Mindfulness in Family Business
28th October 2020
Mindfulness is a rigorously researched set of practices that teach individuals and groups how to see what's really going on in the present moment.
For example you may think you're just having a reasonable conversation with your sister or son or father, but in their mind you are being aggressive, domineering, or plain stupid... only they're too polite, or scared, or submissive to tell you. That's how families often communicate... or mis-communicate... or fail to communicate.
Failure to communicate deep feelings or concerns or dreams or dislikes leads to a family and its business relationships operating on a surface level that seems to be normal but which underneath is a completely other world of unexplored issues that matter enormously to yourself or those closest to you. The amount of family individuals I have met who are working in the business solely out of a sense of loyalty and duty to their parents and heritage is scary, and the amount of senior generation who are working in the same business only because they have totally forgotten how to live in any other way is tragic.
Through practicing mindfulness we can learn to see exactly how our mind is when we communicate, or how we fail regularly to listen to our family, or how we respond with ill-concealed irritation or impatience, or with whatever negative thoughts or emotions the mind produces
With mindfulness we also learn how to deal with these destructive habits of mind, and to replace them with considerate, constructive ones. Mindfulness done together as a family can be transformative of family relations and business effectiveness because it helps us really see what's going on in our mind and around us moment by moment. Our decisions become better because we're thinking more clearly; our relationships become better because we learn to be calmer, more patient, more thoughtful of others, more compassionate.
From greater self-awareness and much better consideration of others, the big decisions like working in the business, passing on shares to the next generation, finding a successor to lead the business can be explored openly and constructively. From this rules and guidelines about how to best make such decisions can be formulated and agreed. A new, transparently explored and concluded form of governance can emerge that help the family and business deal with the growing complexity of a successful family business without the dangers of damaging fall-outs.
In this short video Martin delves into why and how mindfulness practices can help family business owners. And he shares some insights into his own experience as a family business owner.