It’s a billion-dollar question the world’s biggest brands ask themselves – how do you create a legacy that truly lasts?
A central part of being human is the condition we constantly aspire for something more. The next big thing is always just around the corner. Or is it?
In researching this Blog I came across two compelling quotes from great minds of ancient and modern times that I think aptly describe this compulsion.
Aristotle once said, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Tom Peters was more recently quoted saying, “excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.”
So, we know we want to feel like we’re on top, but all things don’t start or finish equal. Life and success is a jostle for position on a metaphorical podium that only exists in our minds. How is it then we get to the top and stay there?
Putting the theory into practice
A lot is written about how to break habits. They’re commonly perceived to be negative and restrictive, but there are ways to make a positive habit cultural and emancipating, without burning out. It hinges on two things. Firstly, the definition of ‘success’; understanding what the top looks like. And secondly, a process to breed ‘said habit’. Or, in other words, an application that makes getting to the top and staying there, instinctive.
Success is rarely articulated the same way twice. To some people it means continual improvement as they strive for excellence, but it could also mean picking a niche and staying agile enough to maintain a sustainable interest in it. Success, being innately subjective, is simply – staying true to yourself. For me, there is no objective external criteria that stacks up.
A ‘habit’ on the other hand is more commonly understood. It is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” In practical terms it’s made up of three things: a trigger, the act itself, and a pattern of repetition. At its core lies a desirable attribute.
As a consequence, a habit can manifest positively or negatively. The desire can also be detrimental or empowering. With the goal being to have an enduring impact, it’s important you test the nature of both to understand if you are on the right track. Often these tests have been stumbled upon by chance, but for us, there are lessons we can learn to make sure they are strategically applied. One example I couldn’t get out of my head while writing this Blog post comes in the form of The Beatles, who’s music not only spans generations, but thrives throughout them.
My four tips for staying at the top (with a little help from Sir Paul):
“The basic thing in my mind was that for all our success The Beatles were always a great little band. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Lesson one: Know what you are and know what you’re not. You can’t be everything to everybody, so don’t try – you’ll only soften your focus. Use your mentors to remind you and make you accountable.
“I think that, particularly in the old days, the spirit of The Beatles seemed to suggest something very hopeful and youthful.”
Lesson two: Be bold in your aspirations. They should be hopeful. More to the point, they should instill hope in others. If you want to get the best out of your team, they need something to believe in. You’re never too old to stop learning or dreaming. Make your vision statement a part of your every day, not a footnote in your business plan.
“We didn’t all get into music for a job! We got into music to avoid a job, in truth – and get lots of girls.”
Lesson three: Be honest about your motives. Remember why you got into what you do in the first place. If you don’t still love it, rethink it. You might need to recalibrate. Are your motivations the same? We tend to overcomplicate things. Life and work have ups and downs, but this lesson is very simple.
“There are only four people who knew what the Beatles were about anyway.”
Lesson four: Stop worrying about what others think of you. This might sound odd coming from someone who works in Public Relations but this is an important point. People will find you more attractive when you know what you are all about and when you’re comfortable with it. When you and your team feel good about who you are and where you are going, that’s when greatness happens and also where your legacy begins.
– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter