How to Leave a Lasting Legacy

(Episode 2 of 2 with Craig Willett)

How to Leave a Lasting Legacy

In the last episode with Craig Willett, we discussed his entrepreneurial journey and four secrets to success and happiness he learned over his career. In today’s lesson, we’re going to discuss what it means to leave a legacy with our businesses. 

Leaving a Legacy

Craig explained that his greatest homerun was being able to create something from nothing. Throughout his career, he was able to develop real estate from nothing: little time, little money, and little experience. He didn’t start with a silver spoon in his mouth. He had to work hard for what he wanted, and because of this hard work, he built an extremely successful real estate business that left a lasting legacy with everyone he was able to help. 

He said, “The greatest home run is to be able to start from nothing and end up with something. It’s not the money; it’s all the relationships and all the lives that you touch as you build a successful business.”

Over his career, Craig was able to leave a lasting legacy through his business by helping hundreds of business owners and building strong relationships with his clients. At the same time, his business helped him leave a lasting legacy with his family. He could provide for his wife and children, while also having the freedom to give back to the community later on. 

Craig and his wife decided to serve a church mission, and they were able to do this because of the work he put into building a successful business that could support them financially. 

“What I’ve wanted to do for a long time is share my beliefs in Jesus Christ with people who aren’t as familiar with Him, and to be able to do that in a personal and real way,” Craig said.

One of the best parts of entrepreneurship is seeing the impact we can make. The deep satisfaction and joy doesn’t come from making money; it comes from building a legacy through giving back to the community and making a difference in people’s lives. 

“The greatest contribution you can make is when you give up yourself,” Craig said. “The greatest honor I can give is the legacy to my children and my grandchildren that we put God first, and we do his work to help bring the world closer to Jesus Christ.” 

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One of the easiest things we can do as entrepreneurs is to get so wrapped up in the logistics of our businesses that we forget to pay attention to the bigger picture. We spend so much time focusing on finances, products and services, daily systems, and data, that we forget to focus on our greater purpose: leaving a legacy through the relationships we build. 

“During your career, you can have . . . lists of things to accomplish and things that you put yourself in the middle of to help ensure the success of your company,” Craig said. “While I had many opportunities to give in the community, . . . I realized that my drive to continue to do more and respond to the demand put a toll on me.”

Craig found that his business desires often stood in the way of his relationships. Sometimes he tried to take on more than he could handle, and the stress not only affected his relationships, but also his health. During a time of crisis, Craig was sent to the hospital because the left side of his body went numb. He had exhausted all of his physical capacities. While he didn’t have a heart attack, he knew he had to change something. 

After this pivotal moment, Craig spent the next three years unwinding his business. He had realized that his desire to meet his business objectives stood in the way of nurturing his business and personal relationships. His wife had asked him, “Do you have to do that many deals?” And the answer was no. 

“Sometimes how much you do doesn’t matter as much as how well you do it,” Craig said. 

We can ask ourselves, “Can I simplify? Can I take a little bit less time on my business for my relationships?” It’s really important to know when we have met our needs. While there isn’t a limit to success, there is a limit to what we can give. 

In addition to learning not to push himself too far and how to balance his work with his relationships, Craig learned a few other lessons that helped him build his legacy. 

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How to Leave a Legacy

Here are five tips to consider when building a legacy. 

1. If we’re going to do something, do it with passion.

If we’re going to start a business, we need to give it our all. If we only give our business a half effort, we aren’t going to see much reward. We should seek to pursue a business we love and enjoy. Part of our passion can include our drive to leave a lasting legacy through our business, whether this is in financially supporting our loved ones or building relationships with those we work with. 

“Don’t give up. Keep working at it and refine your talents and your skills, and don’t accept being second place,” Craig said. 

2. Don’t be afraid to try something new.  

Craig’s wife, Carol, loves riding horses. She had her own horse when she was 16 years old and continued to ride well after she married Craig. As a mother, she went out and rode her horse while her kids were at school, and eventually convinced Craig to try it too. Riding was something completely new to Craig, but he gave it a go and gave it his all for his wife. Eventually, with all the hard work he put in, Craig started winning national championships, leading him to pursue world championships. 

From this experience, Craig learned that it’s good to try new things in life and in business. We shouldn’t be afraid of change or the unknown. In fact, we should be seeking out ways we can change and do better. 

3. We should learn from the best. 

If we want to leave a lasting legacy we need to give it our all, and part of that is learning from the examples already out there. We should strive to learn from the best. 

When Craig started riding horses, he sought advice from the best people out there. He knew he didn’t have the knowledge or skills to do it on his own, so he got help. 

“I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I was fortunate to have some of the best trainers in the world helping me,” Craig said. “I was fortunate that one of them had a good eye and found a great horse. . . . It took a year of traveling to spend time with that horse, getting to know the horse, and learning from the best.”

4. We should go up against the best.  

To leave a lasting legacy, we need to stand out. We should work to become one of the best out there in our industry and niche. One great way to do this is to put ourselves up against the best. 

When Craig started racing, he didn’t start off racing with the amateurs. The amateur riders raced on Sundays, but Craig chose not to participate on Sundays due to his faith. Instead, he competed with the professionals. He spent as much time as possible working on himself so that he could compete with them and stand a fair chance of winning. 

“When you go up against the best, you get better,” Craig said. When we compete against the best, we push ourselves out of our comfort zones. It forces us to learn more than we ever have and develop our skills to become top-notch. 

5. Remember that winning isn’t everything.  

At the end of the day, we need to remember that winning isn’t everything. We don’t have to beat out all of our competition to leave a legacy. As we discussed, one of the biggest mistakes we can make is focusing too much on our business logistics that we forget the most important things. Remember, a lasting legacy doesn’t come from the money we make, it comes from the relationships we build and the lives we change. 

“Winning isn’t everything. It’s enjoying it and having fun along the way,” Craig said. 

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Craig for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

1. Leaving a legacy is not about being able to make the most money or find the most success. It is all about the relationships we make and the lives we touch through our businesses.

2. The greatest contribution we can make is by giving ourselves.

3. While there isn’t a limit to success, there is a limit to what we can give. We should try to avoid falling into the trap of spending too much time and effort on our business that we forget about the most important things in our lives such as family. 

4. If we’re going to start a business, we need to give it our all and do so with passion. 

5. We shouldn’t be afraid of trying new things. 

6. A great way to refine our skills is to learn from the best and compete against the best. 

7. Winning isn’t everything. We shouldn’t get so consumed by the end goals that we forget to enjoy the journey.  

Connect with Craig

To learn more about or connect with Craig:

Next Steps

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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