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Some help for frantic families

When you read the words “frantic families,” did you wince just a little bit? Does it seem like the words “frantic” and “family” hit a little close to home, especially at this time of year? Let me share why this subject is top of mind for me.

It all started when we were in Queensland, Australia, in August. We were attending a four-day “pitch and putt” golf tournament at the world’s No. 1 Backyard Golf Course. When we arrived, all I saw were about 30 male golfers … and I thought to myself that it wasn’t going to be very much fun for me. Then I saw a small group of women, who turned out were golfing as well, and that made me feel more at home.

But one woman, Jo-Anne, was in a sling. Apparently, after too much golfing she ended up having shoulder surgery so was side-lined for that tournament. But she was sure fun to talk with.

Turns out, Jo-Anne Lashbrook is a business consultant and works for The Table Group in Australia. If the name, Table Group doesn’t sound familiar, then let me mention the name of the founder and CEO: Patrick Lencioni. Patrick is the author of Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Getting Naked, The Ideal Team Player, and about eight other business books. He is likely one of the top global management authors/gurus and is highly respected for his “business fables.” If you have read any of his books, then you will recognize that the books are short, always involve a humanistic story, and are so easy to learn from. I had the opportunity to meet Pat in person when he was speaking at a business conference in San Diego about 15 years ago.

Well, I’ve been reading Patrick’s books for more than 20 years and often recommend them to friends and work colleagues. Fun fact: Our company management team usually reads at least one or two business books a year together. This month, we are reading Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Well, if you know me then you know that I am always networking. So, after our Australia visit, I accepted a friend request from Jo-Anne on Facebook and would occasionally see her postings.

Well, two weeks ago her post showed she and her family were at Disneyland! I immediately wrote her a Facebook message letting her know that she was less than five miles from my office. Long story short, she and her husband Matt rearranged their trip to pay me a visit at my office last week.

I can’t believe I forgot to take a photo when Jo-Anne and Matt visited me!

It was so fun to give two business consultants a tour of our warehouse and offices. Both Jo-Anne and Matt consult for The Table Group (she was there first), and I couldn’t help quoting their boss, Pat, several times during our visit.

As we were finishing breakfast, Jo-Anne said to me, “One of my most favorite of Pat’s books is one that is not well known.” The Three Big Questions for the Frantic Family was written in 2008 and, frankly, I was shocked that I had never heard of it. So, I immediately downloaded it and was able to listen to it over the weekend.

The short book brings some of the same tools and principles that people apply to planning and prioritizing their business lives and applies them in a similar way to the most important organization in their lives—their families.

After reading this book, I already have some thoughts about how I will use Pat’s Three Questions when planning for the upcoming year for my family. He makes it simple to understand, as the book is a fable, just like all his other books. I learned from Jo-Anne that Pat took a screenwriting class … which completely explains why his books are always so easy to read.

So, the three big questions?
• Question 1: What makes your family unique?
• Question 2: What is your family’s top priority—rallying cry—right now?
• Question 3: How are we going to talk about and use the answers to these questions?

This three-page summary article explains the concept even more.

I’m hoping you are intrigued. Just like strategic planning for a company or organization helps get everyone in the organization aligned on the vision, the mission, the values, and the priorities, this method uses a super simple, approachable way of getting your priorities straight for your family. Many of us have a tough time getting everyone in our family on the same page, and oftentimes it can feel like there are competing priorities.

After reading this fable, I actually can’t wait to go through this exercise at home. It will sure make it easier for me to say “no” to the many requests from people or organizations for my time. I learned in the book that once you have your short-term family priorities in place, it makes it easy to choose what to spend your time on.

I’m guessing you may have the same challenges I do in your family life. Be sure to let me know if these three big questions give you an easy context to help live with more purpose, clarity, and meaning as you look ahead to 2023.


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