Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The smell of freedom

There is that moment when, suddenly, you understand that you have options; when the weight of the ball-and-chain — known as the family business — disappears, and you realize that you have possibilities you can consider. That is when the first scents of freedom hit you.

It's a liberating moment.
For J. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The perfect map

Another great post by Seth Godin. So true:
"The search for the exact case study or the exact prescription is the work of the resistance, a clever way to stay safe, to protect yourself from your boss or your self-talk. If you wait for the perfect map before departing on your journey, you'll never have to leave."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The parent, the child and the adult walk into a candy store...

I'm sure you've noticed by now that I reference my three voice-keteers post pretty often. And I wanted to explain the concept of the parent, the child and the adult a little more in depth (no, it's not multiple personality disorder).

The idea of the "3 voices in our head" describes the model of a thought process. The theory was developed by Freud who called the three voices: the id, the ego and the super-ego (sound familiar?). You can read more about Freud's theory here (it's a very deep and interesting read). But in order to keep things simple — and easier to relate to — I call them the child (id), the parent (super-ego), and the adult (ego). To me, the visualization of the characters goes a long way. Here's the gist of it:
  • The child is only interested in pleasure and instant gratification; it hates pain and suffering. Think of a 3-year old in a candy store: she doesn't care about right or wrong; all she wants is to eat the candy.
  • The parent is the inner critic. It uses guilt to "help" us conform to socially acceptable norms. Back to the child in the candy store: her mother (the parent) now shows up and scolds her, saying how it's wrong to take candy without asking/paying.
  • Finally, the adult that does its best to please the child, yet avoid upsetting the parent and breaking any of its rules. Its sole purpose is to make the best possible decision under these circumstances. Back, again, to the candy store: the store owner (the adult) comes out the back to see a parent telling off a fit-throwing child. So he says to the child that she can have the candy if she apologizes, and that next time she should ask her mother before eating it. Crisis over.

These three characters are internalized in your head, and they sound off each time a decision needs to be made. At times louder, at times less so. The challenge is to figure out which one is reacting and driving the decision. When you figure that out, you'll be able to pause and recalibrate the reaction into something more calculated. Think about the last argument you had with someone; do you wish you were less angry and more collected (i.e. "less" child)? Where you focused too much on why you were right and they were wrong (i.e. "too much" parent)? If you listen close enough you'll be able to make that distinction. You'll be able to calm the anger or try a different approach other than the right/wrong angle.

Reacting accordingly is up to the adult to carry out. That's just what grownups do. And by reacting accordingly you will be doing your self-esteem a HUGE service. Huge. So get to it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Worrying too much about the consequences

When things go south (in a relationship, a situation), do you find that you hold back on speaking your mind because you are worried about how it will come out (or sound)? Worried about what the other person (or people) will think? Do you worry about the relationship(s) taking a hit if you were to say something?

I know I have...

Here's what happens inside your head: the Child gets upset with something or someone. It wants to react, emotionally, and say what it feels. It wants to fix the wrongdoing, now! The Parent on the other hand will lecture you about how it isn't right to react that way: "You don't just tell people what you think! It's not nice!". If the parent is "stronger", the child will lose and stay quite. This means that you'll probably holdback on any directness, or even tip-toe around the whole issue altogether.

But there's a catch to the parent "winning" (or really, to the child loosing)... The child ends up throwing a fit. This translates into: You getting angry/upset with yourself: "I'm so weak for not saying/doing anything about it!" you'll probably say to yourself. Your self-worth will take another beating. More anger will bubble inside...

Been there, done that...

The only way out of this is to think calmly, preventing the feelings from getting the better of the situation. Understand that the situation angers (child) you and that you can't (parent) just take it out on the other person. But — and this is big but — that you need (child) to say something about it in the right (parent) way. Once you understand the "need"/"right" inputs, let the Adult decide how best to handle it. Formulate the correct way to approach the situation and say your thing so that everyone (parent and child) are happy.

If you learn to listen to your inner voices, you will find that your thought patterns change, and that situations that seemed impossible to deal with, become possible. It's all in your mind.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The next level

I started this blog as an outlet. A place for me to vent my emotions and share my challenges and insights into the process of leaving a family-owned business. It's funny how quickly time goes by: next week will mark 2 years since my first post. And it got me thinking that it's time — with the new year and all — to take the blog to the next level.

It never stops to amaze me just how many leavers there are out there. Ever since I started the blog, not a week goes by that I don't receive email from a fellow leaver, sharing her/his situation and at times asking for advice. And though the leavers are from around the world(!!!), the language we speak is one. It's the language of low self-esteem and self-doubt; of lack of appreciation from, and disappointment in our family members; of senseless situations such as managing your siblings. We are so much alike...

It got me thinking that the blog had become bigger than just an outlet for myself. It had become a place for leavers to feel part of something. To understand that this process is something that so many others have gone through (or are going through), and that they are not alone in this.

You, are not alone in this...

There is so much empowerment in feeling part of something. In knowing that you are not alone. In receiving advice and counsel from others that have "been there, done that". And, more importantly, in offering your own experiences and helping others. There had to be a way for me to share that.

And so I am happy to announce the Leavers' Exchange Forum a place for you to connect with other leavers, to ask questions and share insight and experiences from your journey. It's a place for leavers, by leavers!

The forum is available here (and in the menu on the right), and I do hope you join and share (you can share anonymously, too). Together we can help make the leaving process a bit more bearable.

See you there!