Seven Habits of Truly Successful Families


For several weeks we’ve been discussing what Charlie Collier found when he studied what made wealthy families truly successful over the long term. While panning for nuggets from our previous posts, we see seven indispensable practices that maximize family wealth, and here they are…

The seven big wins

  • Thinking over feeling – Make decisions based more on thinking than on emotion
  • ‘Ships matter – Form candid, two-way relationships with as many family members as possible
  • Look to include – Foster an open and inclusive family system
  • You might be next – Rally around family members who are going through life’s transitions
  • Open the door – Think creatively about responding to life’s challenges
  • Raise ‘em to let ‘em go – Rear autonomous children
  • Treat adults like adults – Develop relationships with adult children that are open, separate and equal

Four bonus practices – tell stories

The power of storytelling runs throughout Charlie’s research and experience. Here are four reasons to make the most of it:

  • Stories send a message to children and grandchildren that they belong to a family that is unique
  • Stories are often the only way for younger generations to know the wealth creator. Stories connect, inform and inspire.
  • Stories integrate new family members, providing history and context.
  • Stories calm during anxious times, demonstrating how past challenges have been overcome.

Think generations, not quarters

As we’ve discussed in previous weeks, true family wealth is much more than money; in addition to financial capital, there’s intellectual, social and human capital.

It’s easy to think of these four elements as self-fulfilling and self-perpetuating, but it takes work to build and maintain them over generations.

Fortunately most of the “work” involved is interesting and enjoyable – spending time with and getting to know family members, sharing stories, and fostering an open dialog about family priorities and practices.
Sometimes taking the first step is the hardest. It’s work, but it’s work that pays off for a long, long time.


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