History. Everything and everyone has a story and a past. All of us have some attraction to events and places of the past and a desire to relive the stories of long ago. Think of the millions of visitors per year visiting The Colosseum in Rome or the family photo albums that get passed down from generation to generation. Think about the stories that are told as you gather around the table for holiday meals with loved ones. We cling to these stories from the past as they serve as a gateway to a time back when. Many of the physical possessions we have serve where our memory leaves off or educates us in more detail from a time in which we did not even exist.
In my office, I keep a few framed stock certificates of once prominent, US companies, that are now a part of the past. They have been a great point of conversation among clients. Stock certificates used to be physical proof that you owned shares in a publicly-traded corporation. They were all originally designed by the issuing company, many with elegant and beautiful portraits, printed and distributed by broker-dealers and investment bankers. Nowadays, as the world has turned to digital record-keeping, corporations no longer issue certificates as a common practice of showing ownership of stock.
As time has gone by, these old certificates are now a piece of history. They tell the story of a company's past. The collection of these certificates is a form of numismatics, the collection of money and coins; and has been called scripophily. My personal stock certificate preference is from North Carolina companies that once were the employers and backbone of my state’s economy. Almost all are now either merged, acquired, or out of business. Are the certificates worth anything? No, not in monetary value, but they tell a story of “what once was.” Some of these certificates are in high demand and very valuable; for example, certificates issued by the early 2000’s scandal-led Enron, or the rare John D. Rockefeller signed Standard Oil certificates. Imagine the two vastly different stories these two certificates tell--one of an enormous scandal and ruined lives or the other of success and true entrepreneurial spirit. Which story would you rather frame? Which story would you claim as your own?
Every day we are writing our own history. Our own story. What will your story be? What legacy will you leave behind? Studies have shown that one of the biggest regrets of seniors is not leaving a legacy whether it is a financial or influential legacy. This shows that we all have a common desire to be remembered for something good. Sharing your resources is a beautiful detail to add to your life’s story. It shows that you recognize that you are not the most important thing on this planet and you care for the wellbeing of those that exist beside you. As we approach the season in which we stop and give thanks for all that we have, think about what you can give back to others, whether it is the giving of your time or the giving of your resources. What will your legacy be? What stories will your grandchildren pass on to their children? Dream big and take the steps to make your story come true. Work and plan to create your legacy before it is too late. Life is short. Before long, we will all be a part of history and someone else will be telling your story. Make sure your story is one worth framing.