Do You Really Want Your Kids To Be Billionaires?
Indrasish Banerjee | On 19, Jun 2014
In today’s society, billionaires are equivalents of rock stars. Very few people clued into the 24-by-7 media system have not heard of the likes of Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg – all of whose claims to fame involves making a ton of money. Sure, Gates was responsible for birthing a whole industry, but that is not why he’s famous. He’s famous because he’s rich, and because he represents the aspiration that many of us have to one day become like him. Or failing that, raise kids who would become like him.
Can you bring up your kids to be billionaires, though? In fact, are you sure that what you want is to become a billionaire as opposed to being financially independent? For many, saying off-hand that they want to be billionaires is just another way of saying that they want to become independently wealthy. And you don’t need to be a billionaire to achieve independence.
Financial freedom can be achieved by practicing thrift, saving, and wise investment principles. The focus ought to be on discipline, and a keen sense of risk and reward. One can live a happy, fulfilling life if one trains their eye on the intangible sources of happiness: companionship, wisdom, knowledge, love, generosity. If you can teach your kids to be happy and contented with what they have, is there a need to turn them into billionaires?
That’s not to mention the fact that becoming a billionaire often requires a certain inuring of the spirit to feelings of empathy and social responsibility. After all, after an individual has risen to a certain point, the devil comes knocking, offering one ethically grey sweetmeat after another in return for large material gains. All of today’s billionaires were once in that seat. And they chose not to walk away, opting instead for a life of moral and political corruptness.
That is the other side of wealth that you must prepare our kids for, no matter what you wish for them. All of us need to know the thorns that litter our paths so that we may steer clear of them, or indeed, not go that way in the first place.
So perhaps we could begin where we started: do you want your children to be billionaires, or simply be financially secure? The former is a long, arduous journey that may leave them deflated both physically and emotionally. The latter, though, is within the grasp of every upright, moral individual.
Billionaire investor Frank Giustra, who now spends more time in philanthropy than in business, says that excess wealth – all that you have over and above you need – is nothing but an illusion. The rest of us will do well to pay heed.