Laws and rules are created within organized societies to regulate interaction and protect citizens. A classic example is the American system of traffic laws, designed to promote consistent traffic flow while reducing accidents. When everyone understands how a four-way stop works, expectations follow. We learn how to conduct ourselves properly and to anticipate how others will behave.
Likewise, the public school curriculum nurtures expectations-expectations regarding skills which are culturally valued. Our schools promote a model of success in our society. Our students are taught how to succeed (but not so much how to fail, learn from their mistakes, and grow and evolve).
Intentionally or not, our institutions do little to prepare us to make it through failure with grace. Particularly in the middle and upper strata of our society, we are not taught how to deal with failure. There is such a focus on success that many of us have developed aversions to crisis and conflict.
So how can we prepare for adversity? Since our culture is built around success and we are largely taught to avoid failure, how do we learn to overcome it?
This is where conscious awareness comes in.
As parents, it’s our jobs to get highly aware about what we are passing on to our children and how we are doing it, particularly when it comes to models of success and failure.
Many parents don’t really consider what they are handing down to the next generation, beyond thinking about how much money they’ll leave behind. But I believe there’s a much bigger concern here.
Maybe you can remember back to a time in your childhood when you thought to yourself “I’ll never be like that when I’m a parent”, only to find yourself now repeating those exact same patterns. I know I am guilty of that. And of course that’s how those pattern keep getting passed on from generation to generation.
But, once we notice our part in the pattern, we can begin to create change. It won’t necessarily be easy. Many of these patterns — especially around success and failure — are deeply ingrained. Yet through consciousness, I know these patterns can be broken.
That’s why I don’t just focus on passing on my clients’ money through estate planning, but instead have a process for passing on their whole wealth (their intellectual, spiritual and human assets in addition to their financial assets). By doing so, I help parents consciously give their children valuable tools to deal with both success and failure.