In Pursuit of Dishonor
04-14-2015 at 02:26 PM
Category: Personal Development

A monument only says, "At least I got this far," while a footprint says, "This is where I was when I moved again."

I have been striving for something my whole life. A pursuit that has shaped my worldview, my view of myself, and my value. For as long as I can remember, I have had a deep need to be important –to be needed and wanted.
To belong.
To be noticed and have value.
So far, nothing necessarily wrong with these needs.

Over the years, the need has warped into a singular focus on my worth being tied to legacy. What am I accomplishing? Am I a person of importance? Is my leadership and work being recognized? Am I respected in my field? Am I known? In short, I am in pursuit of honor. I am in pursuit of leaving a monument.

Quite frankly, I don't want to be one of the billions of nameless, faceless humans that have come and gone upon this planet, never to be acknowledged that they existed. I want a monument to be remembered by. Beethoven is remembered for his great music. Michael Angelo is remembered for his great art. Lincoln for his leadership, Covey for his time-management insights, Blanchard for his business leadership - the list goes on. There are but a minuscule number of individuals in the annals of history who are remember and honored over the ages. I want to be one of them. Not a bad goal on the surface.

However, along this journey, I have discovered that the pursuit is not a noble one – such as a pursuit that is in service or betterment of others. No, this pursuit is self-centered. I want the monument. I want to be remembered. Me, me, me.

Not a very pretty picture for a leader, but if I am honest with myself, well..., there it is.

I'm still working through this, but here is what I have learned so far:
  * Fame and Honor are fleeting. I could become well-known for my great accomplishments and there would still be many people who had never heard of me - or care for that matter.

  * Every physical accomplishment or monument I have ever created, or will create, ultimately, turn to dust. Nothing lasts. From the dust we came, to the dust we will return.

  * In the grand scheme of things, I'm just not that important. This is not a pity party here, just reality. There are a lot of people who are smarter, more talented, and more skilled than I am. My idea of being important hits the wall of reality: I'm not that important in world history.

  * My pursuit of the monument is ill-advised. It is not the monument I should be pursuing, but the journey and impact on people. It is relationship that matters. Helping another become better than they were before is true legacy.

This quote from William Faulkner helped me turn my thinking around on this.
  A monument only says, "At least I got this far," while a footprint says, "This is where I was when I moved again."

Is it wrong to work to be the best at what you do? Not at all. What I have found destructive is the motivation behind that desire. For me, it is based in meeting my deeper need to be important. To be loved. To be known. Will being remembered in history meet those needs? No. There is only One who can truly meet my needs.

I have had to reconcile for myself, the realities of life. If I never become "big and important" - at least how I have defined it - that is okay. I need to be alright with the truth that I'm not that important in the grand scheme of things. That fact, does not diminish who I am or my value. Instead, I need to remember where I am important and have impact: in my marriage, with my daughter, with my close friends and family. I make a difference in the lives of my neighbors by what I say and do. My legacy is not a monument. It is the journey.

A monument is the end. A footprint is a beginning. My pursuit of honor is not for me and my glory, but for the honor of the One who made me. I am now in a pursuit of "dis" honor.


Jeff Orr is a Personal Leadership Coach to Executives and Business Owners, Author, and Transformational Speaker. Through his coaching company, InDemand Leadership, Jeff empowers his clients to experience internal growth, translating into sustainable external success. Jeff's passion for seeing leaders reach and exceed their goals comes through in his one-to-one coaching sessions, keynote speaking engagements, leadership retreats, and his book, Succeed In The New Normal.

Contact Jeff at:

Keywords: legacy, honor, dishonor, leadership, Jeff Orr, self importance


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