Mastery is not something that strikes in an instant, like a thunderbolt, but a gathering power that moves steadily through time, like weather”– John W. Gardner
The Chinese proverb ‘Fu bu guo san dai’ – translated to ‘wealth does not sustain beyond the third generation’ – holds much significance in my life.
My great-grandparents (first generation) passed on the wealth they had accumulated to my grandparents (second generation), who passed it on to my parents (third generation).
My parents lost it.
Now, it wasn’t because of any fault or mistake of theirs – they just didn’t have the mindset needed to preserve family wealth beyond the third generation.
I knew that the energy of the proverb would continue – from generation to generation – unless someone transferred that energy.
That person, I decided, would be me.
My love for my family, along with the feelings of frustration, discontentment, and disappointment I felt over there being nothing to show for my previous generations’ hard work, drove me to innovate a mindset of mastery.
A mindset that would enable me and my loved ones to live inspiring, prosperous lives and build wealth for multiple generations to come.
I want the very same for you and your family.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Develop a learner’s mind
We all learn through life experience, studying, trial and error, and mistakes. You will, therefore, need to develop a learner’s mind, by being open and receptive to the many ways you will acquire knowledge and wisdom.
2. Recognize YOUR triggers that encourage innovation
Frustration, disappointment, and distress could be triggers that motivate you to innovate. These feelings are communication from yourself to yourself that you know things could and should be better, but you’re just not sure how to make it better.
During the 2015 Purposeful Planning Institute Rendezvous for wealthy families, keynote speaker Ian McDermott mentioned the following triggers: distress, discontentment with what is, love, a vision of what might be, and sheer bloody-mindedness.
Love as a trigger for innovation
Children’s author Roald Dahl became innovative after his son Theo (then four months old) suffered a brain injury when his baby carriage was struck by a taxi. Triggered by his pain, distress, and great love for his son, Roald got together with his two friends – a neurosurgeon and an engineer – and created the Wade-Dahl-Till. This device worked to alleviate cranial pressure and enabled Theo and others with the same condition to recover.
When chef David Nicholl’s son, Daniel, became paralysed following a swimming accident (he dove into a wave beneath which lay a hidden sandbank), David made a promise to him: he would get him walking again. David had made this promise before learning that paralysis was ‘incurable’.
Driven by his love for his son, as well as his pain and distress at seeing a once-fit Daniel and other young paralysis patients in the hospital, David innovated a plan to raise money. He contacted his friends from the catering industry (which included Gordon Ramsey and Heston Blumenthal) and, together, they produced a cookbook that raised over £600 000 in sales.
After searching for a charity to donate the money to, David found that there were very few charities dedicated solely to developing a cure for paralysis. And so, the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation was born with the specific purpose of funding research and developing a cure for paralysis.
3. Develop the ‘muscle’ to innovate
Learn to give yourself enough mental, emotional, and physical space to support and create the right environment for yourself. You may decide to do a physical activity, like walking in nature or practising yoga.
Also, create time in your schedule to be curious about how you and your family got to where you both currently are and how you can get to where you want yourself and your family to be.
4. Create safe uncertainty
What will it take for you to step out of your comfort zone? Remember that mastery is learned and earned; it isn’t something that comes to you as you wait for it.
Think about your risk mindset: how do you feel about risk? What risks are you willing to take?
You can create safe uncertainty by taking action steps and developing practices that you believe move you toward mastery, gradually building on the levels of mastery you have already accomplished.
5. Engage with feedback from ‘mistakes’
When you perceive that you have ‘made a mistake’, take it as feedback. Consider:
- why you believe it is a mistake and
- what the lesson or message behind the mistake is.
6. Hold yourself accountable
You can hold yourself accountable by:
- finding an accountable buddy, group, or coach,
- giving yourself checkpoints, and
- having a cause bigger than yourself – a cause that inspires you to keep working toward it.
Now, ask yourself these questions:
- Where am I creating the space for innovation?
- What are my biggest frustrations, disappointments, and distresses?
- What is the biggest change I want for my family?
Just as my biggest discontentment, frustration, and disappointment became my biggest opportunity – to innovate a mindset and business that not only serves my family, but also other families – yours can, too.
Are you ready to take action?
- innovate a mindset of mastery in your family to enable each member to live a fulfilling, prosperous life,
- learn how to preserve generational wealth beyond the third generation,
- resolve conflict and disharmony within the family dynamic, and
- hold yourself accountable with an accountability coach/group.
I will chat with you and help you decide on the best step forward.
What about reading my book “Passing the Torch: Preserving family wealth beyond the third generation”, published by Bloomberg.
Here’s to building powerful families.
From my heart to yours,