Preparing for an Important Family Voyage
Regular readers know that I have a certain penchant for metaphors, so this week’s blog post won’t be too much of a surprise.
Having previously shared my frustrations with what people who do my kind of work should call ourselves, (eg. “No Dad, Coaching Is NOT ‘Helping Losers’”) we’re back here once again, if only to demonstrate that we’re no closer to a resolution.
But let’s just say that the word “guidance” has always had a nice ring to it for me, so this week we’ll be talking about the value of a good tour guide.
And since families who own assets together have embarked on a long voyage together, I hope you’ll agree that my metaphor is apt.
“Coaching” Continues to Grow, Including On Me
It has taken me a few years, but the idea of referring to myself as a “coach”, first and foremost, is growing on me all the time.
It probably has to do with the maturity of the industry and the fact that I recently completed my long delayed coaching certification process.
That process included many interactions with lots of different coaches who ply their talents and expertise is a vast array of fields.
Very few of them specialize in working with families who are either in business together or who own significant assets together.
This really is a niche inside a niche.
A Good Coach Can Help Anyone
It is true that a good coach can help anyone, assuming that person is up for it, and not afraid of doing the work.
There are plenty of examples of coaches who know little about any particular domain who have been able to help their clients make great strides despite the coach’s own lack of experience in their client’s particular field.
Going back to the idea of the coach as a guide, I think you’ll agree that someone who’s familiar with the terrain that the client is coming from, the ability of the coach to “get” the client, and truly understand what they are experiencing, is much greater.
That NYC Tour Guide Knew Her Stuff
Imagine visiting New York for the first time and going for a tour. You get lucky and end up with the most personable and knowledgeable tour guide you could ever have hoped for.
So next year, when you decide to go on an African safari for your vacation, would you try to find that tour guide and ask her to lead that “tour” too?
I wouldn’t think so.
When I shared this metaphor with a colleague recently, she noted that she would never go see a male OB/GYN for the same basic reason.
“OMG! You Understood in Five Minutes”
I’m flashing back to a phone call I got last year from someone who had heard me as a guest on a podcast and who then felt compelled to contact me (that’s ALWAYS nice!).
As she related her situation, where she had recently been promoted over her brother, I noted some of the challenges that I guessed she was now dealing with, and she said “Oh my God, you understood in five minutes what nobody else seems to understand!”
Family members who work together have interdependent relationships that are unlike those of family members who do not, it really is as simple as that.
But as I always say, simple is not the same as easy, in fact, in cases like this, it is anything but easy.
Coaching Is Not Just a Skill
Learning to become a coach is something that just about anyone can do, but as with most such pursuits, there is a lot of “self-selection” bias, meaning that a group of coaches can often feel a bit too homogeneous.
And while the type of people who are good at coaching can use their skills to be a great resource to just about anyone, there’s something about the “lived experience” that no amount of training can buy.
Some skills translate to any situation, but others are just part of who you are, based on what you’ve lived through.
Context Is Key
The “FamBiz Context” might be one name for it. Yes, every family is unique, and every family member lives it a bit differently.
But in the end, there are plenty of similarities when you look at the relationships in one family and contrast them with those in another.
Always go with the guide who knows the terrain, and the context.