Many of us come into this world with the luxury of choice. In a sense, we control our own destinies, or at least a good portion of us actively try to, by choosing our investments in education, the jobs we take, the places we live, the people we include (or exclude) from our lives, how we spend our time and resources. We consume and acquire each day, steered by the numerous personal and professional decisions we make.
One choice that alludes us, however – no matter how rich or famous we are, or how important we are to the world, or how much more we still have to offer – is how and when our life might end. Steve jobs could have told you this. And Satoru Iwata, CEO of Nintendo, who just passed away at 55 years old, could have told you this. Cancer doesn’t care if you are a CEO. It doesn’t care if you are 40 years too young to die, or even 80 for that matter. It doesn’t care if you are an innovator, a blue ocean thinker, a transformational leader, or a good human being, and by all accounts, Mr. Iwata was all of the above.
“There are CEOs who make a difference to the lives of the people – Satoru Iwata was one of the few who did” tweeted Min-Liang Tan, the CEO of Razer Inc. This sentiment is reflected and repeated in numerous articles, tweets, and commentaries that allude to Iwata’s legacy as being not only his contribution to the success of Nintendo, but also to his character as a leader, his humility and dedication, his sense of humour, and the connections he made with both customers and employees.
I’ve included just a handful of these messages below and, as you read them, I encourage you to take a moment to consider what your legacy as a leader might be? What might be written about your character, your commitment, or your connections to customers and employees? What changes might you want to make in order to be remembered as a truly great leader?