What is Legacy?
In a family wealth context, legacy is often viewed as transactional and financial: the assets that parents leave for their children. That is how the media reports it – whether it’s a transition of wealth or operating business, or a public family battle. But the way it is portrayed is only a reflection of the commercials of mainstream media and the public appetite it satisfies.
Legacy is really about what we leave behind for others. Someone who lives alone on a desert island can’t leave a legacy because there is no-one to leave anything to! Legacy is what people say about us after we’re gone. I’ve been to my fair share of funerals and don’t recall hearing much about people’s financial achievements. Rather, we talk about family and community, because that is what really matters.
The way our legacy is expressed is through stories. They are more than facts – they connect us emotionally with a person’s life journey. They are also an outstanding way to transmit values and wisdom. And as long as we are alive, our stories are not final, so we can continue to write them. If we’re not happy with our story, we can write new chapters.
Doctor Who expressed it beautifully: “Stories are where memories go when they’re forgotten.”
Consider This: How do you tell your story? What legacy do you want to leave? What is the legacy your children think you are leaving?
Further reading: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-stories-of-our-lives/202308/why-sharing-family-stories-is-vital, https://hbr.org/2023/06/how-to-build-upon-the-legacy-of-your-family-business-and-make-it-your-own, https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulwestall/2022/09/20/what-family-offices-can-learn-from-the-queens-succession-plan/?sh=4c3ae9784af3, https://www.campdenfb.com/article/enduring-legacy-business-families, https://www.iol.co.za/personal-finance/retirement/estate-planning-5-steps-to-leaving-a-remarkable-legacy-00af56e4-dd0b-478d-88c0-b5380c71c3d3, https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2019/09/20/managing-wealth-and-leaving-a-legacy-goes-far.html, https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/how-previous-generations-influence-our-decisions/
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