Avoiding Mean Reversion in Families

Father’s Day 2021 – Twin Sisters Peaks

If you want a different outcome then try a different approach.

Quote from a favorite blog:

If I’d had what they have, the only certainties in my life would have been a Range Rover and a cocaine habit

I like Scott’s blog because he’s brutally honest, and entertaining!

Each week, I am reminded => we generate results in the places where we invest our time.

Look at that sky! High altitude blue – love it

The “they” in the quote is Scott’s kids. Every parent I know, wants their kids to be successful.

However, and it is a big HOWEVER… these discussion have an embedded conceit because, each generation, each individual, must decide on their own definition of success.

A definition of success is tricky for me.

I have watched, and blogged, as my thoughts on “winning” changed across each decade of my life.


Go a little further…

  • Am I successful?
  • What do my actions say about my values?
  • Can I write down my definition of success?
  • Am I willing to shift my external worries by redirecting worry towards improving myself?

Baby O’clock

Scott’s aside about Range Rovers & Cocaine – is really a discussion about the impact of abundance on family systems.

I spent Father’s Day talking to my kids about this topic. They asked:

  • Dad, has there ever been something you couldn’t afford? => Lots.
  • Dad, are you rich? => I’m rich in time, amigo.

We were driving in my 4Runner (not Range Rover, BTW) and it gave me an opening to explain the concept that some things are “not worth it”, even when you have the money (or debt capacity).

I used Toyota Trim level as an example. The “TRD Pro” trim costs about double what I paid for my 4Runner.

My 10 yo instantly understood that a few more bells & whistles would not be worth the same as two 4Runners.

Two cars, same money… better than one car.

Amigo, it’s the same thing with being rich. You need to trade a lot of time, to get all that money. When you trade that time, you don’t get to go hiking whenever you want with your kids.

…and even when you are with your kids, your mind is probably some place else.

It is impossible to convey, and quantify, the value of being present.

World’s Best Baby 2011 – on the road for a training camp. We’d bundle him up and he’d happily sleep in a closet with his pack-and-play. I traded a lot of money (I didn’t need) to be an elite athlete.

So when we worry about our kids — let’s be specific.

How do our actions, our friends and our environments define success?

As the most direct male role-model in my children’s life, I am going to…

  • Live below my means – because it makes sense for me, places a lower success-burden on those who follow me and I know pleasure is a false-god
  • Train every morning
  • Listen to you (all of you, BTW) and apply your best ideas – I’m going to find the best tips and live them
  • Change my behavior in the face of valid criticism – I can handle bad news!
  • Act in the best interests of the collective – Citizenship!

Nothing in there requires external validation.

I’m 100% in control of outcome.

Important to remember, especially in an Olympic year. 😉

To pass along those values, I need to BE those values, especially when it’s inconvenient.

…but “being” might not be enough to educate my children.

If outcome really matters to me then the kids need to understand who we are by watching me move through the world, when no one is watching us.

Call it a “values education” => the foundation of a family’s Human Capital.

Back to Scott and Wealth in Families… how might we use wealth to help someone without subsidizing consumption, or increasing their risk for addiction?

First, we should acknowledge that the capacity for success walks hand-in-hand with the capacity for self-destruction.

I touched on this last week. I have the capacity to “win big” via the singleminded pursuit of a goal.

My past tells me that I need to choose wisely.

It’s highly unlikely anyone is going to get it right all the time. So when the inevitable setbacks arrive, it’s useful to have a “values education” to fall back on. A form of winning that I control and doesn’t depend on the opinions of others.

That said… you got the money, what can we get done for the family?

Debt-free education, to the best of the kids’ ability, in a field where they can get paid.

I bought into that concept at birth. Our College Accounts can fund a surgeon, an MBA and an electrician. In-state.

So we’re working towards a proven set of values (first) and the family can help its members educate themselves (second).

Not done yet.

Back to time.

Where can I have an impact? When I get past my personal inertia, little doses can have big results.

My latest initiative… read aloud 100 days, not in a row, daily duration in minutes is equal to your age… do that and you earn $100. For example, my 10 yo needs to read aloud for 10 minutes, for 100 days.

It’s not enough to live an example, to allocate money.

If outcome truly matters then look for ways to give time.

Attention, expressed as time being present together, is what my kids seek and value.

Same thing for a marriage.

Hands up if you like weekday summits with your spouse…

We generate results in the areas where we allocate time.