What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?
A Case Study: Katrina’s Story
Katrina began working as a banker immediately after graduating with her MBA. Still, in her 20s, the allure of a high salary was particularly appealing because she and her boyfriend Mike (also a banker) were planning on buying their first property. They both worked in the heart of the city of London, and this is where they also wanted to live. They wanted to immerse themselves in London life. Their jobs in banking would enable this.
Katrina’s education and skills were a good fit for the job, but her disposition wasn’t. She knew putting in long hours were an expectation, and she was OK with doing what she needed to do in line with the demands of the role. What she wasn’t OK with was the competitive nature of the culture, where putting in ‘extra’ long hours was regarded as a badge of honour.
To help relieve the stress from her work, Katrina started painting at home. Her love of art had begun when as a student, she would escape to the coast whenever she was feeling overloaded. The gentle sound of the waves whispering along the seashore always brought her to a place of tranquillity. A keen photographer, Katrina captured these moments. She then recreated the memories by painting the scenes she had caught on camera. Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday WorkLife in the city, Katrina found a way through her collection of photographs to take herself back to the peace and calm of the sea. Back to that moment in time. A place and time of tranquillity.
This is how Katrina’s WorkLife continued. She worked long hours, and when she was feeling overwhelmed, she came home and painted a seascape.
Then as part of her bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility, they began working with schools in deprived areas of London to help students from less-advantaged backgrounds have different experiences. They focussed on connecting students to the arts – performing, literary and visual. Taking them to performances, readings and exhibitions and giving them the opportunity to be engaged through a range of classes. They also arranged trips out of London – to the countryside and seaside and incorporated activities, from hiking to helping out on farms. From swimming to surfing.
Katrina volunteered to teach the students photography while on their trips, allowing them to capture their experiences on camera. She then volunteered to teach painting to help them recreate those moments once they got back home. The children loved Katrina’s lessons, and Katrina discovered she loved teaching and that she was good at it.
But, unfortunately, her experience was short-lived. Her workload demanded her getting back to long hours at the office; there wasn’t time for her to take time out for any more trips to the seaside, photography or painting lessons.
So, Katrina was back once again to a WorkLife of long hours and snatched moments of painting to alleviate the stress that came with that.
But over time, the cracks started to appear. Not at work because there was a certain way she was expected to behave. She was expected to be professional at all times. Whatever might have been going on within her or in her life outside of work, she was expected to leave at the door as soon as she turned up for work every day.
So the strain she was feeling came out when she was at home, and Mike bore the brunt of it. Katrina felt she was drowning at work, and she was fearful that if she couldn’t cope, she would lose her job. The bank was ruthless in getting rid of people who weren’t up to the job. Katrina feared if she lost her job, they wouldn’t be able to afford their mortgage, and they would lose their home, and it would be all her fault.
But she didn’t talk to Mike about her fears. Actually, she was resentful of him. He was working in the same industry but wasn’t feeling the stress as she was. He was taking everything in his stride and was thriving in his WorkLife because of this. Katrina started to be unsociable; she had lost her energy and desire to embrace London life that they had enjoyed together when they first moved to the city. But her change in behaviour went beyond that. She was also hurtful to Mike in how she spoke to him. She had changed from someone who had a relaxed approach to life, who was easy to be around, to someone who had become uptight, who was hard to be around.
After a few months, Mike couldn’t take it anymore. They broke up. They had to sell their home because neither of them could afford the mortgage on their own. Then Katrina lost her job. She was told she wasn’t up to it.
Katrina couldn’t afford to stay in London. She didn’t want to go home because she wanted to be alone. Mentally, she felt exhausted, and she needed to recuperate. So she went to where she had always gone when she needed time out. She went to the coast. It was out of season, so she could rent a place to stay for a reasonable price. She didn’t have a lot of savings, and she needed to get some work. The only experience she had in her WorkLife other than banking was the photography and painting teaching she had done as a volunteer. Not knowing what else to do, she put up a card offering classes in seascape photography and painting on the community notice board in her local supermarket. Immediately she received bookings, and soon after, she began the lessons.
Between teaching the classes, Katrina had a lot of time for reflection. While her exhaustion hadn’t been life-threatening, she felt a sense of her own mortality. She wasn’t sure if it was because of everything she had lost – her boyfriend, Mike, her job, her home. But whatever it was, it caused her to think about what she had done in her WorkLife that she would be remembered for, her legacy as such.
She realised that her work and her life outside of work while in London had just been temporary. A time for which she had little to show. She certainly hadn’t done anything remarkable for which she would be remembered. Except perhaps for that fleeting moment, she had spent with the children teaching them how to take photographs and how to paint.
Katrina had never thought about what she wanted to be remembered for before, but now it was something she couldn’t stop thinking about. Philosophising on what WorkLife is meant to be. She considered life is a gift given to us and that our work is an opportunity to do good with that gift.
But Katrina wasn’t sure what did this meant to her on a personal level. While she was mulling it over, she was also developing a website for her photography and painting classes. As part of the process, she wanted to establish her personal brand to demonstrate not only her work but also her values and beliefs, her dreams and aspirations. She wanted to get across a holistic sense of who she was and what was important to her in her WorkLife.
Guided by brand marketing books, she asked herself the following questions:
- What do I stand for?
Struggling to answer the question, she reframed it to:
- What do I want to be remembered for standing for?
I want to be remembered for taking the gift of life that was given to me and amplifying the meaning of that gift through the personal gift that was given to me – my gift of creative artistic abilities. I want to be remembered for making a difference through my work by sharing it with others. Sharing my photographs and paintings and also using my ability to teach to help others to learn these skills.
- What have I fought for?
Katrina realised she hadn’t fought for anything.
Once again, she reframed the question to:
- What do I want to be remembered for fighting for?
Thinking it through, she wondered if she could have fought to have continued to teach photography and painting to the students she had briefly worked with within London. She wasn’t sure if it would have been possible at the bank. But she believed it could be possible in other environments. She thought it could be possible to bring different entities together to make a difference through the arts. She wanted to be remembered for fighting for that.
- What do I believe in?
This is a question that Katrina was able to answer.
I believe that art has a powerful impact on our WorkLives. It has the power to heal and support emotional and mental wellbeing. It has the power to bring joy to people through the simple act of experiencing art and also the accomplishment of participating as an artist.
- How have I communicated that?
Katrina realised up until now; she hadn’t communicated it. But that was about to change. Through asking and answering these questions while developing her website, she had already begun to say what she wanted to say. Now, she just needed to build on that communication.
From that starting point, Katrina began to grow her brand authority. From that growing brand authority, opportunities began to open up to her. From those opportunities, she was able to make an impact in her WorkLife through the gifts life had given her.
She worked with companies that wanted to bring the power of learning through the arts to less advantaged communities. She also worked with companies that wanted to bring the healing power of the arts to their workplace to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of their people. She continued to share her artistic abilities by teaching others the art of photography and painting. And she opened her own gallery displaying her own work and the work of her students and fellow artists.
Defining and Building Your Personal Brand in Line With What You Want To Be Remembered For – Your Legacy Assignment
As with Katrina, you may have an experience in your WorkLife that caused you to think about what you want to be remembered for.
To help you understand the impact you want to make through your gift of life, your work and your special gifts, ask yourself the questions that helped Katrina define and build her personal brand in line with what she wanted to be remembered for.
You can tailor them in a way that helps you to answer them as Katrina did.
- What do I stand for? OR What do I want to be remembered for standing for?
- What have I fought for? OR What do I want to be remembered for fighting for?
- What do I believe in? OR What do I want to be remembered for believing in?
- How have I communicated it? Or How will I communicate it?
Develop a Practice of Continuous Self-Feedback
As you gain clarity on what you want to do in the present to build your future and the legacy you want to be remembered for, take time to give yourself continuous feedback. To do this:
Develop a Practice of Insightful Self-Questioning
At the end of each day, ask yourself:
Did I live my day true to my personal brand identity?
Reflect on your answer, and whether it’s a Yes or a No; ask yourself:
How can I live tomorrow true to my personal brand identity?
These questions help you to be self-aware about what you need to be doing more of or less of to live your WorkLife true to your personal brand identity while creating the legacy you want to be remembered for.
Words of Wisdom
Whatever losses you experience in your WorkLife, your personal brand is what remains. It’s up to you what you want that to stand for. It’s up to you how you want to be remembered. Your legacy comes from the WorkLife you life. It comes from your personal brand.
If you found this post helpful, you may also like to take a look at The School Of WorkLife books, which are designed to help you fine-tune your learning, development and growth in the areas that are most important to you.