Legacy by James Kerr [Recommended Read - Diaan Van Wyk]

LEGACY by James Kerr

Kevin Roberts gives it a “Brilliant” and Bloomberg says it is “Unputdownable”. This is the book of our focus during the last stretch of 2017.

Legacy is a unique, inspiring handbook for leaders in all fields and asks: How do the best in the world stay the best in the world. It leaves the reader with the ultimate personal question: What Will Your Legacy Be? It is the story of the All Black Rugby team and their journey in and out of different seasons and challenges.  It is the story of what it takes to repeatedly perform and deliver at a standard that is beyond approach.  It is a story that becomes reality for those who dare to step out of the shadows and into the light.

A short write-up from my personal experience with this impactful piece of literature:


The “Haka”

The Haka is the All Blacks mantra, their call to action, their final visualization and song of motivation. It seals their preparation and centres their plans, thoughts and drive. Its words are those of the values lived by many before them and serves as a “memoir goal” for those wearing the black jersey today.

What is your HAKA, Diaan? This is what I asked myself. What do I repeatedly say to myself and my team, and how is it inspiring us to be more than what we are?


The All Blacks clean-up after themselves, they sweep their own locker rooms. They believe no man should clean up behind them and that they are not above the small task. They believe that successful leaders balance pride with humility; absolute pride in performance; total humility before the magnitude of the task.

They focus on the challenge to always improve, to always get better, even when you are the best. Especially when you are the best. Character triumphs over talent!


Go for the gap, when you are on top of your game, change your game. Change, development and adaptation is of utmost importance. Note the four stages of change:

  1. A case for change
  2. A compelling picture of the future
  3. A sustained capability to change
  4. A credible plan to execute

Organizational decline is inevitable unless leaders prepare for change – even when standing at the pinnacle of success.


Ask Why? Leaders connect personal meaning to a higher purpose to create belief and a sense of direction.


Leaders create leaders by passing on responsibility, creating ownership, accountability and trust. Shared responsibility means shared ownership. A sense of inclusion means individuals are more willing to give themselves to a common cause.


Leaders are teachers and teachable! Excellence is a process of evolution, of cumulative learning, of incremental improvement. Enlightened leadership promotes a structured system for the team, combined with a tailored map for the development of the individual.


Aim for the highest cloud. Embrace expectations! Successful leaders have high internal benchmarks. They set their expectations high and try to exceed them.


Train to win and practise under pressure. The intensity of preparation conditions the brain and body to perform under pressure. It lets peak performance become automatic. It develops the mindset to win.  In business, training is often seen as a soft option and is limited to the occasional ‘away day’. However, effective training is intense, regular and repetitious. For world-class results, it should be central to the culture.


Know thyself and keep it real. The best leaders remain true to their deepest values. They lead their own life and others follow.


Champions do extra. Find something you would die for and give your life to it.

Create a culture

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 tell your story, involve your people, create a legacy. Rituals make the intangible real.

Plant trees you will never see

True leaders are stewards of the future. They take responsibility for adding to the legacy. 

Write your legacy, this is your time.

- Diaan van Wyk

Previous Article
Credibility by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner [Recommended Read - Roy Kapp]
Credibility by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner [Recommended Read - Roy Kapp]

No More Articles