What do you want your legacy to be?

Use this question in your sessions to get insights into your clients.

Christine and I were discussing legacy the other day. We were taking a different conversational path to figuring out why we created VisualsSpeak/Exploring New Options and the visual approach to facilitation we have developed.

Some of the questions we explored are: Why are we doing it? What are the core values that drive us? What is the end result we want from doing this? How does it feel when we are working aligned with our values (legacy) and how does it feel when we are not?

The question “What do you want your legacy to be?” is an intriguing one, because it asks us to jump to the end and then look back to the present to see if everything matches up. It is a question that can hold us accountable to ourselves. By going back and forth between our desired legacies and where we are now, we create internal checks and balance systems to help guide us in our day-to-day lives.

In this two-part post I’m going to suggest some ways you can work with clients using this question to help them gain clarity and perspective on their lives. In part 2, I’m going to practice what I preach by doing a visual exercise on the ImageCenter asking myself this question. Oh, boy.

A visual approach to talking about legacies

We’re big proponents of using images to enhance conversations and getting big breakthroughs. Combine this question with one of our image decks to get the most from the process. I’m not going to spell out the steps you need to do a visual exercise here. For that refer to the post “Your client is overwhelmed…What do you do?” as it is a similar process.

A person’s legacy is about their core values

Asking a person about their legacy is a great way to find out about their core values. These are what make them tick. How well they’re aligned with them can give you clues about how to help your clients move forward and be successful.

Money is not a core value

People may tell you that they want to leave money as part of their legacy. That’s fine and quite normal. However, money is not a core value. It may be a core-driver depending on the person. If someone tells you that money is part of their legacy, dig a little deeper to see what money means or represents to them. This is where you’ll find the gold, so to speak.

Money can mean all sorts of things. What does it do for them? Does it ensure their family will be all right? If so, then one of their core values is family. You might dig a little deeper to find out what does it mean for the person to know that their family is ‘all right’.

Ways to explore legacy with clients

This question can be used to unlock all sorts of information about people of any age. It can be used in coaching, counseling and therapeutic situations. The difference between using it in these types of settings boils down to how far you dig and what areas you dig into. Always be clear about your role and the agreement you have with your client.

Creating a personal vision

Asking your client about their legacy gets them to think about how they are living their lives now and how that compares to the ultimate goals of their life. Also, what they might see themselves leaving aren’t necessarily going to be physical things such as money and real estate but could be more along the lines of emotional gifts such as love, respect, and wisdom.

In a sense, you are asking them to talk about their highest and noblest selves. In the back of their minds, people may be thinking along the lines of ‘If I live life to the best of my ability, people will remember me fondly and with love. They will know that I contributed something of value.’

Getting non-profits aligned

Another good place to use this question is with non-profits, because their work is usually all about core values. It’s the intersection of the core values of the people doing the work with their supporters that often decide how successful the organization will be. Non-profits that can articulate their values in a way people can understand and relate to are far more likely to get the support (financial and otherwise) they need than ones that don’t.

This question can also be used when a non-profit is going through a period of transition as they grow and have to face the realities of maintaining the work. These times are ripe for reviewing their values and ascertaining whether anything needs to change in order to continue doing the work and making it more relevant to the new environment.

Planning for Retirement

People in retirement or looking ahead to it are another good audience to pose the question. They are in a state of mind of looking to the future, so it would be natural for them to want to answer this question.

How are you going to make a difference?

I’ll be talking more about how this question relates to me, and the work I’m doing with VisualsSpeak in Part 2.

So, what do you want your legacy to be?


Your client is overwhelmed…What do you do?


We’ve all had the experience of feeling overwhelmed. It’s not a pleasant state to be in. There are a million things to do, but we can’t seem to be able to pick one and get it done.

Watching a client go through this is frustrating. He may sit there quietly not being able to describe what is going on at all. Or she may be talking so rapidly that the sentences run together in an ever increasing blur, which only increases the overwhelm.

There are different approaches to dealing with a client in this situation. Using visuals can help people quickly get past the overwhelmed stage and back on track. Let’s talk about just one approach so that we don’t get, err, overwhelmed with ideas.

Before we begin to talk about the method, there is something you can do to help your client get centered right now.

Just Breathe

Breaking News…Humans need to breathe! Yes it’s true, people need to breathe. What is also true is that by having your client take a few slow and deliberate breaths will help them begin to calm down. This is a good first step and helps prepare them for seeing things in a new light.

Start at the End

A good way to help people get past feeling overwhelmed is to direct their attention to a more hopeful scenario. Think of it as a process for creating the magical fairy tale of their life. You can accomplish a few things with this approach.

  1. Distract them from their current situation
  2. Get them thinking about the bigger picture
  3. Incentivize them to work through what is bogging them down
Finding Center

Once upon a time…

Now that your client is taking some calming breaths, you’re going to set up an exercise using visuals to help them see past their current chaotic state. If you are a VizPeeps member try using either the Exploring My Options or Exploring Passion image deck. If you don’t own any VisualsSpeak image decks, you’ll have to rely on whatever you have on hand.

Next, you’ll need to choose a prompt that gets your client to think in terms of their ideal future scenario. Try these or create variations of them:

  • What would your ideal life look like?
  • If you had no other concerns, what would a perfect life look like?

Tell your client the prompt and give them five minutes to choose and arrange their images.

Listen closely as I tell you my story

Have your client describe to you the story they created around the prompt and images they chose. You need to listen closely for the key points and any of your client’s core values that arise from this conversation. These are going to be the clues you’ll need to get them out of feeling overwhelmed.

Go back to the beginning

The images will work their magic in helping your client see a better future. This is the part of the process where you get the opportunity to work your magic in helping them break down the steps they need to take to get past feeling overwhelmed and heading towards their ideal future.

How do you help your clients get past feeling overwhelmed?

I would love to hear your ideas on how you help people get through these difficult situations. Please share them in the comments section. Thanks

Getting clear about what you offer

Cate Brubaker is an intercultural consultant who was looking to get clear about a new service to offer to her clients. She had been struggling with creating an offer for people who travel and come home and struggle to reintegrate it into home life.

What am I offering?

There were three things she hoped to get out of her session.

  1. How to express what she has to offer
  2. What people will get out of working with her
  3. Why they would want to

Creating an image

I asked Cate to select images in response to the question:

What are you offering to your people?

This is what she created

You can watch a half hour video of the session and listen to the conversation about her image. I recorded my view as the facilitator, so you can see what it looks like when you are doing a session with a client over the phone.

What happened as a result of the session?

The next day, Cate was able to write a sales page for her new offer in a couple of hours. She sent this lovely testimonial

Christine recently led me through a session using the new ImageCenter because I wanted to offer a new service but was struggling to articulate it enough to write a concise sale page. In less than 45 minutes I had a much better understanding of the “heart” of my new service. Listening to the recording of my session then helped me identify key words that had come up in our discussion. Within an hour I’d written the bulk of my sales page (it typically takes much, much longer than that). Spending 45 minutes with VisualsSpeak (and Christine) not only brought me increased clarity, it saved me valuable time. I’m officially in love with the Image Center.

She wrote a fabulous page on her website for  Exploring Travel Stories

Permission to use this story

Whenever I do an Insight Session, it is with the understanding that whatever is said is confidential. Cate gave me permission to write about her story, otherwise I would not have been able to share it. Thanks, Cate!

Do you have a place that needs some clarity?

I offer Insight Sessions to help you get clear about where ever it is you are feeling stuck. The brain processes visuals differently, so its a great way to get unstuck about the places where you can’t seem to get clear.

How to change a story that keeps you stuck

We all have stories we tell over and over. Stories about who we are, what we do, what has happened. Some of these are more helpful to us than others, and some are more helpful in particular contexts. Sometimes we get stuck, and it’s hard to see what to do next.

Images are particularly helpful in getting unstuck. When we respond verbally to visual inputs we can often see things in new ways.

Feeling stuck mid-career

Michele Martin is a consultant who works in the workforce development and career counseling areas. Just before the end of the year we did an Insight Sessionusing VisualsSpeak’s new online ImageCenter. She agreed to having the session recorded and shared here.

The first thing I did was to ask her about where she is and about her feeling stuck. Here is the conversation we had about her situation (just under 5 minutes.)

[audio:http://www.visualsspeak.com/audio/MicheleSetupN.mp3|titles=Michele story of where she felt stuck]

Exploring with images

I asked Michele to log in to our online ImageCenter, where she was able to select images in response to the question I selected for her:

What is my ideal work?

She created the image below in less than 5 minutes.

Next, I asked her to tell me the story of her images. Here is the beginning of the conversation where we talked about the style of work she likes to do (just over 5 minutes.)

In the next part of the conversation, I guide Michele back to the images. We go back and forth between talking about and looking at the images. Several insights emerged from the 16 minutes.
[audio:http://www.visualsspeak.com/audio/MicheleStoryNE2.mp3|titles=Michele talks about her images]

Starting to make changes

Insights can be helpful, but taking action as a result of the insights is what begins to get us unstuck. In the last 10 minutes of the session, we worked to make a plan to start shifting the work Michele is doing.

[audio:http://www.visualsspeak.com/audio/MicheleNextStepsN.mp3|titles=Michele discusses next steps]

Images spark different things than words

This process isn’t about giving up words, not at all. It’s just utilizing the ability of images to add different kinds of information to the mix. It offers the potential to quickly get underneath some of the thoughts that are holding us back.

Permission to use this story

Whenever I do an Insight Session, it is with the understanding that whatever is said is confidential. Michele gave me permission to write about her story, otherwise I would not have been able to share it. Thanks, Michele!