For the past 20 years I have been fascinated by all things #familybusiness and this is for a number of reasons. The first is to better understand my own personal experience as a fourth generation CEO in the business my great grandfather founded in 1903.
The second is to understand why I was in the position of closing it in 2009. The third, and possibly more interesting reason, has been to explore the lessons that family businesses present for business, relationships, family and humanity as a whole.
All three of these led me to be fascinated with work-life balance; as anyone that’s part of their family’s business will confirm, there’s no such thing. But on further digging into this, it seems that work-life balance doesn’t exist anywhere especially in a world of significant technological advancements and social change. Having run consistent research into this over the past 5 years I’ve discovered that what people really seek, in order of desire is:
- To feel fulfilled and understand their purpose
- To feel balanced in life
- To connect to the world and feel open to opportunities
With what they are struggling with being, in order of highest priority:
- Feeling stuck
- Feeling a lack of imbalance
- Feeling separated and disconnected
When balance is poor (my research shows 97% of people struggle with this) it undermines everything that builds of top of it such as relationships, careers etc. This is why people feel STUCK. Stuck is the result that shows up when there’s poor balance and misalignment – true for people and business, relationships and projects. When left over time, this gets worse as it did for our family’s business, and you eventually reach breaking point.
Balance holds the key to our confidence. If you think of Jenga bricks, the first brick creates the foundation for the rest. In this example, we are each the first brick in our life. If it wobbles then it impacts alignment in relationships, careers, business etc.
Next, when we lack purpose we feel lost and confused – there is a lack of clarity. This is true for us as individuals but also in business. After all, it is an individual, or group of individuals, that ultimately run businesses. Understanding PURPOSE is to create an anchor to connect meaning to and this allows alignment.
I recall reading a HBR article once that said: “Ultimately, a company’s value is just the sum of the decisions it makes and executes”. Decision making requires two vital things; confidence and clarity.
The need to understand who you are and where you’re going is vital in life and critical to finding fulfilment but it is just the same in business, knowing the business (balance = confidence) but also aligning to a clear sense of why (purpose = clarity). Rather than purely focusing on the results (financials, happiness, success), we need to focus on playing the game. We need a LIFE IN BALANCE and ALIGNMENT.
Build balance (conference) and anchor to purpose (giving clarity) and you will make strong decisions that create value. In life this means fulfilment.