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Family Wealth & The Tale of Two Wolves

By Wealth TransitionOctober, 2022March 18th, 20242 min read
the two wolves

Family wealth can be a double-edged sword. With few financial burdens or limitations, one can live a very comfortable life, use the family wealth and connections to create almost any career of life path, and make the world a better place through philanthropy and impact.

But there is a dark side, particularly to inherited wealth: guilt and shame at ‘unearned privilege’ (I don’t like the term, but it works for this), how the wealth was created which may not sit comfortably with contemporary environmental thinking, and the challenges of finding purpose. Wealth can also be an amplifier and source of family conflict.

Most often, family members deal with a mix of these feelings.

In the Tale of the Two Wolves, the grandfather uses a metaphor of two wolves fighting within him to explain inner conflict to his grandson. When his grandson asks which wolf wins, the grandfather answers that whichever wolf he chooses to feed is the one that wins.

To paraphrase Henry Ford, whether you think family wealth is a positive for you or a negative, you are right.

Consider This: What are your family’s narratives about wealth? Have these ever been discussed or articulated? How are they different across generations?

Further reading: 

Here is more on reading on wealth transition.

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