Remember James Dean?

Recently I was in conversation with a group of young people (To me, that means anyone under 30) about ‘old movies’. I mentioned a favorite of mine: Giant, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean.  Giant was the last of  James Dean’s three films as a leading actor, and earned him his second and last Academy Award nomination – he was killed in a car accident before the film was released. Giant was nominated for 10 Academy Awards in 1956 and was deemed as culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant. Imagine my surprise when this group of young people had no idea who James Dean was, much less anything about the movie!

This made me think, gosh, if these smart, enterprising young people have never even heard of James Dean – what will our legacy be? Most of us are not public figures or Academy Award winning actors. We are leaders, granted some more notable than others. As leaders, I don’t believe we build lasting legacies by making quota, achieving budgets, or climbing the corporate ladder in record speed. I believe we build our legacy, as leaders, by building strong teams, sustainable systems, solid cultures, and people who continue to grow, learn, and contribute long after we have moved on to other aspirations.

Time if finite. Think of James Dean and his short 24 year life. What legacy are we building?