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Buiding a Successful Legacy
The Banff Centre, one of Canada’s most well-known and successful professional development hubs, is 75 years old. How do you even begin to measure such legacy?

First you can list concrete achievements: the thousands of performances, exhibitions, and programs The Banff Centre has delivered over the years. You can also consider the more than 250,000 alumni who have attended different programs. However, to appreciate the true scope of this legacy, you must look further. You must account for the intangible, fleeting outcomes behind those numbers.

For instance, the effect those alumni had on their home communities following their time at The Banff Centre. How many others did they inspire? How did they change their communities? The task of accounting for such outcomes is daunting, yet these are the true indicators of a lasting legacy. As each of us aspires to build our own unique legacy, we too must consider both the measurable and intangible components of the equation. Here are some suggestions to help you build your own legacy, one purposeful action at a time.


Success = Results x Fulfillment


The first challenge is to expand upon what you have traditionally considered important when you account for the outcomes of your actions. One of my main challenges as a coach and consultant is to guide my client in broadening the spectrum of criteria they typically use to measure their organizational and personal success. To achieve this, I have defined a simple formula: Success = Results Delivered x Fulfillment Lived. Over the years, I have realized that this formula, in which fulfillment becomes a multiplier of measured results, provides a perfect framework for planning and building a successful legacy.


Focus your energy by targeting concrete results


The first variable in the equation – Results Delivered – is the most intuitive and rarely a challenge for individuals and organizations to grasp. To build a successful legacy, concrete, tangible, and quality outcomes must be delivered. For example, the corporation must post profits, the quartet needs to record, and the Olympic athlete needs to achieve a gold medal.


Account for the intangible outcomes by defining a fulfillment multiplier


The Fulfillment Lived variable tends to be more difficult for clients to comprehend – at first. It requires a concerted departure from results-oriented measurements to identify what truly creates fulfillment for an organization or individual. Yet note that this variable is a multiplier, so it is well worth engaging in "pragmatic imagination," the act of defining abstract yet critical outcomes of success. I like to illustrate this using the example of an Olympic athlete. If she defines her goal simply as winning a gold medal, her task is relatively simple: do whatever it takes to win – train hard, eat well, compete as much as possible. Consider this same athlete expanding her scope by valuing personal pride as highly as winning a gold medal. She begins measuring the level of personal pride she feels through each and every action she delivers on a daily basis. Her quest for success is transformed by this new sense of purpose in identifying and practicing actions that provide this sense of pride.

In the first scenario, win at any cost, there is latitude for our athlete to resort to performance-enhancing drugs as a viable option. In the second scenario, she will achieve her concrete goal in a way that also rewards her with a deep sense of personal pride and fulfillment. Her legacy will be an authentic, infallible achievement: for herself, for her country, and for all the young athletes, including future Olympians she inspires through her performance.

Defining the Fulfillment variable in the Success Formula is not a license to avoid the hard work required to deliver results. Like triple bottom-line accounting – Profit, Planet, People – or native wisdom – act with seven generations in mind – it involves sustained awareness, purpose and discipline, and leads to more efficient and effective actions. Most importantly, it sets the stage for building a lasting legacy, one purposeful action at a time. Bonne fête, Banff Centre, and thank you for the intangible, yet so critical, inspiration you provide.


Download the PDF version of Building a Successful Legacy.


This article was published in The Banff Centre's Leadership Compass, Summer 2008 issue.