Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What's Your Legacy?



Today is Ash Wednesday and I got the chance to tick off yet another item on my MBA Bucket List: Celebrate Mass in the chapel.

Theory

In 2012, Harvard professor, Clayton Christensen, wrote the landmark book ''How Will You Measure Your Life?'' Drawing upon his business research, he offered a series of guidelines for finding meaning and happiness in life. Using lessons from some of the world's greatest businesses, he provided incredible insights into three challenging questions:

  • How can I be sure that I'll find satisfaction in my career?
  • How can I be sure that my personal relationships become enduring sources of happiness?
  • How can I avoid compromising my integrity - and stay out of jail?


There was a time when existential questions like these were considered out of place in a business school but times have changed.

Practice

To remind ourselves of our mortality, Christians (and particularly Catholics) mark their foreheads with the sign of the cross.

A parallel can be drawn with a ceremony from Ancient Rome. In ancient times, the Romans had a custom for conquering generals. Upon their triumphant return to Rome, they rode into the city a magnificent stallion, as the crowd cheered and hailed them. Behind the victor, however, was chained a slave who muttered the words ''Memento Mori'' to the general, meaning ''Remember that you will die.''

The purpose of this custom was to humble the general and prevent hubris by reminding him of the looming specter of death which vanquishes all mortals, generals and slaves alike.

Insights

These ruminations may seem out of place in the present-focused and dynamic world of business. But, on closer inspection, is it really out of place?

  • The best leaders always consider their legacy; the worst only think about the short-term
  • The strongest organizations have a purpose that outlasts their founders and helps them survive for several generations
  • The most prosperous nations are built on transcendental values which ensure their continued unity and cohesion



What are you building today that will outlive you?

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