I have an assignment for you.

Each week, it is my intent to give you something to think about, coupled with something you can use to make personal finance applicable to your “real” life – the one that can at times be – err, a little messy. You know…the lives we really lead, not some elusive,“fairy-tale” life.

Before we get to your assignment, first, a question:

When it comes to legacy, where does it begin, where does it end, and where do you fit in?

Believe or not, it is a combination of a recent media interview and watching games 3 and 4 of the NBA playoffs that brought the notion of legacy and this question to mind.

On the surface, there is absolutely no correlation between weddings and the playoffs. But I think you know me well enough to know that I have more fun when we go beneath the surface looking for unexpected correlations or conversation triggers.

June Madness

June, as you most likely know, marks the “official” start of the wedding season. For the past several years around this time of the year, I notice an uptick in media requests to talk about love + money. This year is no different. After an interview earlier this week, which I can’t yet spill the beans on, I started thinking about the notion of legacy and its impact on the two people who commit to each other via marriage.

By virtue of your birth, you are continuing a spoken and unspoken legacy. Yet, I wondered at what point, if at all, do the soon-to-be-married couples think about legacy in terms of:

  • What they each are bringing to the relationship by way of their respective family?
  • What new legacy will their union create?
  • To what degree are they aware of how their choices and decisions, whether intentional or not, either continue a legacy or form the seeds for a new one?
  • What about the people who get to bear witness to the union – have they tapped into the awesome role they are playing in an unfolding legacy?

I’m going to suspect probably not. It may be a passing thought, but really — the focus is on planning and having a fun party!

And this brings me to the 2013 NBA playoffs; specifically, an article that appeared on SI.com about LeBron James’ performance in game 3. The writer, Michael Rosenberg, raised the question of James’ legacy with this statement: “If James keeps playing like this, it will haunt him into retirement. It will be the “but” on his résumé: One of the great players of all time, but in the Finals …”

What do weddings & the NBA playoffs have in common

Funny…what is it about our pop-culture that we’ll talk about things, like legacy, as it pertains to a stranger and a matter that has very little to do with us more easily than when it is closer to home.

Let’s change that.

There’s a wealth of history, insight, information, and guidance right at our fingertips, if we engage with our peeps with the intent of uncovering our legacy.

Yes, legacy is many things, but in a nutshell it is what is passed down from generation to generation; it is what is remembered. It is about honoring the past and recognizing that “tomorrow” is created “today.”

Because there is tremendous value in knowing your individual and collective history (legacy); understanding how it shapes your worth; and reminding you that you are part of an awesome(!) continuum, here’s your assignment:

  •  Identify the oldest and youngest persons in your life
  • Schedule time to interview them (doesn’t have to be formal – just spend some time where you are fully present)
  • Ask questions – a lot of them
  • Look for your legacy clues and cues – what have you inherited; what do recognize as your contribution to the legacy; what are you passing down?

And as you do this exercise of engaging with the generation before you and after, keep in mind the question I asked at the beginning:

When it comes to legacy, where does it begin, where does it end, and where do you fit in?

The summer – when families get together for reunions and barbecues and such – when the “messiness” can sometimes rear its head – is the perfect time to reconnect and to get reacquainted with your legacy!

Again, I would be thrilled beyond measure if you would use the comment section to share what you discover from your generational interviews. But even if you don’t, please have that 1:1 time with the oldest person and the youngest person you know. I can’t imagine you won’t find the experience meaningful.

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