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The challenge of finding ones own identity

Evolving Roles and Finding Your Identity in the Family Business 9th October Defining the role of each family member within a family business is rarely a straightforward process. Finding who you are within the family business is amongst one of the greatest challenges that most family members tell you about.

Their family and friends often did not expect them to make such a choice.

  1. I encourage those passive family business members to try to find an identity in relation to the family business.
  2. Start thinking beyond your family. Perhaps if you have a good friend you can open up to or if not find some way to talk about it such that you can really brainstorm the reasons for that persona.
  3. I was also taking part in various extracurricular activities and giving private tuition to several students. Life stages can be marked out even if they happen at different times for different people.

Of course, when you are involved in a family business, this becomes a little bit more complicated. A friend of mine, who has a real estate business, has a daughter who has had two careers in public relations. She did not include salary, but she did include her role and a couple of things she wanted to introduce into the business, such as social media and wellness breaks for employees.

This is a wonderful example of framing both the purpose and your impact. Things happen unexpectedly, and many of us get called into the family businesses in cases of emergency. Most people think of a family business as being either a mom-and-pop store or as big as Lego, but most family businesses are in between. We usually join the family business for emotional or family-driven reasons. The hardest scenario is when you join a family business from a need of the family rather than from a need of the business.

That makes the identity-finding process most difficult. Do not define yourself inside the family business right away. Go in and float. It is really a matter of understanding that seeing the business from the outside versus the inside are two totally different things. It is fundamentally different when you start working with the family business per cent and see your family members in those situations all the time.

3 Key Phases to Finding Your True Identity

The floating period is very important. There are a lot of things we have to do on a daily basis that have absolutely no meaning.

  • Creating a New Identity;
  • Asking Myself Why These Identities Existed When you have listed a bunch of your own identities, you have to start asking the difficult questions about why they exist in the first place;
  • What will you fight for?

Our impatience and need to attribute meaning to everything can stand in the way of a normal, natural evolution whereby we find our identity over a certain period of time. Many small family businesses let their new employees go through all the departments of the business to see all the different facets.

Try this approach if you can. You have to get a sense of how you react to each context. You might be able to discover what you can contribute only when you know all of these things.

Let me go back to something. Part two of the story is that, when this young woman gave her proposal, it was received with a fair amount of ambivalence and surprise. Identity is not something that we do by ourselves. We do it in the context of relationships, of a setting or of an industry.

Evolving Roles and Finding Your Identity in the Family Business

There are a lot of things that shape who we are and how we approach the world. If you float long enough, eventually, you will drown. People will see you as a Jill of all trades and a master of none. We all want to be definitive in what the people around us are doing. We want to understand, and we want to make sense of things.

  • You need to understand why they exist in order to understand how to reintegrate them into your single whole;
  • I had always been strong-minded, even to the extent of arguing with executive directors of companies I worked for as a low-level employee because I knew I was right;
  • For one, you hold multiple identities in your life, each with its own set of socially defined values and expectations;
  • It was as if I could hardly keep up with my own inner growth, but something was missing in that I had not yet integrated myself fully, yet I was already piling on more mess;
  • They can consult with them like a friend and together their entire single whole will inevitably help them make the best decisions;
  • Perhaps a combination of a few characteristics is what makes it unique too.

Someone whose role is diffused or nebulous can run the risk of being seen as either not able to commit to something or a spy. The problem is that being a family business member is nebulous and diffused by definition. All of these things need to be done in moderation and within certain time limits.

The identity discussion that I have much more often is with the in-laws, who provide free expertise and contribute significantly to the mental and emotional well-being of family members.

I encourage those passive family business members to try to find an identity in relation to the family business. Have you seen something similar?

3 Key Phases to Finding Your True Identity

I think structure helps. The extent to which anyone involved in the family understands and has the opportunity to negotiate what their role might be helps to create boundaries.

These boundaries are vital in reigning in a shareholder who is constantly dominating a meeting. Some businesses have family councils, some have retreats, and some have vacation together. This becomes an opportunity to connect people and to share their ideas. Another approach is setting up different kinds of conversations, depending on the size and scope of the business.

As people get older, the role they have had for many years may shift. Maybe they want time to create their identity outside of work. You said the contributions that non-family members make can go unrecognised. Keep in mind that family members have all kinds of influence on what goes on at work. They can offer guidance and counsel, and that could be from many family members at different points.

  1. Perhaps a combination of a few characteristics is what makes it unique too. Creating a New Identity.
  2. More than that, work is increasingly dominating the lives of most people, and even part time jobs look pretty full time.
  3. More than that, work is increasingly dominating the lives of most people, and even part time jobs look pretty full time.
  4. From my own understanding, there are 3 key phases to finding your true identity. Then we wonder why we aren't happy when we do get that.
  5. I have a very varied bunch of people I know and in the past, I was definitely different when socialising with my photographer friends vs. It highlights areas in your own personality which you feel you needed to isolate or emphasise depending on the people you are presenting to.

Life stages can be marked out even if they happen at different times for different people. It can be a reverse-engineered process. While there are a lot of things that are predictable about business and data, the human factor remains. You grow as a person, and the level of impact that you can make on the business will become bigger.

Not to end on a challenging note, but life does intervene. Parents get older, they require care, and they become part-time. The fluidity that family businesses can allow is a gift. Be grateful for your family businesses.

You Are More Than Your Identities

Thank you so much, Amy, for another great episode. About Amy Katz and Daughters in Charge: Amy Katz is an executive coach and social psychologist whose business, Daughters in Charge, focuses exclusively on supporting women in family businesses. She is the author of Daughters in Charge: