When a friend calls to tell you that their adult child reached the point where life was no longer worth living, it’s a sobering reminder of what’s really important in life.
While we might struggle with trying to make sense of irrational markets, there are people struggling with far greater issues.
Job losses. Relationship breakdowns. Abusive home lives. Financial stress. Questioning the meaning of life.
The future we’re facing is going to require a great deal more resilience than most people realise or have needed to exercise during the good times.
Hoisington Investment Management’s latest quarterly update — here — puts forward a compelling economic argument as to why this is the lull before the storm (emphasis added):
‘In view of the initial conditions when the virus hit, the U.S. economy is facing a deflationary recession. Based on the trends at hand, this downturn will be more severe than the three previous worst post-war recessions of 1973-75, 1981-82 and 2008- 09.’
A deflationary recession is only going to intensify the pressure that some individuals and families are already experiencing.
In aviation terms, spatial disorientation is ‘the inability of a pilot to correctly interpret aircraft attitude, altitude or airspeed in relation to the Earth or other points of reference’.
When people’s lives are turned upside down, they too can experience a form of spatial disorientation. Loss of direction. The risk of crashing and burning.
You need to be mentally equipped…
As a parent with adult children I am acutely aware that they’re going to face some potentially life changing challenges in the economic environment we’re headed into.
Challenges they need to be mentally equipped to handle.
This is an edited extract of a letter I wrote some time ago:
We make choices all the time…some carry more importance than others. Cumulatively they all add up to where we find ourselves today.
Who we associate with.
The advice we accept or reject.
How we spend our spare time…with family; at the golf course; down the pub.
What we eat and drink.
The amount of exercise we do.
Invest or not invest.
Save or spend.
On so many levels, we’re moving — consciously and unconsciously — towards certain outcomes…good and bad.
And this is why it’s so important to have clearly defined goals and values. You consciously move in the direction of the vision you have for yourself and your family.
Without the internal compass and a steady hand on the rudder, you get blown every which way by whatever puff of wind that comes along.
Establishing those goals and values on an individual and family level is not hard. All it requires is the time and effort to search for the answers to this statement…
This is who we are, this is what we do, and this is why we do it.
Who are you as an individual and as family? Honest? Trustworthy? Reliable? Inquisitive? Resolute? Determined? Personally responsible? What do I and we stand for…our principles, values, morals, ethics? What do I and we do and why do we do it? What value do we add to ourselves, family members and the broader community? Why is adding value important?
These are just some starting points.
When you do this exercise individually, with your spouse/partner and your family, it takes on its own life force.
Questions and answers beget more questions and answers.
Knowing who you are, what you do and why you do it, provides great clarity to your life. And, there’s tremendous power in that.
Armed with this knowledge, anytime you need to make a choice, you ask yourself — is this taking me to or from my vision?
It’s such a simple, yet extremely powerful question to ask prior to deciding “yay” or “nay”.
I’ve lost count of the number of times this simple evaluation tool has been instrumental in our lives.
And you can only ask yourself this question when you know where your headed.
Knowing what you stand for, can assist in stopping you from falling for distractions, time wasters and exercises in futility that leave you — mentally, emotionally and/or financially — poorer.
The choices we make is what creates the family culture…values are taught and caught.
Every family has a culture.
For some, it’s a culture of negativity, suspicion, abuse and playing the victim.
For others it can be far more constructive…love, respect, nurturing, personal endeavour.
James Forbes founder of Forbes Legacy Advisors — a US firm that specialises in multi-generational wealth — firmly believes in the power of family culture (emphasis is mine):
“We strongly believe that the most important factor in maintaining multi-generational connections within your family is a focus on your family culture.”
Family culture, not money, is the most important factor in maintaining multi-generational connections.
Knowing that culture is such crucial link in the Family Wealth chain, we must do all we can to maintain its strength. And that requires a commitment by us to live lives consistent with our values and to maintain regular communication with family members to subtlety (and sometimes, not-so-subtlety) reinforce, guide, encourage and remind them to move in the direction of ‘who we are, what we do and why we do it.
Family culture is not a “set and forget” exercise. Tick. Done. Filed away.
As James Forbes says…
“Your family’s culture is a living, breathing entity. It’s made up of shared common values, spiritual beliefs, economic and social norms, affiliations, activities, geography, climate, landscape, and many other factors.
“These common elements shared among family members creates a sense of belonging, loyalty and pride that builds resilience. Family folklore, traditions and activities socialize the youth and incorporate the adopted, the step-children and the in-laws.
“Cultures are built, sustained and informed by each family member, your nuclear family, your extended family, the community where you live, and the broader society. And because aspects of your family’s culture will shift over time, it’s important to steward those shifts.”
When children are younger, it’s up to the parents to build and maintain the culture.
As they grow older, it becomes a real team effort.
Your input is not only encouraged but welcomed.
When you’re living life on your terms and in accordance with your values, then you have…happiness.
And as any parent knows, a genuinely happy family is…true family wealth.
By happiness I don’t mean having a permanent smile and sunny disposition. There are going to be tough times. Challenges. Frustrations. Disappointments. Setbacks. Grief.
Empowering our family with the ability to know they have the confidence, strength, ability and support to cope with life’s adversities, provides a great deal of comfort.
And it’s this deep-seated sense of well-being — that no matter what comes my way I have the mechanism to make informed choices — that leads to an inner contentment…happiness.
Allowing things to happen or avoiding addressing a problem or opting to spend time on the social media instead of more meaningful reading…these are decisions that all have consequences.
The choice between happiness or bitterness is one confronting all of us.
Choosing the former means making a conscious decision to find out who we are, what we do and why we do it.
The answers you ask of yourself are to be found internally not externally…
“People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills…there is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind…so constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”
As I was so starkly reminded of this week, the very best investment you can make is in the health and mental well-being of your family.