Legacy - if you leave them less will it help more?

In a recent conversation with a colleague, we discussed our childhood hardships and the legacies we wish to leave to our children. One statement he made stuck out to me and led to a deeper conversation - he said, "I don't want to leave my children too much. I want them to have to work for their success, as I have, and learn the valuable lessons that come from going through hardship."

Growing up on the poor side of the tracks, as we both did, was difficult. Difficult enough to give us pretty sizable chips on our shoulders well into adulthood even with a relatively solid amount of success under our belts early on.


From my perspective as a Black man, who made it out of a bad neighborhood, I deal with the issue of, feeling insecure about what I've worked for, the ownership of my success, and questioning it's longevity. More importantly, I face tremendous anxiety around defining what it will look like for my children to inherit It.


I often reminisce with friends about the jokes we heard as kids about success: we remembered the kids who were picked on for having two-parent homes and how we respected those with nice clothes. We remembered what it was to be chided for "sounding White" (speaking articulately) and we talk about what it meant to be "too smart" to be accepted in the cool crowd. 

At one point in our conversation we sighed; realizing how detrimental to real progress being raised in such an environment was because of the mindset it bred. It instilled a boot camp mentality as well; the errant notion that such an environment is a right of passage to earning the stripes for success as if ridicule and shame are needed to toughen one up in order to achieve more.

We are grateful that we're fortunate to wield our resentment for the trials we faced while making it out of such environments instead of living with the contentment of staying in them and allowing our children to be born into them as well but we shouldn't glorify such experiences.

The discussion returned to legacy building after a brief tangent and I asked these questions, "In a world where wage gaps are widening, the net worth of the wealthy is growing at an exponential rate, and being well-educated and unemployed is commonplace, won't there be more than enough hardship to face and lessons to be learned from them even if we leave our children all we can? Isn't it a misguided belief that if our children receive a hefty financial shield then that somehow weakens them on the field of battle?"  

No matter how far ahead we get in life or how well some of us may camouflage our past with present success - there is usually still some semblance of the anger, resentment, and animosity of what we've endured to thrive, and in a number of cases, survive.

That bundle of emotions, I'm convinced, doesn't allow for a fair assessment of what it means to build a meaningful legacy; we must outgrow the necessity of significant tribulation as a factor in the maturation process if we want to plant seeds of exponential growth opportunities in the generations to follow.  

The main benefit of getting ahead in life should be that it can heal the pain of a hard past or at least minimize it in the future. As far as I'm concerned, everything I do is for my children - for them to enjoy an easier road to prosperity, not one riddled with financial strife or with anything else I can prevent from limiting their ability to reach their full potential.

If you go on believing that those who grow up with wealth are weak, those born with a silver spoon can't handle struggle, and those who have more at the outset lack the ability to succeed on their own merits, then what are you saying about how you expect to raise your own children? Don't allow what you went without due to lack of resources determine what your children shouldn't have due to lack of compassion. 

How do you plan to build a substantial legacy when you despise the people born into them?


Continue to Prosper,


T. Johnson-Bean, Founder
Author, Speaker, and Coach



Edited by: Michael W. Coulter


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