Success begins at home

We are the fruit of many lives and the result of our choices and everyday habits.

About a third of my work is assisting 25-40 year olds to emotionally and mentally separate from their family of origin and the habits they acquired there, in order to save their marriages and sometimes their businesses.

Habits become automatic and unconscious, like driving from home to work and not remembering all the places in between.

Getting it right in family and business often seems automatic. Successful people appear to have an almost unconscious sense of the right direction to go. One that sometimes fails them but not often.
However, success is not the good luck that this unconscious competence appears to be.

Unconscious competence is the result of underlying good habits, backed up by matching values often but not always set at home. They become the gut feelings or instincts on which we build business and family success.

Nature’s method for success

Nature’s habit and her measure of success is diversity. Diversity is difference.

Humans are rarely comforted by difference, yet they crave it.

In order to increase diversity, nature has a significant influence on our choice of breeding partner. Opposites attract, partners poach and affairs happen at times of high fertility. Too much difference in the couple, however, breeds trouble between them and with their offspring.

Most differences can be bridged, it is just a matter of how many resources you are willing to commit to bridge maintenance. So don’t let nature’s desire or your parent’s wishes be the only ones making choices at your wedding.

Dramatically opposite partners are not necessarily good friends, nor the ones who bring up kids most wisely nor care best for a business, but they usually have great sex for a time. And sometimes that is enough for success in many other spheres.

Practise generosity and tough love both locally and globally. Relaxed, altruistic people are among the happiest, healthiest and longest lived in the world. This is a result of feeling useful in a social network.

Uptight and upright do-gooders are a problem to themselves, their families and the people they ‘help’. Their pity can lack empathy. Empathy drives power sharing. Empathy is rarely a pre-requisite for election or promotion to positions of power in any organization.

Compassion can only occur between equals. Sympathy sounds good but impels no action to redress imbalances in power.


The most decisive moment in history is the identification of ‘self’ as opposed to ‘Nature’. At this point people become responsible for their own fate and they become afraid. The ‘fear of freedom’ begins at the point of recognizing one’s own responsibility for one’s own fate. Fromm

Free will gives us more choices than any other life form on the planet.

That liberty is an enduring power and a burden of responsibility.
It requires something nature packs too little of into our genes – prior experience in its use.

Young couples have too little life experience to acquire moderation in the exercise of this liberating power. Most children are born to inexperienced parents. Grandparents used to fill the gap. Nature has not caught up with their moderating influence.

We call that moderation wisdom.

Nature appears to have distributed the elements of wisdom randomly. Perhaps she cannot know which seemingly hopeless gamble on wisdom opens to another millennia of evolution, and so like any smart investor, spreads the risk.

Wisdom can be described as the exercise of power with each of these traits in balance: dignity, humility and discipline; kindness, compassion, endurance, and justice. These seven come from the kabbalah.

Observers in all mystic traditions of all religions have noticed those random moderators, collected them over many generations and crystallized them into self-moderating precepts.

All religious systems teach almost exactly the same principles. Not so with sectarianism.


It is human to have a long childhood; it is civilized to have an even longer childhood. Long childhoods makes a technical and mental virtuoso out of man, but it also leaves a life-long residue of emotional immaturity. Erik Erikson

Kidding ourselves about the significance of our life and its choices, diminishes our agency. This is one way to deny the obvious. Embracing life’s poignant enormity is another. And there are many places in between as we leave the family nest and set sail against or with the winds of change.

Our peer group is our reference group, co-existent with our future. As we grow and leave home our family recedes, though we carry its habits and values, often unexamined.

Some able bodied folk never leave home or their family patterns. This too has costs and benefits.

I strongly advise my clients to moderate nature’s way at the door of their family business enterprise. In a similar way competition inside the bedroom is disastrous to a marriage.

With body armour growing in our young, unaware mind we start to seek a life time best fit of ideas, for opportunities and miseries, and with people who support and those who will diminish our freedom. We find what works for us and practice how to react to what doesn’t. Family shows the way, but we make the choices.

You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their friends. More than by meeting their parents. You choose your friends, not your family. People would never treat their friends the way many treat their family.

The character of intimacy that we seek, that we share, and that we avoid begins here, whatever our circumstances or parentage, with whatever cards we have been dealt.
For some the moment of realisation is a sudden jolt into self-responsibility, and early in life.

That is the spark of success.