March 15, 1999 was one the biggest days of my life.
After spending most of my life aspiring to run the family business the day had come to pursue a different dream. Even though it was a huge decision, I had given it lots of thought and was ready to move on to the next chapter of my life. I knew I was leaving for the right reason.
Does this sound like you at all?
The #1 reason to leave your family business – the pursuit of happiness.
Think about it – what really can be more important to you in your life? Money, job security, status don’t mean anything if at the end of the day if you’re miserable.
What’s the cost of all that anxiety and suffering?
Since leaving my family business, I’ve had the opportunity to work with numerous other family businesses. What I realize is that family business can be an extremely challenging environment fraught with countless opportunities to become frustrated, angry and even feeling trapped.
I’ve yet to come across anyone who was literally chained to their family business, yet have found so many people who talk like they ‘can’t go anywhere else’. It’s a little like the flea that won’t jump out of the jar even after the lid has been lifted, or the frog who won’t jump out of the pot of water that eventually is going to kill him.
Anyone seriously unhappy in their family business owes it to themselves to work hard at finding a remedy for the situation.
The remedy isn’t always having to leave the business; there might be other alternate ways to find more happiness in the family business.
The point is – do whatever it takes to create more happiness in your family business experience. Like any important journey it will probably require you to challenge yourself, be courageous and determined, to make it happen.
Like any important journey, it will probably require you to challenge yourself to make a change, be courageous and determined, to make it happen.
Not everyone in the family may be invested in your happiness.
Everyone can have their own agenda and vision for what happiness means. You need to figure out what happiness means to you and then determine if you are able to make that happen in your family business.
At the end of the day, I became clear about what I needed for my own happiness within my small family and realized it was at odds with the agenda of my uncle, our CEO. I knew I needed to go. No great drama or resentment, just a mature realization of what I wanted and what I was willing to do to pursue it. Announcing my resignation to our 300 employees was awkward, but it was better than spending another 15 years pleasing everyone else at the expense of my own happiness.
One of the most important things you can do is to take the time and really think about what makes YOU happy.
- Create time for reflection surrounding what makes you happy, what does not.
- Realize everyone’s recipe for happiness is different.
- Life’s short – and the most challenging decision is to get started or make a change.
- Seek input from others – there are instrumental people or mentors in your life to help you gain a new perspective.
Good luck and enjoy the process!
Family business can be full of landmines. We help you navigate them.
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