Leadership and Legacy By Alex McElroy
Hamilton Provides A Lesson On Leadership And Legacy
I recently had the opportunity to watch the brilliant theater production, “Hamilton”, and it spoke profoundly of leadership and legacy. In awe of brilliant singing, rapping, acting and choreography, it would be easy to miss the brilliant nuggets of information that are peppered throughout the musical. For example, just moments before Aaron Burr shoots Hamilton, everything slows and we hear Hamilton’s final reflections. In this final soliloquy he says, “legacy, what is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
Legacy is defined as something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor from the past. As leaders, parents, pastors, mentors, authors or bloggers, we don’t truly know if the messages we disseminate have been received until we see those messages being lived out. The lesson can’t just be taught – it must be caught. Ideally we don’t want to have to live Alexander Hamilton’s declaration that we’re “… planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” If we’re lucky we’ll get to see those lessons or seeds grow in those we lead and teach.
Several truths need to be augmented in this quote.
- We need to know exactly what a legacy is and why we want to create it.
- There will be no legacy if no seeds are ever planted.
- Just like in a garden, the seeds don’t bloom overnight.
On the road to fulfilling your own purpose in life, have you been intentional about bringing others along for the ride? Are you building a legacy or just hoping for one to materialize? Alexander Hamilton had his life cut short. What legacy building measures should you enact while you still have yours?
LEADERS LONG FOR IT
Why does leaving a legacy even matter? The night before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a message in Memphis, Tennessee. He said, “But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” Very often the visionary doesn’t live to see the fulfillment of their vision. Normally, this isn’t due to assassination, but rather based upon the size and scope of the vision, one lifetime is often not enough to see it realized.
Do you long to see your vision be completed? If so, you must long for someone to carry on your legacy. True leaders see their vision as more important than themselves. Therefore, true leaders long to see their vision come to fulfillment even if they aren’t the person who gets to fulfill it.
LEADERS LABOR FOR IT
Building a legacy takes hard work and dedication. Think of something or someone you have in your life that you love. Did it take hard work for you to acquire that something? Does it take dedication to remain committed to loving that person? Leaders understand that obtaining a sustainable legacy is worthy of the labor. Building someone else up through discipleship and mentorship is a labor of love.
Legacy building is a journey, not a destination. In this journey we have to remain fully committed to doing the work that is required whenever it is required. That is to say, there is not regular time and ‘legacy building time’. There is only time. As you go, plan, speak, lead, teach, train, and cast vision those that will carry on your legacy should be there with you so that they fully understand the labor that will be required of them. Experience is the best teacher.
LEADERS LEAVE IT
Ideally, a leader should make an open transfer of power and authority to those who will be their legacy. It is not a mark of failure but actually one of integrity for a leader to publicly declare to those they’re leading that ‘this person’ is now your leader. It may be obvious, but in order for a leader to leave a legacy – they have to leave.
The continual presence of the leader may in some cases hinder their legacy as another cannot take full ownership of that vision. In leaving well, the vision will actually last longer. Leaders in all spheres of influence should make it their aim to plant seeds in the gardens of the hearts of those that will one day be their legacy. In so doing, they will be certain that their legacy will be strong and resilient and able to proclaim with confidence the words from Hamilton, “I’m not throwing away my shot!”
The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. – William James
Alex McElroy is an international speaker who has taught thousands of people how to lead and live out their purpose in life. He is a passionate speaker, teacher, leader, business owner, author, as well as a faithful husband and a devoted father.
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