Money Troubles, Part II

By Chuck Violand

September 26, 2016

While an abundance of money is not the only cause for the unflattering attitudes I explore below, the presence of wealth in our lives adds to the risk for developing them.

Arrogance. Not to be confused with confidence, as they’re very different. Confidence gives us the internal fortitude to attempt greater challenges. Arrogance is an attitude of superiority that frequently masquerades itself as swagger or cockiness. It doesn’t take long for this to wear thin with the people in our companies. When left unchecked, arrogance makes it unnecessarily hard to attract and keep top talent.

Entitlement. Affluence is often accompanied by an attitude of entitlement. This can manifest itself subtly as a disregard for being on time or never seeking the input of others before making decisions. It can also be more blatant, as seen in condescension toward others. This is amplified all the more when you own a business, as many owners feel that they’re entitled to privileges and perks simply because they’ve earned success. When these involve the company treasury, it’s important not to confuse entitlement with a lack of discipline or experience in handling large sums of money. Entitlement is being aware of the consequences of our actions but ignoring them.

Disengagement. Many businesses are started by owners who worked the front lines right alongside their people. This gave them a fundamental understanding of how their workers feel and what motivates them. As the business grows and the owner moves further and further from front-line activities, it’s not uncommon for them to lose their connection. They become disengaged from their workers, leading to an “us versus them” culture in the company. This attitude can be even more pronounced in second generation owners who have never had this critical, side-by-side learning experience.

Attitudes such as arrogance, entitlement, and disengagement are usually developed gradually. Sometimes we’re unaware that our attitudes, and therefore behaviors, have even changed. Unless we have an “aha!” moment or some brave soul brings it to our attention, it often takes an emotional or financial collapse for us to wake up. “Human beings usually only change when they get uncomfortable enough,” according to Dr. Jesse O’Neill. By then, costly and sometimes irreversible damage may have already been done.

When we’ve had the great fortune to achieve financial success in our lives, we can increase our odds of having it continue if we can sidestep these attitudes. Instead of arrogance, entitlement, and disengagement I suggest we practice a “Three-G” approach: gratitude, generosity, and grace.

Adopt an attitude of gratitude for your good fortune and blessings. Show generosity to those who’ve helped you achieve your success, through both physical rewards and recognition for the parts they’ve played in getting you there. Act with grace toward those around you. Nothing spells dignity like the quiet confidence of someone who understands that success is dependent on other people.

Affluence, whether earned or inherited, is not a right. It is a privilege only bestowed on a few … and carries significant responsibilities for the recipient.