From the Editor / Leadership

Teaching Athletes to Win On and Off the Field: Leave a Legacy by Helping Young People Live Their Purpose with Clarity, Character, and Confidence

If you want young people to perform their very best now and forever, help them discover their Life Word and watch them soar! Authors Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, and Jon Gordon explain how coaches can help young people develop their legacies today and create talented, passionate, and purposeful adults tomorrow.

It’s harder than ever to be a young person today. They are increasingly challenged to make smart decisions in an ever-confusing world. Luckily, there are organizations dedicated to helping youths find their inner compasses and build lives of character, integrity, and vision. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is one such organization, as it follows a mission to foster excellence in the lives of young athletes and the people they influence across the world. Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, and Jon Gordon are on a similar mission to help coaches better prepare kids to start building legacies that will guide them throughout their lives and positively impact the world.

“Young people need mentors today more than ever,” says Dan Britton, international vice president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and coauthor along with Jimmy Page and Jon Gordon of Life Word: Discover Your One Word to Leave a Legacy  as well as One Word That Will Change Your Life, Expanded Edition. “The FCA recognizes that coaches have a powerful opportunity to help young people discover and live out their potential. We believe that helping athletes find and live by their Life Word is an important component of that coaching.”

“Discovering their Life Word helps young people visualize how they would like to live their lives,” adds Page, also a vice president for the FCA. “When they can frame their lives in the context of their legacy early on, it sets them on the track for success now and in the future.”

“Helping young athletes live their Life Word creates a powerful transformation,” says Jon Gordon. “There is no more valuable lesson that a coach can give than to train athletes to live by a code of personal integrity and vision that they adopt for themselves.”

Below, you’ll find simple guidelines coaches and mentors alike can use to lead young athletes on their quest to discover their Life Words. Walk your young athletes through these steps to help them tap into their true potential and map out a game plan for a meaningful life.

Discover your inner superhero. Understanding and harnessing your power is the first step to discovering your Life Word—and your “superpower” doesn’t need to be supernatural to be significant. Everyone is born with unique gifts, strengths, and natural abilities that they can use to serve others, explains Page. What is your superpower? Maybe you’re a brilliant organizer or a gifted communicator. Or perhaps you naturally see the big picture or can find the good in any situation.

“To uncover your natural gifts and strengths, you need to answer four questions,” instructs Britton. “What do I naturally excel at? What unique characteristics describe how I am naturally wired? What strengths have I developed over time? What gives me joy when I do it? Let the answers inform you as you choose your Life Word.”

Figure out what you’re here for already! “Nothing in life is accidental, and you are no exception,” insists Page. “Still, we don’t always immediately understand our purpose. Remember, it’s the small things in life that lead to your purpose and legacy. So don’t think that living an ordinary life means you’ve fallen short. On the contrary! You have a calling, and you are uniquely equipped to answer it.”

To discover your purpose, ask yourself these revealing questions: What does the world need? What am I made to do to help fill this need? What can I do to make a difference and leave a positive mark? What breaks my heart? What’s at risk if I don’t do what I am called to do? The insights you discover will give you direction and meaning as you further explore your calling and your cause.

Make a passion play. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what you are passionate about. Just take a look at your life! Passion is what drives you, and it is reflected in how you spend your time, your energy, and your money. Discover your passion and you will understand exactly where your motivation lies—keep this in mind as you ponder your Life Word.

Ask yourself these three questions to further identify your passion: Where do I invest most of my time, energy, and money? What matters to me deeply? What energizes me to take action and motivates me to make a difference?

Locate your Life Word at the intersection of your Power, Purpose, and Passion. Now that you understand why you are here and what you hope to achieve, it’s time to choose the word that encompasses your legacy. Take some time to quietly look inward and ponder the words that come to mind. For more insight, consider asking a few close friends or family members to tell you the gifts they see in you. Finally, challenge yourself to imagine your funeral some day—yes, this is a valuable exercise for young people as well as adults! What is it that you hope people will say about you? Let your vision for your legacy guide you to your Life Word.

Immerse yourself in your Life Word. Your Life Word can work only when you keep it front and center in your day-to-day routine. So be sure to put it in the foreground of your life. Find special ways to keep your Life Word close to your heart and mind. For example, you might create a Life Word journal to write down your memories, moments, and milestones. Or you can write it on a slip of paper to keep inside your wallet or on your desk. Consider creating a piece of art inspired by your Life Word. Or recite a daily prayer or meditation based around your Life Word. Finally, don’t hide it from the world; share your Life Word and encourage others to find theirs as well!

“It’s not always easy for young people to discover their purpose,” concludes Page. “But when you train them to start looking and thinking about their legacy early on, their hearts will be open to their life mission. As coaches, you can prepare them for this moment by encouraging them to sharpen their mindset, live by their Life Word, and begin each day with a strong sense of purpose.”

Jon Gordon is a best-selling author and keynote speaker whose books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His principles have been put to the test by numerous NFL, NBA, and college coaches and teams, Fortune 500 companies, school districts, hospitals, and nonprofits. He is the author of The Energy Bus (a Wall Street Journal bestseller); The No Complaining Rule; Training Camp; The Shark and the Goldfish; Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture; The Positive Dog; and his latest, The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work.

Dan Britton is a speaker, writer, teacher, coach, trainer, and marathoner. His passion is to help people live intentionally, maximize relationships, and invest in the next generation. As a lacrosse fanatic, he has played and coached lacrosse for more than 40 years and even played professionally with the Baltimore Thunder. He has coauthored five books including Life Word, One Word That Will Change Your Life, WisdomWalks, True Competitor, and Called to Greatness; and also authored and edited 12 additional books.

Jimmy Page is a speaker, author, trainer, leadership coach, and Spartan racer. He is passionate about investing everything he has by inspiring others to live their best life. He invests in businesses, sports teams, schools, and nonprofits around the world to create healthy, high-performing cultures that make a positive impact. He has coauthored six books including Life Word, One Word That Will Change Your Life, WisdomWalks, True Competitor, Called to Greatness, and PrayFit.

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