He sold his business for 12 million! Read more to hear about one of the most influential moments in my life…

Relationship Freedom – One of The Four Legacies

The guy sitting next to me at a bootcamp-type seminar for speakers was dressed in rumpled jeans and a button down shirt and his nametag read ‘matt’ in fine lowercase letters.  (Whenever I see name tags hand-written in all lowercase letters I unconsciously think that the person must have a real inferiority complex.)

Matt had his laptop opened on the table in front of him and every time one of the speakers mentioned a book, he would search the book and hit the 1-Click Ship button on Amazon.  For the first 2 hours of the seminar, I counted the number of books he’d ordered and it was easily two dozen.  Well over $300 in books all on their way to his place upon his return.

“Do you have someone at home that reads these for you full-time?” I joked.

“No, I read them.  I figure if the people on stage are reading these, I probably should if I want to achieve what they have.”

Matt continued on his buying rampage and I continued trying to figure out who this guy was and what he did that afforded him the a) time to read all of these books, and b) money to buy all of these books.

At one point in the seminar, the promoter asked volunteers from the audience to stand up and tell one fact about themselves that validated credibility.  Matt, in his rumpled jeans and button-down shirt (now with a salad dressing stain on the front) said,

“I sold my first software company for twelve million dollars.”  Then he sat down.

As a few others spouted their accomplishments, I leaned over to Matt and asked, “Could I buy you dinner?”  Not only had Matt validated his credibility to me, he’d answered my previous questions about his ability to buy and read books, AND he’d sparked a serious curiosity in how he achieved this monster accomplishment.

As we walked towards the restaurant for dinner, Matt unassumingly asked, “what would you like to know about me?”

“Everything…” was about the only answer that came to mind.

Matt was gracious enough to pour into me all of the wisdom he’d learned in the past 12 years of his career as a beginning entrepreneur, struggling to make payroll, and finally figuring everything out and selling to a big conglomerate that was interested in their proprietary software.

When I mentioned that he had a certain peace about him, he asked me if I knew about  the Four Legacies.  “No,” I answered “what are they?”

Matt told me that the first of the Four Legacies was financial freedom.  Selling his software company gave him serious income, but it could disappear as fast as it came.  So he invested a portion of it in real estate and opened a real estate management company.  As he put it, with a management company, you get the benefit of passive income every month without having to take the risk on buying the property.

“So that explains why you’re buying every book they mention,” I said, “but what about the time it takes to read them all?”

“Not so fast.  Let me tell you why financial freedom is the first key.”

Matt began by telling me that most people never really achieve complete and total freedom.  His level of peace was largely unmatched by almost everyone he ever met because they were still working to make a living.  He, by comparison, had worked to make a life that was perfectly suited for him, his wife, and their two little girls.  It required that he have massive, passive, permanent streams of income.  The money he earned from selling the software company was put to work making him enough money per month that “working” was somewhat optional.

At 32, he was financially free.  Not dependent on a job, a gig, the market, or any other outside factor to keep his family running smoothly (from a financial perspective).

“Adam, most people go to work every day, doing their corporate chores 5 days a week, expecting that at the end of a 2-week stint, they’ll receive their corporate allowance.  This corporate allowance is then spent on their lifestyle — their mortgage, car payments, student loan payments, groceries, meals out, clothing, cell phones, etc.  When they’ve spent all of their corporate allowance, they go back and do more corporate chores to get another allowance check 2 weeks later.  It becomes a never ending cycle unless you do something about it.”

The difference, it seemed with Matt, was the money he’d earned in building and selling the software company was “planted” in other businesses that created the massive, passive income that he spoke of.  The result was a life unencumbered by financial pressures, and instead filled with opportunities and options.  It was also filled with a great deal of what most people crave — TIME.

After detailing his ideas of how to achieve true financial freedom, Matt said one of the things that he cherished most in his designed life was time freedom, the second legacy.

“I don’t miss events at my girls’ school.  I volunteer in the classroom.  I join them for lunch.  I have time to read all of these books AND apply what I learn.  My wife and I exercise together and often just hang out together.  Time is a precious commodity, Adam, and most people trade time for money.”

With 2 youngsters of my own at home at the time (now 3), the appeal of having more time was totally apparent on my face.

“Do you want to spend more time raising your kids?” Matt asked.

“Absolutely.”

“Anyone else you’d like to spend time with?”

“Of course.  My wife, my parents, grandparents, close friends — I could go on and on with all of the people I’d love to have a closer connection with.”

Matt continued, “I’m not going to lie, time freedom is great for people who like to play too — I read books, go to movies, attend sporting events, and just hang out with friends.  But from the sounds of it, you want time freedom for what the time freedom gives you.”

“What exactly is that, Matt?” I asked.

“The third legacy.  Relationship Freedom.”

“Which is?”

“It’s the idea that we get to spend time with anyone we want whenever we want.  My grandparents won’t be around forever, so I want to spend as much time with them as possible.  My children won’t be young forever, and someday, unfortunately, I’ll be less cool than I am today.  When you achieve relationship freedom, your relationships with those you really care about will take on a whole new importance.”

While I liked the sound of relationship freedom, I knew that there were several people in my life that would like me to have it even more: my wife, kids, parents, grandparents, etc.

It occurred to me that evening, as I mentally catalogued my closest relationships, that we all desired a chance to be around each other more.  Someone was perpetually saying at get-togethers, “We should do this more often.”  And all of us nod our heads in agreement, knowing that that would be somewhat difficult.  What kept us apart was primarily the fact that we all worked for money and had little time to do much else.

Matt’s notion that spending time with other people would get easier and more meaningful was extremely attractive to me.  But the fourth and final of the four legacies would be the most impactful.

Matt began, “Adam, it’s not enough to have money, time, and relationships.”

(To be candid, those 3 sounded pretty damn good!)

“True fulfillment and satisfaction in my life comes from the fourth legacy which is Service Freedom.”

Service Freedom is a little harder to define because of the extremely personal nature of it.  Every person in the world was gifted with some special service that they could offer to mankind.  For musicians, it’s the way their music touches people.  For doctors and nurses, their service is in the caring of others that need healing.  For the stay-at-home parent, the raising of a well-adjusted child.  For a great listener, allowing someone else to feel heard.  Every one of us has a different service to perform and as Matt told me, most will never fully realize what that service is if all they do is chase the corporate allowance.  Those that are lucky enough to serve as part of what they do for a living are the lucky ones.  Many, in our society, aren’t so lucky.

Matt went on to tell me that his service to mankind was as a teacher, helping others to understand how to pursue and achieve freedom on their own terms.  It resonated with me so much that I began to shape my vision for the future around helping others get more of what they wanted.

In my simple mind, I imagine all of us being in this game together, all on the same team.   It’s not hard to see the power in leveraging our connections to help other people if we truly have someone else’s best interests at heart.

A speaker I once heard said, “We are not put on this earth to be employed.  We are put on this earth to be deployed.”

Want to create true Relationship Freedom?  Focus intently on helping someone else achieve great things — you’ll soon know what you were deployed to do.

Skill Builder:

Think about the four legacies and your achievement of each.  Financial freedom is defined a little differently by everyone, but are you on the path to achieve it?  Do you have time freedom enough to do the things you want to do?  Are you in pursuit of relationship freedom?  Building quality relationships with those you most want to spend time with.  And finally, are you practicing service freedom?  What were you called in your heart to do and are you doing it?  What is your service to mankind?

The building of skills around the Four Legacies will come in time as you pause and reflect on each of the four.  Ask yourself routinely: what can I do/learn/practice to achieve more of each of the Four Legacies?