4 Lessons From My Dad I Had to Unlearn to Grow My Business

4 Lessons From My Dad I Had to Unlearn to Grow My Business

Today we are discussing what we want to say “No, thank you” to our parent or our mentor for. This is especially important to explore if like many of my clients operate family-owned businesses. That means that they either work with family or they bought or inherited a business from a parent or, like 48.1% of entrepreneurs, they had a parent who was a small business owner, or maybe you’ve had a mentor, that can apply to you too.

It is a great exercise for closure, for healing, and for really stopping some of those intrusive thoughts that plague small business owners today. The narratives play over and over in their head, but you realize it is not your voice that is talking to you. It is distinctly the voice of a parent, of a mentor, of somebody else, and you are carrying around someone else’s perspectives, and they are impacting all the decisions you make in your business.

They’re getting in your way.

Revisiting Last Week’s Exercise

This exercise is the exercise I give my clients. Whether you have a family-owned business and/or you ever would like to work with me, this is an exercise that you will need to complete. 

I did not create this brilliance. I wish I did. I did not. This is by a woman named HeatherAsh Amara. This exercise was in her book, and it was so helpful to me that I have spent years passing it down and working with my clients on this simple and sometimes frustrating exercise.

Last week, we looked at lessons I learned from my dad, things I wanted to say thank you to him for. I’d worked with him for a number of years. I’ve picked up a lot from my dad. If you haven’t done last week’s exercise, maybe you want to try this part first.

It’s what I would like to say “No, thank you” to my dad for. It’s what I would like to say, “I appreciate that this was a part of our relationship, that this was a lesson I took on, but I’m going to hand it back. No, thanks, not for me. I tried, but it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for me. Not I hate you, not curse you, it’s no, thank you.” 

I understand that sometimes we have very charged relationships with our parents. There are parents who have abandoned their children, there are parents who have abused their children, and there are parents who are toxic and narcissistic. Trust me, I understand this, and we can still say, “No, thank you.” The “No, thank you” is not for them, it’s for us.

If you had asked me to do this exercise 10 years ago, it would have looked entirely different from it does today, and that’s normal. That’s showing that my relationship to myself and to the people who have informed my life over the years, for better or worse, those relationships are shifting, changing, and healing.

I will say that you never have to share these thank yous, or no, thank yous with anybody ever. There have been times when I have shared these with my father, that we have sat down, and he has opened the conversation, or I have opened the conversation, and I’ve chosen to share these things. They wound up being really validating with my dad, and this will not be with everybody’s family member or everybody’s mentor. Please don’t charge into a relationship that feels unsafe to you and think you’re going to get an outcome like I had. But if you do, it could be even more healing and beneficial.

Things I Want To Say “No, Thank You” To My Dad For

Fear and Anxiety Around Money

The first thing I’m saying no thank you to is fear and anxiety around money. Now, if you ask people about my dad and his anxiety levels, they will tell you, he is known for, they’ll say, “Elliot can make a cup of coffee nervous.” He just vibrates at times with stuff, his stuff. He has mellowed so much in his ears.

I have been able to witness that, and I feel deeply grateful that I’ve been able to witness that in him, both for him and for me. But growing up with him, there was a lot of fear and anxiety, especially around money.

Listen, I understand that. It’s probably really warranted. My mom stayed home. He had two young kids, and he was just trying to find and make his way in the world financially with those responsibilities on his shoulders. We all have generational trauma around money. We all have fears and anxieties around money that have come from our ancestors.

I understand this now. I didn’t understand this when I was 8, 10, 12, 14, what have you. So this is something that I am a big “No, thank you” for. That doesn’t mean I don’t have fear and anxiety around money folks. I do. It just means that I am aware of it. I see it. I work on it, and I’m very like, “Is this mine? Is this his?”.

I do a lot of self-talk. I really manage this and make sure that it’s mine and not his. I do have some really epic conversations about money with my dad. Sometimes they tip into delulu land.

You Never Turn Down A Client

He also has this thing, and he said it to me once, and I had a visceral reaction to it, around you don’t turn down work. You take all the work. You take whoever is willing to pay you, anyone who is willing to pay you, it doesn’t matter if it’s a values match, it doesn’t matter how they treat you, or any of those things, you take the work.

He said that to me in the context of like, “You don’t want to be authentic, you don’t want to share necessarily the parts of you because you want to be able to assimilate and take work on from everyone,” so he was basically kind of saying, “Don’t be so upfront with your values,” I was like, “That doesn’t feel good to me. We live in a very divisive time. I’m fine with you thinking and believing the things that you feel, but if I’m going to be working with you, we have to have some overlap. We can’t be a completely opposite ends of the spectrum.”

I’ve also had people approach me and want to work with me and they have had some really shady, sketchy businesses. They’re like, “Can I pay you $15,000 in cash?” I’m like, “Probably not, probably not.” Because that didn’t feel good to me. I was like, “Where the heck is that money coming from? What am I getting involved in? Pretty sure this business is a front for something.”

So no, I’m not just going to take anyone’s money. I also need them to be ready to do the work with me and a willing participant. It’s a different type of business than my father’s business, which was a manufacturing business.

The thing I help my clients do the most is like what Mike Michalowicz calls Pumpkin Planning, like finding the most profitable clients, finding the most profitable offers and services or products that they make, and just doubling down on those and not working with or doing those other things.

I always give this example of my husband in his business. He manufactures autoclaves and sterilizers for research facilities. He gets these crazy long RFPs that he has to complete that he just doesn’t have the time for. So he’s learned to ask, “Is this going to go to the lowest-cost provider?” If they say yes, he just says, “I’m sorry, we don’t bid on those.”

Another one for him is, “Is the machine going into an existing space or is this a new build?” Because when he’s got to go into a space that’s being newly built, it comes with a level of headaches and chaos that he just doesn’t want to deal with at this point in his business and his career.

This whole concept around you don’t turn down work, no, thanks, Dad. I’m going to continue to choose the clients, projects, and jobs that are best suited for my strengths and my skill set and where I will come together with people and just make the most epic results, that’s what I want. 

Always Be Productive

Another one, you’re all going to probably be able to understand this one. Our parents’ generation had a lot of stuff around being productive. Always be productive. You always have to be productive. This was like a mantra in my house. 

It’s a wonder why we’re all like on this crazy hustle hamster wheel, rushing from thing to thing in this really hurried lifestyle. I believe in productivity 100%. As a matter of fact, I recommend you check out Cal Newport’s newest book called Slow Productivity. It’s thought-provoking. He always has thought-provoking content. We don’t always have to be productive in the way our parents have put that on us.

I know I’ve worked with a number of clients who felt like their parents were always looking at them, calling them lazy. Or like they had to go to school every day and get that attendance, that perfect attendance award. That’s how they approach business, their business, especially if it’s a family-owned business, especially if their parents are still involved or still at the dinner table or whatever, and they feel like they have to prove their worthiness in their level of output, productivity, and work hard or as hard or harder than their parents worked.

This is a real place where business owners get messed up. This is a real place where there are these intrusive thoughts and beliefs that have been ingrained in us for decades by people that have had influence on us, that we care about, and that have meaning to us, no matter how annoying our parents are.

Those voices can be really difficult to repel from our brains. So no, thank you, Dad, to always having to be productive in the sense that you’ve defined it. I get to define productivity, what that looks like, what that means, how I engage in my relationship to output and my results, I get to define that for myself, for me.

Doing Business Dad’s Way

I think the last thing that I am saying no thank you for is, and this maybe is an encapsulation of a few of the things that I’ve named here, but doing business his way. The reason why I made this a separate one is I think that when we’ve been raised by business owners, when we have worked in a family business, when we have worked with family, it’s easy to do it the way it’s always been done.

I mean, this is any business. This is the big source of resistance. Well, we’ve always done it that way. Why do we need to change? But when it’s family, when it’s a parent, it’s even harder. I always want to be conscious that I am building my business.

Even if you’ve taken over a business from a parent, it’s not the same business. You get to do it your way.

That’s just something that I would like to say, no, thank you to doing business the way my father did it. I want to welcome in the permission, the opportunity, and the encouragement, self-encouragement to do business my way.

Man, let me tell you, it’s really noisy out there, not just from parents or having these voices in our head, but from having social media, the internet, friends, and seeing how other people do business and saying, “No, thank you to doing business that way, I’m going to do business my way,” and really giving yourself that permission and that encouragement.

It’s much easier for us to move forward when we take from these relationships, when we take from our parents the way we want to, to be intentional and discerning and say, “Thank you. I’m going to take that with me. That’s important. That has really informed me and served me well. But no, thank you to these things. That doesn’t feel good for me right now,” and it could be right now.

Today’s Exercise… What Are You Saying No, Thank You For?

What might be a no, thank you today, what if it’s a thank you in a couple of years from now? That could happen. That can happen. But it won’t happen unless you take action, do these exercises, and make these intentional choices about what you’re taking with you and what you’re leaving behind.

As we wrap up and roll out of this episode, your action is to sit down and write a list of what you’re saying no thank you to, to your parent or your mentor. It could be a minimum of three things. You don’t have to share it. No, thank you, no, thank you, no, thank you. Not F you, not I hate you, even if it’s true, even if they’re a horrible person, you don’t forgive them, and you’ve cut them out of your life, then no, thank you is for you.If you feel like you need a place to share this, please feel free, email me and let me know what you’re saying no, thank you to.

Share this episode!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email