I have been offline for a while due to minor back surgery. What impressed me as I lay in the hospital bed and thought back to how I got there, was the similarity of the medical profession to my profession in helping families manage wealth and family relationships, but more importantly, keeping the wealth from infecting the family with “affluenza.” It is my understanding that everyone’s body carries some form of cancer, but not everyone gets cancer. It is a factor of our immune system, genetics, and lifestyle.

Likewise, every family has a cancer even though they may not realize it, and too often the symptoms go undiagnosed until the patience is critical. Unnoticed or unrecognized by the patient, those symptoms would be obvious to a trained professional. Some families do seem to have an “immune” system that keeps the disease at bay, but that is rare. In a genetic sense, dad and mom will transfer their financially and relationally cancerous cells to their children, their children will pass them to the grandchildren, and on it goes until the family is sick and dying. Many cancers and diseases are caused by a lifestyle of excess and reckless living. That certainly applies to the family’s fiscal condition.

The question then is how can this be prevented? The answer, as with physical health, is preventative treatment. I have a primary physician that performs my annual exam. During the exam my blood pressure, temperature, and pulse are taken by a nurse, not the physician, and the nurse also administers an EKG. Prior to the exam I had to get lab work completed and an X-ray by third parties. Since I’m a male, I also have to go to my urologist for a prostrate exam. All of this information is uploaded to my primary physician so she knows if there are any issues we need to discuss when she enters the exam room. With my back surgery there was an MRI and the normal preliminaries, then a meeting with the surgeon to design and develop a plan for the type of surgery that would solve the particular need. When I checked into the hospital, a team of medical professionals prepared me for surgery and told me what to expect. They rolled me into the operating room and another team was preparing for the needed procedure. After the surgery, more techs and nurses took care of me during recovery and preparing me to go home. Finally, there will be three-month checkups for a while to ensure the surgery is successful and no complications arise, and to recommend the lifestyle regime I need to implement to prevent damage and get healthy. Why are we willing to go through all of these steps regarding our physical wellbeing? Because it is foolish to try to self-medicate. No one is going to attempt to operate on themselves. We all value what the medical professionals offer in the way of knowledge, experience, and professionalism. I wouldn’t normally use the term “coach” for my primary physician, but in many ways that is exactly what she is, and I think all the medical professionals conducted a form of coaching me through the process. She sees me regularly, knows me, my physical status, what I need, and directs me to the right sources for the right treatments at the right time. She politely scolds me when I’m off course. She is responsible for my ongoing overall health maintenance even though she does not perform or provide all the functions.

A family’s fiscal health should be treated the same way. Family Wealth Leadership acts as our client families’ primary caregiver. We exam the fiscal and relational health of the family because they are in constant interaction in the same way our vital organs interact and are dependent on each other. My primary physician doesn’t focus on only one issue, she addresses my health holistically, considering everything that could possibly endanger me. Sometimes money is infecting the relationships. Other times the relational problems are eroding the family’s financial health. These two components cannot be segregated. They must be examined and treated as a whole and integrated being. Again, a lifestyle of excess will most certainly damage both. Worse, the next generation will adopt, and even increase, an excessive lifestyle because it is what they have seen and experienced. They were trained in excessiveness.

Once the examination has uncovered the sicknesses or potential cancers, a treatment plan is designed and developed. Depending on the need, the primary caregiver (FWL) will arrange more tests from and consult with other professionals and “surgeons” in their specialized fields. If the treatment is relatively easy, the primary will treat the issue and solve the problem. If more complex and serious, the primary reaches out to the right professionals to treat the problem. Ongoing maintenance will be conducted by the surgeon for a short time, and then the primary carries on after the surgeon’s post-op checkups end. The primary continues to monitor and implement a physical (fiscal and relational in our case) program that keeps the patient healthy.

Let me be blunt. Individuals and families that do not work with a primary caregiver (family coach) and try to handle their financial and relational problems without professional help is equivalent to trying to do a heart transplant on yourself on the kitchen table. The other type is the person or family that refuses to see a doctor at all. They think if they just avoid getting diagnosed, the cancer will not be there. It will be! Or they are reluctant to get examined because they fear a cancer might be there, and they don’t want to deal with it. Their undiagnosed fiscal and relational cancers will not go away, they will only eat away the vital organs and structures necessary to hold a family together and prolong its life and future. For many cancers and diseases, early detection increases the probability of a successful treatment and remission, possibly becoming cancer and disease free. It is the same for “affluenza.” Untreated, it will destroy the financial and relational health of a family. Early diagnoses and treatment of “affluenza” can result in extending the life of the patient for many more years and generations.

If you would like to find out more about investing, business planning, business and family progression planning, inter-generational wealth transfer, legacy creation, family coaching, family office services, and all the ways you and your children can give, and how effective philanthropy can positively impact your family, you can email me at kkolson@familywealthleadership.com or visit our website at www.familywealthleadership.com.   Telephone: 949-468-2000

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