Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 2nd 2014 Contents JANUARY 2014 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG19
As 2014 approaches, accord-
ing to United States-based
research, about 50 per cent
of us take time while enjoy-
ing year-end festivities to
actively plan for the New
Changing one digit in how the year is
recorded is an impetus to reflect, examine,
prepare and resolve. In fact, the month of
January is named after the Roman god, Janus,
who is depicted with two faces; one facing
the past and one facing the future. He is the
god of beginnings and transitions. Among
the top ten pledges that people make are the
usual suspects: eat right, exercise more, quit
smoking and learn something new, whether
that is pursuing a recreational interest or
even enrolling in some course of study.
The resolutions usually reflect a desire for
better physical, emotional and mental health.
While these pledges are usually personal
promises to self, family businesses could cre-
ate their own corresponding list of New Year
Here the emphasis is usually on reducing
the intake of empty calories, chiefly sugar,
and introducing healthier foods into the diet.
Food is meant to provide nourishment and
fuel and, at the same time, it can be a source
of sensual pleasure.
Consuming healthy and delicious food
depends on how much time and energy an
individual gives to researching recipes, prepar-
ing the shopping list, choosing the best ingre-
dients, cooking them right and having the
food at the ready when one is hungry.
There are the usual admonitions of plan-
ning in advance, even to having those carrots
cut up and on the front of the shelf in the
refrigerator as a ready alternative to reaching
for less healthy options when in need of a
snack; all to control what we put into our
Family businesses need to be cognisant
not to reach for the non-nutritious input of
family gossip, past baggage, unfounded
assumptions as they grapple with concerns
within the business.
Decision-making involves getting all the
relevant information (right ingredients) to
the table, maintaining appropriate boundaries
between business and family (using the cor-
rect cookware), and focusing on the issues,
not the personalities (right cooking temper-
ature). In situations where collaboration and
communication mechanisms are deficient,
and decision-making is not shared to the
detriment of the business and family rela-
tionships, then there needs to be the con-
scious reach for the carrots, not the chocolate.
If there is the collective will to improve
the tenor of the discussions, family businesses
can make it easier by scheduling regular
meetings with all involved and maintaining
ground rules (the carrots at the front of the
fridge shelf). And, as always, when we suc-
cumb to the temptation of the old way of
behaving (reaching for the sugary snacks),
it is not an excuse to abandon the promise;
just a one-off slide from which we can recov-
The benefits of exercise are multifold,
including building endurance and increasing
muscle strength. The muscles need to be
isolated and repetitive motions employed to
ensure results. Plus there are routines for
upper, lower and full body workouts that we
are advised to follow.
Family businesses need to resist the temp-
tation to tarnish all issues with the one brush
of "it s his or her fault" and instead to recog-
nise that overemphasis on one person or
family branch does not encourage full muscle
strength. Everyone has a role to play as the
family seeks family harmony and business
Pay attention to all areas in the family
business system; isolate the weak muscles
or joints in that part of the body and gently
train them. Do not add too many heavy
dumbbells into the routine too soon or you
risk injury. We are reminded when lifting
weights to keep the core strong.
Do not attempt to enact so much rapid
change in the family business system that
we trample on the foundations that keep us
centred and firm.
The key to both building endurance and
increasing muscle strength is consistency
and a gradual build-up of speed and resist-
ance, even if you are starting from a position
of some fitness.
When I work with a family in creating a
Family Charter, I take into account the exist-
ing climate within the family and am guided
by that as I choose which policies to enact
The ill effects of smoking are not only vis-
ited upon the smoker; and there are studies
which document the consequences of sec-
ond-hand smoke to those in the vicinity.
This has led to a ban on smoking in public
places and smokers are being banished to
limited, open spaces.
The toxic behaviour of select family mem-
bers can poison the system. And expulsion
or exile is not conducive to family accord
which is one of the socio-emotional goals
of family businesses. Indeed, it must be an
absolute last resort and, even then, we often
keep the door ajar. Electronic cigarettes, nico-
tine gum, behaviour change programmes are
all recommended as a way to stop smoking.
The family is well advised to support the
smoker in kicking the bad habit: describe
the specific behaviour as opposed to making
broad character attacks, express concern for
the effects of the behaviour, suggest an alter-
native path and describe the consequences
of not embarking on the required behaviour
In other words, practice conflict resolution
methods instead of isolationist techniques.
At least, give every alternative a whole-heart-
ed try and offer every support even as it may
mean occasionally having to inhale that sec-
Learn something new
The desire to add a new skill to our indi-
vidual repertoires is driven by the desire for
personal growth and development or simply
to have more fun. It is often as well, the
concrete realisation of some dream. Family
businesses are well advised to resolve to
expand their horizons, whether it is in
embarking upon a long-talked about business
project or enacting the family policies and
practices, which I describe on these pages
during the year. The experts say that the
best way to achieve this acquisition of a new
ability is to break the overall aim into smaller,
more manageable goals.
Set some measurable targets along the way
and do not overshoot, since that leads to
disappointment and ultimate abandonment.
And this is true of all New Year resolutions.
Surveys reveal that six months after the New
Year, only about half of us are still keeping
As discouraging as that may be, only four
per cent of us stick to paths we do not declare
at the start of the New Year. There is much
merit in making New Year resolutions and
even more to making them public.
Family business members could take some
time from year-end festivities to sit as a
group and choose their own equivalencies
to eat right, exercise more, quit smoking and
learn something new. Here s hoping that all
your 2014 resolutions come to fruition.
Happy New Year!
Dr Annette Rahael is a family business
Family business: New Year resolutions
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