Ever dream of winning the lottery? Or wish you had rich relatives who could leave you lots of dough when they go? A recent MSN.COM news article warns of 7 pitfalls to inherited wealth. Among the 7, they mention guilt, affluenza, responsibility, & shock. Although sudden wealth often does present unexpected problems, I had an even bigger problem with the article’s blatant egocentrism. As just one example, it suggests that inheritors who feel guilty about their new, unearned wealth not take up philanthropy, but instead make a “bliss list,” prioritize, and buy what you can!
In my 20’s I found myself with 7 figures (that’s 2 commas before the period) of unearned USD$ (another story) Later, also in my 20’s, I found I had lost 7 figures (that’s also 2 commas before the period) of USD$.
The most valuable lessons I learned in that process can be summed up in terms of FAMILY & IDENTITY.
FAMILY – I gleaned a lifetime of valuable knowledge about my family in the process of losing over 1million USD$. I learned that I am extremely blessed to have such a great family of origin and a great current nuclear family, especially my wife. Lose 7 figures in USD$ and you’ll have no doubt whether your spouse values you more than your money. Watch your dad lose 8 figures in USD$ , and you’ll just as quickly find out how much your mom loves your dad. I found that my dad and I are more blessed than we’ll ever deserve with the 2 women who’ve remained with us through it all.
IDENTITY – As a Christian I’ve often heard that my identity should be in Christ. I’m not sure what that looks like. But two examples from my life tell me… I’m not quite there yet.
Example 1: After losing the 7 figures USD$, my preacher asked me how I was doing. My immediate response: “I’ll just have to find a new identity.” <<< ouch >>>
Example 2: After a freak parkour accident (another-other story), I’ve found myself immediately going from one who runs 5ks and 1/2 marathons to one who is partially paralyzed in one leg and may never run again. I heard myself tell my wife last night: “That’s a real blow to my identity.” Want to know where your identity lies, lose it and you’ll quickly find out.
If I could interject my own experience into Proverb 20:21, it would be as follows: “An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning [unless lost just as quickly] will not be blessed at the end.”
I am fortunate to be so blessed!
© 2014, Dr. Phil Bryant
Dr. Bryant is an Assistant Professor of Management at Columbus State University and co-author of Managing Employee Turnover.