I had a thought provoking conversation recently with a man who, along with his business partner, have set out to help entrepreneurs and other high-achievers. They aren’t offering marketing tips or financial strategies.
In fact, they aren’t offering business advice at all.
Bradley Callow and Gordie Bufton of Rich Legacy, are dishing out insight, tangible tools, and perspective through family coaching, lectures, and workshops around the world. Their focus? High-performing families. Yes, that’s you entrepreneurs.
Having grown up up in high-performing entrepreneurial families themselves, they know all too well the inherent challenges children face. They also know that being an entrepreneur and raising a family has it potential downsides.
They know the surprising ways entrepreneurs are negatively impacting their kids.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What follows is a live conversation between myself, Bradley Callow (left below) and Gordie Bufton (right below).
These are the keys to creating a high performance environment for entrepreneurial families.
Rafi: Bradley and Gordie… what led you to seek out other parents, children, and clinical professionals who come from or work with these high-performing families?
Bradley: The simple answer? We both almost died.
Gordie: Even though I didn’t start using drugs until I was 17, and was always considered a golden child, I spent my 20th birthday in jail. Shortly after, I was almost beaten to death with a brick in Macon, Georgia. These two events forced me to take a hard look at my life and change. Upon getting sober, I started going in and out of psych wards due to the drug-induced brain damage.
Bradley: Despite coming from a good family, I started using drugs at 11 years old to change the way I felt. After being suspended from college during my first month for marijuana distribution, I mastered the art of concealing my self-destructive behaviors until I couldn’t take it anymore. I became suicidal and found myself on my knees with a 1911 .45 caliber handgun pressed to my own temple.
Gordie: We are dedicated to using our experiences and knowledge to ensure other families and children don’t have to struggle in the same way we did.
Bradley: The harsh reality is that high-performing families have several inherent patterns which often appear harmless to the parents, but have dramatic consequences when it comes to the children.
Their dedication to supporting families through tragedy and heartache or preventing it altogether is both admirable and needed.
A recent US study showed close to one in five children ages 10-24 had seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months.
Yes, ONE IN FIVE.
During our conversation several things emerged regarding the unique attributes of high-performing families and how they can change course before it’s too late.
Rafi: Other than your personal experience, how did you gain such a powerful understanding of high-performing families?
Bradley: Thanks to our time working in mental and behavioral health (rehabs, interactions with thousands of parents, children, and clinical professionals (therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc) over a combined ten years, we have a large population to draw from.
It’s important to note our personal experience isn’t just limited to our own families. Our respective time spent in and out of treatment and therapy for the last twenty plus years is one of the cornerstones of our eye-opening insights.
While they recognizes that not all high-performing families are the same, there some patterns which have risen to the surface.
Rafi: What are the main character traits that make driven families unique?
Gordie: We have found time and time again the families we work with have unrealistic expectations of their children.
Instead of being content with general health, reasonable academic achievement, or social engagement, high-performing families expect more than their children can deliver.
High-performing families can quickly become frustrated, let down, or even angered by the slightest indication of underachievement. If their child isn’t excelling academically with their sights on Division One or Ivy League schools, parents have gone to extreme lengths to ensure their child doesn’t fail to meet these expectations.
A simple question I love to ask parents is whether they’ve ever done their child’s homework to ensure a higher score.
What does teach your child? What does it communicate to them?
I don’t have to try my hardest, because my parents are going to do it for me.
And, I guess my parents don’t believe I am smart enough to do this on my own.
Bradley: We also see a tremendous amount of difficulty or unwillingness to let children experience most kinds of failure or suffering.
Take a moment and reflect on your greatest life lessons.
I guarantee they came from when something went wrong. You failed, you lost something, you suffered.
Confucius once said, “I hear and I forget, I see and I believe, I do, and I understand.
High-performing parents desire to “protect” their child from failure or discomfort results in difficulty letting the child learn for themselves. This creates a real threat to the child’s self-esteem.
Self-esteem comes from failing and making mistakes, but being able to learn from them and move forward.
If parents never let go of the back of the bike seat or take off the training wheels, several things happen to the child:
- don’t develop self-esteem through falling and getting back up
- believe their parents think they’re incapable or stupid
- remain dependent on their parents for life
- plagued by fear when attempting new or difficult things on their own
- never experience the freedom of riding alone
Rafi: I know from our previous conversations there are way more than one, but if you could each offer a single suggestion for these families to help them course correct in order to avoid the pain you both experienced, what would it be?
Gordie: Slow down and get engaged in your child’s life. Spend at least ten minutes a day with each child connecting without the distraction of TV or technology.
Become curious with their inner world and how you as a parent can start to cultivate an environment for learning. Not just learning in the school setting, but in the real world.
Empower them with the life skills to become a successful human, not just a good student.
Remember that kids spell love, T I M E.
Bradley: Great question. This is especially true for entrepreneurs. Almost all successful people are inherently good problem solvers. In fact, most of them attribute much of their success to this very trait.
This skill-set is often not applied it in a way where the child can benefit the most.
Instead of trying to solve your child’s problems for them, help your children to arrive at their own solutions through asking smarter questions.
We have to remind our clients on a regular basis, unsolicited advice is criticism in disguise.
Every time you jump in and fix everything or show your child the, “right” way to do things, you undermine their confidence and sense of self-worth while simultaneously weakening their own abilities as a problem solver.
Allow them to fail. It will be the greatest gift you ever give them.