And so 2018 has taken its final bow. For some it was a great year and for others, it was a terrible one.
For some it was the year that went by too fast and for others it was the year that crawled.
Each person’s perception of the year is based on their experience of the year.
As we look back there are many questions that need answers: Could things have been done differently? Could some things have been avoided? How do we ensure that 2019 will be different indeed and not just because a calendar changed?
We had 365 days to prepare for the last day of the year. 365 days of rehearsals.
Every night when we went to bed, it was a rehearsal. It was a time for us to ask ourselves if the day went well and if there were things we would do differently the following day.
The problem is that most people never see the end of a day as a preparation for the end of a year. The end of every week is a preparation, the end of every month is a preparation and finally the end of every year is a preparation for the day when we will all take our last bow.
In 2018, many big names took their final bow. They include the former first lady of the United States Barbara Bush who died in April and her husband George H W Bush who passed away a few months later.
Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, also took her final bow in 2018. Well, so also did millions of people whose names we will never know but who nonetheless were important to those who knew them and will be sorely missed.
The big question, however, is that when some people die, their story ends while for others their story has no final chapter.
It will continue as long as the earth remains. When we practise a routine of evaluating our day to ensure that we lived and not merely existed it is actually a rehearsal for legacy.
Legacy is how you want to be defined when you are no more there to defend yourself.
At the end everyone’s life will either be a warning or an inspiration. Margaret Thatcher said that she knew history was going to be good to her because she intended to write her own history. The good news is that as long as we have breath, we can still write that legacy.
It is not written with a pen or pencil but it is written in our deeds and our decisions.
Your legacy will be defined by the sum total of decisions you made in life. When you are no more there to explain your motivation for making such decisions, the world will evaluate and pass judgment. What do you want it to say?
Begin the process
If we have made it this far, then we can begin the process. At the core of this process is purpose. Without a purpose, life is an experiment.
Without a purpose, legacies are fragile. The purpose is the defining force behind everything that we do. It is what determines the quality of our decisions.
Organisations around the world are beginning to see the importance of having a well-defined purpose.
If the why is well defined, the what and the where will follow suit. One of the main drivers of performance is the strength of the vision and this is enhanced by a sense of purpose.
Purpose is a very important element and I dare say that the biggest discovery that anyone can make is the discovery of their purpose.
There have been numerous cases of successful people who are still seeking something else because what they thought would give them fulfilment did not.
We have had people leave high paying jobs for lower paying jobs because they did not have a sense of fulfilment with the high paying job.
So as the curtain falls on 2018 and rise in 2019, the fundamental question that as leaders we should ask ourselves is, why do I want 2019 to be better than 2018? What difference will it make to my world that it is a better year? Success is what we achieve for ourselves.
Purpose is why we do it and significance is how we use it for others. No one is remembered just because they were successful. The highest point of success is when we can identify those who succeed because we succeeded.
If your why is to just make money then you are operating at a low level of thought. Let us reach higher in the New Year. Let us reach for impact in our society.
Let us put our stamp on our world. A stamp that can never be removed. A stamp that will keep speaking or us after we are gone.
A stamp that made the writer of the Book of Hebrews say concerning a group of people that indeed the world was not worthy of them.
Welcome to a new stage. The stage of 2019. Do have a significant and purpose filled New Year.
Dr Wale Akinyemi is chief transformation officer at PowerTalks