What is Family Wealth?
Historically, if we were talking about family wealth,
we were talking about financial holdings, with
ultra-wealthy Seniors who were worried about whether their kids would squander their inheritance.
Family Wealth referred to the money, and other assets, that were to be passed on from one generation to the next.
As the creator of Family Wealth, perhaps you conversation has centered around how to maximize and pass on your money, after you die.
As an inheritor of Family Wealth, perhaps you have felt confused about your relationship to the money created by your family. Maybe you have had feelings of shame or guilt, and uncertainty regarding how to incorporate it (or not) into your life.
The conversation about Family Wealth happening here is much different.
It’s about understanding what we are truly inheriting from prior generations, how to use it well, heal what needs to be healed, and evolve and grow our whole Family Wealth, as a result.
When we have done the work of understanding the true nature of our Family Wealth, and integrating all of it, what we inherit becomes a highly valuable resources we can intentionally use to create more together.
It’s about using your Family Wealth to create a life worth living, and a legacy worth leaving.
To understand the true nature of Family Wealth, we must understand the reality and intersection of two complex words -- Family and Wealth -- both of which have much expanded definitions in these modern times.
The traditional and still dictionary definition of Family …
- 1. a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.
- 2. all the descendants of a common ancestor.
Today, the definition of family is much expanded, often to include those we choose to be family, which I’ll refer to as “chosen family.” Chosen family may include the people who are the descendants of a common ancestor, or the parents and children living together in a household, but may also include extended community, we choose to create life with, in various forms. Business partners, co-workers, room-mates, friends … all of these people may be included in our definition of family.
How would the choices of your life and legacy change if you thought of family this way?
The traditional and still dictionary definition of Wealth …
- 1. an abundance of valuable possessions or money.
- 2. the state of being rich; material prosperity.
- "some people buy boats and cars to display their wealth"
- plentiful supplies of a particular resource.
- "the country's mineral wealth"
While most people think of wealth as the amount of money they have in the bank, investment accounts or real estate, I find this to be a short-sighted, limited and often life-compromising, some may even say soul-sucking, perspective.
One of my favorite definitions of Wealth comes through a story told by entrepreneur Roger Hamilton, as follows:
"Wealth isn't how much money you have. Wealth is what you're left with if you lose all your money."
About the Founder,
Growing up, I found money to be very confusing. Were we rich or were we poor? It was hard to tell. And I’ve since discovered that I wasn’t alone.
The reality of wealth can be quite confusing. Most people suffer from what I’ve come to call and understand as “money dysmorphia”, the distorted view of our finances that causes us to make poor decisions about how we use our time, energy and attention. Time, energy and attention are non-renewable resources, whereas money, if you know how it works, is infinitely renewable.
I first got a sense of this when I was about 11, and I went “house-shopping” with my mom. We were looking at huge, fancy houses, one even had an indoor pool. The one we liked best was around $450,000, which today sounds super affordable, but back then was big money. When I asked my mom why we didn’t just buy it, she said “well it’s $250,000 more than the house we are selling”, and it seemed so clear to me that if we wanted that fancy house, we could just get the money.
But, that wasn’t the reality my mom was living in, and it’s still not the reality that most people are living in. Getting the money seems out of reach for most people. And, it’s why 10% of the people in the world hold 85% of the world’s financial resources.
Unfortunately, what I’ve also come to discover is that the folks who have figured out how to make money easily, are oftentimes the least fulfilled in their lives. They’ve learned to “get the money” at the expense of their own personal fulfillment. And, when I say “they”, I really mean me too. At least that’s how it was for a long time.
That 11-year old girl grew up to learn how to “get the money” by putting money before just about everything else, even though I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. In fact, if you would have asked me, I would have said money didn’t matter that much to me. Doing good work in the world was far more important. Or having a family that I cared about. Or freedom.
My life choices screamed otherwise. As do most people’s. Maybe yours.
It took losing a number of relationships I cared a lot about and many, many, many years chasing a false dream for me to discover the big lie about money that most of us are living and passing on to our children.
After graduating first in my class at Georgetown Law, going to work for one of the best law firms in the country (Munger, Tolles & Olson, founded by Warren Buffett’s personal lawyer, Charlie Munger), and then starting my own law firm and building it and then a second business into million dollar a year revenue generating businesses, writing a best-selling book and appearing on all of the top television programs (all while my two children were under the age of 10), I realized that something had to give.
I was making lots of money, but I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I didn’t know who I was, or what really mattered, or what I was here to do. All I did know was that I had followed all the rules, won all the awards, had all the "success" and I I felt empty inside.
In 2009, I left Los Angeles, moved to Boulder, Colorado, and began the process of growing up.
I didn’t know that’s why I was moving to Boulder, when I did. I just knew that I had to get away from Los Angeles so I could attempt to discover what I was really doing here, and stop being sucked in by the ego-gratifying, but soul-sucking life I had created for myself in LA.
It turns out that what I was doing was learning to be human and discovering the true source of my wealth.
I moved to Boulder to let go of everything I had created that I thought had meaning so I could discover what really mattered.
I moved to Boulder to discover who I was, why I was here and what is mine to do.
I moved to Boulder to get to know my heart and listen to the guidance she offered.
It took a full 7 year cycle (and navigating my daughter through some very challenging teen years) for me to get it.
I had inherited a legacy of dysfunction and it was my job to heal that legacy so I could pass on something different and better to my kids.
I left Los Angeles an estate planning lawyer with a vision that Family Wealth Planning was about so much more than money. What I discovered after a complete cycle through my own Hero’s Journey is what that actually means.
Family Wealth Planning is about taking a journey of self love and leadership into the heart of your soul, so you can excavate the false, conditioned beliefs, and remember who you are, why you are here, and what you are doing.
In my own discovery process, I have remembered that I am here to keep my heart open in each of the places it wants to close, to love the unloveable, to make the unseen seen, and to support your journey, as you take the road less traveled into your own heart space.
Today, I live with my ex-husband (my kids' dad) and my two teenagers, and we all get along swimmingly, way better than the traditional family, we actually seem to enjoy each other. It may be my best accomplishment to date.
In addition, I am the CEO of a company that trains lawyers on a New Law Business Model that allows them to be human with their clients and I teach them a business model that supports their and their clients humanity so they can be loved by their clients. I am also leading the next generation of stewardship at StarHouse, a sacred land in Boulder, CO where people gather to remember, and I am a Director of .One, an organization supporting the personal, systematic and organizational change dynamics that are necessary for us to create the parallel systems necessary to support the becoming of a new humanity. On occasion, I work with families and inheritors to remember the purpose of their Family Wealth.