December 31, 2017


2017 has been quite a year, for perspective if nothing else.

I ran into an old friend at my daughter’s choir concert at Christmas. She and I used to sing together in the Charlotte Symphony chorus. She asked me when I was going to come back again-and I told her that my time has passed in that regard. It’s not that I’m no longer useful-I can still hold my own-it’s just that it’s now Cora’s time. My job is now to build her up and support her growth instead of my own.

Kids delivering Meals on Wheels to neighbors.

Our next door neighbors’ cat was captured and doused with lighter fluid before he narrowly escaped a VERY cruel end. We didn’t just check on Sampson’s welfare, Timmy wanted to take a loaf of pumpkin bread over to the family. Seeing his immediate reaction to bringing food to solve a problem showed me that he’s going to replace me in that most Southern of life roles.

There’s so much to consider when you’re at the top of your game-whether it’s life or business. You’re number one at something-wooooo! You own a house, you’re out of debt, your marriage is solid, your kids are halfway productive. And boy howdy, you EARNED it. Everyone seems to look up to you-your opinion is sought by people you’ve never met. You’re really, truly, honestly providing value.

The question becomes, how and when will you be willing to replace yourself? It’s not just about whether you should, or whether you intend to, or whether you must. It’s about your willingness to step aside so that someone else can have the spotlight.

The YPN crowd in real estate (that’s the Young Professional Network, for you who are not real estate junkies) is credited with the #ReplaceYoself movement-because, well, no one stays young forever! The goal is to always be seeking the next generation of leaders in order to maintain forward momentum in a profession that’s not exactly known for its willingness to do things differently.

What does that mean to you? I hear a lot of talk about mentoring people in many contexts-but I’m not 100% sure that it’s much more than talk. If you’re truly a mentor-you’re willing to acknowledge that the person you’re mentoring can and should overshadow you and your accomplishments over time.

I’m asking: what’s it going to take for YOU to replace yoself? Maybe it’s my middle years and all of the time I spend on planes that causes me to consider this constantly, or maybe it’s the team of professionals with whom I surround myself, but I’ve got to strike while the iron is hot.

My speaking business continues to grow and evolve-but this ‘15 minutes of fame’ is a short snippet in time, and if I fail to use those 15 minutes to not just find but lift up new talent, what have I squandered? Considering that it’s a very opaque path to becoming a paid speaker and instructor-I decided that embracing transparency and creating the path for others will allow for a greater multiple of opportunity for others, so I started my Speak With Leigh project which kicks off in January. Can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be a part of the journey that showcases the crazy good talent of others!

My real estate team has an annual event (our team advance) wherein we discuss how we can make our clients’ lives better in regard to their real estate dealings. Looking at their sheer level of quality and desire to be not just cutting edge but bleeding edge shows me that I have, in fact, pretty much replaced myself in that role-to the benefit of my partners and clients alike. I see that transformation in the fact that I’m no longer ‘the’ Leigh Brown but that ‘we are all Leigh Brown’. I can’t tell you how much I love my people.

Understand: this is not me saying that I have nothing left to give, or that as you grow older, you’ve got to go away-but there is no denying the fact that every facet of life has a cycle. Within that cycle-you have choices to make.

Are you willing to let there be less of you and more of someone else?