Emotions in the Family Business - Part 2: Compassion
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.
Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
Chinese rulers of antiquity knew that compassion brings true inner peace. The Golden Rule, "Do onto others as you would have others do unto you," originated in early Chinese rituals. Versions of the Golden Rule exist in the major world religions. In Christianity, as "Love your neighbor as yourself." Islam states in the Qur'an, "Not one of you can be a believer unless he desires for his neighbor what he desires for himself."
Human beings have always known that when life seems tough, home can be a place where we find love, compassion, and warmth. Because it is within our family that we feel reassured that someone understands and cares how we feel, compassion is a crucial element that makes up a strong and united family business. The compassion we witness and experience in our home inspires us to be more compassionate to others, ultimately strengthening the family business by establishing deep relationships within and outside the company.
Compassion happens when you personally acknowledge and understand a suffering person. This kindness arises by validating the other person's experience, or as Plato said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." Acknowledging the other person's battle brings you closer to their situation, validates their experience, and creates peace in yourself. Like gratitude and love and forgiveness, compassion heals all it touches. It radiates out as it resonates within.
Compassion is a universal human quality too often forgotten in the small moments of life. We underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word, a moment taken to listen. These are qualities each of us can consciously develop and strengthen.
For example, begin each day with a meditative moment of gratitude for your family and all the special people in your life. Then, demonstrate this gratitude by warmly and consciously greeting the first few people you see or talk with that day. Practice being conscious of your compassionate feelings with more and more people. Make it as natural as breathing. Bring your inner sense of love, forgiveness, and acceptance to each greeting, each time. You can do this this directly or silently. Scientists say this practice stimulates the prefrontal lobes of your brain that generate compassion and inner peace. In other words, by regularly practicing compassion - acknowledging and validating others - you are physically and emotionally improving your own well being.
A final, critical aspect of compassion is service to others. I believe this is a learned behavior. Serving others must be practiced to become instinctive. Mother Teresa committed her life to treating India's poor with compassion and love. She said, "I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness." In that statement you recognize how committed she was to acknowledging the suffering of others. You feel her courage to place herself in situations where she lived with compassion, gave of herself, and undoubtedly drew resolve from that effort.
Each of us has opportunities every day to express compassion. We can serve by volunteering for our communities, schools, and charities. We serve our families by supporting aging parents and grandparents. We serve each other by conducting our lives with the compassion to validate others.
Mother Teresa also said, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." Understanding and practicing compassion brings the realization that we are all one people. The human race is our family tree. Compassion nurtures its growth, extends its branches, and flowers its existence. For, as Jamaican musician Bob Marley wrote, "One love, one heart, one destiny." It is the basis of morality.
Alcohol abuse can be devastating to families, even more so when a family runs a business together. When alcohol or other chemical addiction is a part of the dynamic in a family, virtually any attempt to resolve family and business issues is infinitely more difficult. Read More
Within the family business, it is often easy to forgo the expression of gratitude. However, the health of the family business and its relationships can become damaged or weakened without the element of gratitude to alleviate the stresses of everyday life. Read More
Compassion is a universal human quality too often forgotten in the small moments of life. We underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word, a moment taken to listen. These are qualities each of us can consciously develop and strengthen. Read More
In the flow of life, it is certain that individuals in a family business will anger, offend, or upset another family member. It frequently happens with people we love because we share such a special bond. The successful family businesses I encounter have learned how to forgive each other, how to create a new beginning in their relationships. Read More
Conversing with a Lakota medicine man who was a fellow participant at a conference I attended in Taos, New Mexico, I described my current frustration with a client who owned a family business. I told him the work wasn't going well. He replied, "You know, Tom, sometimes the magic doesn't work." It got me thinking.
Older generations tend to think technology has ruined our capacity to reason and communicate. Meanwhile, younger generations look at boomer family business leaders and think they are totally out of touch with how the world works today. Here we'll look at practical ways to resolve the conflicts. Read More
As family business entrepreneurs prepare to hand their life's work off to their adult children, a huge shift in communication tradition has produced a tidal wave of conflict and distrust among generations. It can tear apart a business family. It can also put a family business at risk. How can it be overcome? Read More
Fewer than one-third of families who gain wealth maintain it to the grandchildren. This is even more astonishing when you learn that all of those families have a wealth preservation plan. What happened? Read More
No matter how well run a family business is, a single tragic event can come out of nowhere to wreak havoc on the financials and the family. Having clients create their own Green Boxes may seem arduous, but it will significantly assist their survivors in perpetuating the family business and their legacy. Read More
When families that have a business together gather for the holidays,
they sometimes have another place at the table set for discussing their
business. This scene shares similarities with one of my favorite holiday
films: The Bishop's Wife. Read More
The turn of the year symbolizes an excellent opportunity to make a
significant New Year's resolution: a plan about wealth and money. One of the greatest fears parents in family businesses have is the
impact of money on adult children and grandchildren. I often hear
parents lament, "It was much easier making the money than figuring out
what to do with it." Read More
Exploring the notion of bringing a family business's family values and
traditions regarding religion and forgiveness into their everyday lives
to create healing when family business differences have broken or
severed family relationships. The philosophy of the ritual is to pair it
with other family rituals and use it as a tool to begin to focus on the
future. Read More
My theory states that when families gather and there are minor business or financial differences...nothing is said...the small problems are ignored and instead of going away, they fester, eventually growing into larger problems. Read More
One of the most common sources of conflict in family business occurs when people confuse their roles as owners and employees with those of being family members. Often there are unspoken, and conflicting, expectations on all fronts. Read More
Business conflicts can tear apart a family. Family business conflicts arise because family and business have different (even opposite) goals. A family is protective and loyal, with strong emotional ties that tend to resist or minimize change. But a business must be productive. It values competency and candor in order to embrace change and create success. When goals clash, we can help resolve the conflict between family and business. Read More
The most perplexing question in the context of family businesses has to
do with the nature of soul. From my perspective, soul is what drives
all of what happens in family businesses, and it is the indefinable
essence of a family's spirit and being. Soul is not something that can
be measured or quantified, but it is easily recognizable by both its
presence and absence. The soul of the family business is not easily
defined. The following attempts to reflect its nature. Read More
Does your family business need help with succession planning, conflict resolution, management or other issues? If so, we'll arrange a one-on-one orientation meeting with you and Tom Hubler to help you explore the possibilities of working with us. If you choose, your family and business associates can also attend. Here, in a relaxed environment, you can talk about:
- Key family business issues - Plans necessary for the success of your family-owned business - Possibilities and expectations - Terms of the relationship