It’s Not Hip to be Tragic

There are news and events that can make you reflective.

In spring of 2016 it was announced that Gordon Downie, singer of The Tragically Hip, had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. This announcement was coupled with a summer tour where the band would play across Canada, presumably for the last time. Summer of 2016 is also the two year anniversary of the passing of Wayne Skrypnyk, Founder of Skrypnyk Group.

The anniversary of Wayne’s sudden passing makes us remember how fortunate we are to continue to do what we do each day. When thinking about these two events together, I do not draw comparisons per se, but something did register with me. We do not necessarily get a farewell tour. Many movies romanticize the idea of someone getting a final chance to say goodbye or offer some last words to those around them. The reality is that this is often not the case.

This is not about estate planning. We know that we should have this in place and hopefully we all do. This is about Legacy. By Legacy, I mean that which we will leave behind – it could be material, charitable or personal. Since we may not get to decide when our last day will be, we need to be sure that each day takes into account its impact on our legacy.

What is it that you would wish for your legacy? It could be your actual business or the impression that you gave to people. This is an awfully big question so let’s break it down into a couple of first steps that we can take towards this.

First, ask yourself how is it that you would like to be remembered? This is not a revelation on my part but it is a powerful exercise. We approach business planning with a similar idea and that is to think about and articulate where it is that we want to be. What would you like people to say about you? What is important to you to leave as a legacy that people can point to and remember you by? This does not have to be as wide reaching as that of the previously mentioned Tragically Hip. Your impact may not be felt across the country but that does not make it any less important.

Next we can make things even more specific. What can you do to make sure that you are tracking towards making your legacy a reality? In our business planning, we often approach this by asking “what is your immediate next step?” There are chances each day and decisions to make that will all contribute towards your legacy. Being conscious of these and using the framework of your legacy can help to make sure that there is consistency. You can take this with you each day and align your decisions with your overall goals and ultimately in contributing to how you will be remembered – while making progress towards success along the way.

Whatever you are building, in your business and family, I believe that it is important to keep it in perspective. Understanding that you can influence others and build your legacy is a powerful approach to your daily decisions. We may not get a farewell tour or a chance to visit everyone and leave some parting thoughts. There may not be one final performance. However, we can work with purpose each day and frame our decisions and actions to be sure that when we are no longer providing daily influence, that our legacy can be a reminder to those with whom we have connected. London was reminded on Monday August 8th that “We all only do this once. You do it and its gone – like watching rain hit the roof”. Choosing not to take action that will influence your legacy would truly be tragic.