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Salem business Journal

november 2006

designing Your legacy: What’s important to You? Rushing Reflections: Most of us, when asked about what’s important in our lives, have a pretty good idea of what would make the list. It would certainly have the names of cherished people in our lives. It might also include both long term and short term goals regarding what we’d like to accomplish in our little corner of the world. That part of the list usually has a way of filling up quickly. Bo Rushing-Barnes flexibility thick in the mix. It goes back to Stephen Covey’s principle habit, “Begin with the end in mind.” What do you want the end of the day, the week, the month, the year, your life to look like? What legacy is being formulated to be your personal thumbprint or your footprint? They piled into an old Buick without air conditioning for the 53-mile drive to Abilene, with the temperature reaching 104 degrees. The food at the cafeteria was predictably bad. As they returned hot and sweaty (and with indigestion) from their journey, they realized that no one really had wanted to go to Abilene in the first place. Each person thought the other wanted to go, and they just went along with the group’s decision. Sometimes, the list of “important things needing to get done” can even outweigh the names of the VIPs that are critical to our sustainability ---- family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, clients, vendors, and others in our communities. that don’t have a place in the larger scheme of things you’ll be more apt to ask yourself this question, “Am I headed for Abilene?” Begin by first visualizing your personal legacy. What does it look like? Think in vivid terms. Caution: Don’t become too overly fixed on the prize. Stay flexible. Flexibility is an important tool for staying on course and being happy during the journey. While planning and prioritizing are important factors, don’t allow yourself to become so rigid that you cannot afford to occasionally take a different road, hear a different sound, or step outside your plan and develop new insights and perspectives. The flex part of your legacy might be the proverbial crème cheese on your bagel. Don’t become overly focused and miss out on wonderful fringe benefits in your life. We could all enjoy a little more spandex in those life-lines that tie us to our plans, our goals. Learn to discern between a bonus side-trip and a dead-in detour. Best to each of us as we find ways to leave a stronger legacy through our personal connections and the important work we do within our communities. Next, take a pad and pencil and perform a swift brainstorm-of-one exercise. Write as quickly as you can, listing the people and things that are most important to you in this world. Then list the goals that are essential to you; the absolute accomplishments you want to attain in your life. Don’t allow yourself to labor over spelling, punctuation, etc...just write; get your list down on paper. The list will become one of your tools, your compass as you plan and prioritize. While the main focus in this book is avoiding “group think,” it can also be an important lesson in how to honor your planning and priorities, avoiding treks that take you way off course from your true North and use up gobs of energy as you strive to get back on the clear path. With the dance card so overly filled, how easy it is to allow the really important parts of our lives to become overwhelmed and cluttered with tasks, fluff and spinning wheels…all in the name of progress. Nolan Archibald, Chairman and President of the Black and Decker Corporation once said, “If each of us could find and maintain a principle-centered approach to how we manage all the pressures and the list of things to do, we might find a compass in our lives that guides us in the direction of what is truly important in life.” As part of your daily routine, learn to conscientiously avoid side trips that delay your getting to the important destinations in your life-plan. Keeping your daily focus based on your inner compass may be one of the most amazing leads you’ll discover as you reach an enhanced ability to plan, prioritize and stick to the things in your life which are most important to you. Even when “group- think” and outside pressures surge and try to whip you off the path, turn you around and push you in a direction that becomes a costly side trip from your intended legacy, you’ll be able to find a steadfast strong-hold in maintaining your direction. Next, as a way to protect your list from future disarray, find and read or re-read the paradoxical parable about a road trip to Abilene, Texas. In his book, The Abilene Paradox, Professor Jerry Harvey introduces a model that aptly describes how easy it is to be swayed into “going where we don’t really want to go.” Harvey tells the story of a visit to his in-laws in Coleman, Texas. One day while they were enjoying a game of dominos and cold lemonade on the shady porch of their house, someone says, “Let’s go to Abilene and have lunch at the cafeteria.” Imagine that. Traveling through your day, sticking to the path of what’s important and finding new, creative ways of securing better connections between you, the precious people in your life and the things that need to get done. Bo-Rushing-Barnes in collaboration with Linda Harris. Bo Rushing-Barnes, CCIM, is the owner and principal broker of Rushing Real Estate, Inc. (503) 588-8500. Linda Harris is a managing partner in the consulting firm of Harris & Associates (503) 951-0886 For me, the main ingredient for sticking close to what’s really important in my life has been learning to do a better job of planning and prioritizing, with a healthy dose of When you find yourself swaying out of line, taking on fragmented bits and pieces of things

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