Have you ever met someone who was amazingly accomplished, and yet humble? Someone who led by example and who always did the right thing, even when the right thing was difficult? Someone who could admit his mistakes, and share the lessons he learned from those mistakes so that others could learn from them? Someone who gave you his full attention and truly listened to your perspective, even when he thought differently? Someone who truly cared about the world in which we live and wanted to make a difference? Someone who impacted thousands of lives in a positive manner over his lifetime?
Charles “Red” Scott exemplified all of those traits, and I am proud to share that he was one of my mentors for many years before passing away at age 85 earlier this month. One of his favorite sayings was, “If you’re green, you’re growing. If you’re ripe, you’re rotten!” Red always wanted to grow and learn. He started from humble beginnings in Texas during the Depression, and later became CEO of multi-billion dollar companies. He was what some people like to call a “self-made man”. Red received recognition over the years for his many achievements, including receiving the Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans in 1984. And yet, he often seemed embarrassed by the attention. His mission in life was to make a positive difference in the lives of others, which he did through his ownership in Vistage Florida, as well as through his many speaking engagements, volunteer roles, and interactions with anyone and everyone who approached him. Red’s “Business Cardinals” are a favorite of Vistage members throughout the world. His legacy will live on for many years to come.
Largely because of Red, I want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I do not have an expectation that I can influence thousands of people as Red was able to do. I can, however, make a positive difference in the lives of those around me. And that is a great place to start!
So now my question for you as a leader is, “What will be your legacy?” Are you making a positive difference in this world? Do your employees consider you a mentor and someone who leads by example? Or do they point to you as an example of someone they do not want to emulate? Do you proudly remind people of all of your accomplishments? Or do you humbly defer recognition to others who helped you along the way? Think about the legacy you will be leaving – intentionally or unintentionally. How will you remembered after you are gone?
Photo by: tanakawho / Nature Photos / CC BY-NC
Great post. It’s very rare to find a corporate leader who views himself/herself as being in the service of others. Yet, that is how one positively motivates people in a corporate structure. In upstate New York, Danny Wegman has embedded a culture of “employees first” in his company which owns supermarkets bearing his name. I can’t say if it’s totally selfless. However, the theory is that if one takes care of the employees, the employees take care of the customers. Anyone who has had the Wegman’s experience knows it’s working.