08 Feb Raising healthy, wealth and aspirational children
The success of HBO’s hit show Succession is due in large measure to the public’s obsession with people of wealth and power. Audience members are drawn into the Roy family drama because they simultaneously resent and envy what they think unlimited amounts of money can provide. They hate the Roys while wanting to be them.
But while Succession and shows like it, provide great entertainment, they don’t provide a lot of guidance for parents who want to raise professional aspirational children while instilling in them healthy values.
In an article for Condé Nast’s Tatler, Jessica McGawly and I set forth five guiding principles parents can use to raise children who are health, wealthy, wise and most important- good human beings. These principles are as follows.
1. Be clear about why you’re creating wealth: There is a big difference between net-worth and self-worth. If your self-worth is determined by your net-worth (consciously or unconsciously) you’re in trouble. There’s nothing wrong with wanting financial freedom and yes, power, but for the vast majority of wealth creators, the pursuit of wealth is the starting point. The end game is not about the quantity of your wealth but rather the quality of life your wealth can provide you, the people you love and the planet you are privileged to temporarily live on. If you are not honest with yourself about the real intention behind the pursuit, you’ll end up exhausted and isolated.
2. Let your children fail…a lot: Many wealth creators unwittingly remove their child’s rightful journey to discover who they are and develop a sense of purpose by (with best intention) overprotecting them and providing them with the childhood they themselves never had. Stop already. The chances are you got to where you are today because you repeatedly failed, got back up, built resilience, and learned your blind spots without someone bailing you out or making it OK. Give them the same privilege – because one of the most valuable aspects of privilege is having the privilege to fail.
3. Talk about Money: Not talking about money (and sex for that matter) with your children in an age-appropriate way should be seen as taboo – not the other way around. If you’re not speaking to them in an open manner about money, how do you expect them to learn without shame? It is vital for young people to learn about money through dinner-table-style conversations so that they have a realistic perspective on finances and can become financially fluent before they are responsible for significant wealth.
4. Foster big ideas: If a child is expected to manage a large inheritance and a business responsibly someday, they are going to need some practice and preparation. Fostering your child’s big ideas provides them with the early experience of managing assets and making big decisions. Be available to reflect with them on what went well and what didn’t go so well so that they learn.
5. It’s not about the amount of time you have, but rather about how you use the time you’ve been allotted: Time is our greatest asset, we can’t buy more of it. We can’t trade it and as COVID has shown, none of us know how much of it we have on this planet. How we use the time we have is critically important. The healthiest and happiest clients we work with have figured out an optimal calculus of using their wealth to create time rather than spending all their time creating wealth. Follow in their footsteps.
6. Don’t be afraid of conflict: One of the hottest topics in the field of business innovation is the concept of creative abrasion. Through it, organizations evolve to be leaders in their respective fields. The concept refers to the ability to generate ideas through respectful conversation and uncomfortable debate. Successful families have learned the art of creative abrasion. Rather than avoiding conflict in the stereotypical British fashion, move into them through a contained and rule bound process.
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