Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A letter to my family: About living strategically . . .

Yes, the following is a direct quote. It took me a few days to decide how much of it (if any) I should post online. I'm comfortable . . .

I spent an hour and a half or two hours talking with a banker [last] Friday morning. Dan specializes in helping families work through discussions about subjects like those I have been writing about in my blog.

He urged me (and us) to think and talk through our personal, individual vision and mission statements. We--each of us--need to know what we, individually, are about before we can legitimately and reasonably begin to form broader family mission and vision statements.

Among the questions he suggested we ought to consider:

  • What are my key or highest values? What things are most valuable to me?

(By way of example, for me, let me note that I would list: integrity (think of the title of my book!); honesty (almost the same as integrity!); openness; good communication (notice a pattern?!?); bringing people together through good communication; inquiry; inquisitiveness; learning. . . .)

  • What would it mean for me to be "effective" or "successful" in LIFE?

This, of course, has to do with more--far more--than "money." I think it has to do with what I would want people to remember me for when I die.

I think of the yacht we saw in Boca Raton a couple of weeks ago: the "Golden Rule." Beautiful boat. Cost multi-millions, of course. Has a crew that sit and tend and coddle it. (We saw them polishing it.) Beautiful! . . . And it probably sits docked 48 of 52 weeks a year . . . or more. Totally for show.

But before I got thinking about all those things and realizing the realities behind the boat, my first thought, when I saw its name was, "'Golden Rule'! 'Golden Rule'! That's great! You [owner, whoever you are] believe in the Golden Rule!?!" --Truly. There was great joy in my heart.

I had to think a moment to remember what "The Golden Rule" is all about: "Do unto others as you would . . . "

That's when it hit me: "Now, wait a minute! . . . I'll bet you [owner] don't mean 'Do unto others . . .'! I'll bet you're referring to that 'other' 'Golden Rule': 'Them's that's got the gold sets the rules.' . . . Oh, how funny. [bitter] How foolish and futile. . . ."

So this owner--whoever he or she is (or they are)-- . . . this owner owns this magnificent yacht, the biggest one in the marina. And when s/he dies: will anyone care? Is that--owning the biggest, most magnificent yacht--what s/he wants to be remembered for?

That's not what I want to be remembered for.

But what do I want to be remembered for?

I haven't ever really thought that through!

I want to think that through. And I want you, as my heirs, part of my "legacy," to think that through, too. So you (and I!) can be very purposeful in our lives, successful . . . whatever "successful" means.

Before God, what do we believe success looks like? For us? Individually?

I'd like us to think and talk about it.

Dan suggested that we should each write a paragraph or two (or the equivalent in simple bullet points). Just to get started.

Though it wasn’t Dan who urged me to blog about these things, in essence, my blog, recently, has included stuff--a very concise summary of 14 values, for instance, plus a whole lot of musings on the broader subject--that I think may help me to write my purpose or mission statement.


One other thought that may help us.

I think we (or at least I) always want to create a "final" document. But I don't think we should approach this project with such a thought in mind. If we have written such a document and we happen to die before we revise it, then, obviously, that will prove to have been a "final document." . . . But as long as we keep living, this purpose statement/mission statement doesn't have to be . . . indeed, it almost certainly ought not to be a "final document."

And I say all that partially (I hope) to free you from the feeling that you must make some kind of perfect, final, absolute, never-to-be-varied statement.

I don't think so.

I think Luke once wrote a mission/vision statement. That was back between his junior and senior years in high school. It might be interesting for him to share with the rest of us what he wrote . . . and then to see how he might alter it today.

My main purpose, here--for you as well as (and maybe primarily) for me--is to get us to live more strategically or, perhaps better, as strategically as possible.

Okay. Enough.



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