As part of our series of highlighting the main behavioural risks, we start with (1) The Entitled Generation. Please see our previous blog post An Introduction to Behavioural Risks for more information on the subject. We will explain the other risks in future posts: (2) Trust, (3) Communication, (4) Governance, (5) Unexpected events, (6) Vision.
Of all the things that we will explore in terms of what can go wrong for wealthy families, ‘having it all’ is clearly the most perplexing. How on earth can the next generation be the problem, when they have been nurtured since birth, enjoyed the best education and given more than plenty to succeed and do all the things they want to do? Yet, statistics clearly support the old adage “the first generation builds and creates the wealth, the second generation shares it, and the third generation destroys it”.
So, what’s going on here and how can we prevent this from happening? Before we turn to the experts and spend countless monies on advisers, psychiatrists or behavioural experts, let’s try to understand the source of the problem. If you have everything and have spent your life in first class accommodation, travel and entertainment, what is there to thrive and wish for?
What would be the point of doing anything, if you can just reach out and grab it? The rules that apply to people who need something are very different to the ones for people who have everything. And if the rules are different, then so are the lives we lead, and we cannot judge one way or another. It is just the way it is. Anybody, if given a choice, would rather just take than build, if it is in front of you. It’s human nature and a basic instinct as part of staying alive.
There is another saying which compels us to enjoy the path as we reach our goals. Well, what if there is no path and all our goals, our wants, our needs are instantly met? Then we take away the very essence of life: you’ve got to do something.
And therein lies the solution for the next generation who has it all – you need to have a purpose, or as the French so wonderfully say: you need a raison d'être. Without it, you will simply drift away in a senseless waste of self-indulgence and nothing will mean anything. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something – a cause, a belief, try to do something good for the world. The other 99% of the people need your help and the planet may very well depend on it.