I have an indelible memory of being ten years old. I was talking with Mom (named Ruth) about what I would be “when I grew up”. This was during my doctor, model or stewardess phase. (We didn’t know about “flight attendants” yet.)

Mom’s response was not what I expected. She said, “Leave the world better than the way you found it.”

I asked her how I should do that? She said, “I’m telling you what my mother told to me. You’ll figure it out.” I remember thinking about that for a very long time.

Now more than 40 years later, I realize that conversation has been a driving motivator for most, if not all, of my life. My mom lived until the age of 89 and, looking back, I see how that principle guided her life too. She worked as a legal secretary and I saw her speaking up against injustice and donating money to worthy causes and volunteering her time to help those less fortunate. I believe Mom achieved her goal and I am proud of her that she did what she set out to do in her own way.
As an Assistant, as a woman, as a human being, what will be your legacy?

I believe we all set out to do good work and leave our mark. Actions cause ripples and waves.

Kindnesses come back in surprising ways long after you forget what you even said or did.

I’ll never forget the story of my colleague Nick who is a successful and busy lawyer in New York City. He often works into the evening. On the week of Christmas, he found a wrapped box on his desk with a lovely card from Shirley, the night receptionist. Inside the box was a pair of expensive gold cufflinks and Nick was stunned. He went to Shirley and said, “I want to thank you for the gift but I am so surprised. You didn’t need to buy me a present.” Her response: “I did it because you are the only one who ever says hello to me and I wanted you to know how much it means to me.”
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

In our 24/7 non-stop world, time is flying and no one is getting any younger. How do you want to be remembered as a co-worker and as an Assistant? What mark do you want to leave on your company and on your manager? What do you hope they will say about you when you move on to your next job or when you retire?

Why does our legacy matter?
Legacy is important because it is an acknowledgement that what we say and do has meaning beyond the seemingly mundane day-to-day routine. Our words and deeds can have long-lasting impact on others. Sometimes we know about that impact and sometimes we never know. We still need to do it.

Answer this for yourself: In whatever time I have to make the world a better place, my way is to:

My list includes:

1Work to end bullying in our workplace.

2Design training that empowers assistants and managers to have respectful, highly productive, and mutually beneficial relationships.

3To live Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s words, “Our lives begin to end when we stay silent about things that matter.”

The great news is that tomorrow is another day to make your fresh mark on the world and leave another piece of your legacy. The choices are endless but choose you must because even doing nothing is a choice.

What will be your legacy?”

Bonnie Low-Kramen is the founder of Ultimate Assistant Training and is one of the most respected thought leaders on workplace issues. She is a TEDx speaker, bestselling author of Be the Ultimate Assistant and Staff Matters, and her work has been featured ... (Read More)

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