Trust Is Like a Spider Web

Trust is a word we often hear, with an assumption that we carry the same definition of the word. Yet, often when trust is violated, it is because one person’s sense of trust is breached while the other person is stunned. Their sense of trust has not been infringed.

What is trust? In my exploration and inquiry of trust, I find it to be a multifold value. 

Trust, when it is intact, is a cornerstone to high functioning relationships. It is often built on respect and understanding. When trust is violated or severed, relationships shift gears. Relationships weaken as they become more casual, distant, and indirect over time.

I find that trust includes a sense of reliance. Where predictability infers expectation, reliability infers consistency, a nuanced, yet important distinction. Whether it is a sense of reliance in their sincerity, their competency, or the way they show up, reliance in someone is a major component of trust.

Another component to trust is motivation. Motivations reveal intentions, priorities, goals and needs. When I understand someone’s motivation, I can bestow or withhold trust.

Still, another component to trust, is the feeling of authority born by experience and not merely by knowledge. When we sense that someone is a student of what they are talking about, rather than a transmitter of information, we can more easily grant them trust.

What I find interesting about trust is that we can provide trust quickly, or slowly, or not at all. There seems to be a continuum for the application of trust. I have found that this continuum revolves around feelings of safety, feelings of reciprocity, and feelings of being understood. 

The origin of the word trust comes from the old Norse: integrity, protection, support, agreement, fidelity. Trust is strengthened on values and broken on those same values, which leads me to my final observation.

Trust Is Like a Spider Web:  Strong yet Delicate. Like a spider web strand which is ten times stronger than steel, trust is a strong bond between people. And like a spider strand which can suddenly break, trust can be suddenly broken. Like the spider web, this break of trust changes the core.

How do you experience trust?

How do you extend trust?

What causes you to withdraw trust?  

A Few Money Questions to Think About

With the rising “tide” of inflation, on this hot summer day with the temperature going up and up, I merely have a question for you to think about.

As the price of things you buy, increase, how do you keep the value of your dollar rising with the rising costs? Do you instead find the value of your savings decreasing? If so how long can you support that?

Just asking!

Let me know your thoughts

Philanthropy is a Spark to Happiness

First, what is philanthropy? The origin of the word, from etymonline.com is from the Greek word Philanthropia: kindliness, humanity, benevolence, love to mankind.  Note that it is not love of mankind but love to mankind. Philanthropy is an act of doing or making.

Philanthropy is an act of being kind. This act can be done with money. It can be done with time; it can be done with skillset. It can be done by a gesture, a gesture of…kindness, like letting someone take our place in line at the grocery store due to their pressing need.

Philanthropy works for two main reasons. It adds to the betterment of the world, and it makes us feel good and feel proud of having given our services, our “goods” to another person or entity that could benefit from our gift.

Science has also confirmed that kindness adds to a sense of happiness and well-being. In 2006, researchers at the National institutes of Health found that the brain’s areas associated with pleasure, trust and connection are sparked when we give to charities. The University of California, Berkely’s Greater Good Science Center, co-director, Dacher Keltner said: “…we have evolved the capacities to care for those in need to and cooperate.” Darwin, in his seminal book “The Descent of Man, sites benevolence almost 100 times. He concludes that benevolence exists in the natural world, like when a pelican provides fish to a blind flock member.

Think about how you feel, after you have freely given. It is customary to feel satisfied, proud, synergistic with the recipient, happy. So go ahead and give. It feels good! It sparks happiness.  

To Connect, Turn Confrontation on its Head

What is the opposite of confrontation?

You might quickly respond conciliation, “stopping someone from being angry” per Oxford Online Languages Dictionary.  It’s not. The opposite goes further.

Before I tell you, let’s take a quick look at confrontation. It’s origin, from Etymonline, is medieval Latin, meaning “’bringing two parties face to face,’ for examination and discovery of the truth.”  

As family conflict coach and trained mediator, I understand the first part of that definition, “bringing two parties face to face”. Confrontation, in its current use, carries an assumption of antagonism, disruption, adversity.

The second part of that definition, “for examination and discovery of the truth,” I am less confident of. I find, in confrontation, parties have a position they want to convince another of, have an agenda they want to impose, have a barrage of personal attacks they want to brandish.  

When I look up the definition of confront, the online Oxford Language Dictionary tells me it means “meet someone face to face with hostile or argumentative intent.” I recognize this sense of confront as I hear the emotional context people have with “confront’ in their family dynamics.

Confrontation is a threatening place, often a space of unknown outcome.

If confront is to engage in a hostile environment, then the opposite must consider appreciation, understanding, listening, commonly wanted outcome.  Returning to Etymonline, the French and Latin origination of the word I am about to reveal, come from the words meaning “to bind or join together.”  The opposite of confrontation is connection.

When you are thinking of confronting, turn it on its head, consider and develop concepts of connection.  

Find Relief when you Reframe STRESS

Let’s spend a moment on stress. What is stress?

Stress is considered to be a universal experience. According to the American Institute of Stress ( https://www.stress.org/daily-life)

  • 87% were stressed by inflation concerns
  • 81% were stressed by global uncertainty and supply chain issues
  • 58% of responders were stressed during the day
  • 94% experience chronic stress at work

Stress contributes to many mental, emotional, and physical issues from depression to digestive issues, from friendship alienation to nervous endocrine, respiratory, and cardiovascular system issues. Stress hurts!

This STRESS hack is a tool to reset your life when you are out of balance

S      the feeling of Security

T      The comfort of Trust

R      the confidence in Resilience

E      the art of Enriching

S      The gift of Surety

S      the power of Strength

Reframe S.T.R.E.S.S. in this way when you begin to lose control of your focus in life.

What is the Purpose of your Family’s Wealth?

What is the purpose of your wealth? That is a big question families with wealth must grapple with to successfully transfer family money from generation to generation to generation and so on.

The late Roy Williams, the founder of The Williams Group, someone I studied with and had the honor to interview, was a well-respected consultant to wealthy families when their wealth was challenging the harmony of the family. He conducted a study of thousands of wealthy families. He found  that 70% of wealthy families lost their wealth by the end of the second generation and 90% of families lost their wealth by the end of the third generation.

You may have heard the phrase clogs to clogs or barn to stars to bar, or rice field to rice field in three generations or the other similar phrases like this around the world to describe the common phenomenon of the loss of wealth created by one generation and gone by the end of the third. Roy Williams study into this phenomenon confirmed this sad common occurrence.  

It doesn’t have to be this way.

To understand what to do with your wealth, step back and consider its purpose, to you, your immediate family, and your long-lasting family for generations to come.

When you understand and are clear about your wealth’s purpose in the three areas (you, your current family, your future family), you will then have insight into how to steward this family wealth. how you think about your wealth and talk about it.

Reflect on this. Another time we will look into how do build your path to family congeniality when wealth is part of the family fabric. 

Living a Meaningful Life is Game Changing

Next time you are on You Tube, look up two videos. The first is Randy Pausch’s talk about what matters most in life. It is called: “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. He gave this talk as he was facing the last months of his life. The second one is Steve Jobs’ presentation to the 2005 Stanford graduates as he talks to them about finding life’s meaning.

Life moves. It’s not static. It is up to us, in this movement of life, through the patterns, routines, surprises and momentous events that we are in, to create a life of meaning for ourselves. Nobody can do that for us. As Pausch and Jobs tell us, focus on finding your meaning.

Here are three essential tips to set the foundation of your life’s meaning.

1      Your Values

Your values are the basis of your life. They are the source from which all your actions manifest. They are the reason you do things with meaning. Take the time to define them, understand them, explore them, and watch them influence you in your daily life. As they are your inner guides, you can and must bring them into focus to mightily guide you. The more familiar you are with your values, the more you will conscientiously use them as fuel and pillar to your life.

2      The Art of Meaningful Conversation

When you take the time to listen to another person’s intention, more than the information they are giving, you will learn how to listen in a way that is more meaningful. Ask questions that explore and disclose their intention. Ask them to talk about how they feel on a topic. Listen. Do not Interrupt or judge.   Engaging in this way will give you the ability to connect with people on a deeper level.

3      Significant Connection

You know you have achieved significant connection when you  are constantly aware of what is important to you and everything you do is built to support that. Your best relationships satisfy the core of who you are.

To achieve significant connection, you have to take the time to understand the other person’s, motivations and values. When you connect in this way, you connect for life because you understand them in a significant way, which most people do not.

When you bring these three tools into your life, you will be able to build your life of great meaning. This is a game changer.

Can Money and Happiness Partner Successfully Together?

Money and happiness are often pictured as being lifelong co-dependent friends. Each seems to be connected to the other. With money comes happiness while happiness is derived from money And this may be true…but only up to a point.

In 2010, Daniel Kahneman and Angus Danto with the Center of Health and Well-being at Princeton University, conducted a study of 450,000 American families and concluded that happiness levels off at $75,000 of household earnings. Even as lifestyles continue to improve, happiness levels off.  

At the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, in 2021, Matthew Killingsworth, a senior Fellow there, conducted his own study involving 33,391 people.  This study found that levels of well-being continued to rise as incomes increased.

Recently, millions of people chose to leave the workforce, a seeming consequence of the COVID lockdown. Was going back to work not worth the money?

Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist, and You Tube personality, in a You Tube video, talks about the stress of quality of life on higher income women who are also faced with the pragmatic role of having and raising children? Who will raise them…surrogates (nannies, schools, play stations, video channels, social media)? These are difficult questions that money can fund but happiness must be determined separately.

Before chasing the dollar, think about what money is to you. Think about how you want it to support your principles, your lifestyle, your decisions.

Money can be the driver, or it can be the supporter. Happiness can be the supporter to money as it chases satisfaction before looking for the next high, or it can be the driver, when it is clearly and aligned with what matters most to you.

Think about how best to partner your money and your life. Leave a comment on what money, happiness and the two mean to you. Contact me if you have questions or anxieties about this critical topic at bhaj@focusandsustain.com. Money and happiness, how do they successfully partner in your life?

4 Tips for Stewards of Inherited Wealth

Children, for the most part, model what they see, what they hear, and what they are exposed to. If money is rarely talked about, that will influence their behaviors. If money is considered a reward for good behavior, that will influence how they view money. If money is doled out without purpose, this will influence your children’s behaviors and how they view money.

It is terrific when you involve your children with money. The following 4 tips can make a difference in developing good financial skills in children, the financial skills that encourage growth, confidence, and responsibility

The first tip is to understand where money comes from. Where does your children’s money come from? Is it allowance, is it from gifts? Is it by asking for it?  Is it from a trust? Ask them these 3 questions: “Describe to me what your source of ‘earnings’ means to you? “ “ How would it impact you and make you feel if your source(s) disappeared?” “How would you replenish your “well.” This will provide you a view into their perspectives on their money.

Tip 2 is what to do with that money. They can save, invest, donate, or spend it. How will your children allocate their money to these categories? Ask them.

Tip 3 is to have your children to report on their use of money. Are they following their own “plan” on saving, investing, donating, and spending? How are they influenced by outside influences such as social media, peers, advertising? Listen to them. Be their guide when they are having difficulty staying on their plan. Listen to their challenges. Ask them how they would solve the challenge they are facing. Keep them involved in their own path to growth, discovery, and feeling of confidence and independence.

Tip 4 is to tweak the plan, grow the plan and expand upon successes so they can feel what it is like to truly be a steward of money.

The environment we provide our children and they for their children, will determine whether they become good stewards of the assets we bestow them, or money remains a mystery to them.

Are You Building Wealth or Funding a Lifestyle?

A study by the Williams Group found that 70% of families with “wealth” lose their “wealth” by the end of the second generations and 90% of families lose their “wealth” by the end of the third generation.

This statistic brings up three big questions for me

1      Are we building lifestyles that need even more income to support, rather than wealth which can be passed down and developed?

2      Are we actively preparing our children, their children and their children to steward their inheritance or is the inheritance a secret that will, one day, “fall” into their laps?

3      Do we care about what happens to what we built or is it merely for our own enjoyment and discharge?   

What is important about these questions? They set a context of family financial literacy. They are asked so you can more clearly respond to the headline question: are you building wealth or funding a lifestyle?

Imagine if you had to think of your money and its effect on family members 7 generations from now? How would that alter the way you think about money?  Whatever you do, your children, their children, and their children… are likely to copy.

Are you building wealth or funding a lifestyle? Be clear so you can guide your children, their children, and their children with clarity, purpose, and appropriate guidance.