Planning Beyond One Generation

Today I want to take you down to a village in Eastern Zimbabwe. At this village, there is a compound with an orchard with different kinds of trees. But I want us to focus on five mango trees which are about 40 years old. Under the shade of these trees, my grandmother used to tell us stories from her younger days. Each time we visited the village back then, my father would park his car under the shade of these trees. Almost 30 years later, each time we visit the village we also park our cars under the very same shade. I recall one day my grandmother, told us the story about why my father had planted these mango trees. She said, “Your father planted these trees so that one day his children (you) would sit under the shade and enjoy the mangoes and that his grandchildren would one day play under the shade and enjoy the fruits of their grandfather’s labour” A-ha! Today more than 4 generations of my family have enjoyed the mangoes and the cool shade. This story might not have the glitz and glamour of Dubai, but I want to unpack some key lessons about multi generational planning from it.

Defining Multigenerational Planning

Generation is compound word made up of “gene” – which means kind or type, and “ration” which means to spread over time and space. Therefore multigenerational planning means coming up with plans which spread your impact beyond your own time and space to more than one generation after you. At the time my father planted the mangoes he had several choices. He could have bought some mangoes for himself to eat at the time and said when one day my children want mangoes, I will buy for them. He looked beyond himself. If you fail to plan beyond yourself you squander your seeds of greatness in one generation. This simple example of one man planting trees demonstrates that you can do much more with your life. It could be writing a book which future generations will read, a business you will bestow to your children, investments, community organisation or a ministry you will pass on to others.

Learning From the Master Planner

God is a master planner. I have always read about the genealogy of Jesus, but at the beginning of the year I had an ‘a-ha’ moment when I read it more studiously. I learnt that between Abraham and David there were 14 generations, David to deportation to Babylon 14 generations and from Babylon exile to Jesus’ birth another 14 generations. There are 3 distinct divisions as follows, the period of the Patriarchs, Prophets and Judges, the period of Kings, then lastly Princes and Priests. Each period defined the character of a people God wanted to develop. As a matter of fact the Bible is essentially God’s master plan for man. This plan which started with Adam is fulfilled in Jesus 4000 years later. In spite of resistance to the master plan, detours, rebellion, exile, defeats in battle – the plan still endured. The key learning is that when you have a master plan it doesn’t matter what you go through – it brings discipline, builds resilience and focus to your actions.

My Punch In The Nose

Did you know that only 3% of people in the world have goals? The other 97% is just coasting through life with no agenda other than pursuing the goals of others. This was a punch in the nose for me. If you have no goals of your own, you are like the proverbial city without walls; you will soon be run over. I have also planned goals in the past but I realised I needed to improve the time horizon. At the start of the year, I drew up a 15 year time horizon plan for my life. This plan matures in 2025. I established the goals I want spiritually, mentally, physically, financially and socially. As I went through this process, I did a visual fast forward and imagined what life would be like then. I saw some possible one or two grey hairs on my head; saw my children now fully grown…and much more. In short I realised I need I need to make the most of the next 15 years. The best way to predict the future is to create it. And we do so by the kind of goals that we set.

There is a higher level than just setting resolutions at the beginning of the year. A resolution is not a goal, but an enabler of a goal. Gym is always extra crowded this time of year. It’ll be back to normal by mid-Feb as the resolutionaries give up. You need to plot revolutionary goals which will transform your life and other generations to come. You do not have to start with a 15 year time horizon. You could start with a 5 year time horizon. Goals represent your life. Your life goes in the direction of your goals. If you do not set goals, you are setting a goal to fail. When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind. Life can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives.

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