There has been a lot of talk lately about what we stand for as a country, as a community, as individuals. So it is fitting that I finished a book recently that forced me to think about what we stand for as a family and write out our family mission statement.
Entrusted: Building A Legacy That Lasts pushes its readers to think about wealth as more than money. The authors are lawyers who teach estate planning. (Full disclosure, they are my lawyers but I have no incentive to share their book other than Amazon affiliate sales.) David York and Andrew Howell define wealth as a combination of wisdom, values, life experiences, and the resulting assets. They argue that before you can pass down your assets, you must think about how you earned them and what the experience has taught you.
In planning your trust, you make decisions such as who will take custody of your children should something bad happen to you, who will manage your assets, how will you distribute those assets, etc. You make these decisions from your value system. The book challenges you to write out those values to cement what your family stands for. This serves two purposes:
When I read a book and it has a worksheet I usually skip it. I assume most people do? I would have skipped this exercise too had the authors not been my lawyers who asked me nicely to give it a try. They linked to York’s TED talk as a little more motivation.
Okay, okay. I pay these guys a lot of money to create my trust and estate planning. I might as well not half-ass my part.
To be honest, at a time when we hardly know what we stand for as a country, it felt empowering to write out what we stand for as a family. It felt genuine. It felt like something I do want my children and their children to understand and perpetuate. This must be why medieval families had family crests – they wanted to solidify what their family stood for. Like how House Bolton liked flaying men. It was important to them.
Anyone can do this. You don’t have to have valuable assets to have wealth. You have more wealth than you know. You have life lessons, experience, and values to pass on.
I have been spending most of my time nursing my infant daughter this fall. One night I set up my laptop next to my nursing pillow to type this out. It is NOT easy to use a keyboard while nursing a baby which is why I haven’t written much as of late. But while the mechanics of writing this was difficult, the exercise was not. It was easy to look at her and articulate all of the hopes and dreams my husband and I hope to facilitate for her and her siblings.
I hope you will enjoy our family mission statement below and I hope this inspires you to think about your own family values and virtues. We can’t heal our country’s identity crisis overnight but we can start by getting straight what makes us great, one family at a time.
Morris Family Mission Statement
We take great pride in being the Morris family. We have spent the majority of our time and energy in creating a legacy of love, health, and wealth for our children and their children to come. We never stop learning to grow in those three tenets: love, health, and wealth. We hope that our descendants value those things in that order and learn to pursue them with meaning and passion.
We believe that happiness is made from loving human connections and the pursuit of meaningful goals. We believe that each person assigns meaning differently in their life and that freedom is the ability to pursue your own meaning markers. We hope that each of our descendants can dream up and chase their own goals knowing that happiness lies in every step, not in the end result.
We believe that wealth follows passion. We believe that career is amplified when you can see your contribution to making the world better. We believe the human race grows when each of us make our own decisions out of love and courage, not obligation and fear. We believe that a strong family and support group help to make those decisions a lot easier.
We create this trust to help our descendants pursue their own paths. We do not want to pave that path for them, only to influence it with the life lessons we have learned. We believe in our children. They have been our greatest gift in life. We want to serve as proud ancestors as they pursue their own personal legends.
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist