I just finished reading The Last Arrow by Erwin Raphael McManus. The sub-title of the book is ‘Save Nothing for the Next Life.’
I loved the book. It reminded me as a leader that I must make sure that I am giving my all to everything that I do. It reminded me that work isn’t just about the output or good processes. It is about the results that you give. The and the results that I want to be delivering are a positive impact on people right now. Erwin McManus focuses on how we should do our best work now, and make our best contribution right now, because we don’t want to leave anything in the reserve tank when we die. (Because we all know that we aren’t taking it with us.)
Shortly after reading this book I heard a commercial on the radio that said ‘just as important as the impact that you have on people in this life, is the legacy that you leave when you are gone.’ It was a commercial for funeral arrangements, so I understand their selling point, but I don’t agree. The impact that I have in this life is much more important to me than a legacy that I leave. I want to know that people are able to do their jobs better because of what I have done today. Whether or not they remember me after I’m gone doesn’t matter to me. . . because I won’t be around.
If I do a good job today, then people will benefit – hopefully long after I am no longer here. It does inspire me to make sure that I am giving my all today, and not holding back for a what-if in the future. It also inspires me to make sure that I am providing the same opportunity for everyone else. If I can make sure that people aren’t doing tedious repetitive work when they could be doing creative, empethatic work, then the world will be a better place for both the employee and the customers. I would rather have a customer service representative have a caring conversation on the phone with a customer who is having trouble with their account, than have that employee spend their time flipping through screens trying to figure out where the notes from the last conversation were.
My job is to fight for you to make sure that you can do your best work. If I keep doing this, right to the end, then I will have fought to my last arrow. I don’t want to save anything for the next life.