Part of a great foundation is about being part of a family, whether it is biological or chosen. Creating a structure where you can support others and benefit from their support when you need it strengthens the person you can be.
What does your family look like? Perhaps you are married with children. Perhaps you are single or divorced with children. Perhaps you are the child of parents. Perhaps you are a sibling? Perhaps you have grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. If you watched the television show “Friends” you could see and example of six friends who although only two of them were related biologically they became a family who was there for each other. When my wife and I were young parents we moved three thousand miles from our families to the West Coast. Two other couples that we knew from back home did the same and now twenty years later we have spent most family occasions together and our children have grown up together more like cousins than the relationships they have with their actual cousins.
Families can take on many configurations but regardless of what they look like they can be an important part of our personal foundations. For most people the reality is that jobs, material objects, acquaintances will come and go but family will be there when all else fades away.
I have coached over three thousand people and I have been trying to recall if I have coached anyone who has told me that their family is just not important to them. I can tell you with great certainty that I have coached hundreds who tell me that their family is the most important thing to them. This can be a challenge when you work in a career that demands that you sometimes spend many hours and days away from your family. Some would say that their chosen career is one where their family suffers, while others in the same career have found that it has provided brilliantly for their families and given them flexibility to be there at times when others would have found it difficult.
What I would like you to consider is not how a career affects the strength of a family but rather how the strength of a family impacts a career, your health, your happiness and your prosperity.
In the book “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” Og Mandino talks about being present in the moment when one of the characters says “I will think naught of my family when I am in the market place for this will cloud my thoughts. So too will the problems of the market place be left in the market place and I will think naught of my profession when I am in my home for this will dampen my love.”
This speaks to the challenge that I hear from many of my clients is that perhaps their family doesn’t get the best of them when they do come home. If you come home exhausted after taking care of hundreds of people, if you come home with little patience and some irritability, or if you come home still engaged in some of the issues you have been dealing with during the day, good luck in strengthening relationships in your life. If our families are the most important thing, they deserve the best of us. When we can be present with them, having fun, listening to them, learning with them and truly being with them the family gets stronger.
When people leave a turbulent home to go to work they may have trouble leaving the family issues at home when as Og puts it they go back into the marketplace. When they are not as present in the market place their energy, performance and decision making suffers which may mean they have to stay later to get things done. They may be bringing guilt into the workplace as they think about what they have missed doing at home.
When we strengthen the family our relationship becomes easier, there is less drama and less energy wasted.
Those who have built strong families will tell you that you truly know what you have when times get tough. When someone in the family is ill or someone has lost a job or experienced the loss of a loved one then we start to see the depth of a family. I was recently talking to a twenty four year old young man whose father passed away suddenly at a family event. I couldn’t get over his strength. He told me that he had lost his best friend but he said that there were over one thousand people at his dad’s funeral, his friends had all come to visit him every night of the week since his dad’s death and people he didn’t even know were dropping food off at the house so his mom wouldn’t have to cook.
Conversely I knew an angry man that had alienated himself from family. He had no contact with any of his ex-wives. His parents were gone. His siblings would have nothing to do with him. He was alone. When he was dying of cancer I went to see him. I am not sure if anyone else did.
These are two very contrasting stories. One about a man who lived a wonderfully fulfilling life where he could accomplish a lot outside the home with a strong family foundation and one never felt supported and who never seemed fulfilled and would make people in his path pay for it.
It is my hope for you that you can see the importance of taking the effort to build those relationships in your family so that it is a wonderful foundation, a refuge from the storms and joyous place to be.
As I wrap up this article I would just like to express how thankful I am for my family. I have an amazing immediate family and as I write this, my wife and I have been married for 12,500 days. We have three wonderful children. My parents and eldest brother are gone, but I still have a brother and two sisters. I am thankful for all of those who have joined my family over the years and my CMAA family as well.
Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for the CMAA. You can reach Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org or Shelley MacDougall at email@example.com. Or call the Toll Free Coaches Line at 1(866)822-3481.