“Humble beginnings and a difficult past are blessings in the making.”
(Francis Kong, while discussing the root of his success)
When I was sixteen, I ran into a couple of my friends from another high school and found them sulking over their burgers and fries at a regular hangout. They had just come home from a weekend-long retreat in the rural areas as a requirement for their theology class and explained how experiencing the life of local farmers had been surreal. Unfortunately, one of the rather affluent students felt traumatized from being put into a situation requiring him to do hard labor such as tilling soil or washing dishes so he threw a fit as soon as he got home. In order to appease their teenage son, his parents contacted the school administration, furious about the security hazards involved. And just like that, provincial retreats were officially scrapped from the school program.
It’s easy to blame the student for not being able to see the value of the experience and taking that opportunity away from the rest of the students in the following years. But it is the telling response of his parents that revealed the real source of his character.
Believe me when I say that, as a parent, nothing will mean more to me than my child’s happiness. Their hurts and pains are my own as well. But one of the biggest cancers in high society today is how wealthy parents are indirectly encouraging their children to believe that their happiness is above everything else, including the law. That is exactly the kind of wrong message we send when we do not expect them to abide by the simple regulations of a governing authority— whether it be the rules set in place at home, in school, or within the community we live in.
This is a fact, not an exaggeration or a myth. I see it every day from people who demand special treatment when a restaurant is fully booked and a table is unavailable. I cannot count how many times I’ve heard customers angrily threaten employees when they are forced to line up at the bank or at the passport renewal center. Waiting for anything is unacceptable these days. And some actually claim that they can afford not to tolerate any inconvenience even if it is at the expense of others.
Whatever happened to patience, consideration, and simple compliance to rules that have been established to create a well-functioning environment for everyone? Since when has every law or basic requirement become negotiable by moneyed standards? When rich parents use their financial influence to bypass the system, they are teaching their children at a very young age to do the same. In that instance, we have trained them to disregard the importance of discipline and yet we still wonder why it has become so difficult for them to achieve personal success.
I’m ashamed to admit that I used to feel the same way. When I stepped into my first literature class during my freshman year in college, there was an immediate sense of belonging. Nothing could contain my excitement at experiencing masterfully written works of art at a university level. I instantly took to it like bees to honey. Halfway through the semester, one of my classmates lamented that he was failing miserably and asked me to help him draft an outline for our next assignment. I did the best I could to assist him in fully expressing his thoughts onto paper. It wasn’t an award-winning piece by any means, but it was passable. When our drafts were returned to us, my classmate was ecstatic to see a big bold B scrawled onto his work, but I was shocked at the C+ written on mine. When I confronted my professor, he shrugged his shoulders. “My expectations from him were extremely low but he wisely asked for help and he passed a decent outline for his standards. On the other hand, my standards for you are much higher and I felt that you could have done better. Life is about expectations and you didn’t work to reach your full potential.”
Unfair. Unacceptable. I was furious. In my anger, I skipped the rest of my classes that day and stormed into my room, fully determined to drop his class despite the consequences. Unable to calm myself down, I barged into my parents’ room and made a dramatic narration to my mother about how I had been discriminated against by the same professor I had gushed about only a week before. I wanted her to do something, anything, to fix it.
When it was all over, my mom stared at me with barely an expression on her face. She said, “If your friends can get a B in his class, then so can you. If you need to work harder than everyone else, then work harder. It’s your professor’s decision. He’s the one educating you, not the other way around. He told you what you need to do to get a better grade, so go and do it. Now get back to school. I’m not paying for an expensive tuition fee just so that you can pick and choose when you feel or don’t feel like attending your classes.”
She made something very clear to me that day. Things are not always fair or equal. The harsh reality is that no one will just easily hand us success on a silver plate. And she wasn’t going to lift a finger to grab it from anyone on my behalf either. Whether I liked it or not, I was going to earn it on my own. There was only one thing she was willing to do—she was going to make sure that I never gave up just because the road to get there had become rough and unbending. She did so by constantly watching me with eyes that spoke volumes. Pick yourself up and try again.
Throughout our adult lives, my mom was never an active participant in our decisions regarding our careers. Instead, she chose to remain a spectator while maintaining her position as a fierce judge of our character. It was enough, though. Because if there’s one thing we’re well aware of that she’s never had to say, it was that she truly believed our powers were limitless. In her eyes, she was absolutely certain that her children could accomplish anything as long as we were fully committed to it. Whether it was true or not was irrelevant. It was her unwavering faith in us that convinced us to try.
*This excerpt is taken from Raising Heirs by Eleanore Lee Teo.
Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash.
The first generation makes the money. The second generation spends it. By the third generation, there’s nothing left. It’s the same classic story that we’ve heard before and we can’t help but ask — why do many accomplished entrepreneurs find it easier to build a business than to raise their children to become independently successful?
This book is for those wondering why their children are lazy and reckless with their money. This is for the children who wonder why they’re being labeled as lazy and self-indulgent. And this is for those who are close to success and have the time to prepare their children for what’s to come.
The solution lies in your hands. The best part about it is that it won’t cost you a fortune.
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