By Lee Brower
Rarely is money a source of genuine freedom, joy or clarity. Yet, we routinely allow it to dictate the terms of our lives, and often, it is the single most important factor in the decisions we make about work, love, family and even friendship.
When we view our lives strictly in terms of our financial possessions, wealth comes at a high cost. We all know of families that have been torn apart by money, and many of us know individuals who do not have great financial abundance, but are among the happiest people we know.
In lives where money is scarce, however, the constant strife can easily become the dominant theme that discounts self-worth and severely limits the potential of an individual or family. The prolonged absence of money can become an excuse for being less resourceful, productive or responsible than possible.
So, how do we balance the need for money and desire for wealth with the need for meaning and purpose? And, what is our “stewardship” responsibility toward financial wealth?
True Wealth means finding balance among all the facets of life. When we have True Wealth, we can maximize the enjoyment and benefit we receive from our money. We can grow it, manage it, optimize it, preserve it, and pass it on to whomever we choose.
As an advisor to the affluent, I began to examine whether the work I was doing—creating intellectual mechanisms for the rich to pass their wealth to their offspring without associated responsibilities—was 100 percent beneficial. Was I protecting the wealth of hard-working people from the ravages of inflation, the IRS, and other enemies of wealth preservation? Or was I, in effect, contributing to the delinquency of the generation of very wealthy heirs and trust-fund beneficiaries who would follow them? Was I helping my clients to be the best possible stewards of their wealth? Was I contributing to society or harming it?
I began to devote more and more time to studying some of the world’s wealthiest families. I wanted to know why some families were successful in preserving wealth for generations, and why most family fortunes never made it to the fourth generation. According to the Family Firm Institute of Brookline, Massachusetts, “Nearly 70 percent of all family firms fail before reaching the second generation, and 88 percent fail before the third generation; only a little more than 3 percent of all family enterprises survive to the fourth generation and beyond.”
I was convinced that the reasons were not based on any financial secrets. I became obsessed with the idea of sustaining a family’s wealth through four generations. If we could create a plan that would help a family sustain their most important assets through the fourth generation, wouldn’t that increase the likelihood that these assets would survive far beyond that?
Thus, the quest for a new way of doing business began. I concluded that my very profession was in many ways so focused on the money side of a person’s worth that the planning we were doing to preserve the financial assets had just the opposite result.
What is any one of us worth? Can we put a dollar value on what we are worth to our family and friends, to our business associates and clients? In fact, the whole notion of worth expressed in dollars is utterly meaningless when we begin to think about how valuable we are to those around us, and how valuable they are to us. Are wealthy parents more beloved or more important to their children than middle-class or working-class parents? Of course not.
So how do we balance the need for money and desire for wealth with our need for purpose and meaning?
The answer lies within the question–balance. Balance means we acquire, assess, sustain, optimize and share wealth by looking at all of our assets:
° Our Core Assets (the essence of who we are)
° Our Experience Assets (the sum of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual experiences)
° Our Contribution Assets (our effect on others)
° Our Financial Assets (our net worth)
True Wealth comprises all of these assets; we don’t want to sacrifice one for the other. And, we don’t need to make that sacrifice.
The Brower Quadrant is a system that we can use to define what is “key” for us in each of our asset quadrants. After becoming familiar with the quadrants, and the aspects of our lives that they represent, we can gain clarity that will allow us to optimize our resources and create more wealth and more meaning in all areas of our lives. Are you looking for more wealth or more meaning? Would you like to experience more money and more meaning?
What we call “Quadrant Living” can bring an experience of clarity, balance, focus, confidence and predictability into your life, and the lives of those around you. By systematically employing all of your assets in your most important activities, you will be able to experience ever-increasing predictable results, and consequently, the benefits and blessings of True Wealth.
You will be able to focus on your unique ability and talents. This new focus will dramatically increase your accomplishments in those areas that are most meaningful to you. And finally, with increased clarity, balance and focus–your confidence will soar. Confidence is an attractant. It attracts great opportunities and great relationships. Aren’t you attracted to confident people? Confident people attract. Those who lack confidence repel. The ability to instill confidence in others and to increase their confidence in you is vital to empowered achievement and happiness. It makes leaders out of each of us. The world needs your wisdom, accomplishments and leadership.