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Leaving the Legacy of a Lifetime

Posted By Robert Wray, Thursday, August 2, 2012

Legal consultant Erin Brockovich came across something, and famously. The $300 million contaminated water judgment she won for the Southern California town of Hinkley became well-known through the movie starring Julia Roberts, but the real Erin may be even a little feistier.

"My heart always races when I watch some of that movie,” said Brockovich (pictured below) at today's closing keynote speech. She noted that the film is accurate, and the people are real.

Brockovich had to find a way to believe in herself and trust her decisions, but there were others who believed in her from the beginning. Her mother instilled in her the importance of "stick-to-it-iveness” while a teacher guided her through dyslexia from failing grades to straight A’s.

Her father also instilled in her a legacy, that of honesty. His integrity gave her the capacity to recognize the need for truth, a need that led her to value such battles as the one for Hinkley, and many others. She shared with the audience a letter he had written to her, during her teen years, after she’d lied about playing hooky from school. His eloquence paid honor to the values of truth and openness, in a letter she continues to read everywhere she goes.

How can we leave a legacy, of overcoming obstacles? Erin has a dependable formula, which she calls RAM + the 4 L’s:

REALIZATION – the epiphany that everything begins with you, and embracing the belief in your own power. "Don’t be afraid to be your own hero. As a leader, stand on your own two feet. Make decisions for yourself.”

ASSESSMENT – Taking stock not in what you have but who you are. Don’t be afraid to give yourself an appraisal. Look for better ways to run or start your business. Be willing to adapt to new realities, and don’t fear the change. "Once you reassess, you will find confidence to move forward to your success,” says Brockovich.

MOTIVATION – Maintaining the fuel that keeps you moving, find a moment of self-renewal. "This is your moment,” said Brockovich of the Forum , "being here today.” Motivation requires positive thinking, which is easy to lose. Find a way to fit inspiration into your life. Smell the roses, be in the moment.

LOGIC – "A big made-up word for common sense,” said the no-nonsense leader.

LEVERAGE – "Don’t be afraid to get or give help,” she urged. "In the principle of leverage, one plus one equals a hundred or more. Together we can build an incredible team.”

LOYALTY – Respect for yourself, for others, your family, your business. Be loyal to your own stick-to-it-iveness. Don’t give up when going gets tough.

LOVE – Brockovich asked the crowd to consider: What if there was no money or material positions to chase? The "why” of our lives is born of love, in every aspect of our lives. Love of ourselves, family, children, country, passion, humanity, and of course, the love of happiness.

In closing, Erin expressed her hopes for everyone in the crowd.

"When life throws you a curveball, so what if you stumble and fall? Get back up and get back in the game. You don’t have to go it alone. Muster up your courage, find your stick-to-it-iveness. If motivation escapes you, stop, breathe, recognize who you are and why you do it in the first place,” she said, encouraging everyone to carry this message back to their families, neighbors and team members.

She finished with a favorite quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

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