Sunday Firesides: Success Is a Multi-Generational Project

In late midlife, a man tends to look back on the preceding decades, assess the standing of his health, relationships, professional achievements, and experiences, and determine whether or not his life has been a success.

But the timeline used in this assessment should be significantly longer — extending much farther back and far further forward.

Part of success rests on what you’ve made of a past that began long before you were born. Have you been true to the best that previous generations passed down to you? Have you been faithful to all the good your forebearers bequeathed? Farmers toiling in fields; workers laboring in mines; pioneers trekking in storms; soldiers dying in trenches . . . have you made good on the blood, sweat, and tears — the centuries of sacrifices — that have allowed you to be living and breathing in the current day?

Part of success also rests on how you’ve set things up for a future that will continue to unfold long after you die. Have you left behind the shadows of your lineage to become a transitional figure — the one who has finally freed your posterity from inter-generational burdens? You may not have been a perfect parent, but have you improved, at least a little, on the parenting you received? Have you planted seeds in your children, and all those you mentor and come into contact with, that will allow them, and their children and their children, to live with greater strength, meaning, and virtue?

Success is not only premised on what you accomplish within the relatively small blip of your existence, but on whether you build on your inheritance, investing it in such a way that it will produce fruitful, ever-echoing dividends for millennia.

Success is becoming the kind of man your ancestors would be proud of, and your descendants will be grateful for.

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