Coming at this Again from a New Angle
There are some aspects of the work that I do with families that are difficult to grasp for many people, including some of my loyal readers.
In conversation, I typically note that I work in a niche within a niche, and have been known to add another level of niche as well.
This week I want to delve into this idea a bit more in writing, even though I did touch on it relatively recently (last year) in Serving Exceptional Families – Proceed Slowly.
Let’s begin by digging a bit deeper into the key word, “exceptional” a bit more, because it sits at the crux of the matter.
In the True Sense of the Word
My good friend Mr. Google is helpful as always, this time bringing me to vocabulary.com, which served up for “exceptional”, among many others, the following:
- Surpassing what is common, or usual, or expected
- Syn: Uncommon: not common or ordinarily encountered
- Syn: Extraordinary: highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable
My idea in sharing these definitions is to help accentuate just how much of a niche a lot of the in depth work really is.
Universal Applicability of Many Concepts
Of course most of the general concepts I write about here do in fact apply to families and the challenges of having every member remain on good terms with one another.
I had a tag line on the back of my business card years ago that read “Helping families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want.”
The first half of that, about the harmony, is admittedly pretty universal, as just about every family would be all for improving the ways that each family member relates harmoniously with all the others.
It’s the second part, about the legacy, that is less common, especially insofar as finding families who are willing to bring someone in (and pay them) to help with this part.
There needs to be a certain level of financial wealth, as well as complexity, and of course a desire to maintain family ownership, at least through the next generational transition.
Challenges of “Democratizing” This Work
Over the years I’ve heard many colleagues mention a desire to “democratize” this work, and offer it to families who are not part of the “1%”.
I get it, and of course when anyone mentions this idea, many heads begin to nod in agreement. But there are a few challenges to this.
The first challenge is that this typically involves a lot of work, that the family members need to buy into. That’s because they all need to actually commit to doing this work themselves.
You see, while you can (and should) hire people to come and help the family with the work, the family members need to play a very active role.
And of course, most families, even if they are willing to do the work, are not in a position to hire someone qualified and experienced to properly guide them.
“What About Your Family?”
I was recently on a call with a new colleague who had the idea of doing this work with more “regular” families, and I tried to explain these challenges.
He then asked me about me and my own family.
It was after sleeping on that question that I decided to revisit this question.
My family isn’t exceptional enough for this. My family of origin might have been, but after our liquidity event over 30 years ago, it eventually became clear that we weren’t going this route.
The family I married into also had some potential elements in place, but their liquidity event also made it clear that this wasn’t for them either.
In fact, very few of the families I’ve ever met are good candidates for full blown family governance and continuity planning.
And that’s not a bad thing.
Examples from the Other Extreme
While being labelled an exceptional family is usually a compliment, it’s obvioously not always the case.
I’ve had the misfortune of working with some families that were exceptionally dysfunctional too.
Some members of such families have also proven to be exceptionally narcissistic, exceptionally delusional, have exceptionally high self-regard, and I could go on.
There are of course many families who could use the kind of help I love to provide. Finding the exceptional ones who tick all the boxes is hard work.
Could yours be one?
A Different View on a Common Question
I’ve been operating in the family business sphere for about half a century now, if you count from my first memory of being told that I was expected to eventually take over the company my Dad founded before I was born.
Back then, in the 1970’s, family businesses were still considered “less good” than corporations, and were typically spoken about with at least some derision.
Happily, times have changed, at least to some degree, and family enterprises are seen as models in some areas, especially insofar as their cultures are often strong and people want to work for them.
There is still, however, an aura of them being “less professional” than their more corporate counterparts.
When Do You Bring In Professionals?
There are ways to see what people search for on Google and other search engines, and I occasionally ask someone skilled at this to share what kinds of questions people typically ask about family business.
Here’s a recent question he sent me:
“At what point should a family business
let professionals run it?”
While this feels a bit like an outdated question, because from where I sit I thought we’d moved past that, the fact that people are asking it means it is worth spending some time on.
My gut says that for anyone asking this question, the word “professional” could likely be swapped out for “non-family member”.
There ARE Professional Family Members Too
The question itself assumes a black and white view of the world where a family member is not professional.
The corollary of that view might then be that a non-family member therefore is a professional.
I hope that I don’t have to explain the absurdity of this view.
But I absolutely do understand where this comes from, and that’s where we’re going to go now.
There certainly are enough examples that we’ve all seen where we’ve witnessed family members working (or at least employed, even if they’re barely working) in jobs for which they are not adequately equipped.
And that’s putting it gently, in some cases.
Family-Owned and/or Family-Operated
Over the years, various people have tried to define “family business” in different ways, and those definitions typically involve some components of family ownership (either currently or eventually) and family operation.
I’m not a stickler for detail in such definitions myself, my motto is, if you think of yourself as a family business, then you are a family business.
But there are of course differences between businesses that are simply “family-owned”, yet not (or no longer) “family-operated”.
I daresay that most examples of those that we think of are probably also viewed as being more professionally run.
But they sure didn’t start that way, did they?
Like So Many Things, “It’s a Process”
Getting back to the initial question, about “when is it time” to “bring in professionals”, this is likely the idea people are getting at.
You certainly can continue to own a business with family members, even if no family members still work for the company.
You can serve on the Board of Directors of a family business as a family member as well, even if you aren’t an owner or employee.
There are certainly a number of advantages to situations like that, because it sure is easier to fire someone that isn’t related to you!
Of course few businesses get to that stage until they’ve been around for a long time, typically until at least the end of the career of the founding generation, and more often after a couple of generations of being family-operated.
A Really Long-Term View
This of course requires a really long-term view, and at some point it may become quite obvious that the business and the family have reached that stage already.
When you get right down to it, what are the chances that the best person in the whole world to run say, Ford Motor Company, is actually a descendant of Henry Ford?
My guess though is that anyone asking this question about a much smaller or younger company is likely doing so because they’re witnessing some family members who just aren’t up to the quality level required to do the job “professionally”.
If that’s the case, you may want to speed up the process of bringing in competent management, because if you don’t, you may not have a profitable company for much longer!
Taking a Fresh Look at an Old Saying
This week we’re dealing with a subject that gets talked about a LOT by many of the people who work with family businesses, and that’s the adage that family businesses often fail, usually by their third generation.
Personally, I’ve always avoided this topic, because whenever I speak to anyone from an enterprising family, they never ask about these “statistics” and even when they do hear them they usually believe that their family will prove to be the exception.
But I guess it’s probably high time that I at least address this question, so that we can unpack it a bit and see what can be learned.
I’ll Tell You What You Can Do with Your “Shirtsleeves”
Everyone who works in the field of family business and family wealth is familiar with the old proverb “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”.
And we’ve all heard that there are similar versions in every language and culture around the globe.
And, I’m pretty sure most of us are sick of hearing about it.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped many of the people who advise such families from trotting out that stuff at every opportunity, because, well, it works!
But what I mean when I say “it works” has much more to do with the fact that it works for solution providers, for whom this point of view helps them to sell their “solutions”.
A “solution” is easier to sell when you can point to a clear “problem”.
We’re Looking at the Wrong Question
The image I chose to accompany this blog comes from an ice storm that hit my region almost 25 years ago, in January 1998.
The tower that collapsed was one of dozens that could not stand the weight of the ice that had accumulated on the electric wires they carried.
The business my Dad had founded and for which I worked happened to have manufactured thousands of towers like these over the three decades we operated.
After that storm, people who knew we had been in that business would ask my Dad, “How come those towers collapsed?”.
His reply was always this: “You’re asking the wrong question; you should be asking ‘how did so many of the towers stay up’”.
Accentuate the Positive
I hope that my analogy is obvious enough, but just in case, allow me to share my point more explicitly.
While the ice storm that damaged so many of those towers was a “once in a century” type of occurrence, the challenges of keeping a family business (or any business for that matter) going for decades are a constant uphill battle.
In fact, I’d venture to say that family companies actually fare better than non-family businesses in general.
Do I have any stats or studies to back that up? Well, no, I don’t.
But the “studies” that were done decades ago on FamBiz were not exactly done with the most scientific rigour either.
That hasn’t stopped those who benefit from them from trotting them out at every occasion, however.
The Wealth 3.0 Version
I’ve felt this way since I entered this field a decade ago, and thankfully now some higher profile colleagues are leading the way to change the narrative around this subject.
I first heard the term “Wealth 3.0” at the RendezVous of the Purposeful Planning Institute (PPI) in 2019, from Dr. Jim Grubman in his closing keynote.
Since then, Grubman has continued to share his thinking via the Ultra High Net Worth Institute. See Wealth 3.0 and the Ten Domains of Family Wealth for much more background.
The crux of that viewpoint lies in the fact that creating structural “solutions” for the business is wrongheaded, whereas focusing on the human capital of the family is what we should be supporting families with.
More recent research has shown that concentrating on the family, rather than any enterprise they happen to create, makes more sense.
Because so many of the experts have traditionally been hired by the companies, though, it’s not surprising that the focus has been misplaced.
The more recent emphasis on the family is welcome and overdue, but not yet firmly implanted in the field of professionals who serve them.
Progress, Not Perfection
Progress continues to be made, however, and we need to be satisfied with making that continue, rather than lamenting that we are not yet at the “perfect” state of the industry.
See “From Multidisciplinary Field to Interdisciplinary Ecosystem” from a few weeks ago for more on this.
We need to continue to make this progress, one advisor and one family at a time.
The Essential Element Required
It can sometimes be difficult to explain the work I do to those who don’t happen to belong to a family that runs a business or owns assets together.
There are at least three interdependent sub-systems at work, between the family, the enterprise (businesses/wealth/assets), and the ownership group.
Just about every enterprise is in constant contact with outside experts for a variety of services from the outset.
But the family and the ownership typically take on more of a “behind-the-scenes” role and get much less attention.
The family circle happens to be where I do most of my work, and I’ve been developing a bigger appreciation for its overlap with the ownership group lately.
Focusing on “family ownership” and how important it is for the future of the enterprise is the focus of this week’s post.
For those in the know, you won’t be surprised that we’ll be talking about the essential role of a family champion.
Their Nebulous and Misunderstood Role
I first wrote about the concept of family champions back in 2019, in The Unsung Role of Family Champions.
Recently, I had the wonderful occasion of spending a day with a number of people who play such a role in their families, even if they weren’t all sure that they “qualified” for such status.
I led the opening discussion, where I shared the origin of the term and just how essential having at least one such family member has been for all of the families featured in Dennis Jaffe’s study of 100 family enterprises that had endured for at least 100 years.
See Jaffe’s book Borrowed from Our Grandchildren
But just because Jaffe and Joshua Nacht, one of his researchers, came up with the term, that doesn’t mean it’s well understood, even by those who play this role in their enterprising family.
Will Every Family Eventually Reach Its Limit?
While certain family members often play a starring role as the CEO and perhaps others are some kind of rainmaker, the family champion is typically much more low-key, and out of the limelight.
Few families are able to maintain family ownership over generations, often because they lack someone motivated and interested in doing the work of keeping the family focused and organized ahead of important transitions.
Eventually the family often grows bigger than the enterprises that are meant to support the people, and choices need to be made.
While these choices occur infrequently, the idea of discussing whether or not continued ownership by the whole family still makes sense is usually a scary notion that is not easily put on the table.
But when it is raised, you can bet that the family champion played an important role in setting the stage for it.
Forever Asking the Key Question
A family that owns an enterprise together will likely assume that it can and will and should remain that way, and for a certain period of time, which may be measured in decades and even generations, it’s often true.
At some point, though, most families need to ask themselves if that is still going to be the case after the next generational transition.
Hopefully, once they get to the point where hard choices need to be made, they’ll be able to figure out how to make the necessary changes in a way that leaves the family intact.
The result could be to prune the family tree or maybe sell the enterprise and have a liquidity event. See Pruning the FamBiz Ownership Tree and Huge Liquidity Events – Great News, Right?
For someone like me, who considers himself a family specialist, my thoughts are always “family first”, and many families I know also adopt this attitude.
There are exceptions, those who put the success of their business first, which sometimes has me shaking my head. I typically do not work with such families.
Who Is Looking Out for the Family?
So much focus is put on the business that the family owns, so it’s not that surprising that the family and the ownership areas sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
The business stuff happens at a much faster pace (see Varying Time Factors in Each of the Three Circles) and those who work in that area are put on the spot on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, though, there needs to be someone who is thinking about and talking about the family’s role in all of this, and who makes sure that the family and its ownership of the enterprise also get the attention they deserve.
Some Useful Parenting Advice
Every so often, I’m lucky enough to hear a great pearl of wisdom and manage to jot it down, and it turns into a perfect title for a blog post.
This one came from a presentation I attended at the recent FFI conference in Boston.
Many of the blogs I write are of course based upon the wisdom of others, and I think I do a pretty good job of sharing the credit when it’s due, at least when it makes sense for me to do so.
Let’s jump into the details so that we can then unpack this subject a bit more, as it relates to family wealth and its eventual transition.
Emerging Adults Don’t Always Launch as Desired
The presentation in question was a breakout session entitled “Emerging Adults: Moving forth the family firm”.
It included three presenters who shared ideas and strategies around helping families get positive results for their family businesses by ensuring that their rising generation members were well prepared for what is expected of them.
One of the presenters, Diana Clark of the O’Connor Professional Group, provided my money quote, towards the end of the discussion.
As someone who has worked in the field of addictions for decades, she had a warning for all parents.
“Don’t make having “happy” kids your main goal; make sure it’s a by-product”, she said. “Otherwise”, she continued, “they’ll end up coming to see me.”
What’s Wrong with Being Happy?
To be clear, she was not saying that having happy children was not something to strive for.
She was, however, providing a warning that I think all parents should heed, i.e. Don’t make their happiness the primary focus.
The familiar refrain we’ve all heard (and likely even said), “I just want my children to be happy”, can lead to many undesirable consequences.
I touched on part of this way back in 2015, in the post “Over-Parenting: Worse than Neglect?”
What I had labelled “over-parenting” back then included some examples of not allowing children to struggle for themselves, which has as its root a desire to keep them “happy”.
What I think Clark was getting at is that making your children’s happiness the main focus is actually kind of a cop out.
From Dependent to Independent
When you reflect on the roles that parents are expected to play, I’m not even sure if happiness is supposed to be near the top of the list.
To me it is much more of a recent phenomenon, a far cry from the “children should be seen and not heard” that was popular not too many decades ago.
I’ve been a parent for over twenty years now, and it is definitely a work-in-progress.
Also, times have continued to evolve, and it’s often difficult to swim against the current when you live in a society of instant gratification.
I’ve always felt that one of the primary parental responsibilities is to make sure that our offspring progress from a state of dependence upon their parents to a state of independence from them.
What a child needs a parent to do for them at the age of 5 is different from what they need at 10, and at 15, and at 20 and 25.
From Independent to Interdependent
When dealing with the families I work with professionally, those who’ve built up a significant asset base, that they hope to transition to the next generation of their family, making sure their offspring are independent is only the beginning.
I urge these families to work towards a state of interdependence, because that’s what is necessary to increase the likelihood of success.
I believe that Clark would agree that trying to make sure that those who succeed us become independent, and capable of functioning as adults in every way, is way more important than making sure that they’re happy all the time.
In fact, when parents succeed at this, their children will more likely be happy, as a by-product, as she suggested.
A Tale as Old as Time
This can get quite complex, and the struggle to get it right is a story that’s been around forever.
Getting parenting right is tricky, especially when you can do everything for your kids. It’s hard to say “No”.
But having them never require addiction treatment is probably something we can all agree is a good thing.
Best of luck (that helps too!)
The Continuing Evolution of Our Professional Space
There’s nothing like a conference with peers, who come at our work with enterprising families from a variety of different professions, to stimulate reflection about the journey we’re all on.
When that conference (FFI Boston ’22) is the first big get-together in 3 years, it’s even more impactful.
And, when that conference has as its theme the future, it makes members of that community even more reflective and inspired.
Please join me as I continue to process all of what I took in, along with all the debriefing I’ve done with colleagues since then.
See Now What? After the Great Meeting
From Multi-Disciplinary to Interdisciplinary
Let’s begin with the insightful framing of an FFI Award that was shared by this year’s recipient. Jack Wofford received the annual FFI Interdisciplinary Award for 2022 at the FFI Fellows breakfast on Friday morning.
Wofford is an attorney who has a long history of acting as a mediator in all sorts of multi-party disputes, including many involving enterprising families.
During his acceptance speech, he made a point of stating that the name of the award is “interdisciplinary” which he contrasted with another, oft-used similar expression, “multi-disciplinary”.
Hmmm, I thought to myself, I’d never thought about this distinction before.
A Multi-Disciplinary Field, Requiring Interdisciplinary Effort
There is no denying that the people who serve family firms come from a multitude of different disciplines, this has been known and acknowledged for decades.
What is more recent is the understanding that in order to do this work well, and not just in our original silos, requires some effort to be able to work with people from disciplines different from one’s own.
Many professionals do not even really recognize this, and even among those who acknowledge it, my guess is that there are only a small minority who really do a good job of learning how to do it well.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that it merits its own award.
From Field to Ecosystem
The title of this post hit on two parts of the evolution of the professional space in which I and many readers endeavour, the part about the disciplines, as well as the issue of how we label the area in which we all work.
Let’s switch gears and take on the second question.
The A-Ha Moment for this came during an off-site dinner that I attended with what we called “Team Canada”, which was a wonderful opportunity for many of us Canucks to spend some time getting to know one another a bit better.
Without naming names, I was seated next to a friend and colleague who I happen to know was born about two and a half decades after I was. Across from him was a woman I know, who I also understood to be much younger than my late-50’s.
As it turns out, they had already compared notes and were born in the same year. I was suddenly quite jealous, but maybe not for the simple reasons you might guess.
Entering and Ecosystem, Not Just a Field
I had my calling to do this work relatively late, and so I’ve been trying to make up for lost time for a decade now.
I’m jealous of these two professionals not just because they are so much younger, but also because they both seem to have found work that really suits them and that they enjoy.
And, the field has continued to evolve, to the point where it is now so much more than a plain old field, it has become an ecosystem in its own right.
The opportunities for those entering this space are so much better defined and available now than they were even a decade ago.
The Family Enterprise Parallel Version
I always like to draw some sort of parallel to the situations involving business families in these posts, so let’s do that before we run out of room.
Any FamBiz going from the founder’s generation (G1) to the next, offers some complexity and opportunity, and things to work on.
But when you see a family where there are active members in G3, G4, and G5 (and so on) that’s when things really get interesting.
Just as the young professionals I spoke about have plenty of opportunities, I’m also jealous of the rising generation members of such families, because they have a much broader path of opportunities ahead of them too.
Following Up After the Big Meeting is the Key
“Now what”, or “what’s next”, are so important to making the progress we want to make, in so many areas of our lives.
And, it’s good to remind ourselves that even though we need to take time to recover from a big event to rest and reflect, we cannot take too much time “off” and very much need to get back into the rhythm of what was so great about a meeting.
Okay, so let me step back here and share what I’m getting at, because I uncharacteristically jumped right to my point without much context there.
I’ve just returned from another wonderful conference and I’m still coming down from the high of spending time with so many wonderful people, and as I planned to share the experience here, I realized that there are parallels here to the kind of work that I do with families.
Setting the Date for the Next Meeting
Whenever anyone asks for tips on holding a great family meeting, I’ve been known to say that the most important thing you need to do is make sure that you set the date for the next meeting, so that everyone can put it on their calendar and make sure they’ll be there.
I drove back from the annual FFI Conference in Boston yesterday, and so I just followed my own advice and added next year’s event to my calendar for October 25-28, 2023 in New York City.
I also made a note on my calendar for Monday morning, when I get back to my desk, to make sure I look through my notes and the event brochure and be sure not to let any follow-ups fall through the cracks.
I already went through the attendees list and made sure to hit up all the new folks I spoke with over the past few days with LinkedIn connection requests.
My notes will surely reveal some blog ideas and at least one follow up for a podcast guest request, if not more.
Connecting Like-Minded Colleagues
During the three days of the conference I was on the lookout for other fellow Canadians, so that I could add a Canadian flag sticker to their name badge.
I can’t believe that the 25 stickers I brought weren’t sufficient and I ran out. I must remember to bring more next time, and I should probably make sure I order extras, because they were quite popular.
Besides trying to herd all my fellow great-white-north friends, I was also on the lookout for any French-speaking attendees.
FFI has had a Spanish language study group for a decade now, and some fellow Quebecers want to launch something similar in French, so I spent some time trying to connect colleagues for that too.
More Jolly Good Fellows
Every year at the FFI conference they announce another group of members who have achieved “FFI Fellow” status, and this year I was very honoured to be part of this group.
I’m still a tiny bit disappointed that they haven’t adopted the tradition of singing “For he’s the jolly good fellow” during the ceremony, but I’ll get over it.
It is indeed gratifying to be part of the growing group of leaders in the field of family enterprise, all of whom make an effort to share so generously with colleagues so that we can all serve our family clients even better.
Back to the Family Meetings….
I just spent a few paragraphs writing a lot about “who”, and when you think about family meetings, the “who” part is also huge, because spending family time together is obviously a huge part of what you are trying to do.
Sharing common experiences is key to the family bonding and understanding, which is all part of making sure that your communications are working.
There’s also the “what” part you need to consider, and the content and planning are not something you want to skimp on or leave to the last minute.
Just like this conference I was at, many people spent a lot of time creating the conditions for success, and your family meetings deserve as much as well.
Make sure your agenda includes learning and fun, as well as some break time for people to just “be” together.
You want them to leave satisfied and looking forward to the next one.
It’s All Interconnected and It Never Really Ends
Every week in this space I tackle an issue related to the challenges families face when trying to ensure that the wealth or business they own will be successfully transitioned to the following generations of their family.
I’ve been doing this for a decade, and have yet to exhaust the topics on which I enjoy sharing my thoughts.
Sometimes the subjects are narrow, as they’ve been recently (see Should I Join My Family Business and Getting your MBA to Lead your Family Business: 5 Things to Consider), and other times, like this week, they’re reallllllllllly broad.
I’m not sure how to narrow my thoughts down into one post, but I’ll give it a shot.
Complex Subjects, with Lots of Moving Parts
Wealth transitions affect people from different generations of every family, and often deal with ownership and control going from a small group of people to a larger one.
Each person brings their own desires, needs, and expectations, making this work fraught with potential conflicting views and ideas.
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” method, although many professional experts in a particular subset of the field may try to make you believe otherwise.
I’ve recently been involved in a few different discussions and activities that made me realize how much of this work defies a linear approach, and is in fact very iterative and cyclical.
Few circumstances in this world lend themselves to a simple “do A, then B, then C, then D, and you’re done”.
Instead, when you get to C, you may realize that some elements of A need to be revisited, and the work done in B may now be irrelevant.
And This Is All a Good Thing
Lest readers begin to think that I believe that this is bad, well, NO, it actually has to be this way, assuming of course, that you want it to work.
Indeed, oftentimes experts have “shoved” their A-B-C-D process onto an unsuspecting family, which makes everyone happy and relieved in the short term, only to see most of it unravel once the family needs to actually live with the result.
With complex issues that involve so many parties, it is not realistic to think that a couple of people will be able to come up with the ideal plan for all right off the bat.
And even if you could, all those affected by it would not feel any ownership in it because they were not involved (or even heard) during its creation.
Planning and Governance Must Evolve Over Time
Whether we’re talking about structural elements of planning for which you involve experts in law, trusts, and taxes, or the family dynamics aspects that lead to what I call family governance, the same holds true.
You need to start by trying to figure out what you want, then you need to have discussions about it with those who will be affected by it, then you need to speak with experts and get their input.
Then you go around again, taking what you learned from the experts and sharing it with those who will be affected by the decisions.
After getting their input, you can go back to the experts again with plan 1.1 or 2.0, and get advice again.
And then repeat.
Even when you have something that works and that all agree on, that will only serve for a certain time (although it could be for years) until circumstances have changed and a new, refreshed, and better suite plan will be needed.
Regular Dialogue Where These Subjects Are Safe
Back in 2020, in How to ACE your FamBiz Succession Planning, we looked at how Alignment, Clarity, and Engagement are important elements to keep in mind.
I could have added that making sure your family has a regular forum where dialogue around these subjects is allowed, expected, and safe, is also a key success factor.
We’re talking about important subjects that deeply affect the lives of every family member, so if you’re trying to do the best job you can for all of those people, you need to have them involved, and do it in a positive and intentional manner.
Did Anyone Say This Was Supposed to Be Easy?
I know that the desire for an end point or “destination” is very strong, and nobody can “argue with” that.
But, assuming that you really want to prepare everyone and everything as best you can, then you really need to think about all of this as being more of a journey instead.
Try to enjoy this journey, even though it will not always be easy.