Your personal history is about a whole lot more than birth dates, death dates, and the rest. I realized today, this morning in fact, that personal history has a very unique expression.

I met with a man who is in his 60s. I know his son who is in his 40s, having met with him just last week.

I realized that father and son share a variety of mannerisms and physical gestures. It was as if you had cloned a hand movement, a turn of the head, from one person and grafted it on to another person. The similarity–the shared identity and characteristic–was extraordinary.

How many of us have such mannerisms ourselves that are living, breathing expressions of family traits and habits? How many of those habits and features span two, three, or more generations? How far back do these things run, across the famous events, people, and places of history?

More than we know. Far more than we know. I’d wager that if you could see one of your forebears, a particular ancestor, from 300 years ago you would be astounded at the similar mannerisms you share.

And that doesn’t even account for attitudes, turns of mind, personal gifts and skills and the way that you act as a leader. Breathtaking.