Week 50 of 52. Welcome to Drucker Mondays, a 52-week journey through the book, A Year with Peter Drucker: 52 Weeks of Coaching for Leadership Effectiveness, by Joseph A. Maciariello. Each Monday, we feature a Drucker fan and his or her favorite snippet from the week's topic. (Subscribe on this page.) Tashawna Gordon is our guest writer today.
Week 50: What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?
THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In a culture that strives for fame in various ways, for legacies, for remembrance, this week asks perhaps the most fundamental question that every generation has asked before: what do you want to be remembered for? A Year With Peter Drucker author Joseph Maciariello focuses on this idea with Drucker suggesting, “It is a question that induces you to renew yourself, because it pushes you to see a different person—the person you can become.”
TASHAWNA GORDON'S FAVORITE DRUCKER INSIGHTS from Week 50, pages 381-387:
• “People were important to Peter Drucker. The artifacts from his twenty-plus years of mentoring leaders of various organizations confirm what is well developed in his writings: Drucker was fervent in his belief that organizations should develop people and that the most durable ones do!” (p. 383)
• “I learned three things from that conversation. First, one has to ask oneself what one wants to be remembered for. Second, that should change as one gets older. It should change both with one’s own maturity and with the changes in the world. Finally, one thing worth being remembered for is the difference one makes in the lives of people [italics mine].” (p. 386)
• “It is important to ask yourself the question, ‘What do I want to be remembered for?’ from time to time in your life because it motivates you to work toward the person you can become. It is a question that if asked seriously can lead to personal revitalization in your life.” (p. 386)
TASHAWNA GORDON'S COLOR COMMENTARY:
As a 22-year-old recent graduate, I am often asked the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” In very real ways, that question bothers me more than I’d like to admit but I suppose I get it.
I get why people feel a compulsion to ask the newly graduated kid where I’d like to see my life go—but in all honesty, I just don’t know. I don’t know where I’ll be 10, 15, 20 years from now and I think I’m OK with that.
I’m OK with that because the difference between the questions of, “What do you want to do with your life?” and “What do you want to be remembered for?” is the breathing room the latter gives for seasons of growth; encouraging the pursuit of something more.
One of my professors asked us one day, seemingly out of the blue, what we wanted our tombstones to read. As a class filled with twenty-somethings, death almost seemed like a far off rumor that hadn’t made its way to our reality yet.
Confused and a bit uncomfortable, I remember sitting at my desk racking my brain for things that could be written in memory of me. Things like status, or profession, or my own versions of fame didn’t seem to make any sense: why would I want to put that on my tombstone?
Finally, our professor, sensing our inability to think of something, prompted us again,
“What do you want to have been known for?”
I then scribbled on my tombstone:
In the grand scheme of things, I don’t know what I want to do with my life. But I do know that at the end of it all, I want to know that I walked slowly, I breathed deeply, and I loved well. If I have done this, it will be a life well lived. (Editor's Note: To create your own tombstone, click on this app.)
These realizations didn’t just come to me on my own. They were prompted by people who have invested in me, guided me, and mentored me in ways that Peter Drucker did for others like me. The opportunity to empower and enable others is at the core of what it means to lead and to lead well.
THIS WEEK'S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY TASHAWNA GORDON:
Tashawna Gordon is the pastor of youth and families at North Valley Friends Church, Newberg, Oregon. She served as a 2015 summer intern at M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust in Vancouver, Washington and is a graduate of George Fox University. One of her many passions is serving as chaplain of the GFU women’s basketball team. (Enjoy this short video!)
• Pause. In the midst of the busyness of the week, pause for a moment and ask yourself this question: What do you want to be remembered for?
• Reflect. What are you doing now that is leading towards what you want to be remembered for?
• Seek. As Drucker invested into the lives of others, mentoring and guiding, I invite you to do the same. Ask them this question and other questions like it that challenge them and stretch them—but also journey with them in their seasons of growth as they journey through what it means to live a life well lived.
Read Bob Buford's Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition), with a foreword by Jim Collins (published this fall with more than 750,000 previously sold).
On Dec. 21, 2015, watch for the color commentary by Michael Wong on "We Mentor...Because We Can Envision What a Person Can Become" (Week 51), the next to last chapter in the book’s final section, “Character and Legacy.”