As human beings, every life we touch sends ripples out into the world. Some are negative, and some are positive, but all of them add up to our legacy — that which lives beyond us when our bodies expire.

So, what does it mean when you leave a legacy? Some of us are content to leave a lasting legacy that focuses almost entirely on our children and their children. Some of us are drawn to generating impact beyond our families (more ripples) with our time on earth. Because our endeavors can touch so many lives, their contributions to our legacy can be immense.

Like a business, a book can impact lives in far greater numbers than any person can touch. A thoughtfully crafted “who am I” book offers one of the best ways to leave a legacy that extends those ripples outward while deepening every individual impact.

How to Craft a Great Story

Most aspiring authors who consider writing a legacy book assume readers are most hungry for the information the authors have accumulated throughout their lives. They believe their value is tied up in the practical lessons they can teach, like “five ways to be healthier,” “seven ways to be wealthier,” or “17 ninja moves to make you stealthier.” Yes, we all want to read that third book — but what about the first two? Not so much.

While these books might be informative and offer readers one or two ideas to put into action, I don’t think an information-focused product is a good legacy to leave behind — they rarely allow readers to form emotional connections. When thinking about how to craft a great story for your legacy book, I encourage you to get vulnerable. Your legacy is not an intellectual exercise; it begs for your heart, soul, fire, pain, and passion.

The Person Behind the Prose

When authors share their knowledge in a book, readers come to them for years to learn more about that content. But this approach can hold authors back, freezing their growth in place as readers continually pull them back into the identity they held when they wrote that book.

Meanwhile, an author who writes a “who am I” book invites readers to understand how life has prepared them to champion a conversation. That book pushes readers to consume every single page, often multiple times. That book tells readers whether they are aligned with the author. That book becomes a magnet for people who don’t simply want to take from the author; they want to contribute to that author’s legacy.

Authors who take the time to connect the dots between major incidents in their lives — and how those moments shaped their direction — gain access to new language that can be used both personally and professionally to create magnetism.

Lastly, when someone shares their “who am I” book, they create the opportunity for pre-existing relationships to see them in new ways. Helping people we’ve known for years see our growth can be challenging. After all, we tend to see someone as they were when we first met them.

To help others see us with fresh eyes, we have to create a moment of collision where their new understanding crashes into their old way of seeing us. When the collision occurs with enough velocity, people finally revise their understanding of who we are. And when people see us with fresh eyes — and are moved by who we have become — they tend to contribute to our lives and our purpose in new and inspired ways, furthering our ability to leave a lasting legacy.

The Benefits of Writing a Book as Your Legacy

When you write your “who am I” book, you are not shining a light on yourself and telling your readers they can be as awesome as you are if they follow these five steps. In actuality, you are shining a light through yourself and onto them, allowing them to see themselves through your story. Powerful storytelling creates relatability and trust; it allows readers to gain personal insights — not lessons you’re trying to “teach” them — through what they learn as they insert themselves into the experiences of your life.

For you, the author, the benefits of writing a book as a way to leave a lasting legacy are boundless. Connecting the dots between major life events and understanding how those have formulated your beliefs, behaviors, and decisions helps you see how the universe has prepared you for what’s next. That builds a rich and deep sense of self-confidence that only grows as you write your book, helping you feel more whole and powerful in terms of how you interact with the world. Transforming your sense of your own identity is one of the most gratifying and powerful aspects of leaving a legacy through a book.

If you’re debating how to leave a lasting legacy, a “who am I” book enables you to craft a story that allows readers to access more than your mind. We all want to form deeper connections with ourselves and others. Leaving a legacy book that is filled with your heart and soul can be the access point readers didn’t even realize they needed.