Have you ever heard someone give a talk or speech that you just couldn’t forget? You know what I mean, right? One of those talks or stories that just sticks with you. There’s something about it that just won’t leave your mind, and you are often reminded of it.
I heard one of those talks just a couple of years ago.
May 17, 2015 was the day I heard a talk from Bill Hybels that has stuck with me ever since. I was at church that Sunday and we watched Bill’s 2014 Global Leadership Summit talk.
Bill Hybels is the Founder and Senior Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. He also founded The Global Leadership Summit to develop and mentor leaders around the world.
He has a unique way of communicating that always grabs my attention. His talk that day was full of great leadership principles. However, there was one part that really stood out to me. It was the story about his father.
Bill shared a story about two things that his dad left behind when he died from a heart attack at the young age of 52.
One of those things was a very expensive, custom made racing yacht. Bill learned how to sail on this boat and his dad found endless pleasure from this boat.
When his dad died, the family decided to sell the boat instead of maintaining it. It’s had several owners since, but it is now in total disrepair in the back lot of a marine. The boatyard owner recently told Bill he could buy it for $1 if he would just remove it from his property.


This boat went from being one of his dad’s most prized possessions to something worth a buck.
Contrast that to something else he left behind: A large parcel of land in upper Michigan that he donated to Willow Creek Church just before he died so that maybe someday they would build a camp on it.

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Well, they did build a camp on it…

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Camp Paradise is now a place where hundreds of Willow Creek dads spend four days each summer with their sons and daughters.
Willow Creek dads are just like most dads. They are very busy, and they don’t get a lot of time with their sons and daughters. But, at Camp Paradise, they spend four days away from the madness and they are all dialed in with their kids.
The result? Relationships between fathers and their kids are transformed every summer.
This is a great example of a Legacy Play. Bill’s father had a lot of resources. Yes, he enjoyed his life and his time on his boat. But he also left something of greater value behind. Something more than just an old sailboat worth a buck.

The Dash

During another segment of Bill’s talk, he reminded us that we all get one shot at this thing called life. On our gravestones, we will have a birth date and a death date. Our lives will be represented by the dash between those two dates.
We have enormous freedom on what we do with that dash. We can live and lead small, safe, and selfishly.
Or, we can choose to pursue a grander vision. We can live with a legacy mindset that leaves something beautiful behind.
No one ever drifts into become a legacy leader. The drift is always towards self, safety, and comfort.

How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

Your legacy is what people will remember about you when you’re gone. Every one of us will leave a legacy. If your journey on this earth were to end soon would you be proud of your legacy?
Have you given any real thought to what your legacy will be?
Your life matters.  Are you pursuing an abundant life? One that is full of adventure and realized dreams? A life that leaves a lasting impact?
Or, have you thought about what of value or beauty will you leave behind when your dash is gone?
What will be your Legacy Play?

The Legacy Play

My definition of The Legacy Play is a move that you intentionally make that positively impacts others in a way that they will remember when you’re gone.
It’s a move because it’s a result of some action you take. A legacy doesn’t happen if you just sit there. You have to move.
The action in a Legacy Play is intentional. You determine in your mind that you are going to take that specific action ahead of time.
People will remember it because it had a big and positive impact on them. You see, a Legacy Play isn’t about you. It’s about them.
What’s really cool about a Legacy Play, though, is that even though it’s not about you, in the end you get to be a hero.
You’re the hero because you made a difference to someone else. The people impacted by your Legacy Plays would not be where they are if it weren’t for you.
You will give your life more meaning when you have a legacy mindset, and it will give you the ability to make a larger impact on those who come into contact with you.

How to Live an Abundant Life

Do you want to live an abundant life? One that is full of meaning and impact?
Then focus on making Legacy Plays. When your life is focused on positively impacting others, then you will find meaning in your life. You will find fulfillment from intentionally living beyond yourself.
A life that is lived with a series of Legacy Plays is an abundant life.
That is a life well-lived.

6 Types of Legacy Plays

Every time I think about Bill’s talk, I can’t help but start dreaming about the types of Legacy Plays I hope to make.
Of course, I love to think big, so I’ve thought of some really cool things. Things I won’t mention yet, but things that would require something bigger than just me to pull off.
But, the more I think about my legacy and the types of Legacy Plays I want to make, the more I’ve thought about what it really means to leave a legacy.
There are 6 types of Legacy Plays that I like to think about:

  1. Leadership Legacy
  2. Time Legacy
  3. Relationship Legacy
  4. Financial Legacy
  5. Character Legacy
  6. Unique Ability Legacy

Legacy Play #1 – Leadership Legacy

A leader is anyone who has influence over others.
You might lead a Fortune 500 company, a church, a non-profit, a small business, or your family. Nearly everyone is a leader of some type.
When it comes to legacy the scale of your leadership doesn’t matter, but the impact on each person you lead does.
Here’s the thing about leadership: It matters! It matters so much to the people you lead that we should always be looking to get better.

Legacy Play #2 – Time Legacy

There’s also this thing called TIME.
All of us have it. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 8,736 hours in a year.
How are we going to use it?
Are we spending it with the right people?
Are we spending it in the right places?
Are we spending it on the right things?

Legacy Play #3 – Relationship Legacy

What will those closest to you remember about you when you are gone?
I hope that I don’t get so busy trying to leave a legacy that I miss that the most important part of my legacy is being a great husband and dad.
As a father, I know I desire to commit time to my kids. Not just being physically present with them, but actually engaging with them.
My desire is to be a world-class dad to my kids. I can do that without any money. All they want from me is my time.
Same goes with my wife. Being a great husband doesn’t require financial resources. My wife just wants me as I am. But, for me, that means doing everything I can to be a world-class husband.
I hope that when I am gone my wife and kids will remember that I intentionally spent a lot of time with them. I hope that they will know how much I valued them.
We are in a unique role with our families. No one but you can be the spouse your partner needs. You are the only father or mother that your children have. Are you investing in these relationships to keep them growing?

Legacy Play #4 – Financial Legacy

Let’s talk about money.
Money is nothing more than a tool. A tool that has the potential to be very powerful. A tool that can be used for meeting our basic needs, our wants, or funding our biggest dreams.
Money managed well can change the lives of others. It can grow exponentially and be invested in ventures or projects that make a significant impact to others.
After hearing Bill’s story, you might be thinking, “Well that’s nice. But, I don’t have land to donate, let alone enough money to buy a racing yacht!”
That’s okay!
Leaving a big legacy has nothing to do with how much money you have. It has everything to do with maximizing whatever we have.
Our legacy will be determined by what we have done with what we’ve been entrusted with.
You can leave a legacy with a little or with a lot. Focus on the impact you are making with your Financial Legacy Plays. Not on the amount.
Are you spending your money wisely?
Are you investing your money well?
Are you giving to projects and causes that are making a big impact?

Legacy Play #5 – Character Legacy

It’s not what you do, it’s who you are.
I want my legacy to be more about who I am than what I do.
I recently went through a process  with my business coach to discover my Unique Ability. During this process I asked people who have worked with me what they see as my Unique Ability.
A person’s Unique Ability includes their talents and abilities, characteristics that describe them, what their good at, how they do things, what you can count on them for, and any other distinguishing features.
The first thing I noticed when I got the responses back was that, more than anything else, people described my personality or character traits. What I learned from this process was that my Unique Ability (and legacy) has a lot more to do with who I am than what I am.
I think competency and skill is expected, but people differentiate themselves from other highly skilled people by focusing on their strongest personality traits and improving their character.
If you feel like you have some character flaws just remember something I also heard Bill Hybels say, “There aren’t do-overs, but there are make-overs.”

Legacy Play #6 – Unique Ability Legacy

You were uniquely created to do great things.
Can you describe your Unique Ability?

Your Personality + Your Talent = Your Unique Ability

Are you using your Unique Ability to contribute to work that matters?
By the way, that work doesn’t have to be paid work. For some, it means volunteering.

How To Be Intentional – The Legacy Planning Worksheet

Living a meaningful and fulfilling life doesn’t just happen. It’s up to you to make sure it happens.
You have to be intentional, and you have to have a plan. With that in mind, I’ve created a The Legacy Planning Worksheet to help you get started thinking about your legacy.
Your legacy can change in an instant. Be intentional. Make sure the legacy you are leaving behind is one you will be proud of.
Take your next step by downloading the worksheet below, grab a pen and a cup of coffee, and begin planning your Legacy Plays today.