What's Your Legacy? - Leadership SHIFT Tip

In 2014, David Brooks delivered a short TED talk on the importance of living “eulogy virtues” versus “résumé virtues.” It sparked a column in the New York Times, as well as his book, The Road to Character.

Last Thursday, David’s proposition resurfaced for me.

I was attending the memorial service for the father of my oldest daughter’s best friend. John had a heart attack on his 68th birthday.

It was a beautiful service. His wonderful family shared his “eulogy virtues” of humor and love and raved about his cooking expertise. His best friend shared stories from when kids played stickball in the streets of Ft. Lee, New Jersey. A colleague from Fordham Law School spoke about his passionate approach to teaching labor law. Their stories made us laugh and cry as we remembered how he touched us.

Most of us would agree that our “eulogy virtues” — the qualities that represent our best — are the most valuable for living a meaningful life. But too many, including myself at one point, follow the crowd and spend more time chasing “résumé virtues.” This approach may help us keep score, but the winner isn’t guaranteed happiness.

So which virtues are you living? What will be your legacy?

Tomorrow is a special P.B.R. day for me. It’s a chance to pause, breathe, and reflect on what could have been, what is, and what is still possible. And, if only for a few minutes, I invite you to join me for a moment of reflection.

After all, nobody really cares about your LinkedIn profile. They only care about how you make them feel. That will be your legacy.

Have fun storming the castle!