Hannah Wilson portrait

Hannah Wilson

Blog originally published on 8th May 2022 here.

noun. an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.

Personally, I find this definition problematic, as to me a legacy is more than what is just left in a will to family members. It is instead what is passed from one generation to the next and is a gift. A gift that is greater than money or property. A gift of ideas, of relationships, of community, of stories and of a way forward.

Moreover, leaving a personal legacy means to me that we are putting a stamp on the future, and making a contribution to future generations. We are leaving a footprint. We want to leave a legacy because we want to feel that our life mattered. A legacy is thus a lasting impact on the world.

Leaving a legacy means dreaming big and changing the world for the better.

A hand planting seeds with sprouting plants in the background.

As a Headteacher one of my favourite interview questions was about the candidate’s legacy building:

  • If successful in this interview, what legacy will you leave at your current school/ in your current role?
  • And fast-forwarding to the future, when it is time to move on from our school, what legacy would you want to create and leave behind here?

The answers we received were always fascinating. We discovered the impact individuals had had and wanted to have in their schools. The last one always flabbergasted them (not yet got the job but asking about when I am going to leave?!) but it also showed who had big ideas, a plan and a vision.

To leave a legacy is to create and to leave a gift. A legacy is something that is inherited from our predecessors and our ancestors, something of value that is bestowed on us to nurture and treasure as the successors/ the new keepers of that gift.

As a school leader I remember reading James Kerr’s Legacy and the impact it had me. The success of a world-class team based on their shared vision and values, their collective agency and responsibility. The All Blacks are consistently high-performing because they are a team, and they respect that they are a sum of parts.

When I reflect on the legacy I have created and left I am proud of my career. Some of the highlights of my legacy:

I was an AHT in a RI secondary school, and I was on the SLT that took the school to Outstanding, specifically increasing the GCSE English pass rate from the mid 50s to the low 80s. I also built the Performing Arts team up and recruited an amazing team who brought the school to life, reigniting the community passion for shows and events.

I was then moved across as DHT to our sibling school, an inadequate secondary school, and I was responsible for T&L and CPD. In 3 years we moved to Good with Outstanding features, but more importantly after I left, the school was reinspected and achieved Outstanding – reading the report I could see my work, the seeds I had sown, being praised. Even though I was no longer in the building, I could see my impact.

Alongside my DHT role, I co-founded #WomenEd and I am proud to see everything the community has achieved 7 years later. Two books and a global network later, but the logo I co-designed and the values I co-wrote are still living on. Every time I see them on line I am proud of my contributions.

Being the founding Headteacher of a start-up secondary school and then a year later of a start-up primary school, is also something I am immensely proud of. The founding teams poured their hearts and souls into engaging hearts and minds to build a community and a culture from scratch. It is a very special journey being a start-up team as there are few opportunities to start from scratch and build, instead of add or fix.

Alongside my HT role, I co-founded #DiverseEd and 4 years later I could not have predicted how far we would have come as a community. The thriving Mighty Network and the buzz about our book published last month are our legacy. With 125 authors in our collective voice publication, we embody the quote:

The Whole is Greater than the Sum of Parts.

If you want to do some more reading about Legacy then this article and resource from Tony Robbins is also worth a read:

Tony Robbins: 7 Steps to Leaving a Legacy:

  1. Discover your purpose: Why are you in this world and what is your calling?
  2. Reveal your natural skills and abilities: What do you have in your toolkit and are you fulfilling your potential?
  3. Unlock your passion: What brings you joy and makes your heart sing?
  4. Determine your X Factor: How clear are you of your Unique Selling Point and the value you add?
  5. Create a business/ road map: How are you planning for the future?
  6. Inspire the next generation: How are you engaging with your prospective successors?
  7. Give back: How are you paying it forward or gifting your time, energy and inner resources?

Let me know what resonates and what your legacy is, or will be.