freedom choice

The Difference Freedom of Choice Can Make

Human nature/tendency is a funny, tricky, complicated, interesting thing – especially when it comes to trying to teach, motivate, inspire, and persuade family members in a family business.

Sometimes, for example, the desire to pass on the passion we have for the family business may not be received the way we intend it to be.  And like so many things in life, the answer may seem counterintuitive.  Many parents who desire to pass on the business to their children make the mistake of not allowing it to be a choice made by their kids.

A Forbes article succinctly made the following point, “If you dictate a course of action that any other person must take, or else, you generate a feeling known as psychological reactance in the person you are attempting to control. Tell someone, ‘You must do X…’ and his first impulse is to think and feel, ‘Oh, yeah? Watch me do the opposite…’”

What I appreciated about my early years was that my parents never pushed me to study to fit in at our family business or pressured me to work with our company. My mindset at the time was that the freedom of choice given to me was an olive branch of trust between my parents and me as I moved from a child to an adult. They considered me to be capable and trustworthy, despite my youth. I had gone to boarding schools and summer camps, traveled on my own already—all as part of a proactive plan by my parents to get me ready for going out on my own—and I’d shown them that I could be dependable and reliable and that I would do well.

But because of this, I didn’t spend afternoons after school working for any of the businesses our family was involved in. It also meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to work anywhere else either and learn to appreciate the discipline that such an experience would have offered. Ultimately, my parents wanted me to choose my own path, and my path led me to come back to the business by my own volition.

By allowing me to have this sense of independence and giving me permission to seek out what I wanted to do and to discover what I loved, my dad allowed me to experience family first, and I chose the family business instead of feeling stuck with it. He unchained me from that by not confining me, and I tangled myself in them because I wanted to.

Give your family room to make their own choices. That freedom will likely increase their desire to be a part of it in the long run. Learn more about running a successful family business by visiting,