“We’re Here to Improve, Not to Impress”
Each week in this space I write about subjects relating to families who work together for their long term benefit.
This can be in a family business, a family office, a family foundation, or any combination of these and other scenarios.
But when individual family members work together on these matters, they aren’t always coming in with the same goals or attitudes.
Blogging About Enterprising Families
The idea for this particular post, which I used in the title, comes from a situation that has nothing to do with families at all, but rather from a real life experience of mine that I recently noted.
Of course I needed to find a way to take that message, tell that story as background, and then relate it to the world of enterprising families.
I’m pretty sure that I found a way to do it, but I will leave it to readers to evaluate my success.
Coach Training Example
Those of you who also read my monthly newsletter (and care enough to pay attention to the details of my life that I sometimes relate therein) may know that I began a coaching certification program in April, with CTI.
During our very first session with our CPL (Certification Pod Leader), he made a statement that I wrote down and vowed to keep in mind throughout the program, and beyond.
He asked all nine of us to remember that we were there “to improve, NOT to impress”.
I’m pleased to report that it has stuck with me, and I’ve repeated it to myself, and others in our group, on a few occasions.
What About Family Members?
So where can we use this idea when working with family members? I’m glad you asked.
I think that the best way to begin to look at this, is to actually think about the expression in reverse. Wait, what?
Well not really in reverse, but let’s think about the “here to impress” part of it first.
I have seen my share of family businesses, and in many of them, there are certain family members who expend a lot of effort and energy trying to impress others.
Now this might be fine if all these efforts were being made in order to impress outsiders, like customers, suppliers, bankers, etc.
But when they spend so much of their time and effort trying to impress their parents and their siblings, that always leaves me feeling at least slightly disappointed.
Poorly Focused Efforts
That disappointment arises mostly because it feels to me like many of these efforts would be better put to use for the common good of the family.
Instead, they often have at their core a need for certain family members to boost their own worth within their family.
When people feel the need to act this way, it is usually disappointing to me.
But this isn’t about me, it’s about the families. So let’s look at it from their viewpoint.
How About Improving Together Instead?
Now I want to go back to the expression in the title, and examine the first part. “We’re here to improve”.
Imagine that instead of certain family members attempting to bolster their personal superiority over others, they would simply act first and foremost as team players, concerned with the success of the entire group.
Every group of people who work together, in whatever form, will have people with varying levels of abilities in different areas.
It is rare to find a group in which one single person is the best person in that group at every task they undertake.
Going Far, Going Together
As I wrote that last line, I flashed back to a blog from 2016, which remains one of my favourites.
Going Far? Go Together, was inspired by an African proverb that reads,
“If you want to go FAST, go alone. If you want to go FAR, go together”
As someone who writes regularly about families who work together, and who has admitted repeatedly to having a “family first bias”, I hope you can see why this proverb is close to my heart.
Improving Together Impresses the Outsiders
When families can keep their focus on making things better for the whole group, they will actually end up impressing many outsiders.
While that may not be their goal (and probably shouldn’t be) it is a nice side effect.
Hopefully other families can then watch and learn!