Who are you when no one is looking? Habit 3 of a family that wins was taught to me by my grandparents and parents who believed it to be the foundation of everything. What is it? Character.
I grew up believing character to be who you are when no one is looking. I’ve shared that definition with my children as we’ve worked to make it the bedrock of our family culture.
It is also the real foundation of all worthwhile success and the sum total of all the choices we make in life.
You are a successful leader. You lead at your place of business. You may even have started the business in the first place. But sometimes it feels as if none of that matters when it’s time to head home to your family after work.
At work, you get respect. People know the results you deliver and they turn to you for guidance and advice. But at home no one seems to care what you think.
Over the last several weeks, the community here at MarkTimm.com has grown significantly as I’ve connected with so many of you who want to be better leaders at home. It has been a privilege to connect with so many parents—and future parents—who long for clarity and confidence at home just like me.
One of the most valuable things to me about connecting with all of you is hearing the challenges you’re presently facing as a family.
So many of you have told me you struggle with organization, time management, and finding a proven structure to help you execute the dream of how your family could be. Many of you are leaders outside your home who feel dazed and confused when it comes to leading at home.
By now, most business leaders are wrapping up loose ends and getting ready to shut down for the holidays. It’s a festive time of year, to be sure — a time of reflecting, celebrating, and looking forward to what lies ahead. You probably have a mission in mind for next year for your business endeavors. But what about your family?
For a business to succeed, you can’t just wing it. You have to be intentional about choosing where you are going and developing a strategy to accomplish your mission.
A family works the same way. When we started treating our family as a business, everything changed for my wife, Ann, and me.
What is your greatest business success? If you’re a business leader or entrepreneur like me, your mind immediately turns to some resume-building accomplishment. But what if we’re missing something? What if the most valuable business you will ever own is your own family?
We entrepreneurs tend to focus on what is in front of us – our business. But when we do, we tend to neglect our families because, although we believe them to be important, investing in them doesn’t always seem to be urgent.
So we tend to let them slide, hoping our spouses will pick up the slack so we don’t have to try to figure it all out.
We hope our businesses will grow and make a difference in the world, lasting long after we gone. But if we’re not careful, we’ll miss the obvious truth: Our families are the one thing guaranteed to have an impact for generations to come.
Does your business have a logo? Probably. It’s rare to find a business these days that doesn’t. But what about your family? I posted here about how we developed a family motto. We recently went one step further and developed a family logo—and learned a lot about ourselves in the process.
Like many things that have developed once we started thinking of our family as a business, the logo idea started slowly. But as we engaged, it gained momentum and became about so much more than a logo. By the time we were done, the logo itself seemed like icing on the cake.
What we gained together as a family is what really made the process worth it.
There’s nothing like the feeling of leaving the office after a successful day. Unfortunately for many business leaders, that sense of satisfaction ends when they arrive at home and feel as if their families are spiraling out of control. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you are a business leader struggling to be a better parent, there is good news for you. You are closer than you realize to the clarity and confidence you need to build a family that you are proud of every day. You already have the skills and knowledge to make it happen; you just need to know how to apply them at home.
When a business is making money, few people care about whether everyone shares a common vision. But a company cannot make profit for long unless the executive team gets on the same page. There’s one thing you need for a business to thrive in the long-term—unified leadership.
When leaders don’t see eye-to-eye, a business flounders. Goals become less clear. Purpose gets fuzzy. Clear expectations go out the window. Chaos ensues as everyone advances his or her own agenda.
The same is true for a family. If you have chaos at home, the chances are good that you are not on the same page with your spouse. In business, we can cover up our divided leadership for a while behind carefully worded memos and press releases, but children have a way of identifying and taking advantage of the slightest division between parents.
Imagine a business team that never met to discuss how the business was doing. What if their only planning was done on the fly while passing in the halls as they hurried to return calls? How effective and successful do you think that business would be?
We’ve all experienced too many purposeless meetings, but without regular meetings of some sort, your business—and your family—will quickly descend into chaos.
For the Timm Family, our family meetings have become the hub at the center of all we do. In fact, on the rare occasion that we miss a meeting, we start feeling the chaos immediately.
Family meetings are now the glue that holds our family business together. Our entire family—all eight of us—look forward to our weekly gatherings. The meetings allow us to coordinate, communicate, and deepen our relational bonds.
I used to joke with fellow business leaders who wanted to become better parents that it was much easier to be the CEO of my business than it was to be the CEO of my own home.
When I left the office each day, I left a world of rules, strategies, and success and entered a world of chaos, drama, and raging hormones.
I’ve been blessed to enjoy some success in business. I’m the President and CEO of the company I co-founded fifteen years ago—Cottage Garden, Inc. We are the #1 supplier of musical gift products in North America. In 2009, Cottage Garden was National Small Business of the Year Runner-Up. We have over two hundred sales representatives in ten countries, and our products are found in tens of thousands of retailers worldwide. In other words, I knew what I was doing when it came to running a business.
But, to be totally candid, the chaos at home left me bewildered and confused.