By Maurie Cashman
Why should you care if you are remembered? Last week I asked what you want to be remembered for. The more difficult question is why? After all, we are all stardust when it is over. No more pain, no more work, only a few friendships survive at all throughout our lives and we are fortunate if we have family at our bedsides at the end. So why do you want to be remembered?
“If we fail to dare, if we do not try, the next generation will harvest the fruit of our indifference; a world we did not want – a world we did not choose – but a world we could have made better, by caring more for the results of our labors. And we shall be left only with the hollow apology of T.S. Eliot: ‘That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all’.” Robert F. Kennedy, Source:8/23/67, Americana Hotel, New York, N.Y
If you have ever read the book Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, you have been confronted with this question of why? The book depicts a dystopian United States, wherein many of society’s most prominent and successful industrialists abandon their fortunes and the nation itself, in response to aggressive new regulations, whereupon most vital industries collapse. It expresses the advocacy of reason, individualism, capitalism, and the failures of governmental coercion. The response of the protagonists were to simply take their talents away and give up on trying to help mankind. Randâ€™s views would be the antithesis of those of Kennedyâ€™s.
Quite a contrast. I have found myself considering and influenced by both points of view at various times. I am certainly not qualified to answer this question for anyone. I find that as I ponder this that my views have evolved and hopefully matured and will continue to do so.
At the core, I believe that one approach leads to the next. If we fail to take up the challenge of doing what we are each capable of we are bound to reach the conditions that Rand describes. I donâ€™t know if I would have agreed with Kennedyâ€™s approach to governance but I certainly identify with his clarion call to individual responsibility.
How does this apply to ownership transition planning? It is critical to plan for the orderly transition of our businesses from one generation of ownership to the next. People depend on this for their livelihoods. Communities depend on the success of these transitions.
A report by Abacus Data suggests millennials are better off in the short-term, the current environment positions them to fall further behind their parents in the long run. â€œThey really felt and they were really told that if you get your education, when you come out, thereâ€™s going to be opportunities for them. But for many it is not that way.â€
I do not believe that this is the way that things will play out over time. However, this will depend on the willingness of the generations to work together to transfer wealth and leadership, as they have in the past. It also depends on citizens demanding responsible leadership from their representatives and business leaders.
We must plan for and with the next generation so that they are prepared to take the reins of leadership and to build upon the foundations that have been laid. We are all dependent on the success of the next generation to support the retiring generation, the next wealth producers and their families. I believe that those that do will be remembered.
But why do you care?