As business owners, we spend much of our lives building companies that we hope will last. Our work is a big part of our legacy. However, it is easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose sight of the broader purpose.

Personally, I don’t want to look back at the end of my life and be proud about all the emails I sent. I want to see a true impact. As a result, I am constantly asking myself:

“What kind of legacy do I want to leave in my professional life?”

At Two West Advisors, we recently read Andrew Thorn’s book “Leading with your Legacy in Mind.” As a successful leadership strategist whose clients include several Fortune 500 companies, Thorn sheds light on the importance of deciphering what type of legacy you want to leave behind in your professional career, and shares guidelines on how to achieve it. He provides valuable insight on how to get the most out of your work, and ways to find purpose and meaning each and every day of your career.

Thorn believes a legacy is not about the roles and titles that we earn, but rather the culmination of our accomplishments and what we are able to build. I was able to relate to Thorn’s experiences and gleaned a lot of wisdom from reading his book. Here are a few lessons I took away from the book.

Strike a Balance

Thorn defines legacy as a combination of life and leadership. The life aspect includes all efforts for personal growth and development, such as your individual wants and needs, the quality of life that you lead, and your personal experiences outside of work. The key indicators of your life are your health and wellness. To leave a “life” legacy, we must define our values and take action to grow as a human being.

The leadership aspect has more to do with what you accomplish in the workplace. It is the combination of our skills and knowledge. We measure this in the way that others feel our professional impact — how we inspire others and how we create better business leaders for the future.

It is easy to let our leadership responsibilities consume us, but finding the middle ground and striking a balance between our life and leadership duties to create a legacy that will last are key. Thorn advocates focusing on developing ourselves personally in order to accomplish something that we can be proud of professionally, and I couldn’t agree more.

Create Room to Grow

Another valuable lesson about leaving a lasting legacy is that there is always room to grow when it comes to being a better business leader. Being willing to take action and make changes when necessary are take home points for me. He says,

 “If we truly want to become our best, we must be willing to move our feet. This means doing whatever it takes to get better, which generally involves changing our behavior and our way of being.”

Embracing change is hard for all of us because consistency is comforting. For me, when I get used to my routine and am comfortable with the way I’m doing things, changes are harder to make. But I know that changes are crucial in my life to achieve growth. I need that push to build success. Thorn equates change to growth, saying that growth will never be accomplished without willingness to change.

A Legacy that Lasts

In an article in Forbes, business leadership writer Glen Llopis shares his definition of what it means to leave a legacy:

Legacy represents your body of work at each stage of your career as you establish the foundational building blocks and accumulate the required wisdom to contribute to growth, innovation and opportunity both in and outside of the workplace. Your legacy grows with each new experience, with each previously untested idea and bold idea that you are courageous enough to deploy, and each time you inspire others to see something through to fruition.”

Everyone has his or her own definition of what a successful legacy means. For me when I reach retirement, I want to look back at my career with a sense of accomplishment and pride in what I achieved both inside and outside the workplace. Through willingness to make changes to gain personal and professional growth, I believe we are all capable of leaving a legacy we can be proud of.

At Two West Advisors, we strive to leave a legacy that we can look back on and be proud of! This means growing ourselves so we can help our clients grow and continuing to seek innovation and growth through service to others. If you’re looking for guidance on leaving a legacy, please add Andrew Thorn’s book to your reading list.

What do You Think?

What does it mean to you to leave behind a lasting legacy? Share your thoughts by tweeting @TwoWestAdvisors!