Like it or not – everything you do and say contributes to or influences your legacy. Building a legacy is not a one-time event. Rather, it is a lifelong process that is influenced by, and also influences, family.
Each family is special and unique. Each generation needs to adopt and add to the family legacy and definition of family wealth. The wealth of a family consists of more than simply the financial capital. Your family has special family intellectual wealth, family social wealth, family spiritual wealth, and a unique “familyness.”
Indeed, a true family legacy is more than just the legal documents distributing your assets when you die. In order to nurture the legacy, you must understand what your family legacy is.
A true family legacy encompasses the values and passions that fuel your family. It is perpetuated through family stories, your family’s belief about wealth, and how you live out your family values on a daily basis. A legacy is formed by the sequences of actions that resemble one another and are lived out in each generation. It is the repeated behaviors and actions that shape your family legacy.
So what are a few family activities that you can do to begin defining your family legacy?
- As a family, write a family mission statement, complete with your family values and beliefs, and discuss what it means to see those values in action.
- Record family stories through conversations with parents, grandparents, and other relatives either through audio, video or written word. You may decide to record the younger generation interviewing their senior family members.
- Define what wealth means to your family legacy.
Engaging in a legacy dialogue should not create opposition in the family. Rather, it should be an opportunity to experience the free flow of thoughts between family members to build a congruence of thoughts that will unite the family and strengthen the business.
Articulating legacy goals will influence a business family’s worldviews; competitiveness; beliefs about wealth and philanthropy; and how major decisions are made.