Hear this, you elders;
listen, all who live in the land.
Has anything like this ever happened in your days
or in the days of your forefathers?
Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation.
Ancient Wisdom Writings
Thesis: We can do a better job of passing our stories and life lessons on from one generation to the next.
Most of us long for our heirs to have a better quality of life than our experience. That longing begs that many questions be asked and answered, among them are these:
- What is the BEST way to improve their lives and transfer our life lessons so that they are inspired, mistakes are not repeated and they’re able to make better decisions?
- How can people translate important life lessons of the past into pragmatic next steps for the future?
- How do we convey those lessons so that those who follow us can build on a solid foundation?
The transfer of our material assets from one generation to the next is perhaps the easy part … either good planning was done with competent advisors or otherwise … but how do we, practically speaking, transfer our values, beliefs, life lessons and stories so that we successfully commend them from one generation to the next?
It’s an understatement to say that we live in uncertain times. Economic uncertainty, provocative political issues, and daily headlines provide an amazing context for which to navigate through life. The human spirit is strong … so strong, in fact, that it overcomes significant obstacles. The desire to live and overcome is deep within the core of every human being. The inspiring stories that I have heard of and experienced myself are numerous! The challenges we face, the stories and life lessons that we’re learning today are acquiring for us WISDOM for tomorrow. What an amazing collage of events and circumstances that we experience on this earth. As we navigate the present and move into the future we’re moving into uncharted territory. Who has actually been “in the future” before? I’m certainly not aware of anyone who has lived in the future and is alive to tell about it!!
Here’s the point … stories inspire and give us insight to better understanding and decision making. They give us perspective and context given the world around us.
Let me ask you a question which may cause pause: Can you tell me the FIRST names of your GREAT grandparents? The answer that I receive most of the time is “Wow, I can’t”. Especially when they realize that they have 8 great grandparents. Even if you can name a few of your great grandparents, what can you tell me about who they are, the lives they lived, their fears and the obstacles they overcame, the things that they built, the longings of their heart and what they believed?
Ancestry and genealogy are important and there’s significant interest in that marketplace. However, ancestry and genealogy are a look backward. Looking backward is an important work … and it should be done … but what about capturing the stories of TODAY and looking FORWARD to generations that will follow us? Is there a value in such work? What would it look like if we could … right now … view a media rich representation from our great grandparents and beyond … stories from those who learned important life lessons that were forever lost in their passing? Imagine what it would be like to see them looking directly into the camera and saying something like this: “You can make a lot of mistakes in life but don’t miss such and such …” That such and such is a nugget of wisdom that to be cherished for ages to come …!!! Here’s another related thought … what would our lives look like if we knew the healthcare hereditary records of our ancestors? For instance, what would disease management look like today if one could readily rely upon ancestry history?
All of us acknowledge many sorts of learning styles … visual, auditory, kinesthetic and beyond … but I would argue that the most powerful means of communicating STORY is through a powerful and media rich representation. The arts, with special visual effects, can remain in our hearts and minds for years. Let me illustrate the point. Can you tell me the action items from the last lecture or sermon you heard? Perhaps yes, perhaps not … without at least looking for your notes! However, can you recall the storyline of your favorite movie … perhaps one that you viewed years ago? Chances are that you can …!!!
Ask yourself how you’re going to preserve stories of today for your heirs tomorrow, those things which you long for, those things you’ve learned, those things you’ve feared and overcome, and those things that you don’t want them to someday miss when they live on this earth.
I end my remarks with the beginning … We can do a better job of passing our stories and life lessons from one generation to the next.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Dias is a Vice President and board member of InterWest Insurance Services. Dave's primary responsibilities are in market creation and business development. Dave is the co-founder of the Time Out Conference and serves on the Board of Trustees of Azusa Pacific University. He and his family make their home in Aptos, California. Read all articles by this author ...