It is my core belief that everyone has unique abilities within them (such as talents, passions, hopes, dreams, and values) to guide them on their life journey so as to fulfill their life purpose, leave a positive legacy, AND pursue happiness along the way.
Robert Louis Stevenson said the following,
That Person is a Success
Who has lived well,
laughed often and loved much;
Who has gained the respect of intelligent people
and the love of children;
Who has filled his or her niche
and accomplished his or her task;
Who leaves the world better than he or she found it,
whether by improved poppy, a perfect poem,
or a rescued soul;
Who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty
or failed to express it.
Who looked for the best in others
and gave the best he or she had.
For eight years, I had the good fortune of being part of Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach program, which I would describe as the most innovative process for helping entrepreneurs reach new levels of success, wealth, and happiness. A core teaching of Dan Sullivan is the concept of “Unique Ability.” Everyone has unique abilities within them which can positively transform their lives while providing each person with greater freedom for what they truly want in life. Unfortunately, many people are not conscious of their unique abilities so they fail to tap into these inner strengths and potential. Dan describes unique abilities as follows:
Unique Abilities have four key characteristics:
1. A superior ability that other people notice and value;
2. You really love using an ability and you want to use it as much as possible;
3. This ability energizes you and others around you;
4. You continuously keep getting better at your ability and the possibilities for further improvement of that ability seems never-ending.
There is no doubt in my mind that success in life really depends on how much time you’re spending discovering your unique abilities and how you actually implement those unique abilities in the world.
It is my core belief that the primary function of a family’s wealth is to support every family member’s unique abilities. This does not mean that wealth has to be shared equally among family members but it does mean that a family member’s unique abilities have greater value than financial wealth. So how can you integrate your family’s wealth to support unique abilities?
The real secret lies in how you define wealth? If you define wealth as “True Wealth,” as described in Step Four, then financial capital that is used to empower every family member’s unique abilities actually increases the capacities of that individual and the family as a whole. For example, if one family member is great at building financial wealth, another family member may be awesome as a doctor. Another family member may be fantastic with relationships and be the real glue for the family. Another family member may be task oriented and be the person that normally gets things done around the house. Although these unique abilities may be completely different, together these unique abilities make the family and business stronger.
I believe that the main reason that families fail to preserve wealth over multiple generations is that their definition of wealth is based solely on financial terms. As a result, when the family member that created the financial wealth passes on, the passion behind building wealth is typically lost. When the family member that is the glue of the family passes on, the family falls into discord since the caregiver no longer exists. When another family member’s unique abilities are not supported, the seeds of greatness within that person are lost forever to the person, family, and future generations (unless an external force, or a strong internal motivation, keeps those flaming burning for the world to see).
Nevertheless, it is critical for you to remember that within families, and especially family businesses, there are separate systems working together. This means that the principles governing each system must still be honored for that particular system to be successful. However, dynastic families look for ways to integrate the principles from various systems for the greater good of all. As a simple visual of how this works for a family business, see below:
So here are your tasks for integrating family wealth to support and empower each family member’s unique abilities:
1) Go somewhere peaceful in the next week and think about what your unique abilities really are. Then over the next month, get input from your loved ones and people that you really trust on what they think you are really great at doing.
2) Have one on one meetings with every member of your family so that you can understand what their unique abilities truly are. If there is disagreement about a person’s unique abilities, then decide if the seeds of those unique abilities have 1) simply not be fanned by the individual or by the family OR 2) if the person you are talking with does not truly understand how great they are at something else.
Once you have consensus with each family member of their unique abilities, hold a family meeting to brainstorm how family wealth can help empower the unique abilities of each family member and what the expectations are for the family as a whole in benefiting from those unique abilities.
3) By integrating family wealth with each family member’s unique abilities, you and your family, along with financial wealth and any business, will be taking advantage of leveraged time. As a result, each generation should be able to take advantage of the full capacities of the family as a whole.
However, this integration is only possible if trust and communication are strong among family members. Therefore, hold a second family meeting (after the first one on unique abilities) to discuss governance issues within the family. This means that there should be structures in place for family members to talk safely about their concerns and issues, clear expectations on how financial wealth will be used and repaid, support systems in place for family crises or any failures that a family member may encounter on their life journey, and an agreed upon mediation process in the event of family disagreements. By aligning everyone’s unique abilities with a common mission for the greater good of the family, or some larger greater cause, the foundation for seven generation thinking will have been created to move the individual and the family from success to significance.
Next Step: Once you feel comfortable with the concept of integrating family wealth to empower each family member’s unique abilities, proceed to the secret of leaving a sustainable and positive legacy.