I am a parent. Like many other parents, I sometimes fall in the trap of thinking that the best thing I can do for my children is to give them everything. I sometimes think that it doesn’t make sense for them to go through the challenges that I have gone through. The most interesting thing about my situation is that there are many other parents out there who are just like me. We think that we are doing or will do our children a favour by saving them from hardship. In our Centonomy classes we discuss Estate Planning quite a bit which basically involves deciding what will happen to what we have built when we are gone (Click to Tweet this thought). Most people want to leave assets to their children. Some businesses are even built with the hope that their children will take over. After all there is no need to let them start from scratch like we did.
At least that’s what Joe’s parents believed. They had worked hard all their lives and they saw no need for Joe to go through the same process. From the time Joe was in his mid-twenties he knew he would inherit the family’s investment portfolio. He was made aware of it by how his parents spoke and he was allowed to spend and act like it. After finishing university, he was even given an apartment to live in. Joe has never experienced what it means to have a landlord expecting monthly rent. It’s no surprise that he has never been able to hold down a job. Joe is now forty years old. He got married along the way and has two children. From the portfolio of assets his parents created, his children will never lack school fees. As long as the various investments in business, real estate, cash securities exist, school fees and his bills will be paid. In addition, Joe has a monthly income of Kshs 400, 000 from this same portfolio, which he doesn’t have to lift a finger for.
Many aspire to be Joe and even find short cuts to be in the situation Joe is in. Imagine if you did not have to do anything and that kind of money comes your way. It is comfortable and we have idolized comfort. The more comfort you seem to experience the more successful you are according to what many people think. However, Joe has been robbed. No matter how hard his parents worked for what he now has, he will never be able to truly understand and appreciate it. This is because he was put in a position where he is reaping the benefits without the struggle. We make the mistake of thinking that the end result i.e. having loads of money is the ultimate reward. However, the true rewards are in the struggle. Joe has been robbed of all the gifts that come with the struggle. He has been robbed of the ambition, motivation and drive. He had not held down a job because it was made clear to him that he does not need to work. The bar for success was established by his parents and is simply so high that he doesn’t need to waste time setting his own. He has been robbed of the normal but very important journey of appreciating different levels of income and the corresponding effort it takes. He has now been given without any effort on his part Kshs 400, 000 per month. So Joe would not be incorrect to think lifting a pencil should get him more than that.
As much as we complain about it, survival is a strong motivator. What sometimes gets you out of bed in the morning is the fact that you have to pay bills, school fees, plan for retirement, invest etc. Whilst we are not in a state of euphoria every day about it, it does build up our character. Wealth creation over and above the money is about personal growth and character development (Click to Tweet this thought). As you get up every day and go do what you do to put food on the table, you develop focus, persistence, resilience, discipline, relationships and so on. All these are needed to create and more so sustain wealth.
Joe has been robbed of the chance to discover what he is or can be good at, his passion and/or his purpose. As you throw yourself into sheer hard work, you learn who you are. You notice what you like or don’t like. You start realising what comes naturally to you. You sense what excites you. You get the amazing opportunity to witness yourself as you push boundaries. You literally see and exercise faith in action as you go through various circumstances. You experience failure and later on connect the dots, realising the failure was simply a lesson you had to learn. Joe is not getting that chance because he was freely handed a comfort zone. And as much as a person like Joe may look like he is doing well, he is very insecure around people who have had the grand opportunity of seeing what they can do rather than simply living out what somebody else can do for them. He is envious of their internal sense of confidence earned from real life responsibility which cannot be bought. So to parents like myself. All of us want the best for our children.
Please note the best does not mean removing the struggle from their lives. There is a reason for it. Giving them more material things or handing assets through inheritance doesn’t necessarily make them better off. Joe paid a huge price for what he was given. He never got to discover what he could truly do on his own two feet. No amount of wealth can compensate for the inadequacy the denial of that process comes with. Joe without the early access to money may even have made a lot more for himself. It doesn’t mean we should not pass down assets but it should be done in a way that our children continue to strive to bring out their own potential as well. Do not let the results of your own hard work be the very source of your children’s disempowerment (Click to Tweet this thought).
Waceke, runs Personal Finance Wealth Creation Courses. For details do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org | Facebook/Waceke Nduati| Twitter@cekenduati |YouTube/Centonomy101