When World War II started, the giveaway project ceased, yet throughout the war requests poured in for Rudolph books, toys, games, puzzles, records, none of which existed. The demand continued to grow each holiday season when the original booklet was brought out with the holiday decorations and read again to children. May was not able to pursue these requests, nor benefit from them. MW held the copyright and he didn't even have royalty rights. As a corporate employee when he created the story, the work belonged to his employer. The booklet's popularity continued, however, and by 1946, over 6 million copies had been given away.

Exercising The Courage To Deepen The Legacy

May gathered the courage to approach the corporate president about the work. Sewell Avery was a wealthy (retired in 1955 with a fortune of $327 million), anti-union business man, and one with a generous and altruistic nature. May convinced Avery to grant him the copyright. Thereafter, demands for Rudolph products swamped MW and Bob May, with businesses seeking permission to manufacture toys, puzzles, pajamas, slippers, and numerous other products. Rudolph BookThat year, the story was first printed commercially. It was made into a short cartoon (click the link to watch it).

In the original story, Rudolph was raised in a healthy, loving household. He didn't yet live at the North Pole; rather Santa found him while delivering presents to his home, that foggy night. May's brother-in-law Johnny Marks wrote lyrics and a melody for the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer holiday song that is now the well-known version of the story, and which was first recorded by Gene Autry in 1949. That record sold 2 million copies its first year, and has gone on to be one of the most famous holiday songs of all time. A bookstore version of the book was created. Parker Brothers developed a Rudolph game. Even the Ringling Brothers — Barnum and Bailey — created a circus character from a pony with antlers and an electrically lit nose. The song version of the story was turned into a television special narrated by Burl Ives in 1964, and memorialized as a classic. Two additional sequels to the original story, Rudolph Shines Again and Rudolph To the Rescue (all now available through Amazon!), were also developed. The Robert L. May collection is housed with his alma mater, Dartmouth College.

In 1951, May left Montgomery Ward to manage the Rudolph phenomenon for eight years. But he returned to work at the company that had been so good to him until his own retirement in 1971. His creation, born of simple work as a corporate employee, fueled by the love of his daughter and the courage to stake his claim in the work… became a significant legacy.

This story illustrates that not all legacies are of the large financial endowment variety. Some start small, or originate from other projects.

Do you have a story in you that might be handed down for generations, and possibly even monetized to provide income during the development process – or to fund a larger endowment later? (Legal tip — if you're employed by a company and create the piece for work, consider protecting the work product as yours before you start!)

Corporate Social Responsibility Fuels The Legacy

The other legacy in this story, though, is the act of MW's president, Sewell Avery in what can be compared to an act of corporate social responsibility. His decision allowed May's story to become the phenomenon it did. It was a personal contribution to May for his good work that allowed it to develop into a much greater impact than simply retaining the work product for retail promotional purposes would have done. Such generous actions come in all forms as well — and might be something you could develop through your own business, or in support of one of your own staff members. While the act in this situation applied to only one person, Robert May, the act of the company president to award him the legal right to his own creative work has also rippled out to benefit children and adults the world over.

If you are a business owner, what might you create or even include your staff in developing, which could become your own legacy in the form of a social responsibility project that benefits some people, place or thing in a community you care about? Starting small, that idea could one day develop into a separate corporate foundation which administers the project or product to allow that benefit to endure for a long time to come.

Maybe this holiday season is a good time to contemplate what you might do, as an individual or as a business, to build a legacy level project as a conscious exercise of generosity — a positive impact that endures. It would be a worthy project to engage in for the next year, one step at a time, and we'd love to provide the support and accountability for you to get that done.

Have a warm and happy holiday season! For fun, color your own picture of Rudolph here. And click here to listen to the original song recorded by Gene Autry.  Enjoy them while you conjure up visions of your own worthwhile project!

A Legacy Role Model

Not because he's made more money and achieved more fame than most people, and has a way to finance the passions that fuel his legacy; not because he has buildings and cable stations named after him …

At 72 years young, Ted Turner is a legacy role model because of his attitude

It's summed up in this statement:  “I’m still working on [my legacy],” says Turner. “I haven’t finished yet.”  Per this recent Forbes magazine article, Turner has already done a LOT of good in his business life, and he has personal causes, too. 

Rather than a bucket list of personal adventures, Turner has a list called his "11 Voluntary Initiatives" – which he keeps folded up in his wallet. Symbolically, that's a nice marriage of idealism and money – which makes for legacies with the biggest impact. We should be so lucky to have more people publically articulating and working to bring about such promises.

Compliments of his article "Real Cowboys Protect the Planet" posted at the blog NurtureNatureProject.com, here they are:

1. I promise to care for Planet Earth and all living things thereon, especially my fellow human beings.

2. I promise to treat all persons everywhere with dignity, respect, and friendliness.

3. I promise to have no more than one or two children.

4. I promise to use my best efforts to help save what is left of our natural world in its undisturbed state, and to restore degraded areas.

5. I promise to use as little of our nonrenewable resources as possible.

6. I promise to minimize my use of toxic chemicals, pesticides, and other poisons, and to encourage others to do the same.

7. I promise to contribute to those less fortunate, to help them become self-sufficient and enjoy the benefits of a decent life including clean air and water, adequate food,  health care, housing, education, and individual rights.

8. I reject the use of force, in particular military force, and I support the United Nations arbitration of international disputes.

9. I support the total elimination of all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and ultimately the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.

10. I support the United Nations and its efforts to improve the condition of the planet.

11. I support renewable energy and feel we should move rapidly to contain greenhouse gases.

I couldn't have written a better list to reflect my own convictions. Even with a far smaller financial portfolio, I hereby affirm that I'll do my best to fulfill all these items as well.  And I'll add one more: "I promise to do my best to develop resources and deliver services to help anyone interested in building their own sustainable legacy project that makes a positive difference in the world".  That makes it an even dozen for me … while I work on a few additional ones that are currently percolating around in my head.

I'll keep you posted.  Let me know what's on your list, or comment if you want to adopt this one, too. If you want to take me up on my #12 promise, let's have a conversation – schedule a time here!
Cheers, Dolly

Your Legacy = Choosing To Act On What Matters To You

There are a beautiful poem and web movie that capture the essence of what Creating Legacy is all about. I've reprinted it below, with all attribution and gratitude to its author Michael Josephson. The poem and movie themselves are examples of what I would call "participation only" legacy projects – tangible, beneficial and lasting – though very simple and simply executed.

Those legacy projects support the bigger one – representing Josephson's other legacy project. The Josephson Institute is devoted to teaching ethics, a subject near and dear to my heart, too.  It is a project of the combination "participation + financial" variety.  It is organized as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization so it can offer a tax deduction to people who contribute in-cash or in-kind to its mission. And it has developed products in keeping with its mission that generate revenue, as well. A stunning example of legacy development and delivery from the very grass roots to organizational level execution!

What Will Matter©
By author: Michael Josephson
Link to the movie version: http://josephsoninstitute.org/movie_whatwillmatter.html (watch it – it's beautiful!)

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
 

©2011 Josephson Institute. Reprinted with permission. www.JosephsonInstitute.org

Dealing With Your Own Dry Spells

Red Rock CanyonLegacy Journal readers, like our clients, tend to be accomplished and successful, mid-career business owners and professionals looking beyond their current work to building “what’s next.” Not for retirement, that is mostly a foreign word and applies perhaps to finances but not to life and work in the world. While financial independence – minding your business – is definitely a part of what’s next, continuing to be productive – minding your profession – is as well. Some need to get businesses or professional practices set up in a way that frees them to focus on what’s next, and some have already done that or are in the process. Others feel stuck or lost, or just can’t see what’s next after being so immersed for so long in what has made them successful to begin with.

They can see milestones – like, my kids will all be in college or out on their own in the next few years, or my investments have reached a point where I can draw some of my income from interest, dividends, lease payments and the like, and not rely on earned income alone.  But they can’t see “what’s next.”  And considering stepping away from a business or professional identity they’ve long held can be a bit immobilizing – “who will I be then?”  

Does that resonate with you?  

I’ve been there; asked similar questions. And ultimately what I learned is that “who you will be then” is all you’ve ever been (you bring it all along with you) … plus. You get to use the best parts of it all in new endeavors about which you’re really passionate.  But getting there is a process, and sometimes that process starts with simply feeling lost.

So, here are some ways to address feeling lost, confused or like you’re dealing with a real creative or productive personal “dry spell” that you don’t seem to be able to see your way out of:

1.    Accept Your Current Situation. First, maybe foremost, is to accept that’s the way things are … for now.  Having the awareness of your situation, and then fully accepting it, are the only “ways through” to do something about it.  Denial or pretending things are fine don’t even get your started – the nagging feeling that you know the truth, that you’re ready for things to change – can start to eat away at you.

Doubt is part of the process. So, go ahead and just say so: “Whether things are just fine, or not, I’m ready for a change even if I don’t know what it is yet and I’m not sure if I’m capable.” There. How does that feel? Lightning didn’t strike. Like everything else, this too shall pass.

2.    Let go.  Start by dropping or at least temporarily letting go of the things you can’t control. Tune out the mainstream media, for sure, at least for awhile.  Let go of your current expectations – for yourself, others, or the direction the world is going (or not going).

There is an old saying that ‘expectations are pre-meditated resentments.’ Meditating on them, that is, holding them in your thoughts, takes energy. When that energy is of the negative form (a resentment) you are really turning your capacity away from what you could be doing something about – what you can control, like you and your life, and the consequences of your actions. 

Clean UpMaybe there are some things you need to clean up and get complete with. Maybe there are some things you want to do for you – like take the time to work out, read, write or learn something new. These are things you can do now, and finding the time is just about letting go of things that are not yours to do.  

This is not about abandoning responsibilities, though you may have to get yourself out of a few you’ve already agreed to and are ready to let go of.  It’s also not about being self-ish; it’s about being self-directed rather than other-directed.  Only from there, can you begin to engage in things that truly excite you. Remember, whatever they are they will benefit someone else in some way, too – so you can still be responsible to others.  But benefitting others without also benefitting yourself is choosing to play win/lose, and agreeing in advance to be the loser.

3.     Re-charge yourself. Recognize the ebb and flow of nature.  Like waves and tides, our creative and productive energies sometimes wax and wane. We can’t be at our peak all the time. To be our most effective, we may need to challenge ourselves with big meaningful goals. But that doesn’t mean we have to pursue them 24/7/365.  In fact, we can’t.  There needs to be a balance of self-care time for rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, fun, laughter, and enjoyment.  So when you don’t know what else to do, choose something that fits in one of those self-care categories and re-charge yourself.

4.    Focus on your spiritual nature.  When you’re ready to take some action, but are still not sure what’s next, focus on the spirit that moves you, whatever form that takes. Connect with what is meaningful for you. Visit environments you find soothing and inspiring, where you can breathe deeply and fully.  Engage in prayer and meditation. Spend some time simply engaged in the wonder of it all. (Here’s a poem by Mary Oliver to help you remember this). Ask for help from the powers greater than yourself you most resonate and connect with, by whatever name you call them. See what comes up for you when you do, and what shows up serendipitously in your world as a result of your requests. Keep track of this information in an idea journal.   

5.    Create rituals that comfort you.  Often when you are in that “space in between” – where you know you don’t want to stay where you are but have yet to devise a plan for where you are going next - it is most helpful to just relax, take one day at a time, and do things that you know are good for you and that you’ll feel good about. 

MusicDevelop and engage in pleasing routines you may not otherwise because it seems too indulgent. (Be a little indulgent!) Listen to soothing music and just relax and breathe and “just be” for a bit, without doing anything.  Fill the open space that appears in your mind with gratitude for all the good in your life. Create a new exercise routine, and stay with it. Walk in a beautiful park on a regular basis at a similar time each day and learn what nature has to teach. Visit a labyrinth and engage in a moving meditation – or participate with a group in a gentle yoga class. Now’s the time to be gentle with the current you, while the “new you” is forming and getting ready to emerge.

6.    Muster some courage. It may only take a tiny bit to begin considering what’s next. The English word courage derives from Old French, based on the Latin root “Cor” meaning heart.  So focus on your heart, and what you deeply need to feed you. Then consider what having courage really means.  It has three parts – one of which we’ve already addressed: doubt + commitment + action. That is, courage is to make a commitment to act even in the face of your doubt. The actions you choose can be small steps, and they will likely be at least a little uncomfortable – though they should be bearable. Getting out of your comfort zone is what making a change entails. Turn doubt into wonder or curiosity or exploration and just take one step.

7.    Interact with your communities. Get together with people you know care about you, who are nurturing, will listen and will help re-charge your batteries (not the ones who drain you!) These are supportive people who will lovingly tell you the truth, rather than just what they think you want to hear.  Engage with bigger groups who are doing something important in the world that you support.  Notice who you’re drawn to and what their qualities are.  What might you emulate? Where do you feel yourself wanting to be engaged?

When all else fails, just do something completely different. This doesn’t have to be a big change. Just engage in some things you’ve never done before – for an hour, an afternoon, a day, weekend or even longer. Go somewhere new. Stretch yourself. Immerse yourself in something you’ve wondered about. Take a friend so you can compare notes (and so you’ll actually do it).  
       
Or you could hire a coach (especially recommended!) who can help you explore your deepest desires and interests, shed what is no longer yours to focus on, design what’s next based on your gifts, talents and resources – and then begin actually doing something about them.  Finding that sense of authenticity and personal integrity, and then demonstrating it in the world feels great and can lead to amazing things you feel truly proud of. That will allow you to feel more like the “you” you are ready to become.  

The first part of the “7 Steps to Creating Your Legacy” program is built around these notions of defining, discovering and designing, and we utilize them in working with private clients one on one as well.  From there, we help you get into action on building what’s next when the gentle rains begin to fall and nurture the growth of both you and something that deeply interests you.  

I’d love to join you in that journey!
Cheers, Dolly

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Legacy of Words

Today, June 14, is Flag Day – and ironically it also is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Harriet Beecher Stowe.

I love the story of her life and the legacy of words she wrote in a small novel that became a worldwide phenomenon. Not something a woman living in the early 1800′s might ever expect.  But then it’s not something many people living in this day and age expect they’re capable of either.  (And yes, you are!)

That book was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”  It was not the first or the only book she wrote. But writing, and getting clear on the message that was important to her to impart, was the means to creating her legacy. She may be remembered as the woman President Abraham Lincoln called “the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war” which of course could never be true, and it might have been some notoriety at the time.  It was the work itself, however, that became her lasting legacy.  For a fascinating conversation about the book, her life and all that history, catch the podcast of Diane Rehm’s inteview with David Reynolds who has now written a book all about it called “Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2011). At that link, you can also read an except from his book.

What I love about Harriet’s legacy though, is how it provides an example of what can happen when someone decides to take a small action on something they are passionate about.  Harriet was one of 10 children raised by her father and step-mother, since her own mother died when she was five.  The family held social reform as a high concern and after her move from Connecticut to Cincinnati, Ohio, Harriet became passionate about the plight of the African-American slaves in the south.  She knew of them from their family members who worked for the family.  The split in views about the treatment of these people – who were still being treated like property – between northerners and southerners, became a story line that told of truths not many people wanted to speak about.

Harriet is described as a small and dreamy woman – nothing like a media powerhouse or celebrity of today. From her deepest convictions, however, she told a story that captured hearts and minds, and now people are even writing about her history.

Do you have a story filled with powerful observations or simply a good idea to share with the world? Do you need support to make it happen? 

Like Harriet’s story, yours may just well make history – or at least a positive difference in the lives of other people – which is history enough.  There are many ways to bring that story to the world – books, workshops, tangible goods, programs or services, and many other forms. It would be great to see your legacy come to life in a similar way. 

If you’re ready to start, it’s something we can help you develop.  It would be a joy to help nuture your project into fruition!

Cheers, Dolly

Mark Zuckerberg’s Legacy

If you don’t know the name Mark Zuckerberg, you’ve likely been living under a rock – either do not participate in much, if any, internet based activity … or possibly don’t go to the movies; since in addition to being founder and CEO of the online empire known as Facebook, he’s already had a movie made about his life and that phenomenon.  And he’s only 27 years old.

Yet he’s a true pioneer and visionary, whose legacy is already unfolding even if he doesn’t fully realize it.

Zuckerberg was one of a handful of internet and online media gurus who presented at the first “e-G8” meeting in Paris – a two day summit that started on May 24, 2011.  This gathering of e-leaders was kicked off by French President Nicolas Sarkozy (a project that is now one of his own legacies, especially as it carries forward and morphs into whatever form of dialogue that industry and world leaders will need for the future of communications and community building).  The intent of the conference was to provide the digital world’s input for the more recognized Group of 8 (aka “G8”) Summit taking place starting May 26, 2011.  (The G7 began in 1976 as meetings by the heads of the world’s richest, industrialized countries – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada – adding Russia in 1997 to form the G8).

The G8 meetings have not been without controversy  – and true to form the e-G8 will add to that with its discussions about enacting rules to ‘govern’ the internet (protection of children, addressing theft of copyrighted material through illegal downloads, and dealing with spam) while protecting communication freedoms and possibilities for creative expression, even economic growth and even pursuit of democracy – as events in Egypt and other middle eastern countries has demonstrated lately.

Presenters at the e-G8 cautioned against regulation of new technologies that can spawn innovation and a shift of power back to the people – to individuals.  Indeed, this echoed the U.N.’s independent expert on freedom of speech, who just recently stated that governments which curtail users’ access to the Internet are violating a basic human right – regardless of the justification. 

At his presentation during e-G8, one of the questions Zuckerberg was asked was one that seems to come up more frequently these days – as matters of truly cooperating and making contributions that can change the world for the better seem to be discussed more often.  He was asked about “what he thought his legacy would be.”  His response was characterized as being caught off guard by the question, when he reminded people of his age, laughing and saying “It’s a little early … give me a break.”

But really, is it ever too early to consider? Especially when it’s a matter of creating something and not of disposing of the residual aspects of life - when it’s about being active rather than passive? I’m glad to see people of all ages considering the question at all. And I’m thrilled that it is happening more frequently.  My view is the sooner the better, and that younger people often seem to get the concept of legacy even better than their elders. In truth, Zuckerman has already created a huge legacy and, not yet thirty years old, is poised to develop many others – so long as he has what I like to call the “consciousness for joyful contribution.”

Legacy is about who you are and what you choose to do in the world that has the possibility of leaving a positive, lasting impact to benefit others – the people, places and things you care about and are most interested in.  Finding your own path and purpose(s) in life, and then living into that authentically and with passion are what allow for such expressions of true significance. That approach creates ultimate win-win experiences that feel terrific. Legacy is not simply about leaving stuff behind when you die, or something to think about at the end of life.

I for one am glad to see the question being considered more often, by more people. The whole point of the work I’m doing now, is to help people not only consider the issue of their personal legacy, but to help them both live and build it in a way that is ultimately one of the most satisfying ways to approach life … starting from wherever they are.  Especially successful women, who have the abilities and wherewithal to make bigger impacts than ever, but may lack the guidance or support to pursue their greatest work. It’s not about how old, or how rich, it’s just about making a decision to give forward and add value, and then taking the steps to doing something about it.  (That’s what the 7 Steps to Creating Your Legacy program is all about … see our self-directed slide show here).

So go for it, Mark Zuckerberg – take the time to think about what you want your legacy ultimately to be, recognize the contributions you’ve already made, and get really jazzed about what more you can do. 

That goes for all the rest of you, too.  Be great – you are!!

Cheers, Dolly

A Big, Big Legacy With Not A Lot Of Money

Legacy is demonstrated in different currencies – not just money, but in bodies, creativity and spirit.

Creating a movement is one way to build, live and leave a legacy, and here’s an amazing example: Bill McKibben speaking at PowerShift 2011 in Washington D.C. :


(Click here to open YouTube if video does not appear)

As of April 2011 people will have commemorated Earth Day for 41 years – at the first one, 20 million Americans came out to march and rally in support of a clean healthy planet. There are new leaders in the environmental movement. 

Also in April 2011, the third PowerShift Summit was held in Washington D.C.  The first, in November 2007, was a youth climate summit including more than 6,000 young people from all 50 states. They gathered at the University of Maryland for a weekend of training prior to the 2008 elections to learn how to rally for the creation of green jobs and restoring economic and environmental justice.

 In February of 2009, 12,000 young people from every state and Congressional District in the U.S. joined in the second PowerShift event. Over 6,000 of them participated in the largest citizen lobby day in history; thousands more in a successful demonstration to shut down the Capitol’s coal-fired power plant. 

At the 2011 event, a year after the worst oil spill disaster in the U.S., 10,000 youth leaders from around the country held a polluter protest in front of the White House, demanding that the President and Congress stand up to Big Polluters, like BP, and make them pay for their pollution. They also made hundreds of Congressional visits to demand protection of the Clean Air Act and that members of Congress stop taking money from corporate polluters. Using technology and social media, these young people organized numerous flash mob protest events to call clear attention to their message:

 “We and Our Future Matter”

 These events are just part of the work of the Energy Action Coalition. http://energyactioncoalition.org/about The EAC is a cooperative effort joining 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups working together to build the youth clean energy and climate movement.  Among their goals are coordinating efforts at the state, regional and national levels in the U.S. and Canada to win local support for their efforts and define their vision of a clean energy economy to solve our economic and environmental crises by moving their own communities beyond dirty energy to clean energy solutions.

 How much more could these young people do with the support of preceding generations who are currently in power (and whose leadership roles they will inherit)? As legacy building goes, these young people are way ahead of their elders.

They see that the infrastructure and support that will provide for their jobs, and careers that help make the world work better, are missing – not being developed because of the vested interests of an older generation addicted to a fossil fuel economy. They see the sad state of the planet they are inheriting, and they’re not happy about it. And they are taking action, even as members of the older generation with those old vested interests try to keep their heads in the sand about the science and what is happening to the planet, as the U.S. House of Representatives Energy Committee did in March 2011 in a formal vote to deny climate change.

Well, Bill McKibben is one of those leaders into whose shoes the younger generations will step – and they are stepping up. Keep your eyes and ears open for Moving Planet September 24, if you want to witness how one person and all the amazing people he inspires are approaching one of the biggest legacy projects ever.  Even better, consider participating so you can say it was part of your legacy, too.

What Will The Monday Morning Armchair Quarterbacks Say About You?

Another trademarked big football game (I understand I’m not to use its actual “super” name without permission) has come and gone.  Don’t know much about that, but this new decade, starting with the turn to 2011, started off with a bang for me.  After a great year in 2010, a quiet holiday season and New Year celebration, with some planning for where we would take Creating Legacy going forward, things got right out of hand. Okay, well save for having someone run a stop sign and T-bone the passenger side of my car just before the holidays.  (Did you know it’s gunpowder that makes air bags go off – and before you know it, too? Saltpeter, the critical oxidizing component of gunpowder has a very distinctive smell and covers everything inside the car, including you … but that’s another story.)

Not in any particular order, because the order somewhat evades me now, just after the new year I got food poisoning and was out of commission with fluid and electrolyte imbalance (I won’t go into detail) for the better part of a week.  Brain cells, among others, don’t work all that well without the right balance of fluids and salts available in the watery soup that makes up close to 70% of our physical bodies.

Just as I was coming back from that, I experienced the unexpected earthly departures of two friends and incredible members of one of my home communities. As with everyone, they both left incredible legacies – with varying degrees of financial structure and personal involvement – which were recounted by folks attending their memorial services.

My first experience of death was of a best friend in grade school.  I bring this up not to tie legacy to that subject, as many people do, but to reiterate that everyone has a legacy.  Even she did, departing at such an early age.  Some of the spark of how she defined herself and lived her life – which I got to experience and benefit from – lives on with me even today. 

One of my two community friends, while an amazing artist who produced a great number of beautiful paintings, also left the same sort of legacy – a memory of the day to day experience of her presence and its solidly supportive countenance, something she was constant about giving no matter where she was involved.  No doubt that is what each owner of one of her paintings will remember most, even if later only the beauty of the artwork carries on.  Both are significant contributions.

My other friend and colleague, who made a great deal of money during career had already established a trust to return some of those funds to cared about causes in an ongoing fashion.  In a new period of financial independence, he was working at other important projects without regard to whether they produced any income.  And making an incredible difference with both efforts, absolutely loving his life.

Both left too soon, and fortunately, quite deliberately left significant marks that will carry on.

It is the choice to consciously build such a legacy, born of experience, career, and success (financial and otherwise), contributed actively during the prime of one’s life, that fascinates me.  Particularly because I know, no matter whom you are or what your resources are, that everyone has the capacity to make a much bigger impact than they probably think they can. 

People notice and will talk about it after you’re gone, but will it be what you really want them to say about what you were passionate about and how you got involved?  For how many generations will that acknowledgment continue – will your grand- or great- or great-great-grandchildren (if you have progeny) know you and what you contributed? Will the communities you’ve impacted know what it is you want them to know about your choice to impact what was important to you – and for how many generations from now?

Yesterday would have been President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday. Yes, as an American President (a legacy building effort in itself) he was known worldwide, so we expect that people will talk about his political legacy on such occasions. It will be done, as usual, in that Monday morning armchair quarterbacking way, where different views will be aired.  A perfect example is a recent Miami Herald article which focused on a three way debate over his legacy on war, taxes and government.

But again, you don’t need to have been a sitting president with a large library of work to leave a legacy. Anyone can do their work and live their life with a sense of personal meaning, and consciously create activities that not only demonstrate what they care about, but from which they actually build something tangible – from an artifact to a charitable foundation, and many other forms in between.  It can, and will be something unique to them, the only real questions are whether they – you – will define it and participate in it, and how long-lasting the impact of that effort will be.

With the right mindset, information and actions, it’s quite possible for your personal legacy to be something you clearly define, concerning something you care about from the depths of your heart and soul, that brings you a great deal of joy and satisfaction to create, and that benefits many, many people for a very long time. 

You have that power.  How will you use it?

I’m excited about our comprehensive legacy planning program The 7 Steps To Creating Your Legacy that we’ll be rolling out in new forms in 2011.  It’s part of my legacy – and the mutual goal Eliza and I have set to help others create 100,000 legacies. It’s a big goal, so I’d better get back to work.  Please do be in contact if we can help you, or your clients, understand the full picture of what’s possible, and the steps to creating a legacy blueprint to make it happen.

Cheers, Dolly

Seems There’s Plenty To Be Done

Not sure where I first found Orion Magazine - read a blurb somewhere and subscribed.  Branding itself as “Amerca’s Finest Environmental Magazine” I’d have to say it lives up to that billing quite well.  It’s also a terrific legacy project (more on that below), that’s right up my alley since my legacy interests are focused on environmental preservation, conservation, sustainability and clean renewable energy technologies. But that’s why a particular article caught my attention recently.  It’s by biologist Sandra Steingraber, entitled “The Whole Fracking Enchilada”, and I it hope catches the attention of many people in generations currently alive and able (and willing) to respond –  for the sake of future ones.

Here’s an excerpt from Barbara’s article – hopefully you’ll see why it got my attention:

THE ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS can be viewed as a tree with two trunks. One trunk represents what we are doing to the planet through atmospheric accumulation of heat-trapping gasses. Follow this trunk along and you find droughts, floods, acidification of oceans, dissolving coral reefs, and species extinctions.

The other trunk represents what we are doing to ourselves and other animals through the chemical adulteration of the planet with inherently toxic synthetic pollutants. Follow this trunk along and you find asthma, infertility, cancer, and male fish in the Potomac River whose testicles have eggs inside them.

At the base of both these trunks is an economic dependency on fossil fuels, primarily coal (plant fossils) and petroleum (animal fossils). When we light them on fire, we threaten the global ecosystem. When we use them as feedstocks for making stuff, we create substances—pesticides, solvents, plastics—that can tinker with our subcellular machinery and the various signaling pathways that make it run.”

It seems there is much to be done if we are to shift this planet and its people (not to mention other species) to a truly healthy, life-enhancing environment.  We must move away from our dependency on fossil fuels, and the products of the petrochemical industy and era.  Many legacy level projects could contribute to that end, from the successful women and men of the planet looking for what’s next and ready to give back in some way – large or small – and who are looking for a subject to wrap that ambition around.

As for the legacy that is the magazine, it started as the Orion Nature Quarterly in June 1982 as a program of the Myrin Institute, a private operating foundation based in New York. Later, the magazine operation move to The Orion Society, an independent nonprofit, which also conducted additional programming, moved the operation to Massachusetts and obtained 501(c)3 designation for its ongoing work. The magazine has lots of great topics, no advertising, an easily accessible online version and a very reasonable subscription price.  They basically want people to read the content.

The publication’s first Editor-in-Chief, George Russell clearly illuminated Orion’s underlying values, which stand today:  “It is Orion’s fundamental conviction that humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.”

Hear, hear.  Almost 30 years later, his words couldn’t ring any truer. Seems we need to go another direction … very soon.  Will you be one of the enlightened leaders who helps turn this bus, and all of us bozos on it, toward a better destination?

I hope so. All the best to you, Dolly