At a recent workshop I attended, the topic was "work-life integration." The idea is that you can never perfectly balance the demands of home and job, but you can at least bring them together in a way that lets you live in a full and satisfying manner.
In fact, according to this theory, separating your life into the "personal" and the "professional" is wrongheaded. It's all personal.
Among the many useful ways to go about this integration, the presenter told us, is to consider your legacy. No matter your age and the stages you are in the different aspects of your life, think ahead to what you hope to accomplish and to, eventually, look back on with pride. It might be raising a family, volunteering in the community or achieving success on the job. Or all of the above.
Somebody in the room objected to the terminology. "Legacy is such a boomer term. Boomers are so worried about how they'll be remembered after they leave. Isn't there a better way to put it?"
Now, every generation thinks it's smarter than the last, I get that. As a baby boomer, myself, I thought I knew it all way, way back in the '60s. And as parents and grandparents and teachers and citizens, we should hope the people coming up behind us are smarter. After all, we shaped them and worry about them and want them to make their own lives — and the world — better.
But, I admit, the tone of the comment took me aback. Why in a room full of colleagues from a variety of generations, would someone feel the need to be less than respectful? If you really think your point is worthy, find a way to put it that doesn't shine a spotlight on that chip on your shoulder. Ah, youth.
On the other hand, if younger employees are sensitive — some might say, oversensitive — about these things, then it's up to us as managers of whatever age to acknowledge that and to change accordingly. Words matter. Meanings shift. Nuance is everything.
Still, try as I might, I can't think of a better word than legacy to describe what we leave behind, good or bad. And what Gen Xers and millennials will leave behind when their time nears — which, I can say from experience, will come a lot more quickly than they can ever imagine.