Originally written on September 23, 2019.
Magic happens when you create a LIFEstory book
This is especially true when referring to your mother or father. When you create a lifestory book for a loved-one, it gives you an opportunity to look at that person through an objective lens. You get a whole new perspective and your image of them can change right before your eyes… like magic.
I have been working on a LIFEstory book for my father. It’s fascinating to see someone’s character traits and personality over the span of a lifetime. You can see the constants that keep percolating and I consider those to be one’s true core essence.
Your core essence is what makes you uniquely “you”. Your core essence is what separates each person in their individuality.
Research supports the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover“. When you first meet a person, it is their personality that creates that first impression. It is generally an accurate assessment. Research has shown that personality traits are largely hereditary. Funny, introverted, optimistic, energetic, negative, shy, etc. — these are largely unchanging.
Conversely, one’s character is something discovered over time. It is based on repeated interactions with a person. Character traits are based on beliefs. Honesty, kindness, hard-working, treating others well are some examples. These are arguably more pliable, however not without significant effort. Then of course one needs to have the desire.
I will create a LIFEstory book for my father
My dad is almost 89 years old. I loved gathering his meaningful and memorable life stories, answers to questions on values, purpose and what’s important in life. It took some convincing that he had valuable information to share. Once engaged in the conversation and to my great surprise, he opened up and I am grateful for it.
I have known my dad for over 52 years, but it wasn’t until I asked him these specific questions that I understood him fully. In doing so, I learned the thoughts and beliefs that influenced the wonderful character traits I so admire. I am very happy that I asked. Not only has this provided me a new perspective of my father, but I can also better understand who I am.
Our Essence — The Core of Who We Are
Someone’s personality and character traits create the core essence of a person. It is what you might say if asked to describe them. In turn, our core essence will be our legacy. The impression we leave on others is the impression we will leave behind one day. I am so lucky to have my dad as a role model. He was integral in shaping my character, my beliefs and in turn part of my core essence.
On my dad’s 89th birthday, I will give him this LIFEstory book. I hope that it will impact him positively and expect it will result in tears as he is much more sentimental as the years go on! It captures photos, stories, facts and thoughts about his life. Of equal or maybe even more importance, I have also put in these words into print:
“Thank you dad, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being who you are and for helping me to be who I am today.”
Questions To Ask Your Father
I have a long list of questions that I choose from to create a personalized questionnaire made specifically for each client, to reflect their unique life. Some of the questions are obvious, like where and when were you born, who were your parents, list your siblings, etc. These are more factual and can include things like identifying major life events, accomplishments and milestones.
Where it gets interesting is when you start to ask questions about relationships, feelings, and specific memories that generate smiles or sadness.
When someone has lived a very long life, it is hard to remember things from way back when. It is not really important to recount all of the specific details of one’s life, but rather the memories and the actions or thoughts that reflect someone’s true essence, their personality, the shaping of their character.
A LIFEBOOK is more of a coffee table style book, something someone could pick up and be able to enjoy and appreciate in one sitting. It captures the highlights of someone’s life story, as it siphons stories to capture their impact or meaning.
When it comes to interviewing parents, you will be surprised at the amount of stories that start to flow. It is a very different conversation as adults and since you are expressing interest, they feel happy to share.
For example a great life story interview question would be “What was it like to become a grandfather and how did it make you feel?”, “What advice would you like to pass on to your grandchildren?”, “What is something that most people don’t know about you?”.
Even more interesting are the lessons learned. When someone has lived a full life, experienced in some cases wars, great inventions, tragedies and triumphs, it allows them to put life into a broader perspective than those of us who haven’t lived nearly as long.
Questions like “What would you tell your younger self?” or “What was on your bucket list as a young adult and how did that change when you got older?” is when you may learn a few things that you didn’t know before. In fact, you father may be surprised at his own answers, because it is not every day that someone asks for their opinion or for their advice on life!
Life Stories Become Legacies
This LIFEBOOK along with my sentiments of appreciation for my father will be part of his legacy one day. The pictures and words will be viewed and enjoyed by his grandchildren and his eventual great grandchildren, etc. I am sure my father’s essence will continue to live on. Many of his personality traits will be passed on genetically. The character traits will hopefully be shaped in our children by the examples we set for them. Thanks to my parents, and the stories that are told about those who came before us.
If you would like to experience the benefits that come to all those involved when you create a LIFEstory book for a parent, I would be happy to help. You can fill in a 2-minute quiz I will get back to you with recommendations. Together we will create something that reflects your father or mother perfectly, without breaking the bank.
Each LIFEBOOK is very personal and I have made it especially simple to make. A personalized questionnaire helps you to capture the essence of you father’s and tell the stories of his life. That is when a beautiful coffee table style book can be created. It will be a gift that gives for generations.