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The Single Worst Question to Ask in Family Legacy—Part II

In my last blog, I spoke about the single worst question in family legacy: Why can’t you be like me?

Why is it the worst question? It assumes that who you are as an individual in the family system is not good enough, doesn’t measure up—and that you should be something other than yourself. It also assumes that the person making the statement has the upper hand. It’s pride.

The why-can’t-you-be-like-me question also prompts the crazy cycle. One family member asks the question, which breeds a cycle of discontent and distrust. In the context of a family business, a strong-willed visionary patriarch may ask the question of his introverted, present-focused son, whom the father wants to run his company. In many cases, that will not work.

And here’s the truth: Just because the present-focused introvert can’t run the company doesn’t make him bad or incapable. It’s just not how he is wired. Let’s not expect introverts to be extroverts and extroverts to be introverts. They are just different. It tends to be a constant reality that families push children into the business when they may not be equipped or wired for the roles they assume.

On the other hand, can you imagine the power of what takes place when a child works within their gifts, talents, and abilities and gets recognized for that effort? There’s great freedom, acceptance, and joy.

This basic understanding of personality can go a long way towards promoting family harmony. Look for my next blog on distinguishing personality vs. character.

Related articles:
The Huge Disconnect Between Succession and Legacy
Plant a Shade Tree for Five Generations
Writing a Terrible Life’s Legacy

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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