“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid…” – Brene Brown
In the last twelve months, I have seen it all in the faces of my clients, my colleagues, and my team. I have felt it with my family, within myself, and my thoughts. While each group faced its unique challenges, there was a common need woven throughout it all for everyone this year. And that is my one word to sum up 2021 – belongingness.
Belongingness is a need. It is an emotional need to feel accepted as a member of something larger than oneself. The root cause for many of the challenges I witnessed was a lack of belongingness – the feeling that you’re alone in what you are experiencing or want to experience. Clients, colleagues, friends, and family members saw themselves on a lonely island through much of this year, not realizing that they had so many neighbors and other humans experiencing similar feelings, the same isolation that spilled over from 2020 into 2021.
Every group of people I interacted with this year were just that – Human.
And humans – whether they be my adolescent daughter, my parent-of-a-newborn colleague, my overwhelmed friend in search of a new job, or my client who hasn’t spoken to his family in years – all need to feel as though they belong. Somewhere. To something.
2021 brought with it a new phrase related to belongingness (or a lack thereof). Data from a September 2021 McKinsey and Associates study noted that one of the top reasons employees left their jobs in 2021 was due to a lack of belongingness. The phrase “The Great Resignation” appeared. Hard data related to an emotion – related to a need – data that we can not ignore as business owners and leaders of organizations.
I believe what is lost on many is the dual meaning of resignation. At the surface and related to the study, resignation is the personal decision to leave a job or position. Yet there is another meaning and it’s the one I’m writing about here. To resign oneself is to give up, to accept something as inevitable.
It is this I truly want to call out, because it is the only way to render it powerless. Many clients I’ve worked with this year have felt this resignation, a lack of belongingness, in so many different ways. And I am here to say, you are not alone.
Every family business, if they are honest with themselves, has been there (is there) in one way or another. No one wants to belong to the group called “family business owners who have no succession plan if I were to die tomorrow.” But perhaps knowing that you are not alone might give you some sense of solace. The knowledge that whatever you are experiencing as a family business owner has been experienced before and, most importantly, CAN be overcome.
Here is the rest of Brene’s quote…
The moral of this story is that despite all the issues or concerns I witnessed this year, there is hope and there is help. Giving family businesses the space, the tools, and the conversations they need to come together and grow as a company and a family is the greatest gift I gave this year.
In 2021, belongingness was not found in a box under a tree or on a P&L statement.
Belongingness lives in our hearts and in our words – now and always.
Share your thoughts on my word or share your word that sums up 2021. As always, my calendar is open to family business owners who need a sounding board – Connect with me on LinkedIn to get started.
BLOG | FAMILY DYNAMICS / GOVERNANCE
I’ve had my share of family business owners who avoid discussing this four-letter word to the point of pure denial, quickly ending the conversation when this word bubbles up. The word? E-X-I-T. It sounds so final. The brutal truth is that 100% of owners exit the business, yet only 50% – just 1 out of 2 owners – will do it on their terms...Read More
BLOG | LEADERSHIP
Many family-led companies hire business consultants to grow the business. Some even send their emerging leaders to personal development programs. But there is a gap – and it’s a BIG one.Read More
BLOG | PEOPLE / TALENT
The Golden 5% is the full expression of our ability, multiplied by our maximum possible effort, multiplied by our full contribution of heart. It is the performance equivalent of what we offer in a deeply loving relationship – the absolute best of ourselves. And yet, we rarely give it or reliably inspire the giving of it by others in organizations. Why?Read More
At Compass Point, we make it easy to get insights, training, tools, and articles straight to your inbox and help family business owners and their team continue to grow, learn, and lead.