by Adam Bright
In our business life there are many things that can pull us away from our families. Many people loose their families whilst pursuing a successful business. The sad part about this, is that many families can actually be happy in the journey of building a business. These three simple secrets will keep your family culture in a happy place.
First, we need to become agile families. In other words, have targets that need to be achieved as individuals in the family but keep the “how” to achieve those targets up to the individuals involved.
It’s early morning and the chaos of getting everyone ready for work and school ensues. What is the actual objective of the chaos in the morning? Simply, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, be on time for school/work. If this is the objective then simply make this clear. If those involved are not ready when it is time to go, we leave anyway. Maybe going to school in their pajamas once or twice may ensure that the objective is reached. It is not up to parents to chase the children around to get ready. Clear objective = calm mornings = happier family. Yes, this does take time, but I promise it works. Let each person decide how they will achieve the collective objectives of the family. Become agile, have multiple ways of achieving the objective.
Second, tell your story. You tell the story of your family to your children. Then let the children tell it back the way they want to tell it. It gives children a sense of certainty to hear stories about the family. It helps them build identity. And then that identity is not a flash in the pan but has heritage behind it. It gives the child stability in a chaotic world. They take on the role of your family not just their lives. This helps counteract the narcissistic tendencies of children in this post modern era. They live for something bigger from an early age. My boys often say things like, “the Brights don’t do that”. They, in their minds belong to a collective and are not on their own. Plus, the stories intrinsically carry family culture without me saying you need to do this or that. The culture of our family lies in the stories. This settles and stabilizes the children, makes my wife and I happier people, which makes our family a happy place to be.
The last secret to a happy family culture is to empower your children. How much time do we spend trying to control our children’s behavior? This is such a futile exercise. No one likes to be controlled, including our children. Our time would be much better spent teaching our children to think. For if we empower them to think then the behavior happens naturally. One of the most basic ways to empower them is to give them choice. “Dad, I’m not tired. I don’t want to sleep.” “No worries, come lets sweep the house.” “Daaaad!” “ My boy you have a choice. You can sleep or you can help me sweep the house?” I’m not telling him what to do, I’m causing him to think about making a better choice. He doesn’t have to like the choice, but it is his choice. I don’t like all the choices I have but I still have to make them. Also, give positive choices at times… like “you can have the biscuit now or you can have two biscuits after dinner.” Obviously, the choices we give should be age appropriate. It not helpful to say, “You can play in the road or you can play in the yard” to your 4 year old child. The key is to give them choices and let them experience the consequences of those choices. Empowering your children leads to a happier home and you may find a more empowered you!
Pssst…. These same principles lead to a happier work place culture.
Adam Bright has been involved in organizational development for twenty years. He is a certified Strategic Interventionist, Coach Trainer, NLP Practitioner and active public speaker. This article was first published on Entrepreneur.