Four Steps to Flow
Calmness and The Avoidable Destruction of a 100-Year Old Business
It was late Friday afternoon.
Beatrice was still in her office. So was Frank. They were brother and sister, and 3rd -generation owners of a 100-year old manufacturing company.
Charles, their father, was in his office, directly beside Frank’s.
Like clockwork, Beatrice walked down the short hallway, then turned left towards Frank’s office. This happened almost every Friday afternoon. She took three steps towards his door, knocked once, then opened it before Frank had a chance to say, “Come in.”
It started, like it always did, with some sort of disagreement.
It could have been what color to paint the walls in the reception area. Or whether or not to give the shop foreman overtime hours for dropping off a piece of machinery on his way home. Beatrice, being 10 years younger than Frank, always began by deferring to his position of authority by title. Frank was the Vice President of the company. Beatrice was a stockholder and Director, but not an Officer of the corporation.
Inevitably Beatrice would disagree with Frank’s decision on something. Anything.
It was 50/50 who would raise their voice first. The argument often became so loud that their father, Charles, who was 87-years old and nearly deaf, would come into Frank’s office to break them up.
This dynamic carried on for over twenty years.
Zander, Frank and Beatrice’s younger brother, ran a division of the company. The family had spent over $200,000 in legal fees to create an estate plan. They spent two years working out a stockholders’ agreement for the three, 3rd-generation family members so there would be an orderly succession plan for the business.
It was all for naught.
When the patriarch, Charles, died, Beatrice went into action. She started by taking over $500,000 in gold, silver and platinum coins from the company’s vault. She changed accounting records to remove these assets from the company books. She held up closing her father’s estate for two years. That’s when the matriarch, and majority shareholder of the company, passed away.
What was left were three 3rd-generation owners with a $200,000+ succession plan who couldn’t sit in a room together without arguing with each other.
They were left trying to close two estates and run a business together. The brothers, Frank and Zander, decided to remove Beatrice from the day-to-day operations of the company. She sued them and the company.
Five years later the case still wasn’t settled. When Frank passed away he had personally spent over $300,000 in legal fees defending the lawsuits brought by Beatrice. Zander, his brother, had spent over $400,000 in legal fees.
Twelve years later, with two siblings left as co-Executors, the estates of both parents were still not settled.
The combined legal fees were in the millions of dollars – more than the company’s annual profits.
This is what happens when nobody in the family is in flow. The only flow going on was money into the lawyers’ bank accounts.
Let’s reverse engineer this.
In any moment, none of the family members embraced any situation. Instead they fought against it.
None of the family members trusted each other. Even Frank and Zander, the two brothers who ran the business, lost trust for each other once the lawyers got involved.
Without embracing the situation, and trust in themselves and each other, there could be no calmness.
There was only anxiety and tension. Three grown adults, all over 50-years old, were like three children fighting in a sandbox over their toys.
And because there was no calmness there was never any clarity of vision.
In fact, it was the exact opposite.
Nobody had any certainty about their future. That lead to more fear, more distrust, less calmness, and even less clarity of action. The estate plan that was meant to transfer wealth from one generation to the next failed. Instead, the only wealth that was transferred was from the family to the four – yes FOUR – legal teams. (Each of the siblings had their own lawyers, and the corporation had it’s own legal team.)
Perhaps most importantly, at no point were any of the family members acting with head and heart united.
You don’t want this type of situation for your family. A 100-year old business was destroyed. The most important element of the business, the human capital, was decimated from the inside out.
This is why the Qineticare family health office model has three pillars:
- beyond medical, and
- family dynamics.
If the family dynamics are unsettled, an entire family business that took 100 years to build can be destroyed over one failed, dysfunctional relationship. That’s why when we begin working with our families at Qineticare we often begin with the family dynamics. And we begin by guiding our families through the four steps – embrace, trust, calmness and clarity.
Unfortunately, nobody is taught this type of process in business school.
That’s why we can create the most successful businesses in the world and still live a life filled with stress. We can have tens of millions of dollars in the bank and still have few moments, if any, of inner peace. We can reach the world with our products and services and drain the love from within our own families.
Or we can take a step back, look at the 30,000 ft. view, and focus on what’s really important, not just what we believe is urgent. We can embrace whatever situation we find ourselves in, and ultimately move forward, head and heart united, in a way that allows us to live a meaningful life – and create an impactful legacy.
If you would like us to personally help you and your family, click here so you can tell us about your situation.
If we believe we can help you, we’ll schedule a call with you. We’ll create an actionable plan together, and you can decide if you’d like us to help you implement it with you so you can move forward, solving your most pressing challenges, head and heart united.
With love and respect,
Founder & CEO, Qineticare
Author, Four Steps to Flow