A common objective for most entrepreneurs is to make lots of money. I’m talking about the type of money that ensures financial security for the remainder of their lives and their children’s lives. Not everyone can be a billionaire, but once you reach a certain level of income, you can make wise investments and take careful steps towards making sure your children—and even your grandchildren—won’t have to worry about their finances.
When you’re making that type of money, do you ever stop to think about what type of negative consequences that may have on your children in the future? If they grow up in a lifestyle in which they want for nothing or they know that a large sum of money is coming their way in the near future, will they ever truly understand the value of hard work?
As I study the topic of ambition with my mastermind groups, we ponder difficult questions like the ones above. You want to make sure your children don’t have to worry about bankruptcy or homelessness. You want to give them the opportunity to live life to the fullest and fill their years with even better experiences than your own. But when that comes with a potential tradeoff, the possibility that they might lack ambition and feel entitled, it can be difficult to find the balance between making sure they are cared for and making sure they develop strong character.
In his book Ambition: Leading with Gratitude Seth Buechley addresses about these aspects with what he calls an Entitlement Antidote. He explains what that means by saying: “Raising affluent kids in an environment where entitlement is not consciously combated with gratitude is setting them up for a rude settlement with reality. They may have money, but their relationships and influence will suffer as entitlement erodes their character. Developing a heart for gratitude now sets our kids up to manage their blessings later.”
I love this passage because it really attacks the entitlement problem at the core and provides a viable solution. As entrepreneurs, it’s extremely important that we don’t allow our kids to develop feelings of entitlement. We want to provide for them, but we don’t want to crush their drive and ambition. Gratitude is a powerful reminder of how blessed we really are.
There are several ways that you can practice gratitude with your children. A great place to start is by pointing out little things to be grateful for, things we might not think about on a daily basis: clean air, clean water, a bed to sleep in, personal freedoms, loving family, etc. A good exercise is to begin by telling your children that you’re grateful for them. Explain to them why you work so hard, what makes you ambitious, and what traits you want to see in them. Thank them for being in your life. Ask them what they are thankful for, and discuss their ambitions with them. Encourage them to have dreams and goals, and to operate from an attitude of gratitude.
Make sure your kids have an Entitlement Antidote. Teach them gratitude, and practice being grateful together. Instill the value of hard work, and teach them to use their own ambition to go after their dreams. If your hard work as an entrepreneur is going to leave them more money than they know what to do with, maybe their gratitude will spark an ambition of the philanthropic nature within them. The best way to combat entitlement is with gratitude. When you’re living with gratitude, it’s much easier to live with purpose!