The Week of August 20, 2007
I'm convinced that we're not doing our kids any favors by helping them as much as we do. And I don't just mean my own kids - I'm talking about our society as a whole. Don't get me wrong, I like to help them out and support their interests and activities.
But not when they take it for granted and don't seem to appreciate all the opportunities they have.
I was discussing this with someone a few weeks ago who shared a very interesting story with me. Seems a friend of his is wealthy. I mean really wealthy - as in "filthy stinkin' rich" wealthy - and has been for some time.
They have four grown children who are basically spoiled waste products who don't do anything except spend their parents' money and wait for them to die so they can get it all for themselves.
The father kept encouraging them to get off their butts and do something but with no success.
Finally, one day, the gears kind of clicked into place and he realized that he was the primary cause of all of this because he continued to support them while they did nothing with their lives.
So about a week later, he invited all four kids over for dinner, and after a great meal, told them he had an important announcement to make. Sensing that something exciting was about to happen, probably involving more money for them, they sat up and leaned in expectantly.
Then the father dropped the bomb: he told them that he had removed them from his will. All four of them. They weren't going to get a dime when he died - all of it was going to charity.
But then he told them something else: that he would help create any business, venture, or enterprise they wanted to start while he was still alive.
This would give them the opportunity to build something that could sustain them after he was gone. Since he wasn't all that old, there was time to actually make something work, but who really knows what happens from one day to the next?
Of course the kids reacted predictably with emotions ranging from disbelief to indignity to complete and total outrage. They protested and asked him to reconsider, but he explained that he had been to the lawyer's office that afternoon, and that it was a done deal.
When I heard this story I grinned from ear to ear. I thought it was one of the smartest things I had ever heard. Then, after a brief pause, I asked an important question: Did any of the kids take him up on his offer and start a business? Unfortunately it had just happened a month ago and it was too early to tell.
Besides, it was probably going to take a few more months for it to actually sink in to the point where the kids finally realized that they're actually supposed to do something with their lives.
And this story has some key points for you whether you have kids or not.
First, you shouldn't reward people for no reason at all. Kids should contribute to household chores. Vendors should deliver what they promise.
Employees shouldn't get extra recognition just for doing their jobs.
Second, setting deadlines is a great motivator. In this case, the deadline is really a "dead" line - the offer expires when the father "expires."
And finally, sometimes you have to go to extreme measures to get someone's attention - just like cutting out our own kids' allowances when it was time for them to get a part-time job and start working.
Leadership - an attempt to influence other people's behavior - is never easy. But it is important. Make sure you're sending the right messages because that's the real wealth you have to offer.
Ron Rosenberg helps businesses get more customers than they know what to do with and keep them for life. Get your FREE Gift from Ron – over $349 in business resources guaranteed to increase sales and revenue – at www.qualitytalk.com/gift.
© 2007 QualityTalk, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.