At the end of the 2nd quarter this year I was working with my clients on their 90-day plans and towards the end of the day, we started a discussion about ten-year plans. Through the course of the conversation, it occurred to me that business owners tend to think too small.

By that I mean business owners can get trapped into thinking about where the next sale is coming from, or what they need to get accomplished by the next week, month, or in the coming year. Each of these focuses tends to be on small. It also can rob the owner of what they could accomplish. One truth that I have come to understand is that people will overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten.

Then it is even more rare to come across the person that is thinking about influencing the next 1,000 years. Let’s look at the 1,000-year focus for a minute.

If you came back to the world 1,000 years from today, who would remember that you were alive? It is doubtful that even our direct descendants would be aware of our existence. This question leads us to the question, “What would I have to accomplish for people to remember me in 1,000-years?’

If you asked yourself that question what are some of the things that you would stop doing or start doing? How would I plan differently if I wanted to impact countless generations to come? Given my strengths and personality, what are the one or two things that the world is waiting for me to accomplish that only I can do?

Let’s travel to Japan for a moment.

Japan has the five oldest operating businesses in the world, 3 are hotels, 1 is a construction company, and 1 is in machinery. The oldest one was founded in 578 AD, making it over 1,400 years old. The other 4 were founded in the early 8th century making them over 1,200 years old.

In fact, of the 5,586 businesses in the world that are over 200 years old, 3,146 of them are in Japan. Why is that?

I think that one possible explanation is the focus on what you can leave for the next generation. It is a thinking of not only yourself and your kids, but the next three generations after that. It is about building and doing something for all the generations that come after you. If you were to be building your business for the 5th generation after your children, would you be building the business differently?

The main point of the article this quarter is not to give you specific actions and ideas to take, it is to get you to ask better questions of yourself. You see, the better the question, the better the answer, with better answers come better decisions and ultimately a better life and business.

The chart shows you the foundation for the quality of your life. My role as your coach is to influence the teaching, education, and the quality of your questions that empower you to make better decisions and have a better quality of life.

That is why this article focuses on asking you what you want to accomplish in the next 1,000 years. It requires a different thought pattern than merely looking at the next year in your business. Using the Quality of Life Chart let’s evaluate your life.

Have you always had the best teachers in your life? Do you currently have someone teaching and guiding you to a better understanding?

Are you reading and learning something new every day? Are you striving to educate yourself in your strengths?

Do you ask yourself the tougher questions? Are you phrasing your daily language around how you can achieve something instead of can I achieve it?

The result of your teachers, education, and questions are better decisions. The result of better decisions is the quality of life that you have. Each builds on the next. Let me repeat the question to you that started this article: What about the next 1,000 years?

I have a couple of mentors in my life right now, and they are tough on me because I need it. They ask me the hard questions that need asking. I sent this article to one of them for review, and he only reviewed about 25% of it before he stopped, sent it back to me, and told me my premise was completely wrong, and the rest of the paper was not worth reviewing. At first, it stung, until I went back and looked at what I had written and what it was saying. My mentor was spot on. What I had written was nothing near what I wanted to be communicating.

That is the value of an excellent educator and mentor, a person that will shoot straight. He comments forced me to evaluate not just what I thought I wrote but to look at what I wrote; there was indeed a huge disconnect.

My mentor has also forced me not just to think about the next sale but the entire business as a whole: can it be profitable, does it have enough residual income potential, can it build beyond me, does the market even want what I am selling.

These questions are far better than, can I make money doing this and can I support my family with this business. The focus of the question is entirely different. If you are ready to build a more impactful life, one that has a greater legacy after your death, then start asking yourself tougher questions.

  • How can I create a 1,000-year heritage?
  • What do I want that legacy to be?
  • Can that legacy be accomplished with the person I am right now?
  • In what areas do I have to grow to be a person that can leave a millennial legacy?

Ask yourself these tougher questions. I think that each of us is capable of a far larger impact on the world and our region than we believe we can have. Each of us has more potential than we realize. I encourage you to not only think about today but think about the next millennium and the positive impact that your life and business can have on that. I am always available if you need someone to ask you the tough questions so feel free to reach out.