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DASH toward your legacy in the workplace

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Melanie, who manages the operations center of a medium-size company, is very good at her job. She's the CEO's “go to” person when any problems arise with procedures and systems.

Melanie is compensated handsomely, has generous benefits, a reserved parking spot and an oversize office with enough room for a couch.

While the sun appears to shine on Melanie, inside she's conflicted. Her quick mind and natural problem-solving ability lead her to be impatient with others. Because Melanie rarely makes mistakes, she can't empathize when others do. While she can see four solutions to every problem, Melanie gets annoyed when her colleagues can't come up with one.

This lack of acceptance causes others to avoid her. Melanie recognizes her flaws but is unable to restrain herself. She acknowledges her shortcomings but, ironically, can't figure out the best way to overcome them. While Melanie is proud of her remarkable technical ability, she fears that she is unlikely to be remembered for it.

It saddens Melanie that her legacy is likely to be clouded by her inability to control her frustration.

Each day, think about the legacy you are leaving at work. Make no mistake, you are leaving a legacy with every move you make. The only question to consider is whether your legacy is the one you want it to be.

Every tombstone has the person's birthdate and date of death separated by a dash. That dash represents a legacy — the way the person lived life, built relationships and accomplished significant goals.

As you DASH to your legacy consider these actions:

Do your best. If you have given your best in every situation, there is nothing to regret or stew over. Your conscience is clear. Doing your very best, task in and task out, builds, in part, a legacy worth remembering.

Have an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude drenches us with warm emotions that lift our spirits. People who are grateful for their work and their co-workers offer encouragement in all they do. When we are thankful for what we have, we are less likely to get caught up in complaining or flooding our workplace with misery. Our conversations are more appealing and productive.

Keep a single-minded focus on controlling what you can. So many times at work, we get stuck on things that we have no control over. Sometimes we spend energy griping about the attitude of a co-worker or a business decision that is made to increase the profitability of our company or improve the performance of our business unit but which will cause us some discomfort.

Even though we might not be in control of those things, we waste time on them and lower our own performance in the process. When we focus our energy on things we can control, we are happier and can spread that sentiment to others.

The one thing we have absolute control over is ourselves. We control how we respond to a belligerent colleague or how much effort we put into learning a new business process. Our time is better spent focusing on making ourselves better than worrying about all of the stuff we have no control over.

Help others. Personally, whenever I make someone else feel good, I feel good. Being of service to others doesn't mean being subservient. It means being helpful and showing care for another. When you help someone, they often help you. Considering we spend more waking hours with co-workers than we do with our family, it's unfortunate that genuine caring is in such short supply in most workplaces.

To be a person who truly cares and will help for no other reason than to be of service is admirable and memorable.

Here's a simple three-minute daily routine you can carry out on the way home from work to DASH toward creating the legacy you want. Answer these questions honestly and lengthen your DASH where needed:

• Did I do my best today?

• What one thing am I thankful for today?

• What one act of service did I commit today?

• Did I focus 99 percent of my energy today on those things I can control?

Joe Bertotto is principal of the Strengths*Life Project, a consultancy dedicated to helping individuals realize their best self, to the advancement of servant leadership and to creating great workplaces built on high care, high performance and high accountability. Contact him at

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