2 people making a pinky promise

These days there are many uncertainties surrounding the potential outcomes we’re all facing, along with lots of people in leadership roles being put on the spot for unknowable answers to questions that were inconceivable a few weeks ago.

At times like these we can learn a lot about leaders by how they address these questions, and whether they’re more inclined to skew their answers to one direction or another, depending on both their understanding of the situation and their propensity to lean either towards more optimistic or pessimistic outcomes.

A Huge Learning Opportunity

The current situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as scary as it is, will also be great opportunities for all of us to learn, if we are so inclined.

We’re already learning a lot about viruses and how they spread, as well as how some rather simple hygiene measures go a long way toward curtailing that spread.

But we’re also learning a lot about society, how different groups react to news depending on their culture, and how political leaders react under pressure, and whether or not they properly rely on the experts who advise them.

There are also plenty of things we can tie in to the world of enterprising families, which I normally cover here, and some lessons that family members will also hopefully learn as we work our way through this global crisis.


“Don’t Set Yourself Up to Be a Loser”

If my Dad were still alive today, he’d be proud that I haven’t forgotten this mantra of his, which I heard him say over a hundred times in various situations.

Many of our political leaders have been guilty of putting their heads in the sand, hoping this would simply go away, making statements to that effect, and being wildly optimistic, because in the short term, that plays better politically.

In the long run, any trust that people had in such leaders is bound to be diminished as the truth comes out and reality sets in. 

This happens in society with politicians, and occurs in family situations too, where one family member makes overly optimistic claims about the family’s wealth, or their personal abilities, to siblings, cousins, or others.


Delayed Gratification

I often state that many family business problems are simply parenting problems that manifest themselves a few decades later, and this often comes down to whether or not parents tried to instill the value of delayed gratification in their children.

I wrote about this in Marshmallows and Filet Mignon about a year and a half ago, and I think it’s clear that some of our political leaders did learn these lessons early on and continue to reap the benefits, while others, well, not so much.

Last week I used a song as a blog title, and this week the song “Teach your Children” comes to mind as I think about this.

Many of us our now suddenly surrounded by children in our homes and there are plenty of lessons to be learned under the subject of “current events”

I hope that you’re benefiting from the opportunities to teach them important lessons based on the news.


Not Overpromising as a Coach

One thing I like about being a coach to families is that it’s actually difficult for me to overpromise what I can deliver.

You see, any well-trained coach will not only realize but will also share with their clients that the coach is not the one who does the work in such a relationship, it is the client (or clients).

The coach is there to provide some structure, process help, guidance, and accountability, but not to “do the work”; that is ultimately up to the clients.

This is a big part of why the “deliverables” are not easy to discuss or promise, because they’re out of the coach’s hands. See: Intangible Deliverables and the Family Circle


Promises to Family Members

Let’s finish off by tying in the idea of promises to the family, since many of us are suddenly in close quarters with family members, and may be for a while still.

Are there any promises that you made in the past that need to be reviewed? Maybe they were implied, or not defined well enough?

This may be an opportune time to clear those up. Maybe some assumptions around wealth need to be revised and updated too.

It’s safer to under-promise and over-deliver than the reverse.