To continue my thoughts on how to find family harmony, I think the second thing we all need to remember about family unity is that none of us have a right or entitlement to a loving, supportive, unified family. Family love and support is not an inalienable right. I contend that outstanding family business relationships, just like outstanding businesses, are achieved as the byproduct of a mystical commodity known as hard work. Those who want to achieve family and business success work beyond the pain to achieve the gain. And if you have not had a dose of reality lately, just trust me when I tell you that wherever there are relationships, there will be pain.
As humans, we (except for my Mother) lack the ability to read each others’ minds. We also lack the ability to always clearly express our feelings and expectations. Thanks in part to the primal instinct of survival buried in our psyche, we commonly think of ourselves before others. Therefore, it is inevitable that irrespective of our sincerity and effort, the security, support and encouragement we seek in family relationships will sometimes also be a source of frustration and pain. This pain can only be overcome with hard work in the form of a long series of small steps and sacrifices by family leaders. These family leaders will set the standards and expectations of going the extra mile to promote and support family. They will walk the talk even when it would be a lot easier to “don’t and say we did”. My belief (and I am sticking to it) is that whenever I see a unified, harmonious family, I can find those who have “taken one for the team” and who have personally sacrificed their priorities and agendas for the family. The security and gratification of family does not just happen, you have to earn it. Reciprocally, if you are expecting all the benefits of a strong family and have not had a history of thinking and acting “family first”, it is time for you to get real.
Be sure to check out my post next week Remembering to Forget – The Secret to Building Family Business Harmony, for my final thoughts on finding family harmony
Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to stay informed on how to overcome related succession planning issues.