Marilyn Atkinson is the Founder of Erickson Coaching International and originator of the Solution-Focused Coaching methodology. A former Registered Organizational Psychologist, Marilyn is an NLP Master Trainer and specialist in Ericksonian Communications. Since 1980s she has been helping leading global companies and leaders through Solution- Focused and Outcome-Oriented Coaching. Marilyn has co-authored three books in "The Art & Science of Coaching" Trilogy (Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Step-by-Step Coaching & The Flow of Coaching).
Coaching Leaders to Build Their Legacy
When an individual develops as a leader and steps into the shoes of a masterful leader, they begin seeing a link between leadership and legacy. Some of the questions that might arise are: What is the widest and furthest reach that my leadership could extend to? If life was a savings account for humanity, how could I give back what I have received, and with interest? How can I invest in the next generation?
Coaching allows us to shift the world at the identity level. However, there are many other ways to create our tipping point at all other key levels of human change. As coaches, we influence leaders everywhere; we assist them to create futures in multiple areas. What if each leader we work with became inspired by his or her own idea of a positive legacy and began to create their own path to contribution? How would this change and shape our world?
For centuries, people have mostly considered their children as their legacy. In past times, that was a highly relevant concept for our world and, of course, it still remains of key importance to us. Our gift to humanity is our children. Yet today, while supporting children and family remains of high importance, it gives us only a partial approach to effective and meaningful legacy thinking.
The issue of legacy needs to go much deeper than focus on the immediate family, especially as we face the challenges of the 21st Century. We see a world facing huge challenges – environmental, population, health, education, career development, and the recognition of the real limitation on our shared resources.
If our children do not inherit a world that works, a culture that works, an educational system that works, and an occupational system that works, how can they carry on the legacy? Only our commitment can assist them to build their own legacy.
How do we coaches introduce the legacy idea to leaders? Obviously, we cannot influence the content of any legacy idea that they choose, that is their department. We are simply assisting them to build a mind-heart connection that then becomes their own committed action. They learn to first find a legacy, and then to courageously build it.
One way we assist is through the natural link between building a legacy in the world and the genuine expansion of personal happiness that ensues. Contributing to others in a meaningful way creates personal pride and the happiness of making a real difference in the lives of others. It fires up joy in a way that truly surprises people. It creates a ‘new normal’ of passionate purpose and fun.
Another great way to consistently point out how the idea is catching fire by showing big and small projects as having a measurable effect on human life. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has found some key ways to eliminate malaria and polio from some of the world’s poorest countries.
We can also show how small projects are catching on and creating inspiration. What bizarre visionary thinking is developing within the folds of your brain that is just crazy enough to work? What concerns can your individual genius address?
As coaches, we inspire people to notice that they can make a difference through simple communication, the behavior of speaking and listening. We can assist them to turn that behavior into a value. They get inspired and learn to do this kind of thinking with their teams.
The world needs each one of us to give the best we have in a concerted communal effort. Thinking about your own legacy, what does your 'best' look like? What if you started with the tipping point in mind?
Each of us is born with unique talents and skills. What might be your gift to the future? What is one area where you might be an inspiration to others? Who can benefit from your unfolding plan? Search yourself and your world for ideas that are uniquely yours. Each passion you have is a hint of what you can bring forth in the world.
What skills can we as coaches share with potential legacy leaders? Our key capabilities, as coaches, are often the very skills that any legacy creators want to develop for themselves. What coaching assistance can we share with them?
Why wait to turn around the things we see on the news? The time to accept the mantle of leadership for a visionary project is now. The time to build that team of encouraged and excited project owners is now. The time to reach out and spread what we have to share is right this moment.