By Doug Andrew
Where do you bank? A nationwide institution? One of Utah’s big banks? A credit union or online bank? Wherever you choose to put your cash for business, checking and savings often depends on benefits, fees, convenience and service. What about your resources that are even more precious? Do you have a dedicated repository for your family’s legacy?
When I introduce the “legacy bank” to audiences across the country, many people get a confused look on their faces and ask, “What are you talking about?” The legacy bank is a metaphor — it’s not a chartered bank down the street, but a conceptual bank, a virtual place for you and your family to put your KASH (Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills and Habits).
It’s where you pass along your knowledge, the gems of wisdom that you’ve learned through your life experiences, education and professional pursuits. You also invest the attitudes that you’ve developed about life; about the universe, God or a Higher Power; about work ethic; about relationships. Essentially, about everything.
Then you share your skills and unique abilities. It could be your entrepreneurial strategies or your sound financial tactics. It could be great technique in sports or things you’ve mastered in exercise and wellness.
Finally, you instill your habits. Maybe you’re early risers who set aside time each morning for meditation or prayer, reading good books and exercise. Or perhaps it’s traditions or cultural customs you maintain.
Maintaining your family’s legacy bank is about more than in-the-moment discussions and experiences. It’s also about creating a system for capturing those insights and patterns so your family (and even future generations) can return to them time and again. There are specific tools and activities we’ve honed over the years, like learning from past setbacks or mistakes or avoiding some of life’s biggest pitfalls.
There’s also a high-impact, engaging tool I highly recommend: “I remember when stories.” This activity harnesses the power of storytelling to draw people closer together, reinforce values and sometimes even laugh at our own outrageous moments. One story I’ve shared goes back to when I was just 16 years old, after I landed a dream job — working at one of Utah’s first KFC restaurants in Orem.
I was extremely grateful for the opportunity, worked hard to do my best and was eventually promoted to assistant manager. One night, some of the chicken cooks informed me that the new diagonal road going from Orem into Provo was finished — along with an overpass (which was a novelty to us — something just for California freeways or the occasional bridge over train tracks).
The boys suggested we go down to the new overpass and toss eggs at cars below. I knew better, but I wanted to be cool with these older schoolmates. So we closed up, took 30 eggs with us and got our kicks tossing them over the overpass. To my knowledge, we didn’t hit any, but we saw a few brake lights go on.
I got home that evening — no later than usual — but my mother had intuition like you wouldn’t believe. As I opened the living room door she asked, “Doug, where have you been?”
I had learned earlier in life that if I lied, I would get into deeper yogurt, so I blurted out, “Uh, I’ve been down on the new overpass going into Provo throwing eggs at cars!”
My father got up from his chair, walked over and put his arm around me and said, “Son, we thought we could trust you.” He then let me know we’d be taking a ride to the Orem City Police Department, where I’d turn myself in.
That was the longest ride ever. About a month earlier, when I closed up KFC the night before the Fourth of July, the store had been burglarized. It was an inside job, because the door was still locked the next morning. Sgt. Francis Fillmore called to interview me but assured me that the owner trusted me.
Well, who greeted me at 11 p.m. at the station the night of the egging? Sgt. Francis Fillmore. He sat me down in the police station interrogation room and listened as I spilled my guts about the egg-tossing caper. He then let out a big sigh, relieved I hadn’t come to confess that I was involved in the burglary.
I rode home with my dad that night and thanked him for loving me enough to turn me in to the cops. I knew this would be a story I would tell my own children someday — and I have, pointing out its life lessons, including honesty and accountability (and embarrassing myself a little, which the grandkids love).
Take the time to write down your family’s own “I remember whens.” Share them at upcoming gatherings. Keep them in a binder or in an online collection. And incorporate additional tools to grow your legacy bank. Make it your family’s goal to harness all of that KASH so that future generations will be able to build on what you’ve deposited.
Doug Andrew is a best-selling author, radio talk show host and abundant living coach.