I shared this quote from Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States, with my children this weekend:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

There are things that one generation learns that they can forget or neglect to pass on to the next. It can happen in matters of patriotism. It can happen in matters of faith. I wonder why it is so?

If you are like me, you have events, people, books, and experiences that have contributed to the formation of your value system and have profoundly affected you. Hopefully, most have been good, but occasionally they are negative as well.

These experiences are significant to you and blend into your being. They are part of the landscape. They are who you are.

The mistake we make is that we don’t tell the stories. Perhaps we discount their significance in our heads. We don’t think anyone wants to hear them. We want to leave it to the next generation to figure out for themselves. It is their life, after all.

Or maybe humility prevents us. We don’t want to force our values down someone else’s throat. Who are we to push them on others? Our children should be free to form their own ideas.

But, when I read the Reagan quote, it occurred to me how much is at stake if we don’t take the lead on teaching values and ideas.

In this world, the influences come fast and furious. Television, schools, social networks, peer groups, and news shows all have an impact. As parents, grandparents, bosses, and colleagues, we have a responsibility to help those we care about to carry forth the values and ideas that contribute to our success today.

As family and business leaders, our values count. In our roles, we have an opportunity to influence the most those who are close to us.

So, weigh in. Be heard. Make a list of the values, ideas, and principles you hold dear. Share them and the stories in your life that helped them come to life. We will all be better for it.