We can only reproduce what we are. Everyone knows that if you plant squash seeds, you get squash plants. Obviously this law applied to people goes much deeper than the physical sense. You can’t expect those you’re leading to become something you’re not.
There’s been a shift since I entered the work force 35 years ago away from the race to make more money faster to creating a life of significance. Quality of life includes the value and importance of relationships. One effect that’s had on company culture is that businesses are actually purposefully building an environment that is more like a family than a working machine.
The problem is that a great majority don’t have any experience with how a healthy family functions. Statistics indicate that 7 out of 10 young people have grown up in “non-traditional” families. That translates to about 30% of U.S. families are now headed by a single parent, and in 80% of those families, the mother is the sole parent.
The United States is the world’s leader in fatherless families. Father absence contributes to crime and delinquency. Violent criminals are overwhelmingly males who grew up without fathers. In a study published in Molecular Psychiatry in 1999, it is reported that children of divorced parents are seven times more likely to suffer from depression in adult life than people of similar age and background whose parents have not divorced. This Israeli study, indicated that the loss of a parent through divorce is more likely to cause depression than loss through death. (Study by Bernard Lerer and Ofer Agid of the Biological Psychiatric Unit at Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem) This is just a tiny glimpse of what’s going on in the fabric of family life.
These figures are so common they’ve become accepted and lost the power to startle us. So is there any good news?
The good news is that the past does not equal the future. People can change, learn and grow – and it starts with you. Your life makes a difference. The choices you make in relationships today create a new future, not only for yourself but for those around you.
There are thousands of examples of leaders who have come out of extremely dysfunctional families and their stories of courage in overcoming great odds inspire and motivate. Honestly, at times I’ve felt like an oddity, and perhaps at a disadvantage, with the fact I don’t have some compelling story of recovery from abuse and dysfunction. But I’ve come to appreciate that since my parents actually modeled a strong work ethic, conflict resolution and the power of love and loyalty, I can model that in my home and in the marketplace… in fact, everywhere I go.
The resolute determination to build a culture with healthy relationships where trust, forgiveness, respect, courageous communication and love are predominant can change your home and it can change your work environment.
Destination: Transformation. It begins with us. It begins today.
Note: I do on- site team building to influence company culture and also work with individuals online in the course, “Lead from Within.”