51-year old CEO: “Most of my personal wealth is tied up, directly and through incentives, in the shares of the company I run. On paper I am financially independent, but it’s all still on paper. I have the option of increasing my exposure. Should I gear up one last time – or go against the tide and start cashing out?”

2014-01cYou are blessed, being afforded financial independence at your age.  But you are behind with your cash-out strategy.  You have to seize the moment.  Your first responsibility is to preserve an ample amount of wealth and diversify it away from your business venture.  It’s not disloyal or unambitious; it’s responsible. 

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“I sometimes behave in ways that I don’t like. Is it possible to change one’s personality?”

2013-10bThe answer is yes.  But if we were you, we would approach the challenge by asking three less intimidating questions: 

‘Which pattern of response in my life do I want to change?

Don’t taint your whole personality.  Be clear about the recurring elements of your behaviour that you want to adjust.  Be as specific as possible.  When you get to this answer, ask yourself how you think before you behave in this way.  You never act without first thinking.  Habitual emotions and behaviours are always preceded by a well-oiled pattern of ‘giving meaning’ to stimuli. 

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“How do I teach my children the concept of gratitude?”

2013-09A good starting point is to fully understand what you want to teach them.

Most people interpret gratitude as an occasional declaration of indebtedness – and practice it as a fitting religious custom or act of social politeness.  To teach a child to exercise gratitude in this way has its place, and is up to our own discretion and subject to the nuances of your culture.

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“I am on the verge of entering a business partnership with someone. I’ve burnt my fingers once before. What are the things that cause partnerships to fail?”

2013-08Collaboration is a vital ingredient in any success story.  However, a partnership that doesn’t work out can become a very costly affair.

We can offer you seven hints to ensure that your partnership is based on a solid foundation.  First and foremost, a partnership has the potential to become a burden if the partners’ values differ.  Both of you may agree on ”what” you want to achieve through the alliance, but when you differ fundamentally on ”how” or ”why” you want to accomplish it, the table is set for constant friction.

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“I don’t find time to plan. How do I address this dilemma?”

2013-07bWhen we don’t find time for something, it normally means that we don’t regard it as a priority.  It is not a matter of ‘self-discipline’ or having more time, but a simple question of affording it the status it deserves.

Planning, as many other important things in life, isn’t urgent.  It isn’t a noisy attention seeker.  It only enters your life on invitation.  It only responds to a diary entry with its name in, a real date with yourself, backed by an agenda, attended to with respect and attention.

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“Can you buy happiness?”

2013-06We suppose it all depends on your definition of happiness.  If you mean ‘a sense of security’, yes indeed, money does enable some of it.  If you mean ‘moments of pleasure’, absolutely, money can give you access to interesting experiences.  But if your definition of happiness implies being at peace with yourself, inner calmness and being in harmony with the life you choose to live, we’re afraid the reach of wealth is limited.

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“I constantly find myself in the mind space of ‘I don’t make it’ and ‘I’m lacking’, despite my obvious achievements and privileges. How does one break out of such a tiring mental mould?”

2013-05This deficiency-syndrome is surprisingly prevalent among talented people.  So much so that ‘being hard on yourself’ has become some form of self-approval.  I suspect it originates from the achieving-is-everything model within which talented people format their view of life.

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“Why am I so good at what I do in business, but failing so dismally in some other areas of my life?”

2013-04We get our returns where we spend our resources in orderly fashion.  I suspect you attend to your business ventures in a way that you don’t do in other areas of your life.

There is a rhythmic pattern to success.  It always starts with a desire to succeed.  There is a strong correlation between the probability of success and the quality of commitment with which you arrive at the outset of an endeavour.  Are you perhaps involved in some things you don’t really value?

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