Jun 26 2013

Tips for “Building Family Muscle” this Summer

Family vacations provide a unique opportunity to “build family muscle” in ways that will not only enhance family relationships but also improve the challenging odds of transitioning your enterprises to future generations.

Over the last 20 years of working with multi-generation business families, I continue to observe that families who do well in life AND work pay attention to the business of the family as well as the business of the business.  To be clear, very few successful business families devote the same energy, intensity, and commitment to their human assets –their family members- as they devote to their businesses or financial assets.

This fact is why our Legacy Family Journey process involves creating Family Councils to “build family muscle” which guides family members in developing competencies which include:

1.       gaining self-awareness about who they are and how they contribute

2.       moving to clarity around expectations and developing appropriate boundaries

3.       healthy communication & conflict transformation skills

4.       shared understandings or joint decision making processes

Multi-gen families who do well over the generations intentionally develop competencies which include compassion, collaboration, courage, and, yes, forgiveness.  Families are adept at both supporting and hurting each other, often unconsciously, as they automatically react to family patterns, past hurts or misunderstandings which leave families feeling “stuck” as they strive to reach their desired outcomes.

In short, an important task of multi-gen families is to support the development of high- functioning individuals who are passionately engaged in and contributing to meaningful relationships and in meaningful work.

So as your family gathers together this summer, consider committing some “structured” time and space together to “build family muscle” through one or more of these practices:

1.       Invite each family member (age 3 to 103) to share 1 or 2 of their accomplishments, goals, and challenges … and how the family can support each other on your personal and family journeys.

2.       Share memories of family mentors or loved ones who have already passed and how you may be carrying on their legacy and values.

3.       Invite new ideas for family “togetherness” … perhaps a new vacation spot or tradition; if your family doesn’t already spend time together, plan some time to gather this summer!

4.       Discuss a shared passion your family shares around making a difference in your community … and do it together!

5.       If you have teenage children or older, discuss what appears to be humanity’s decrease in how to have a “real conversation” instead of just “connecting via electronics” which leads to loneliness, not a sense of true connectedness or community.  I commend for your family’s reading Sherry Turkle’s excellent article on “The Flight from Conversation

What is one practice or commitment you will make to “build family muscle” this summer?

By Sally Derstine, Managing Partner, DVFBC

Tips for “Building Family Muscle” this Summer

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