Paying it Forward, Leaving a Professional Legacy

“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” – Michelle Obama

Organizations are majorly created to make profits, create sources of income for citizens via employment generation and elevate the human experience through the production of goods and services. Whether it is a growing small business or multinational organization, organizations also provide the platforms for self-development, skill optimization and the opportunity for individuals to become a change-maker in a chosen pursuit.

Many executives have become outstanding in their chosen pursuits because of the support received from their organizations, superiors or colleagues. It is imperative to appreciate this impact by paying it forward and creating the same or more impactful changes. 


It is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying the kindness to others rather than the original benefactor whose impact invariably impacts the benefactor as well.

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It is like a ripple effect of a stone thrown into an ocean; you will see the visible ripples created in tiny curves on all sides then larger curves will be created.

Paying it forward is not only for satisfying one’s conscience nor paying back the opportunity given but also creating a practice of credibility and accountability by considering others’ needs.  This is how we role model societal good to the next generation. 


The idea of legacy may remind us of death, but it’s not about death. Being reminded of death is a good thing because death informs life. It gives you a perspective on what’s important. 

In terms of career, Professional Legacy is what will be remembered of you, a creation or influence from a leadership role, a company, or life and how you will be remembered for what you have contributed to the organization or the world.

It is about leaving worthy footsteps for others to follow. It is about excellence for the good of others. It is inevitably linked to service above self. It can be about such things as creating new work processes, mentoring and transferring knowledge to younger employees and training new talent.

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It’s what you pass on to the next generations and your peers. It is not bound by age or time served.  

Legacy represents your body of work at each stage of your career as you establish the foundational building blocks and accumulate the required wisdom to contribute to growth, innovation, and opportunity both in and outside of the workplace.  

Your legacy grows with each new experience, with each previously untested idea and bold ideal that you are courageous enough to deploy, and each time you inspire others to see something through to fruition.

When you can inspire those around you to leap of faith with you, you are creating a legacy-defining moment in your leadership career.  


  1. Start from the beginning- Identity & Values-You must know and be extremely connected with who you are and what you represent as an individual and a leader. Do others know the real you and what you represent as a leader for the betterment of a healthier whole?
  2. Guiding Foundational Principles-These principles should represent your most enduring ideas and ideals and set the tone for your performance expectations as a leader.
  3. Prioritize people over results- Be genuine about the welfare and their success
  4. Invest time and Money-Ask your team to propose areas they would like to develop. See where that can become a win-win-win for them, you, and the company.
  5. Control less; empower more
  6. Be responsible and Accountable
  7. Be a risk-taker on and with your team
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When this moment is realized, the lens that you see through becomes crystal clear; you begin to understand that being accountable for the advancement and success of others will ultimately define your significance as a leader

“We rise by lifting others” Robert Ingersoll

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