Families consist of diverse personalities which inherently reflect the greatest challenge to harmony and productivity. There appears to be no end to the challenges presented by divergent personalities within a family. Nothing appears to accentuate inner family personality differences more than an attempt at business collaboration. Those families dedicated to unity and harmony achieve admiration and those who are prepared to do whatever it takes to get attention or make their point, regardless of the emotional collateral damage, create stress and achieve bizarre goals.  Just like the evening news, little attention is paid to the good guys who are affirming unity while headlines are given to the ones who are making life miserable for the rest of the family. In reality it takes conformist to start and build a family business and it generally takes “self aware” eccentrics to achieve extra ordinary levels of success.

 Family eccentrics are normal. Families typically have members who are on the edge some are just more willing than others to admit it. These atypical, eccentrics are wired differently and therefore see things differently. They have different priorities and preferences.  Although the world can be a crazy place, most of us who have family know that we don’t have to look beyond our families to find crazy.  Diversity that is accepted can be the source of fun, leverage and balance the business environment, and provide diverse skill sets, innovation and creativity to address challenges. Conversely, diversity that is not accepted, can sap the energy, effort and focus of families and leave them ill equipped to address the challenges common to their business environment. Unmanaged, misdirected, eccentric behavior can be the source of debilitating trauma and stress that effectively paralyses a family business.

 Self awareness is the common characteristic of hyper productive family businesses. Self awareness is an extra ordinary state of maturity that acknowledges:

  • Although my perspectives and priorities are different, the focus of our family’s energy, emotions and activity should be our business, not my eccentric perspectives, priorities and/or need for attention.
  • I am comfortable with conventional wisdom that some admittedly find boring because different opinions and practices can provide us the needed competitive edge.

The productivity of a family business is dependent upon diverse family members finding common business cause. The key to classically different family members tolerating each other long enough to find common cause is awareness of who we are and a considerate understanding of how our attitudes and behavior impact those around us.

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