Your Project, Your Legacy


I came across two challenging ideas recently, one from a book I’m reading and one from a social media message.

The first idea is from  “The Project 50” by Tom Peters.  This book is an effort to transform the way we view and approach assignments and opportunities.  According to Peters, every task or project we endeavor to accomplish should be a “WOW Project.”  If it doesn’t make you say “Wow!” then the project is not worth doing.

Again, according to Peters, you can know that a project is a good one if it is remembered several years after its accomplishment.  It takes a lot of thought, effort, and execution to deliver that kind of result.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins begins with a quote:  “Good is the enemy of Great.”  Peters stresses this concept throughout his book as well, focusing on the project aspect of our lives.

As I’ve been reading this book, I came across a quote from Gary Vaynerchuk, who isolated this idea even further when he identified two reasons people fail:

  1. Fear of Failure
  2. Laziness in Execution

It was point #2 that slapped me in the face.

We’ve all had things we’ve had to do, right?  School work, volunteer assignments, work tasks, “honey-do lists,” and on and on.  But how many of those tasks really amounted to something special?  Is there a project or assignment that you blew out of the water?

This is a difficult question to ask.  I did well in school and I do reasonably well in my work. Far too often, though, I was and am simply doing what it took to approach “satisfactory.”  This works to an extent, but the greatest joy and satisfaction in life comes from delivering exceptional value in something worth doing.

That’s the catch, though: exceptional work requires exceptional execution.  “Just good enough” doesn’t cut it when we are striving as a team or as individuals to deliver excellent results time and again.  If it was easy to achieve excellence all the time, we’d see it happen far more often in the world. This isn’t the case in reality.

What we do in life matters.  Our results are essentially our legacy: what we leave behind for the world to benefit from or to trip over.  Just like a thriving garden requires consistent effort, our work and projects deserve our highest attention.

Think about the current assignments you have.  What can you do to make those assignments really turn in to a reflection of the value you can bring to the world?  What little details can you improve to make this project memorable?

Let’s get to work!