If you feel like you want to kill your business/life partner sometimes, you’re not alone. This article will help.
Any entrepreneur will tell you there’s a special form of pressure on your shoulders when your business is responsible for your family’s well-being. That pressure only grows as you add more employees who need to provide for their families, too. In the age of COVID-19, the weight of that responsibility is almost suffocating…and when work-life and home-life are one and the same, that feeling can bubble over on your partner, your team, and your kids, all at once.
Hey, buddy, I know this is hard. We’re all finding ways to hide from our families a few times a week, at least. But you’re the boss of your business and your family for a reason, and it’s because you’ve got mad skills in leadership, conflict resolution, grace under fire, diplomacy, and more. So take a beat, take a breath, acknowledge those big feelings, and let the challenge fuel you like it always has. I can’t promise you a light at the end of the tunnel, but I promise if you follow these steps, you’ll at least get through tomorrow.
1. Deliver fast sorries. We’re all gonna snap, so let’s just accept that piece of humanity now, rather than beating ourselves up over it. In the book, Option B, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant talk about how having empathy for others in your family and immediately recognizing when you’ve crossed a line, can help us all move on. We’ve instituted this practice in our house—so when one of us blows up, we can say, “Whew….fast sorries?” and do our best to let it go and move on.
2. Believe in your partner. By simply believing the best in your partner, you’ll fight at least 50-percent less. Seriously. Our relationship, our family, our business…none of it’s a zero-sum game. When you’re in a family business you have to remember you’re doing all of this for each other. Try writing down one thing about your partner you’re grateful for in business and in your household—when you wake up and before you go to bed. And if you think it sounds impossible, try it right now. I guarantee there’s something.
3. Over-communicate. Right now, the current environment changes so much day to day, in business and in life. If you’ve instituted a daily standup meeting at work to combat this, it only makes sense to have one for the family, too. Who has a Zoom meeting the kids can’t join? Who’s making lunches today? How many episodes of StoryBots is too many? Run down the list and make sure you’re on the same page about who’s leading what.
4. Be aware of your own feelings. Ok here’s the touchy-feely one. When I’m already stressed and one of the kids loses it, I’m more likely to lose it, too. Sometimes, I really need to tag in my partner for help. But 9 times out of ten, if I can force myself to take a breath, I realize that I’m not reacting to them, I’m reacting to my own stress which can diffuse the situation. And just like your cranky toddler, sometimes simply acknowledging the feeling calms me down.
5. Acknowledge your success. Is your business still in business? Amazing! Are your kids relatively well-adjusted? You’re the best parents ever! Chances are, you’re operating at about 50-percent of your usual octane at work and home, so you’ve got to adjust your expectations for greatness. Maybe you’re not growing at that 300-percent you’ve planned for, but if you’re managing to stay afloat at work and home right now, you’ve got to high five yourself—and your partner. Remember, you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t in this together.
My partner and I have been operating our family-run business together for over five years. In that time, our family has grown right alongside the biz. We’ve added two hilarious, adventurous kids to our brood, and (over 70) employees, to our team. Our business is the center of it all, and the lifeblood of our family. Right now, the business is (thankfully) booming but massively challenging, and as a family, we hit our bumps in the road, as everyone does. But ya know what? We’re gonna make it through this.
So keep doing your best—I promise, it’s enough. And in the meantime, just savor that five minutes of alone time you get around 11 p.m. every night like a fine wine. It’s frickin’ gold.