During the 2023 Scottish North American Community Conference (SNACC) on December 1-2 in Alexandria, Virginia, Charles Edward Bruce, Lord Bruce, spoke about the “Heirs’ Project” of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs (SCSC.) Lord Bruce serves on the Executive Committee of the SCSC. Lord Bruce reported that an important issue has become known as the “Heirs’ Project.” Here is a transcript of his remarks.
An important issue in this regard has become known as the “Heirs’ Project.” This can mean different things to different people but in essence it is about our collective responsibility to be good stewards of our heritage and to ensure that there are good hands ready to receive it when we pass it on.
This is a challenge for any organization and the Standing Council is no different. We’ve taken our responsibility to our heirs very seriously. We’ve prepared a short booklet which has been distributed to our heirs and successors and lays out what they could expect and what a good chief should be expected to do. We’ve arranged events where the booklet has been distributed and these expectations have been discussed.
And the heirs themselves have responded by forming a work --- group to serve as a support structure, a mutual resource for each heir where common challenges can be raised and addressed.
So what are these expectations you may ask. Relations with clan societies in north America and elsewhere are laid out as critical responsibilities and this is as it should be. Being a chief is not just a title, it’s a job, an office. And the relationship between chief and clan or family has a high degree of mutual obligation. An earl or viscount arguably is responsible only to himself or herself and their ancestors. But a chief is a chief of something, a clan or extended family. And if you’re going to accept the role of leader, you have to be prepared to lead.
Being a chief is about relationships. It’s important to demonstrate the necessary care and concern for clan or family. There are different ways to do this. Write an occasional column for the clan society newsletter. Be prepared to receive visitors to your home. Discuss your shared history. Make occasional visits to attend games and other events overseas. But above all, be a good listener.
You shouldn’t expect to be the CEO of your clan society or a kind of non-executive chairman. But even in that capacity, it’s important that you are seen to understand the issues and that you are known to care. Where there is goodwill on both sides of a relationship, everyone is happy. Any issues can be addressed by encouraging and cultivating good communication skills.
Most society folk in the United States are fiercely proud and protective of their chiefs and to say this is a critically important area is not to say it’s currently a problem or that such relationships are necessarily uncomfortable. The useful goal of the heir’s project is to help chiefs, heirs and societies to plan wisely and to do what they can to make sure these relationships are as good as they can be in the years ahead.
These remarks are taken from about the 8:30 mark to the 12:05 mark from the video of Lord Bruce’s remarks at the SNACC, which is available here: https://www.youtube.com/@SNACCConference