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Edition 198 – Emotionless Practicality

Last week’s weather and catastrophic fire warning in Sydney was, for me, both confronting and provocative.

Living on the semi rural outskirts of South Western Sydney, we’ve experienced a bushfire directly across from our home in the past decade. Things can take hold quick, and there’s little time to act if danger presents.

Prior experience, understanding the gravity of the situation and knowing our beautiful view is actually farmland that hasn’t seen cattle for a considerable period of time meant we were taking no chances.

We each packed a bag of clothing. Important documents were boxed up. Cars were cleared out. Passports, birth certificates and important family historical documents were gathered. Some of our photos, that were not replicated digitally, were selectively picked and set aside.

As I stood on our roof (not a mean feat for someone that hates heights) and cleared away tree bark and leaf litter, the heat of the mid morning sun radiated off the roof. It was like being in an open air sauna. However, time was of the essence and it was merely a case of “get on with it”.

Throughout the two days, we had to completely ditch emotion and absorb practicality in our endeavour to be ready. Choices were made to leave things behind, in the interests of our need to evacuate quickly, should something happen. I’d even made the decision to leave my beloved Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint in the garage, so emotionless was our task.

Thankfully, the worst didn’t eventuate. For us, at least, the best possible outcome from last week was achieved. A huge relief!

As the week went on, the whole experience had me thinking about the family businesses that I have known over the years that are not practical enough, and too emotional, about the things they are holding onto in their business. Things like:

  1. Staff that no longer align with your own direction – but you feel a sense of obligation to retain out of some notion of loyalty.
  2. Clients you’ve held onto, even though they are lousy payers, late minute demanding types, speak rudely to your staff – or all three!
  3. Products that you developed and were proud of at the time – but haven’t stood the test of time.
  4. Processes that were developed at the start of your business, and that you’re holding onto because it’s always the the way you’ve done things.

Family businesses are more emotional than any other business simply as a result of the family element. I have a number of clients whose family comprise 50% of their staff compliment (even my own is 75%). The challenge for every family business is to:

  1. Stop for a moment.
  2. Remove any sense of emotion about anything, or anyone.
  3. Consider what’s practical about the issues they’re facing in their businesses.
  4. Ask themselves, how is this slowing down our family business?

The process is amazing – and you may well find that you’re filling a metaphorical bag of clothes that no longer fit, and things you no longer need.

You can be practical about the emotional, provided you are reasonable.