Fun with Similar Words, Part Umpteen

My wife and I were recently back in “full house” mode for a few days, as both our recent college graduate offspring decided to grace us with their presence at the same time.

I always enjoy the mental stimulation of this family time, as our similar-yet-different senses of humour get reacquainted and combine for many laughs.

One evening they indulged me as I shared highlights of a recent episode of America’s Got Talent that I’d seen, whereupon I realized that the word “finale” has a number of possible meanings.

Add in the fact that I often intentionally mispronounce that word as “finally” (for humorous effect) and you now have the genesis of this post.

Let’s see if I can turn this all into something useful for those in the family wealth transition ecosystem.

At Least Three Types of Finales

As I zipped through the recording of the episode, I stopped on a few acts I thought were worth sharing, including one that featured a really nice visual finale that we enjoyed.

So there’s the first type of finale, the end of a particular act, the last few seconds of a performance that lasted a couple of minutes.

We then watched parts of a couple of other acts from the 2-hour episode, before finally watching the last performance, which was the finale of that episode.

Imagine all the attempts at using every possible “double entendre”, feigning ignorance of what someone meant, sarcasm, and every other kind of dig we could employ to try to confuse, frustrate, or otherwise get a laugh from our family trio.

Of course we even brought up the idea that in a few weeks we could watch the “finals” of the competition, which would then be another kind of finale.

So we already had a finale of a performance, of an episode, and of a season. 

The Journeys, Not Just the Destinations

As I attempt to turn this family time into a blog post, the various time frames, and the fact that they each had an endpoint, were where my mind went.

It made me think about each finale as an endpoint, or destination.

As I wrote in There Is No Destination, I like to focus more on the journey instead.

In fact, after every finale, there’s always something else about to begin.

Bringing this to the overarching subject of this blog, the idea of family continuity, and transitioning an enterprise to the next generation of one’s family, let’s think about this as it pertains to the views of the “NowGen” and the “NextGen” of a family.

Back to the Long Game and the Arcs of Life

As noted last week in Stepwise Planning for Family Enterprise Transition Work, you can only plan so far ahead in this work, because each step depends on how the previous one turned out.

It’s almost like there’s a never-ending series of finales, each followed by another round of what’s next.

The trick is to periodically take the time to reflect on how these steps fit together when looked at from the very long term, “arc of life”, viewpoint.

Family wealth transitions are intergenerational by definition, so it certainly behooves us to look at them from that lens.

Many people have difficulty “going there”, mostly because it forces them to think about how things will look in a world “post me”, i.e. after my final finale. (You know, “if I die” as opposed to “when I die”).

But you can only get so far if you don’t consider that view.

Don’t Set Yourself Up for “Finally!”

Let’s wrap with a look at a couple of versions of “finally” that you’ll want to avoid.

First, please don’t look at “estate planning” and “succession planning” as events, that involve putting ideas and decisions to paper as an item on a to-do list.

Too many people do this work, along with outside experts, and once they sign the documents, they exhale and say “finally”, that’s done.

It’s a process, not an event, and you’re never done.

Second, please make sure not to set things up in a way that creates the conditions for your heirs to quietly and subconsciously root for your demise.

Too many people put themselves in a position where the lives of their offspring will be much better after their passing, as opposed to during their lives.

You really don’t want your death to create a “finally!!!” reaction from them.