I love to see families become closer, healthier, more productive and more impactful. I love having a role in helping them move forward. I love having success stories to lean on and learn from. But of course not every family experience goes perfectly.
If success is measured by improved relationships, character, productivity and impact, then standing still is a failure and going backwards is heartbreaking. So when a family’s wrestling with its wealth exposes weaknesses, pettiness and self-centeredness a caring advisor will have a strong desire to turn the tide. Unfortunately, sometimes family members are more hamstrung by past behaviors and dysfunctions than an advisor’s drive for personal and family excellence can overcome – and that’s true no matter how good the advice or how impassioned he or she might be.
That’s not to say that families with significant dysfunction cannot become families of excellence. Far from it. Rather, it appears that successor or failure ultimately comes from what families value and wish to pursue – even if they aren’t yet good at it. Failure is a choice some families or family members may make. Correspondingly, however, that also means that success is also a choice family members and families make.
A Family Wealth Counselor’s role is to motivate, educate, and facilitate families towards excellence – he or she cannot achieve excellence for them. It may not always work out, but the experience gained will help discern which families have success stories within them waiting to be revealed and which don’t.
As you may have discerned from this post, I have been ruminating on a family circumstance that seems headed for increased disharmony and poor financial management. I’m not seeing an opportunity to head off a disappointing result – and frankly may not have permission to offer one up given the heat between certain family members. In addition to looking for lessons from what I’ve observed over a period of years, I’m also deciding that since this family is not truly interested in my help (despite allusions to the contrary) I’m no longer interested in providing it.
It feels a bit like giving up. But I think it also feels like wisdom. For those in this line of work, what do you think?