NBA basketball superstar Anthony Davis just announced through his agent, Rich Paul, that he wants to be traded from his current New Orleans Pelicans team, according to Bleacher Report. By asking for the trade, Davis is torpedoing his eligibility for a  supermax contract--exactly what it sounds like--that would total $48 million per year for five years.

First, don't cry for Davis, he'll be just fine. He's eligible to become a free agent in 2020, and may end up signing a supermax-type contract down the road. That said, he is turning down some substantive money in the here and now.

Why?

The obvious reason is that he wants to play for a winner. The Pelicans are currently 22-28 and going nowhere fast, with botched management moves the norm since he joined the team.

But there's more than meets the unibrow here ("The Brow" being Davis' nickname). Davis said this to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports in December, and he's stuck true to it:

"I'd take legacy over money. I want to have a legacy. All my people that look up to me, the younger kids, I want them to know about AD's legacy. Championships, the things I do in the community, being a good teammate, playing hard. All that stuff matters the most to me. Don't get me wrong, money is amazing. But I think in that sense, money or legacy, I think my legacy will win that battle every time."

When you think about your work on a much broader platform--serving something bigger than you, serving what matters to you--tremendous meaning and fulfillment will follow. Doing so brings a deep-seated level of happiness that more money could never, ever touch.

It's a crucial lesson for leaders, entrepreneurs, or anyone with a soul. And framing your work within the context of leaving a legacy puts a fine point on pursuing what matters to you.

In my book Make It Matter, I cover "The Five Footprints of Legacy"--the five ways we tend to leave legacies behind (quite often subconsciously) as human beings. In Davis's comment above, he touches on several of them. If you're aware of these five footprints, you can work to enact them every day to have a more intentional, robust legacy:

1. Enduring Results

These are results that you envision, invest in, bring to realization, and ultimately look back on years later. You can say, "I did that. That simply would not have happened were it not for me." This, by the way, was the topic of the No. 1 interview question I asked before hiring anyone to work for me at several multi-billion-dollar businesses.

2. Transfer of Knowledge

At work, this happens when we care enough to take time to invest in and coach our peers, subordinates, and bosses--especially in teachable moments. And especially in ways that help make them a better version of themselves, not a better version of you. That's why it's called a transfer of knowledge, not a transfusion of knowledge.

Some of the most heartfelt thank-yous I received as a leader came when I took the time for this, even though I didn't have it.

3. Passing on Values

Values are those little things we do every day that exemplifies who we are. They're those daily little impressions that leave a huge permanent impression.

If I asked you to write down your three most closely held, non-negotiable values, could you? You have a choice every day to live in support of your values, or in spite of them. Making little daily deposits in living your values is a tremendous way to leave a legacy. Think of it as the 401(k) of a meaningful life.

4. Relationships and Lives Touched

Relationships are the investments you make in those that matter to you--how you change the way people think, act, and feel, all for the better. Investing in those that matter to you will matter in the end.

As for lives touched, here's a simple truth: People don't remember us for what we did for ourselves. They remember us for what we did for them. Want to leave a legacy behind? Live in service of others. It's this realization that drove me to leave corporate and start a business speaking, writing, teaching, and coaching. 

5. Stories Told About You

Make no mistake, we're all made of up stories. What stories are told about you when you're not in the room?

Life is one long narrative. It's up to you to shape as much of your story as you can before "The End." Think of yourself as the editor of your own life story.

You might never be faced with the choice of turning down $48 million a year. But you can make each year more fulfilling and meaningful by focusing on the legacy you'll leave behind.

Published on: Jan 29, 2019
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