I grew up in what I call a wonderfully dysfunctional family. Our home was chaotic and I craved order. Being the oldest of four girls with an 11-year spread, there was a lot of crazy. Having experienced tumultuous relationships and not feeling prepared to launch for college, I looked for some outside help. With no internet and very few options, I finally found a seminar in Wichita Falls, TX and somehow convinced my parents to join me. It was a 10-day intensive program for mostly adults and it was my first real experience with the power of small changes that can produce major breakthrough. All three of us left changed. It wasn’t until years later that I realized I was a guinea pig of Dr. Phil!
After finishing the perfect degree, Human and Organizational Development, at Vanderbilt, I became a change management consultant. My role was to help people move through the chaos of change while maintaining a strong commitment to the organization. My specialty was sponsorship, communications and team building. Three things that would have been a huge help growing up! I loved my job, but the travel wasn’t conducive to the three kids I had in under three years…. Which became my next training ground.
As my kids reached high school I was ready to return to the marketplace, but instead of re-entering corporate America, I decided to focus on the organization that had my heart, the family.
With the help of Halftime Institute, I was able to craft a calling that combined my business consulting background with my passion to affect change in what I call “the messy middle” of family. I wanted to provide a healthy model to improve family and offer tools that could help address the challenges on the spot and hopefully avoid crisis counseling down the line.
So, what is the messy middle? It is the stuff that comes out when you live in close community. It brings out the best and worst, but it is also the greatest training ground for life. If done well, it can lead to a strong sense of self, emotional health, and tools for life success. I believe that there are tools and practices we can appropriate to keep us in growth mode if we are intentional to seize small opportunities that can make a big impact. We can unlock potential and become potent now.
Creating an idea is like birthing a baby. It can be uncomfortable and challenging, but certainly worth it when you see the results. That’s what this journeyhas felt like. As I shared in my story, the challenges I’ve overcome in my family of origin have been key to my preparation. So, making sense of my own family of origin and then having a family of my own were two training grounds for me that required some healing and growth. Next was the decision to start my own business instead of going back to work in business consulting, which would have been much simpler. Putting myself out there to offer a new idea felt risky and vulnerable, (thank goodness for Brene Brown), but seeing families experience breakthrough has helped me overcome those feelings. Additionally, I have walked with some challenging marriages and felt like some of these problems could have been avoided if they had gotten some practical help along the way. I’ve heard that it takes 7 years of suffering before people agree to counseling. What would happen if people could get answers sooner and relatively painlessly? I’ve been able to witness breakthrough with each family I have worked with and that makes the struggle to start something new worth it!
About Your Business
I like to ask people, if your family is your most important organization, then what are you doing to intentionally capture the opportunities you have now? So often family gets lost in the tyranny of the urgent and weare tossed around by the storms rather than charting our own course.
Taking time to be intentional about your direction and process can save you a lot of heartache. The problem is that families lack time and when you get home you want to unplug, not do business. The second problem is not knowing what to do because we haven’t done this before. And finally, sometimes families need a third person to give them permission to hit reset and change patterns that aren’t working, especially in families with teens.
I am not a counselor, but rather a problem solver and a connector that wants to help families find a critical path forward to the healthiest, most life-giving organization that they will ever experience;their family.
The Family Institute offers a healthy, proactive model to help families optimize organizational health and unlock potential. That sounds very consultant-like, but I believe that bringing some of the tools that businesses use to affect bottom line success and build a strong team works for families as well. So, I have created a framework for organizational health in family. A simpler way to describe it is a combination of consulting and family coaching. In my research, I didn’t find anything that was helping families look at the big picture and develop a road map for success. Most parenting books hone in on a specific topic and I wanted to look at the entire journey to get perspective.
My process is a three-step approach to affect change in families.
- Survey – online assessments to know yourself and your team.
This is immediately helpful and allows people to accept what will not change about each other. I provide an individual report, comparison reports for any two people and a team report. We also learn about healthy conflict management and personalities of conflict.
- Blueprint – a plan to facilitate organizational health.
Every family has a culture whether it is stated or not. I take families through a process of defining their family culture to provide a shared language and common vision. Additionally, we look at communications, simple tools for common goals as well as celebrations and traditions.
- Toolbox – training and equipping by life-stage development
Starting with an understanding of childhood development is instrumental in defining what is normal and abnormal. So often we don’t consider what is normal developmentally. From there we look at a road map for equipping each child during these life-stages to prepare them to launch successfully.
Once you establish the blueprint, you can then proactively solve problems and align to your values. It removes a lot of emotional clutter and develops a team environment of collaboration rather than conflict. I have been very excited about the response to this vision. It’s what I wanted when I was growing up and now I am able to provide it for others.
Who Also Deserves Credit?
I have been so blessed to have a team of people pouring into me and sharpening me. It started with The Halftime Institute, the University for your Second Half. Going through the year long program, which was two years for me, and having my coach, Carolyn Castleberry, walk alongside me as I refined this vision was critical in moving forward. I am currently forming a partnership with them to help other Halftime graduates with my model because they are seeing the value in what I provide. I’ve stayed in touch with a few of my Vanderbilt professors and they have encouraged my vision and offered support. Because I have so much respect for Patrick Lencioni’s business consulting material, I pursued a relationship with Hrishi Baskaran who is a consultant here in Dallas from Lencioni’s firm, The Table Group. He has been coaching me as well because he believes in this vision. I have a super partner, Elizabeth Erickson, that has been working with me since November. She is an author and has a master’s degree in neuroscience. Of course, my extended family and surrogate parents have poured into me every step of the way, but my biggest support, has been the feedback of my first clients, my very own children, ages 16, 17, and 18 (yes, I had triplets the hard way). The fact that they are encouraging me to help people inspires me and gives me confidence that even though we aren’t a perfect family, there is value in what I am doing, and they want others to experience it.