Book Summary: Legacy

Book: Legacy


These are the passages and lessons I took away from the book Legacy by James Kerr. All content credit goes to the author(s).


  • Topic: Character

“Successful leaders balance pride with humility: absolute pride in performance; total humility before the magnitude of the task.”

“Humility begins at the level of interpersonal communication, enabling an interrogative, highly facilitated learning environment in which no one has all the answers. Each individual is invited to contribute solutions to the challenges being posed. This is a key component of building sustainable competitive advantage through cultural cohesion. It leads to innovation, increased self knowledge, and greater character.”

Lesson #2. GO FOR THE GAP

  • Topic: Adapt

“A winning organization is an environment of personal and professional development, in which each individual takes responsibility and shares ownership.”

“You either adapt, or you lose; and sustainable competitive advantage is achieved by the development of a continuously self-adjusting culture. Adaption is not a reaction, but continual action, so plan to respond.”


  • Topic: Purpose

“Leaders connect personal meaning to a higher purpose to create belief and a sense of direction.”

“Good leaders understand this and work hard to create a sense of connection, collaboration and communion. ‘Purpose relates to an overarching goal beyond the practical missions that are pursued day in day out,’ writes Eastwood. ‘This drives the individual’s intrinsic motivation, and gives a reason to belong, and a reason to sacrifice.’”

Lesson #4. PASS THE BALL

  • Topic: Responsibility

“By arming staff with intention, leaders can enable their people to respond appropriately to changing context, without losing sight of the tactical imperative.”

“Instill in your team members a sense of great self-worth – that each, at any given time, can be the most important on the battlefield.”


  • Topic: Learning

“A map of daily self-improvement acts as a powerful tool to develop teams and organizations; this ‘living document’ provides fresh goals and develops new skills so people push themselves harder, become more capable and achieve more for the team.”

“When the environment is dedicated to learning, the score, as Bill Walsh says, takes care of itself. Leaders are teachers – our job is to lead people through uncertainty and confusion and into self-knowledge and self-possession. ‘The ability to help the people around me self-actualize their goals,’ says Walsh, ‘underlies the single aspect of my abilities and the label that I value most – teacher.’” – Bill Walsh


  • Topic: Standards

“Setting high standards – and putting the measures in place to maintain them through peer-to-peer enforcement – is a critical component in successful team culture.”

“Great leaders ruthlessly protect their people, encouraging connection, collaboration and collective ownership, nurturing a safe environment of trust, respect and family.”


  • Topic: Expectations

“The truth is that the story we tell about our life becomes the story of our life. The narrative we tell our team, business, brand, organization or family becomes the story others eventually tell about us. This internalized narrative – triggered by words, images, movement and memory – is a phenomenon popularly known as the self-fulfilling prophecy.”

“Inspiring leaders use bold, even unrealistic goals to lift their game and the power of storytelling to ‘sing their world into existence’. They tell great, vivid, epic stories of what is possible to themselves and their teams – and soon the world repeats the story back to them.”

Lesson #8. TRAIN TO WIN

  • Topic: Preparation

“Intensity of preparation – ‘training to win’ – conditions the brain and body to perform under pressure. It lets peak performance become automatic. It develops the mindset to win.”

“Performance under pressure is knowing how to ACT.

A. Alternatives: to look at our options, adapt, adjust and overcome

C. Consequences: to understand the risk/reward ratio of each alternative and to make an accurate assessment of what is needed

T. Task Behaviours: To stay on task and execute the tactics and strategy”


  • Topic: Pressure

“Wise leaders seek to understand how the brain reacts to stress and practise simple, almost meditative techniques to stay calm, clear and connected. They use maps, mantras and anchors to navigate their way through highly pressurized situations, both personal and professional, and to bring themselves back to the moment. In this way they and their teams stay on top of their game and on top of the situation.”

Lesson #10. KNOW THYSELF

  • Topic: Authenticity

“The key to strong peer-to-peer interaction is a high level of trust. This is trust in the sense of safe vulnerability. The leaders need to create an environment where individuals get to know each other as people and gather insight into their personal story and working style. This needs to be supported by the leader’s role-modelling behaviour around admission of mistakes and weaknesses and fears . . . This is essential for safe conflict and safe confrontation, where the most important interaction often occurs.” – Gilbert Enoka

“Authenticity – the mark of a true leader – begins with honesty and integrity. Honesty allows us access to our truest vision of ourselves and, when setbacks occur, gives us strong foundations. Integrity gets the job done. If our values, thoughts, words and actions are aligned, then our word is our world. “


  • Topic: Sacrifice

“There are no crowds lining the extra mile. On the extra mile, we are on our own: just us and the road, just us and the blank sheet of paper, just us and the challenge we’ve set ourself. It’s the work we do behind closed doors that makes the difference out on the field of play, in whichever field we compete, whether we’re in a team, leading a business or just leading our life.”


  • Topic: Language

“Strong cultures need a system of meaning understood by everyone, a language and vocabulary that binds the group together. This must have as its foundation the values of the group; in this way the story stays credible and relevant. Shrewd leaders invent a unique vocabulary as shorthand for communicating new cultural norms and standards, using specific words, phrases, mottos and mantras. Then, using metaphor, the leader begins to bring the story to visceral life across as many channels as possible. In this way, language becomes the oxygen that sustains belief. In this way, leaders rewrite the future.”


  • Topic: Ritual

“Inspiring leaders establish rituals to connect their team to its core narrative, using them to reflect, remind, reinforce and reignite their collective identity and purpose…. Rituals reflect, remind, reinforce and reignite the central story. They make it real in a vital, visceral way.”


  • Topic: Impact

Ubuntu. – ‘What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.’

“Character rises out of our values, our purpose, the standards we set ourselves, our sacrifice and commitment, and the decisions we make under pressure, but it is primarily defined by the contribution we make, the responsibility we take, the leadership we show.”

Lesson #15. Legacy

Write Your Legacy. This is your time. 


  • Buy the book: Legacy (Amazon)


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