Posts Tagged ‘family business harmony’

4 reasons and ways to practice acceptance with mom and dad in the family business

file000370064754Working in your family business with your mother and father sometimes feel like a prison sentence with no sign of parole anytime in the near future!  I know I spent 16 years doing time in my family business.

I like to use a little humor as a way to ease the pain.  My 16 years in my family business was rewarding on so many levels but ultimately my frustration with certain things in the business led to my happy and healthy departure in 1999.  It was the best thing I could have done for me and our family.

One of the things I encourage my family business clients to practice is acceptance.  For some people that sounds like giving up but it really is not about giving up.  Here’s some things to consider about  acceptance:

Number one acceptance gives you the right mindset: The Brain

Scientists have proven that when we are under stress or in a state of anger it shuts down the creative part of our brain.  This limits our ability to see more choices on how to handle the situation.

Number two think the best of people

I truly believe no one wakes up in the morning and says in themselves “I think I’m going to make some people’s lives miserable today”.  People have annoying habits but at the end of the day I really don’t believe people want to make other people miserable. I believe they are stuck in unhealthy patterns and simply don’t know how to get out of them.

Number three see your own responsibility in the situation

Almost never do I see a situation where it’s all one person’s fault in the family business.  It’s like the old saying it takes two to tango.  The sooner you can see how your behaviors, actions and attitudes are contributing to the situation the sooner you’ll be able to have acceptance about the situation

Number four acceptance isn’t giving up its freeing up energy to see new choices

When I encourage family business participants to practice acceptance, I think they hear it like I’m telling them to give up.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  So many people are stuck in being cynical or re-signed about the situation, I’m simply trying to move them from negativity to neutral to free up their creativity and power to see and take new choices.

Start today!  Find a way to find acceptance in your family business situation and you will have taken the first step toward finding peace, purpose and prosperity in the family business.

How do we expect politicians to get along when we can’t get along with our own families?

office-675868-mThe politicians have reached an impasse and have decided to allow the federal government to shut down because they can’t find common ground.

Quite honestly, this sounds like some family businesses I come across.  Because of their own style differences, as well as differences in values and approaches, these families decide to not work with each other.  Instead of shutting down the federal government they shut down the family business.

Politicians come from lots of different backgrounds and geographies and can’t get along.  That’s not that great of a surprise to me to see them at an impasse. It is a surprise to me when families who have grown up with so much in common, can’t find common values and common ground to keep the family business alive.

I appreciate strong-minded people, but I do not appreciate people who can’t find ways to find common vision and win-win situations.

Sure, in a few cases the differences are so stark and unfixable that the family business should probably be sold or shut down.  But in many cases, there is so much good and so much potential if people with strong egos and unbending ideologies would just step back for a moment and focus on what’s good and be confident that they could craft a win-win situation and avoid all the damage caused by the zero-sum win-lose politics.

Look at this week’s political fiasco and compare it to your own perspectives, mindset, and willingness to find the win-win in your own family business.  Don’t create scenarios in which you have to shut off the lights in the family business just so you can be right!

Top 5 traits family business should want for the next generation

passingkeyResilience and self-reliance

Life brings many challenges.  One of the greatest assets a person can have is the ability to handle adversity.  At the beginning of most family business stories is a story of overcoming adversity.  Too often the other end of the family business story is young people being handed too much too easily.  In the end this can be a great disservice to the next generation.

I know that as a parent we are anxious when we push our kids out into the world to find their way, but at the same time it is one of the most important gifts we can give them.  I am encouraging every family to have an employment policy that requires the next generation to go out and on their own for two years before joining the family business.

Healthy individual identity

Young people need to find out who they are outside the context of the family business.  I grew up in a family business that had great name recognition in our town and it was a good feeling.  But it was an even better feeling when I created my own accomplishments and began to know who I was outside of the family business circle.

When I got asked to lead at my Rotary Club, industry association, and Little League, I began to know my inherent strengths and leadership ability outside of business.  It was a great feeling.

I see a stark difference in the confidence and abilities of next gen’s who apply themselves and create success in areas outside of the family business.

When a healthy individual identity is created outside of the family business that person becomes 10 times more valuable inside the family business!

A fulfilling career

So many of us want to see the family business continue but I would rather see my children in careers that are personally rewarding.  We should encourage our children to explore and understand their strengths and find careers that play to these strengths. I see many 45 and 50-year-olds that find themselves 20 years into the family business career and are left unfulfilled, wondering if they should have pursued their passion.

Make sure, encourage, and demand that the next generation explores their strengths and passions fully before dedicating themselves to a career in the family business.

Emotional and financial security

Many family businesses give next gen’s a great leg up on the financial security piece but I find many times the emotional security and well-being is not great.

Family leaders should help next gen’s find out who they are, find rewarding and meaningful work, create a strong individual identity and then they will have the greatest combination of all: great emotional and financial security.


Isn’t that what it should all be about?  I’m not trying to say life should be easy or simple but at the end of the day the greatest gift in life is to find happiness in all of our day-to-day trials and tribulations.

I see many people who sort of fall into the family business and then at some point look up and realize that they are not happy for a variety of reasons.  Life is short and we should help the youngsters learn how to be thoughtful and courageous about taking responsibility and setting their own course for happiness in their life.

Use 1 sentence to strengthen/repair family relationships this weekend

The most successful family businesses I work with have strong, healthy relationships as a foundation of their family.

One of the fundamental skills we coach to maintain healthy relationships is the ability to show genuine appreciation for others even in the face of disagreement and turmoil.

Many clients tell me they are reluctant to say something nice about someone they’re angry with because they think they will be acting insincere or phony.

I believe you can be legitimately angry or disappointed and still be able to hold genuine appreciation.  Showing appreciation is like “making a deposit“ in your relationship account with someone.  Building positive energy in a relationship gives you more room to work on tough issues when they arise.

Practice this skill this weekend!  Are you ready?  You can do this!

Do this with as many people as you can in your family.  The stretch goal is to do it with the person you have either the weakest relationship or a strained relationship.

Here we go…

Say “I wanted to let you know what I really appreciate about you is…(fill in the blank)”


  • …how dedicated you are to our family/our parents /your children/my children
  • …how much you care about everybody
  • …how hard you work at being a good _______(their profession)
  • …how you were always there for me

You get the idea?

Some clients tell me, “I would if I could think of one coach!”  And when I push and challenge them. they always come up with  something they appreciate and I’m often surprised how touching it is when they do.

So rack your brain – and come up with one.

Being able to observe and articulate redeeming qualities of someone is a skill in and of itself.  The sooner you build that muscle the sooner  you’ll have healthy strong relationships!

If you want free, full access to all of our deliberate practices, sign up here!


The “How to” recipe for a peaceful Thanksgiving

Hi, it’s Coach Pete and it’s almost Thanksgiving time.   It’s one of my most enjoyable times of the year. Families get together at the dinner table and really reflect on the things they have to be thankful for, enjoy each other, and enjoy a great meal together. It’s really my most favorite holiday. But I have to be honest with you, for all of you who have successful family businesses, you don’t seem as happy and as grateful as I think you could be. In fact in a lot of families spend so much time focusing on what is not working, they don’t spend enough time on what is working. You know building an attitude of gratitude is like a muscle.  Like anything else, you can practice it.  The brain scientists have proven to us now that when you’re in a mindset of gratitude, you have more access to the creative part of your brain and when you have more access to that part of your brain; you’ll solve problems, you’ll get along better, you’ll create greater solutions for your business, so here’s what I’d like you to do.

I’ve got a few things that you can start practicing being grateful for: How about just having a family? Having a family business? Having a mother and father? Or siblings? I lost 2 of my siblings by the time I was 30. I’d love to have them back and if I was angry with them in a family business, I would get the heck out of the family business.

So here’s my challenge to you: Take on a practice of gratitude. Come up with a daily gratitude journal –  you could write a letter to your founders or talk to them. I do that. I like to speak to the original Walsh Brothers and I say, “Hey thanks a lot for giving me this opportunity. Thanks very much for creating this business.” And you know what?  The other thing you could do is –  maybe it’s time to say thank you for everything you got in this family business and move on. Go start something for yourself. Don’t stand and be unhappy. The bottom line is a mindset of gratitude is a choice you make and it’s a muscle you can build and I need you to start working on it right now. Don’t ruin or waste this holiday season by having a bad attitude! Start some practices to get that grateful mindset.

I’ll be grateful if you send me some feedback about this video, comments on how it’s going or future things you’d like to see us discuss here in the community. Get back in the game and play to your potential!

Be sure to send this to anyone whom you think could benefit from this.  If you would like to receive our free videos via email, please sign up here.

How to deal with multiple personalities in your family business

Hi, it’s Coach Pete.   

Today’s letter is from Jeff in Seattle.  Jeff writes:

Dear Coach Pete,

My brother and I have been working together for 7 years and I am not sure I can take it much longer.  I see several opportunities for us to grow our business but my brother says we are fine just the way we are.  I’m optimistic and aggressive and he is conservative and content.  I see huge personal opportunities slipping away since I am stuck with him as a partner.  What should I do?

Great question Jeff.  I see this play out with so many of the families I work with.  In fact it was one of the biggest contributors to why I left my family business after 16 years.  The underlying issue is what we call in coaching as style differences.  As I look back now on our situation and I think about it, here’s a concept, get this.  If we had learned to appreciate each other’s styles, we would have been an even stronger team, but unfortunately people get stuck in resentment and frustration which leads to real issues in the business. 

A successful family knows that you actually need a healthy amount of tension between the different styles.  It’s what one of my clients describe is how they get the most juice out of the orange.  The first thing you need to do is to learn to identify and name the different styles between you and your brother.  I use a very simple and inexpensive questionnaire from a colleague of mine, Laurie Beth Jones. She has identified 4 basic styles: Earth, Wind, Water and Fire.  

Here is the link:

I am telling you, it will be some of the best money you have spent this year.  Sit down and map out your communication do’s and don’ts.  Really figure out what really works for you when others communicate with you a certain way and what really drives you nuts.  Now here’s the most important part, really start practicing having some self awareness you knucklehead!  Really start to see your style and other people’s style and action and try to identify their style and see if you can modify your approach to speak in their language.  Trust me it will make a big difference getting things done the way you’d like to get them done and then after you do that, go out and go to your brother; tell him what you have been up to and ask him to participate in this exercise.

Listen to me, you really do need these different styles and as soon as you can begin to genuinely appreciate each other’s style you’ll have better decisions, better results, and better satisfaction in the work you are doing.

As always send this onto to others who you think could benefit and send us your successes and challenges with this drill or your other questions you would like to see us handle.  It’s how we help all of the families in this community.  We all learn from each other. 

Here’s a bonus for you: Send me your test results, I’ll compare them to all the other people I’ve been working with and really tell you how screwed up you are. 

Now, get back into the game and play to your potential!

From Suffering to Celebrating in Your Family Business

It’s amazing the physical energy we take up on our families. In or out of a family business – our family members can frustrate us like nobody else can!

Why is that?

These should be the people we love and enjoy the most. We are usually cut from the same cloth, have similar upbringings and life experiences, yet they drive us nuts! Add the challenges of the family business and it’s like a perfect storm.

Imagine what it would be like if you could really enjoy working in the family business? Why isn’t that the case more often?

We let ourselves get on the emotional roller coaster of what “should” be or “could” be. We get trapped in resentments of things that happened in the past. We tolerate people’s rudeness or poor behavior. We get caught in the cross fire of the disillusioned spouse who is angrily at home mad enough for the both of you.

All of this can stop. How you ask?

Practicing a few simple mental skills. The brain scientists have proven how we build new neural pathways — new brain patterns. New ways of thinking. Here’s a few practices I have worked with for years:

Decide to either shut up or leave – stop your whining and complaining. If it’s that bad – take the courageous step of leaving and doing something else. I did after 16 years in our business. After being away for awhile and out in corporate America I realized the same problems existed, only now I wasn’t an owner. I had less ability to impact the culture.

Be grateful – yeah it’s not perfect, yeah some of you have difficult parents or siblings. But you have a job. Think about the 20 million people who don’t. Shift your perspective.

Be patient – your time will come. It might be soon or might be a while. Being angry is only going to make the waiting more painful

Learn to communicate powerfully – Learn the skills of powerful communication and make things happen! Request a new role, ask for a performance review. Be a leader and make a better life for yourself in the business. Show what you are made of —don’t be a victim, be an owner

Enjoy the journey –life’s short, get a hobby and stop ruminating about your family. You think you have it bad. I can tell you stories that will make your hair curl.

Try one of these for 30 days and tell me if it helped! Get back in the game!


Create camaraderie in your family business

Don’t under estimate the power of friendship and fellowship in the family business. When I asked a family group what they wanted, Jeff, one of the brothers, said, “Camaraderie.” It turned out to be an important idea. At the time the sibling group was not really enjoying each other’s company. They were stuck in a strained relationship haggling over roles and responsibilities in the family business.

After Jeff’s suggestion the group committed to a series of camping trips and adventures together. It’s amazing how all of the tension can melt away around a nice campfire or ATV ride. After each trip the group began to laugh a bit more, relate to each as brothers and friends, and eventually that energy found its way into our business meetings at work. They began to collaborate and work together to solve their common business problems.

Now creating camaraderie is a ongoing practice. They each take responsibility for designing and hosting a quarterly adventure. Like everything, it takes a strong intention and commitment to keep up the practice.

Stop Competing! (Against Your Siblings)

One of the most counterproductive behaviors I see in family businesses is siblings still trying to compete with each other as adults in the business. They are trying to resolve the challenges they had as little kids in the station wagon on family vacations. Little brother is trying to prove he’s smarter and faster than big brother. Little sister is trying to prove she is as tough as the boys. It’s hilarious! Most of us played sports and board games as children and got the competition mindset at an early age.

We when become adults in the family business the competition can be destructive. The focus and effort should be on beating the competitor, not each other! Great business families learn to discover and capitalize on everyone’s own unique talents. Some folks make great accountants and others great salespeople. Some are better leaders than managers. The best practice is to put people in the position that will best serve the company and play to their individual strengths. If you want to compete, get the monopoly board out, or go hit the tennis court. In business you need to learn to collaborate to beat your competitor.

Please enjoy this short 3 minute video and make a commitment to STOP COMPETING WITH YOUR SIBLINGS TODAY!

Sometimes leaving the family business is the best answer

I see many family business participants struggling to find both personal and family peace. They get so enmeshed in their family history and dynamics all of which becomes almost like a straight jacket in which they cannot move or see new perspectives. One client recently made the tough decision  to call it quits and move on. I see that as a great step for him personally and his extended family.

Leaving the family business has been like taking off the straight-jacket. He is suddenly able to move about, breath more freely and get a sense of who he is without the family drama.

My hunch, as their family business coach is that this is the best thing that could have happen to this young man and the family. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him come back to the family business at some point. I know this much, he has already gained a greater sense of self worth and courage. He has found employment in a company he loves and is gaining invaluable experience. He is finding room in his heart to have a healthy relationship with his parents and I see a new smile in his eyes and heart.

If you want to get a deeper glimpse into my client’s situation here is a video interview. Please encourage fathers, mothers, sons and daughters to be open to the idea of venturing out – it can be one of the best things to ever happen.