Why do you need a family operating system? Because nature.
A while back, I found myself in a situation that I would have never predicted. I was struggling to do the executive-level work that I had been crushing for fifteen years. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. I would hear myself talk to my kids and husband in a tone that I had never expected to come from my mouth. I had a sob-story replaying over and over in my head that no one gave a crap about me and how stressed I was. I secretly daydreamed about running away and not telling anyone where I went. Things were a little bit nuts, to say the least.
Thankfully, one day in September 2014, I had a single moment of complete clarity when I decided: No. There has GOT to be a better way than this.
I had been an executive before I became a mother at 39. I wasn’t used to feeling like I didn’t have the time, freedom or focus to think. I felt frustrated and trapped, but also incredibly guilty, because I loved my husband and kids and felt blessed that they showed up in my life.
So I went on a mission to figure out how to create a new family dynamic by applying my years of business expertise. I analyzed the situation as it was versus what we wanted for our family. The symptoms we were experiencing – which included my feelings of overwhelm, my husband’s feelings of helplessness, and periods of family stress or commotion – led me to the underlying causes of the chaos. And in a nutshell, here were my findings:
- All of the information about how our family runs – what needs to happen and how it needs to happen – was in my brain.
- All communications among family members – including our sitter and extended family like grandparents – went through me.
- Most of the decisions about our kids and home – from what to buy at the grocery store to managing the finances – were made by me.
No wonder I felt capacity-constrained! No wonder I felt like a nag!
A deep understanding of the problem was the first step. The next was to figure out what a new model for family could look like. I didn’t like most of the options I saw, which included one of us leaning back in our careers or just surviving until the kids grew up and moved out.
I wanted something completely different. I wanted it ALL. Happy and thriving kids and time to enjoy them. A career that challenged me and made me proud. A deep relationship with my husband that actually included time and energy for sex (imagine that!). Yet I was challenged to figure out how that would look. Whenever I am stuck on a problem like this, I have one move…
Look to nature for ideas. (Keep reading if you are a science nerd too.)
So I looked to nature, and here’s what I found:
Reciprocal altruism: The instinct of animals to act against their own self-interest for the benefit of the collective.
When birds migrate in a V formation, the reason the flock can fly for so long is that two birds pair up, and then those partners take turns taking the lead and giving the other a chance to rest in the draft. And it’s not just birds; recent evidence indicates that wolf packs operate in a highly cooperative way, rather than the hierarchical tendency as was previously believed.
Reciprocal altruism is evolutionary biologist speak for: “Don’t tell me your kids won’t pitch in or your partner won’t help out, because they love you and want you to be happy.” Oh and by the way, your happiness benefits them.
But here’s what it really means…The issue isn’t just about whether other family members help with the physical work. The issue is whether one person in the family is doing all of the THINKING about what has to get done. All of the organizing, planning, coordinating, conflict-resolving, favor-asking, scheduling. That’s what causes information overload and decision fatigue. And it leaves little brain capacity for taking on more in your career or enjoying other aspects of your life.
Birds are programmed through a shared intelligence to operate based on the principle of reciprocal altruism. This is how they achieve the shared goal of migrating long distances.
What if you could have a shared intelligence system for your family?
One that allows others to take the lead without having to be told what to do? Or allows the whole operation to keep running when you go away on business? What if you had the freedom to focus on your work because you knew that your family would still work when your are at the office?
That’s the FLOCK Family Operating System.™ It’s a new way of running your family that creates a new family dynamic. I refuse to choose between my family and my fulfillment, and I am on a mission to make sure that other parents can refuse to choose too.
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Founder of FLOCK