I’ve written at least a handful of blog posts over the past couple of years with the word “legacy” in their title.
In the coming years, I will likely write a few more, because it’s a subject near and dear to my heart, and I’m guessing that I’m not alone.
Today’s post will cover some of the important elements that go into a legacy, using nature as an inspiration.
One Definition of Legacy
When we talk about legacy related to family wealth, we often assume that everyone has the same ideas in mind when they hear that word, “legacy”.
But for the heck of it, I just Googled the word to locate a “neutral” definition, and this came up:
“Something that happens or exists as a result
of things that happened at an earlier time”
Given both the title of this post and the photo I chose to accompany it, I think this definition is spot on.
If you want to sit in the shade, the fact that Grandpa planted a tree can certainly help!
Is Planting Sufficient?
We can all agree that planting the tree is a pretty big part of the equation, and that without that effort, there would be no tree.
But maybe a tree isn’t the best example here. When you think about it, the sapling in the photo is actually being transplanted to grow in that particular chosen place.
If they didn’t plant it there, it would have likely grown in its original location. Aren’t the woods full of trees that just grew there on their own?
Likewise, there is a lot of wealth in the world too, and fortunes are made and lost all the time.
Legacies come and legacies go.
How Does your Garden Grow?
Perhaps a better metaphor is a garden or a farmer’s field.
There are more analogies we can use here because there are a lot more steps involved.
You need to till the soil, you need to plant the crops, there’s fertilizer that can help a lot, and you need to water regularly too.
Removing weeds, making sure that the crops are not infested my bugs or disease, and then let us not forget the harvesting.
And then do we eat the whole crop, or do we save some for next year’s seeding?
So Many Metaphors, So Little Time
I feel like the metaphors here are endless, and I hope that you’ve found at least one that is new and useful to you.
But I want to get to a couple of other keys points here.
What can we learn from the plant world that we can apply to the area of family legacy?
Intention and Attention
Well, going back to the definition I found, the “things that happened at an earlier time” will usually include some serious intention.
Unless the wealth was won in a lottery, there was likely a lot of intentional hard work and risk-taking involved.
The original spark was also surely followed by some diligent and intentional efforts to maintain, preserve, and grow the family’s wealth over a sustained period of time.
In addition to the intention, there is also a constant need to pay attention to make sure that everything that was built up and accumulated is carefully tended to and watched over.
Family wealth is often “created” by the hard work, talent, genius, risk-taking, and luck of one individual.
That person can often take on a superhuman aura.
But even when the pile of financial wealth is enormous, they can’t keep it going forever all by themselves.
There will eventually need to be other people involved in perpetuating the wealth, turning it into their legacy.
People + Assets = Legacy
As I wrote last year in “Is your Continuity Planning “PAL” in Danger?” assets alone will not ensure anyone’s legacy.
Of course, if most of the wealth is held inside a business and great people are hired to manage it as a corporate entity, the business legacy can continue long past the founder’s departure.
My bias is towards a Family Legacy, ensuring that the family be the ones who maintain and grow it into the future.
Family Legacy Versus Business Legacy
This bias is pretty clear when you to watch this video blog I recorded: What is your True Family Legacy.
Who will lovingly tend your garden after you’re gone?