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Protecting Your Legacy

Sometimes acting a bit impulsively can really come back to bite you! Case in point. Many years ago I was involved in a silly dispute involving a company car. I had sold my interest in my company – and wanted to keep my car – which I had meticulously maintained since it was new. However, the company wanted it back, and to avoid the pending ridiculous and expensive arguments I finally told my attorney “let them have it”. That night I went for my farewell drive – and did something I had never done – I crawled into the car with muddy shoes, and smoked the biggest, fattest cigar I owned while enjoying my beloved auto one more time. Hit a pothole? No problem – not my car anymore. I know it was a Weasel move on my part – since I had been stringent about not letting anyone smoke in – or otherwise soil my car. By the time I got home the Jaguar reeked of Cohiba. The next morning my attorney called me early, excited to inform me that due to his brilliant negotiations I could now keep the car – which now needed a shampoo and alignment and smelled like a humidor for months! I got what I deserved.

Sure – I know that sometimes it feels good to depart a situation “with your middle finger extended”. And you might even be justified to do so. But after playing it both ways (and making many mistakes along the way) I have found that parting with grace – regardless of the situation surrounding your departure – is always the best idea.

As I have covered earlier in this blog, departing gracefully from a job, with proper notice, is always the best thing to do regardless of how you feel about the job. Every now and then we get employees that leave with no notice – which assures that unless they had some extreme personal emergency – they get no reference. And even if you don’t like your employer, an abrupt departure makes it tough on your co-workers, and leaves a sour taste in their mouths about you. Someday you may very well need a reference, or a job, from the co-worker you left in a lurch.

Departing gracefully should also extend into your personal life. I must admit many regrets over how I handled ending relationships with past friends and lovers. It’s easy to say little and leave, as opposed to really communicating. And if you are the one being left in a relationship, it can be even more important to accept the situation with maturity. Secretly we all want the lover that left us to wake up one day and realize their mistake and wish they were still with us. (And of course we wish by that time that we are with someone more attractive and more successful that adores us.) This may actually be a reality if you handle the situation with grace and elegance, as opposed to screaming, crying, begging, and stalking.

The emotion of a bad moment can taint all the positive time you spent together. I was recently reminded of this fact where families are concerned. Families fight – sometimes to the point that they shouldn’t be together – but splitting amiably with good memories – as opposed to during the heat of an argument – is far preferable.

In stressful situations it’s always good to do a little “personal brand analysis” before behaving too rashly. Are the actions you are inclined to take representative of the legacy you want to leave, or are they simply a reflection of what will ultimately be a short-term emotion?

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