It might seem like a lifetime ago, but remember back in January when you intentionally set your 2019 goals?
From the main Highway 29, which is to the west, rows of vines stretch eastward like green corduroy, a seemingly endless linear vision quest. Here, on this 400-acre parcel in the heart of the Oak Knoll growing area, sits one of the oldest and most successful family-owned and family-run businesses in the region. Trefethen was a family operation from the very beginning. In the early 1970s, John Trefethen’s parents, Eugene and Catherine Trefethen, passed the winery along to John and his wife, Janet, who ran it for more than three decades and grew the small-but-mighty business into a local powerhouse with national distribution and a penchant for customer service. Fast-forward to recent years, when John and Janet repeated history and passed the business down to their children: 34-year-old Hailey and 38-year-old Lorenzo. Today, the duo is poised to build on the family legacy and take the company into the next decade and beyond. Along this multigenerational journey, the Trefethens have stayed true to one thing: Each other.
“One thing we’ve always done a good job with around here is keeping everything about the family,” says Hailey. “Yes, we’re running a business. But we’re also running a family. The two can coexist.” —Family Business Magazine, Published July 21, 2021 Matt Villano
Family Businesses. While they have all the opportunities and challenges of any organization, they also have the added benefits and liabilities of their unique family dynamics. Those families who successfully navigate passing the baton from one generation to the next share some common practices. Based on my observations and feedback from clients, the following are key to ensuring that both the business and the family can thrive for years to come.
- The perspective needed to ensure successful transition to the next generation:
• Being grounded in history –understanding of the family’s history, values, traditions, and business origin(s)
• Being willing to move to the future – having a passion and openness to moving the family business into the future
• Being open to doing things differently – willing to try other ways, take risks and learn new things
- The importance of building an intentional culture:
• Articulating a clear WHY, defining purpose and getting aligned on why the business exists
• Defining the values and supporting behaviors in service of the strategy and the desired culture of the organization
• Mentoring the future generations
–Training – teaching the business to the next generation
— Delegating – sharing tasks and responsibilities, providing direction and support, and creating an environment where one can learn from mistakes
— Promoting family ownership for the future success of the business
- The willingness to make investments in business strategy and organizational development:
• Developing a strategic plan
• Prioritizing goals and objectives – creating a timeline, committing to tasks and following through
• Evaluating gaps and providing the necessary training for family members in the business to meet those gaps
• Hiring people outside the family when necessary to fill positions critical for success
- The commitment to develop strong relationships within and across generations:
• Making time for meaningful connection
— Creating shared experiences
— Working together on the business side and the family side; paying attention to both to be successful
• Creating space for meaningful conversations
— Coming to conversations with positive intent and a willingness to hear others’ perspectives
— Allowing for honest and authentic communication
— Extending grace when the conversations get tough or messy
— Learning about different personality styles and how to effectively communicate
• Sharing cross generational knowledge, learning, ideas
Finally, according to the clients I spoke with for this blog, what makes these practices most effective is the positive impact of working with a facilitator from outside the family unit. Having professionals familiar with family business who bring credibility, objectivity, resources, and skillful facilitation is key to a successful outcome. Even the most committed, cohesive and connected families can find themselves in situations where they need another perspective. A good family business facilitator can help the family business by accessing the family’s collective wisdom to uncover a clear path forward.
I first heard the famous quote by Marianne Williamson as a college student, and I remember being blown away by its message as it was counter to my beliefs about my fears.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
Up until this point in my life, I had believed that my fears were about not matching up; not making the cut, the grade, or the team; not getting the date or the job I wanted. I believed that these accomplishments would make me feel okay, make me satisfied and whole and that the lack of these accomplishments would make me less.
With just a couple of decades of life under my belt since first shifting my paradigm I still recognize that I can have limiting beliefs that invade my thinking. These are hidden rules and stories that I tell myself about my capabilities. They can sabotage my goals and prevent me from acting in alignment with my core values.
Rick Carson explains that each of us has an internal voice that is designed to do the sabotaging in our lives. It is this voice that tells us a negative story about ourselves; he calls it our Gremlin. In his book, Taming your Gremlin he explains, “Your gremlin is the source of your negative thoughts and he (or she or it) uses some of your past experiences to influence your attitude and behavior. Your gremlin can appear to be your best friend and advisor or your most ill-intentioned enemy. Although your gremlin wants you to believe that he has your best interest at heart, his motive is much less honorable: he is intent on making you miserable.”
Our Gremlin does not have to control us, but first we must understand it. Consider the source of your gremlin, does he/she tell you that you are not smart enough, that others don’t want you around, or that you don’t deserve happiness?
Carson continues to offer some solutions for noticing our gremlin by focusing on our own inner voice. When we observe ourselves falling into the following patterns, we can gently shift away from these negative thoughts.
You can’t – your gremlin tells you that you are not capable of accomplishing your goals.
When you hear yourself say, “I can’t do it,” change narrative to “I won’t” or “until now.” Consider this example: My husband recently began tutoring a college student in pre-calculus who described himself as being terrible at math. He shared that he has struggled with math for a long time and is worried he won’t be able to be successful. Imagine the field day his gremlin is having with this fear of failure. If he changes his language about pre-calculus he will have a better chance for success.
“I can’t do pre- calculus”
“I choose not to get help to understand pre-calculus”
“Until now I have chosen not to get help to be successful at pre-calculus”
You Should – your gremlin tells you all kinds of things that are absolutely imperative.
Beware of the gremlin words of should, must and ought. Think about the last time you felt like you should do something; you likely felt trapped and forced into doing whatever it was. Next time you notice those words try replacing it with the phrase:
“I choose to or choose not to”
You Don’t Deserve – your gremlin tells you that you don’t deserve what you want: material things, positive experiences, or even peace of mind.
We can suffer feelings of guilt when we feel like we are not worthy of deserving these things. Our guilt is paralyzing and stops us from action. Next time you feel guilty, decide what is the source of that guilt and then make a choice about an action.
Imagine I have neglected a relationship with a friend and I feel guilty about my lack of action.
My gremlin will tell me I am not really deserving of having that friendship in the first place. I can remain paralyzed with guilt or make a choice to reach out to the friend, and apologize for neglecting the relationship. Or I can decide to do nothing, and be at peace with the implications of that choice.
Fantasy is Reality – you have heard the joke about the risk of making assumptions; your gremlin loves for you to live based on assumptions about the future. I call this negative scenario creation Horriblizing. It is projecting my worries into reality about the future instead of naming the worry that I am experiencing. Carson gives a helpful example of the fantasy is reality gremlin tactic in his book:
If, for example, you feel that your employer will reject an idea that you propose, you might say to yourself, “I am imagining that my boss will reject my idea.”
The key word is imagine, which allows us to notice the fear we have and make a conscious choice about our actions.
When I focus my beliefs on what I can accomplish and on the power of impact I can have on my life and those around me, I feel powerful and full of choice. When I let that inner negativity or gremlin take over my thoughts, I am less in control, less effective and less happy.
Let’s keep the gremlins on center stage for a Halloween decorations instead of a source of negative thoughts in our lives.
If there were ever a time to do it, to make a difference in your life, to embark on something worth doing, it is now. Not for any grand cause, necessarily, but for something that tugs at your heart, something that’s your aspiration, something that’s your dream. You owe it to yourself to make your days here count. Have fun. Dig Deep. Stretch your mind. Be determined, and DREAM BIG!” – Anonymous
here was a time in my life when I felt like I lost the ability to dream – it just didn’t seem practical. My responsibilities filled my days with tasks, tasks that were important and tasks that I chose. Resources were stretched – it was difficult to be creative and think outside the box of our budget. And, at the end of the day, my discretionary time was limited and my energy was low. Then one day I received a flyer in the mail for a dome shaped houseboat and it captured my attention.
I’ve always loved the water and the idea of a little pod on the water in some quiet cove captivated me. It was fun to imagine trying this concept out, and although I never did it, I enjoyed thinking about the possibilities. This led me to realize that somewhere along my life path, I stopped dreaming. I can remember that as a child, I had no issue with dreaming about the improbable and sometimes the impossible.
The question that bubbled to the surface for me was, “When did I stop dreaming?”
Around that time, my life circumstances changed in a way that shifted how I spent my time. As I moved from a virtually full time volunteer position for a non-profit, to a paid position in a for profit company, I was challenged in unexpected ways. I had the opportunity to step into a work role that was unknown and untried. I noticed that as I moved forward and took on new responsibilities, I began to dream again and think about bigger, bolder goals to support my big dreams!
Sometimes we need to step outside the normal confines of our lives to be open to the grand possibilities that draw us. How can we do this periodically, to see where we may need to expand our thinking?
Mike Allsop shares candidly on a TedXAuckland talk about the big dreams in his life. From his childhood dream of becoming a pilot for Air New Zealand, to climbing Mt. Everest, and to running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents – these are dreams that he committed to and achieved over time by making a plan, breaking it up into small achievable parts (goals) and tackling them one step at a time.
When we commit to big goals that move us out of our comfort zones something happens that benefits us and others. We lead by tapping into creativity, connecting with others to ask for help, modeling a willingness to take a risk, and inspiring others to do the same.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
– Walt Disney
One of my big dreams was to move into a role that focused on developing leaders and, at the time, there was no position in sight. There were, however, several big goals that supported this journey towards my dream. I began by investing in my own leadership growth and skills development. At first, I was willing to take on new responsibilities and stretch beyond the comfortable in my current position, thanks to the encouragement from my leaders. Then, I was a part of a year-long program within my organization for developing leadership skills. This led to another goal, which was to attend an intense leadership week, to increase self and others awareness, and to dive deeply into the issues that kept me from growing in my leadership. Finally, I pursued a Business Coaching Certification at NC State, which unlocked new opportunities for working with leaders. Each one of these goals were instrumental in moving me closer to my ideal role. Remember to commit to small steps (goals) to support big dreams.
One of my big goals, after having a double partial knee replacement, was to participate in a 10K race. When preparing for my first race, I followed a weekly plan for increasing my mileage wisely and was part of a team that met every Saturday morning to train. During the last weeks of preparation, we participated in a 10K that was far more rigorous than the real event because of its substantial hills. As we began the last mile, we had a significant hill to climb. When we arrived at the top, I was horrified to discover that there was one last hill between me and the finish line. My walking partner that day was a 17-year-old football player who, when I groaned and exclaimed, “I can’t do one more hill, I’m done,” shared his perspective with me.
He suggested, “Don’t set your eyes on the top of the hill. Instead, just look to the five feet in front of you and keep moving. Before you know it, you’ll get to the top.” That experience has resonated often for me in the last decade. When I have a big goal ahead of me, a mountain that seems too tough to climb, I remember to break it down into doable chunks to ensure my success.Remember to focus on the next steps, not the whole journey.
With every dream we have and every goal we commit to, we have a myriad of choices along the way. We get to choose when to begin, what our strategy will be, what resources we need for support, and how we will break down our goals into small steps on a path that will move us towards our dream.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
– Lao Tzu
What will your first step be? Where do you need to dream bigger? What small steps can you take to move towards that big goal? How can you change your focus to encourage yourself to persevere when the path is challenging?
What’s your leadership superpower? Are you Captain Transparency? Are you able to engage your team in a single bound? Or do you have a superhuman ability to develop those around you?
What if I told you there’s a superpower that combines transparency, engagement and developing others…and then shared tips for transforming into a leader who possesses all three?
Prepare to don the impenetrable suit of a Resolution Renovator (imagine a narrator’s booming voice for full effect)! Becoming a Resolution Renovator involves using the recent flurry of resolution-, intention- and goal-setting activities as a springboard for forging deeper connections with your team.
Reveal Your Secret Identity
While it’s common for leaders to share business goals with their teams, consider revealing your personal and professional development goals to your team as well…and asking them for feedback on your progress throughout the year. You’ll foster a deeper connection, reinforce the importance of development and model vulnerability and transparency. Google has included everyone’s goals in its internal directory…how’s that for transparency?!
Explore Your Teams’ Personal Goals
The New Year marks a great opportunity to discuss new professional development goals and progress towards existing ones. It also affords an opportunity to ask how you can support any personal goals your direct reports may wish to share – an ideal topic for an engagement conversation.
Repurpose General Resolutions
Brainstorm ways to turn popular resolutions – including those that seem completely unrelated to work – into professional development opportunities. Try asking these questions of your team or individual direct reports:
a. Get in Shape: What wasteful or inefficient processes should we tighten up? Who would like to explore potential solutions?
b. Enjoy Life / Travel: What have you always wanted to experience or try at work, and how can I help make that happen this year?
c. Spend Less / Save More: Instead of external conferences or training, which internal experts might we enlist for shadowing or mentoring? Conversely, how can you lend your expertise to others as a mentor, workshop facilitator or presenter?
d. Spend More Time with Family & Friends: Who else in your network can support your goals? What introductions or connections can I make for you?
e. Volunteer: How can you apply the skills and strengths developed through volunteerism to your job (e.g., communications, problem-solving, strategic planning, collaboration)? Let’s be sure to recognize your professional growth in those areas.
Although studies show most resolutions fail, you can use them successfully as a backdrop for practicing transparency, engaging your team and exploring development opportunities all year round.
What leadership approach will you try to meet your goals and resolutions?
To succeed, you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you. – Tony Dorsett
2019 is here. After all the festivities and the well-deserved break the holidays bring, it’s difficult for a many of us to get back into the swing of things. Whenever I’m getting ready to do something that I’m not looking forward to, my wife always encourages me to find the Easter egg. In this context, an Easter egg is that hidden surprise that makes things exciting, fun, engaging, and positive.
Finding the Easter eggs can be key to motivating and inspiring our teams and ourselves.
As leaders, are we looking for what our folks are doing right and then pointing it out? Are we celebrating progress and not just the accomplishment of huge goals? Are we trying to find the Easter eggs? And then, are we encouraging our teams to do the same thing? It’s up to us to encourage our people to focus on what’s working and positive. There’s a technique called appreciative inquiry which is about building off of strengths and what’s working. When it’s cold and grey outside and motivation is at a low, helping folks concentrate on their strengths and opportunities is a useful approach. Help them find their Easter eggs!
Once the Easter eggs are found, keep the momentum going.
Often, we get bogged down in goal setting. Goal setting in critical, but we all know that the vast majority of new years resolutions do not come to fruition. What are the behaviors we can be practicing year-round to make those goals a reality? Think about the Easter eggs. Are we focusing on the strengths and behaviors that will be most in service to accomplishing our goals? There’s a voice in our heads that says, “You should be doing this, you ought to be doing that.” That voice typically distracts us from what we are doing well, and what we are accomplishing. I’m not a fan of solely focusing on strengths, but we can easily overlook our gifts and focus on our failures.
The beginning of the new year is an ideal time to reflect on the previous year.
How have we grown? How have we been successful? If we could rewind the tape what would we do differently? Where do we want to put our time energy and efforts for the new year? Motivation comes from focusing on what’s most important to us and then choosing to act. 365 days are short and precious. Let’s not waste them on things that don’t matter to us. Let’s spend those days on the things and with the people that matter most.
Focus on those Easter eggs!
I promise, all that focus on positivity and what’s working will help foster a remarkable company culture and a successful year.
Accountability. It’s a word that gets bandied about often. We hear that accountability is one of most important elements fueling truly successful organizations. And it’s easy to talk about how we need to be more accountable, but accountability can be like rain. We all know we need it, but we don’t want to get wet. So what does accountability really mean? And how can we truly begin to hold ourselves and those around us accountable?
At the heart of it, accountability simply means doing what you say you’re going to do and keeping your commitments. Accountability and integrity are interlinked; to maintain both, we need to hold ourselves to a certain standard. Of course, as human beings, we are imperfect and can never be perfectly accountable. However, we can strive for this ideal accountability in our core values.
Accountability has three components. First, accountability calls for having clear goals so we know where we’re going. Next, accountability means getting feedback on your performance against those goals and in turn giving feedback. Finally, accountability must have rewards or sanctions based on an individual’s performance against those goals. If you’re missing any of these three components (clarity, feedback, rewards/sanctions) then accountability doesn’t work.
So, how do we encourage a culture of accountability in the workplace? Again, the first step is setting clear goals. In a black and white world, goals are very easy to set. But the world is complex and dynamic, and the reality is that it’s much more difficult to maintain clear goals and expectations. When everything is important, nothing is important, and ever-shifting goals can cause confusion. Individuals should strive for a sense of clarity in these very complex environments, and then do their best to give and get a constant stream of feedback to strengthen accountability across roles within an organization.
One of the toughest things people struggle with is giving and getting feedback – and doing it enough to help drive accountability. So often we keep secret scorecards on how others around us are doing, but don’t ever disclose them with the individual. Our peers don’t know our comments and concerns, because they can’t read minds. Yet we constantly assume they know, because that’s easier than actually sharing the feedback.
A great place to start when giving feedback is to develop a sense of curiosity about what a colleague or manager’s goals are. Then, check your intent. Do you actually care about this person’s success? If the answer is yes, it’s a great idea to give constructive feedback which will help develop true accountability. If your intent is about hurting them or defending yourself, then you shouldn’t be giving feedback.
Setting rewards and sanctions for accountability standards helps set healthy boundaries with people. If you have the choice not to work with someone who is truly unaccountable to the point of being toxic, make that choice. It is important to remember, however, that accountability doesn’t turn on with the flip of a switch. It must be built over time. Be willing to take baby steps and recognize small victories, as it is rare that your feedback will inspire change overnight.
Does your organization have a shared vision of accountability? Start by assessing where your organization is currently and where you want the organization to be. Then you can begin to build the foundation to lead you there. It doesn’t really matter where you start – what matters most is that you start.