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Mission Statement Conversations Are Beyond Important But Hard to Have

Our final post last year considered, the concept of mission and its importance in the work we do at Family Capital Strategy.  As we highlighted then,  Family Capital Strategy helps legacy families create ecosystems where families thrive and future generations flourish.  Having such a statement articulated is of tremendous value as it provides a filter to evaluate all of the firm’s activities through.  

We know instinctively that development of such clarifying statements is valuable and important to the success of a person or organization.  We see this sentiment ratified in ancient wisdom – ” Where there is no vision, the people perish”( Proverbs 29:18) writes the Hebrew King Solomon.  And the sentiment carries through to modern times – most notably and popularly in Simon Sinek’s Start With Why.

And yet – despite knowing this – the natural tendency is to not do this sort of long-range work. “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” wrote the French philosopher Blaise Pascal.   Famed British Painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds was even more blunt in his assessment, “There is no expedient to which man will not resort to evade the real labor of thinking.”

We would do well to tread lightly in such territory in which our head knowledge (we need clarifying purpose deeply) comes into such directly contradiction with our lived reality.  

For legacy focused (100 year+) families , this plays out most commonly in meetings / discussions where the nearest term priorities occupy the greatest amount of time on the agenda. Structuring dialogues and creating space for rich, mission-oriented discussions to begin to emerge is challenging.  And moreover, if the dynamics of the group are not managed in such a way to continue allowing such a dialogue to occur, these spaces will prove as unstable as the first steps of a fawn.

As individuals, we almost unanimously abhor being forced to sit and think deeply about our critical questions. When groups are concerned, this abhorrence can often get expressed in directionless productivity. We may do a lot of work as a group – but who knows if it is the correct work to be doing. Groups that are tackling long range considerations should pay strict attention to their agenda, and then create safe and open spaces for robust discussion to emerge.

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