Journey Towards Fulfilment

High job expectations can lead to disillusion and disappointment - the meaning gap.

by Matthew Gwyther, mt editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

To be poor is a bad thing, but to be born into big money can be a curse too. Whatever the offspring of the seriously rich do, they cannot win. If they toe the line and join the family business, they will be criticised for hanging off parental coat-tails. (And if things go wrong, they will get double the blame.) If they simply live a life of leisure they are written off as feckless little rich kids who just party away the inheritance.

It is little wonder that Sting, a 'progressive' member of the super-rich, has said he intends to leave his kids nothing and that he and he wife are already making a jolly good stab at spending his whole fortune before they shuffle off to that great Green Room in the sky.

Mark Getty, however, scion of one of the most famous families in the world, is different. He inherited not only a mountain of cash but also a family name that was a by-word for calamity. This has made him sick and tired, as he says in the MT interview, of the 'trite association of money and tragedy'. Getty's way forward has been to found a business that had nothing to do with the family industry, oil. With his partner Jonathan Klein, he created Getty Images, which is now the largest picture agency in the world.

Also keeping it in the family are the Asian entrepreneurs who control six of the most successful companies in Britain's second-line pharmaceuticals industry. Collectively, they are worth many hundreds of millions and the strange thing is that all their families moved here from Kenya. Their backgrounds could not be more different from Mark Getty's. One of them, Navin Engineer, arrived in London in 1969 aged 16 with £75 in his pocket.

He worked nights at the Wimpey burger bar on Oxford Street to support himself through A-levels. The achievements of this East African 'rat pack' are worth bearing in mind as some of the more rabid elements of British society get themselves into a froth about immigration.

Heading in the opposite direction - from Britain into the Kenyan bush - is one of the people in our 'Work with Meaning' feature. Johnny Beveridge threw in a career with Salomon Brothers in the City to pilot a light plane in the African wilds. This is a report that progresses the series on work/life balance with which MT has blazed a trail in recent years.

The research, conducted by Roffey Park, suggests that one of the reasons that so many struggle with the demands of work these days is because they expect so much more from their job than they used to. This is what leads to disappointment or even disillusion - a meaning gap. Even J Paul Getty, Mark's grandfather and a master of business, did not get it all right, as he admitted: 'I hate to be a failure. I hate and regret the failure of my marriages. I would gladly give all my millions for just one lasting marital success.'

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