In an age where jobs and lives are no longer constrained by geography, it is much more common for younger generations to leave their communities for education and job opportunities. A key benefit of returning home to visit with older relatives is the ability to reconnect with our family history, and pass down stories, traditions and cultures. And while there are definitely other benefits [link to benefits of travel and hosting], we believe that these visits also provide a unique opportunity for “Intergenerational Wisdom Transfers” when approached with curiosity and an open mind.
There is a term in wealth management planning that describes the passing down of wealth to future generations – Intergenerational Wealth Transfer. By structuring trusts and giving plans and the like, older generations can actively plan to leave future generations wealth to help provide them with a better future.
Intergenerational Wisdom Transfer (IWT), as we’ve coined the phrase, has similar roots but has the potential to be even more critical to the overall health and happiness of future generations. Much of our learning comes from our own experiences, and all of us have said “If I knew it was going to turn out that way, I would have done something differently.” But the truth is, we can learn from the experiences of others as well, if we just open our ears, ask questions and respect the experiences of those who have already gone through what we haven’t yet. Our experiences are data points, and we can make the experiences of others be data points as well.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of IWT, and realistically, all wisdom transfers, is that the provider of the wisdom does not actually have to give up that wisdom themselves, they can share it and still have it to use themselves (unlike with wealth transfers). Further, sharing those experiences provides an opportunity to relive them, often years after and with many new experiences to compare them against, giving them the ability to see these experiences in a new light. Asking questions and talking through the details can leave both the storyteller and the listener with a deeper understanding. That’s part of the beauty of engaging in this dialogue… both people come away with a deeper understanding.
And much like the power of compound interest (“Invest early and watch your money grow”), obtaining wisdom and more data points upon which to make life decisions earlier in life, has the compounding effect of helping you to make smarter decisions earlier, in the pursuit of a long, happy, healthy and empowered life. The younger generation will likely have many more opportunities to use this transferred wisdom earlier in life.
One of the many benefits of the Two Degrees community is the ease of discovering and taking advantage of opportunities for families of all ages to get together. So the next time you visit with members of a different generation, consider what you might learn simply by asking some good questions or sharing some of your own experiences. You might just learn something about your family, your culture… or yourself.
Share early and often. Safe travels.