What makes a person truly rich?

December 21, 2023

by Pam Boney


I always love the new year, especially after a special holiday with family and friends. This year, we have so much to be grateful for. 

Over the holiday, I watched an old classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." It reminded me that being "rich" can have many meanings, and in this story, the lesson was clear: a rich life means building strong relationships and friendships. It's not that success or money in themselves is a bad thing; it's just that pursuing those things at the expense of other people is not a good thing. This is a movie where the main character, George Bailey, chooses to do the right thing for people he cares about versus following where his ego might have led him if he just thought of himself. He's having a pretty awful day at the beginning of the movie when it seems like he's had a stroke of bad luck. (Boy, I felt that way last year and could relate!). When many things go wrong at once, it's easy to question if you've chosen the wrong path. But what if you never lived at all? George gets to see what the world would have been like if it had not been for him. The lives he touched transformed an entire town into a good place to live. 

It may sometimes seem that life is giving you too much to handle. But what if your hardships are the precise experiences that have made you who you are today? Yes, it's easy to see that people have become more anxious, worried, and fearful in recent years after the pandemic. When faced with a crisis, we must make crucial, life-defining choices. We can carry the emotional scars with us, becoming more fragile and volatile and taking it out on others like George did at the movie's beginning.  Or we can choose to grow stronger from the inside out. Indeed, when going through tough times, it's easy to forget who we are and why we have made our choices. Each hardship helps us see a new way to commit to change something small that could make a big difference. Will we keep doing the same old thing or choose something new to try? Growing stronger or better requires mental toughness, personal tenacity, and making choices for the long game versus impulse choices for immediate gratification, avoidance, or distraction. Our brain will help us do all the suppressing we need to heal naturally if we give ourselves the proper time. At such times, life requires us to rise above our fears and do something difficult - to transcend our ego fears and remember why we are here. Examine our most lasting values, and think of the people we love. Only then can we become part of the solution instead of fueling the problem of extremes that would divide and isolate us. 

In the movie, the main character discovers the exponential generativity of his previous actions - his choices to do the right thing each day when presented with dilemmas. The culmination of his life's outcomes may seem ordinary to him on a bad day. But everyone showed him how much it mattered in the end. 

Generativity is an advanced stage of psychosocial development, which is this movie's central message. People are not perfect. We can behave in very messy ways at times, especially when reacting to what we think is bad luck. But these are also the only times we are willing to look at ourselves and decide to make a change. If it weren't ugly by our own standards, we would never change anything. 

Generativity in human behavior, a concept introduced by the psychologist Erik Erikson, primarily refers to the concern for establishing and guiding the next generation. It's a stage of psychosocial development typically associated with middle adulthood, where individuals focus on nurturing, productivity, and contributing positively to society and future generations. Key aspects of generativity include:

  • 1. Creativity and Productivity: Generativity involves creating, producing, or generating something that will outlast the self. This might include artistic or work-related achievements, contributing to societal or community development, or innovative problem-solving that benefits others.

  • 2. Mentorship and Guidance: A significant aspect of generativity is the desire to mentor or guide younger individuals or the next generation. This can be seen in parenting, teaching, or any role that involves shaping and supporting the growth and development of others.

  • 3. Caring for Others: Generativity extends to a broader concern for the welfare of others, particularly younger generations. It involves caring actions that ensure the well-being and success of individuals in their family, community, or society.
  • 4. Legacy Building: Generativity is often linked with the concept of legacy—what one leaves behind for future generations. This can be through contributions to one's field of work, community service, raising children, or influencing policies and practices with long-term benefits.

  • 5. Positive Social Impact: Generativity includes a sense of responsibility toward society and future generations. Individuals exhibiting generativity often engage in activities that aim to improve the world for future generations, such as environmental conservation, social activism, or philanthropy.

  • 6. Self-Perpetuation Beyond the Self: It involves a shift from a focus on the self to a broader concern for others and the future, often leading to actions that contribute to the continuity and betterment of society.

  • 7. Personal Growth and Evolution: Generativity also involves personal evolution, where individuals find meaning, fulfillment, and a sense of accomplishment in contributing to the greater good and nurturing the next generation.

Generativity is crucial to adult development, contributing to a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and well-being. It reflects a mature understanding of one's place in the life cycle and a commitment to positively impacting the future beyond one's own lifespan. The team at Tilt365.com is on a mission to help business leaders become more agile and generative to proactively help the next generation solve the complex problems facing our world today. That's a mission worth serving. It's been a tough couple of years since the pandemic for us, too. But we have survived and remain positive because of our mission. To serve those of you who want to grow. And to be there for you when things get tough. 

For 2024, I am wondering how we can serve our partners and customers in new, innovative ways.  We have a lot of surprises coming this year, which is exciting. 

Pam Boney, Founder

How can you grow your generativity?  How can you grow the generativity of your team?  Of your culture?  Visit tilt365.com and take a True Tilt Personality Profile to see your default character strengths.  Then, sign up for the waitlist for their most innovative generative assessment yet. The Agility Growth Tracker will be paired with the Tilt365 AI Coach, which will launch in Q1 2024.