The Ties That Bind

David Ransburg

Have you already given up on your New Year’s resolution? If so, you’re certainly not alone. According to a recent study by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology (http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/), only 8% of those who make a New Year’s resolution are actually successful in achieving their resolution.

So, why am I discussing this on a website about family businesses? The answer lies in one of the proven tactics for experiencing greater success when you find yourself struggling to take action: turn to a group for some support… and, the most fundamental group, or social network, is the family.

The mechanism behind the power of social networks is not completely clear, but what IS clear is that you will have better success in changing your behavior if you attempt that change as part of a social network.

What is really interesting is that it is not just people you interact with directly who impact your behavior. Extensive study by Harvard’s Nicholas Christakis (http://christakis.med.harvard.edu/av/video/TED_superorganism.mp4) shows that people who are as far away as three degrees of separation from you (i.e., your friend’s friend’s friend) can have a significant impact on your behavior… even if you never interact directly!

If your friend’s friend’s friend that you’ve never met can impact your emotions and your behaviors, then imagine how powerful the impact is of family members you work with frequently – even if that family member is a distant cousin based at a far-flung satellite office! The point is, even if the connection isn’t readily apparent, it is there… and, it is meaningful.

If it’s not just what each of you does individually that matters, but also the connection between you, then maintaining those connections is incredibly important. Like many things in life, connections will weaken and eventually disappear if neglected or mistreated. So, invest in those family connections… even the distant ones. That would be a New Year’s resolution worth keeping!

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions related to your family business?

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