Note from the editor: We are so excited to introduce you to Jim Sheils, author of this week’s guest post. Jim has been called the “Crazy Glue” for families, especially entrepreneur families. His popular Family Board Meeting strategy is helping thousands of parents worldwide to deepen their family relationships.
Jim is an avid surfer and enjoys traveling with family and friends, especially his beautiful wife Jamie and their 4 children Alden, Leland, Maggie and Sammy.
You can learn more about Jim’s work with families by visiting JimSheils.com.
As an entrepreneur, I have regularly had the opportunity to attend events focused on personal development, financial intelligence and relationship building.
The speakers are usually incredible, and I have frequently been able to apply the lessons they taught to directly improve my life.
These men and women on stage were all smart and financially successful. I believe they had good hearts and the best intentions… but I discovered something else that many of them had in common — many had lost their way and their priorities. They stopped living the message they were marketing.
Behind the curtain, some of these “gurus” were constantly away from home. Some of them were closet alcoholics. Some marriages were failing or over. Saddest of all, many of them had barely any relationship with their children.
Earl Nightingale once said, “As you attempt to put yourself in a position to acquire all the things that money can buy, don’t sacrifice the things money can’t buy.”
I became determined not to fall into this trap. Relationships would come first, and there would be no substitute for quality time in my family life.
This decision was the birth of the Board Meeting Strategy – a simple rhythm that has been a grounding pillar for building a stronger relationship with my children.
Family Board Meetings
It works like this: every 90 days I have a Board Meeting with my children. It’s a minimum of 4 uninterrupted hours and it’s always:
- Without electronics
- Doing a fun activity of their choice, with some open communication saved for the end
I’ve done the strategy for years, and it works extremely well. I even wrote a book about it and shared some personal stories and breakthroughs I had with my adopted sons, as a result.
The longer I do Board Meetings with my children, the more I want to keep doing them.
One of the greatest things about having a Board Meeting is that I often get to pull my boys out of school to have one. It’s great doing a fun activity during the week when everyone else is grinding away. There’s something special about breaking this routine and having an experience with your son or daughter. If you’ve done it, you understand.
A lot of people see it as irresponsible beyond belief. They say, “You pull them out of school to spend a day at the beach with you? Don’t you believe in a good education and the value of school?”
Of course I do. However, I believe in the importance of our relationship more.
On occasion, we need to break the normal routine to remember what’s most important. Work and school can easily dictate our schedule forever, if we let them. I refuse to let this happen in my family. So, two to three days per year, each of my kids will miss school and I’ll miss work to have a Board Meeting.
This makes perfect-attendance loyalists and workaholics want to throw up. They are usually the first ones to say to me, “What kind of example are you setting?!”
This is something I’ve thought about a lot. It’s something that takes me back to the gurus I saw on stage. They were successful in the eyes of the unimportant majority, but unknown and disconnected to an important minority.
I believe the example I’m setting is this:
When my kids grow up they will have a habit instilled within them to play hooky from work and school every 90 days to spend time with their most important relationships – without remorse and without guilt. It will also prove to their own children that they can (and will) put their relationship ahead of their work.
Missing two days of school per year is a small price to pay for real connection between parent and child.
Top Tips for a Successful Board Meeting
There are several ways a Board Meeting can be sabotaged, and if you’re not prepared to execute the Board Meeting Strategy with consistency, love, and passion, it could become meaningless just like any other empty ritual.
If incorrectly executed, it could be just another thing your kid feels forced to endure. We don’t want that to happen, so I’d like to share with you the top ways to ensure successful implementation of the Board Meeting Strategy.
First, you must be totally present. No matter what, don’t concern yourself with other matters during the Board Meeting. Anything else can wait a few hours. Just focus on what you are doing with your son or daughter.
This may sound easy, but it’s not always so easy in practice.
Consider that the day of your Board Meeting might be the same day you lose a big contract. Or, perhaps it will be the day your father tells you he has cancer, or it might be the day you receive a phone call from your child’s principal about bad behavior.
Even if none of these happen, other big pressures come at us every day. These are a fact of life, and if you waited for no pressure before giving your child your full attention, you’d never do it. Turn off the phone, make a real effort to turn off the voices in your mind, and focus on your child.
Second, you must drop your guard. This might be tough because you may not even realize your guard is up. There’s even a chance that your guard is habitually up. Perhaps there’s been a loss of trust between you and your child. It’s far more common than we care to admit. Be aware of how you’re feeling, and if your guard is up, drop it during the Board Meeting.
Third, don’t cram in too much content. I know we all have 50 lectures lined up that we believe our kids need to hear, but lecturing is probably the surest path to losing their trust and any interest in future Board Meetings. Keep the focused reflection light (especially in the beginning). You’ve already spoken volumes without saying anything just by spending quality time together.
If you treat the Board Meeting with a ‘to-do list’ mentally, you’ll lose them the first time. It’s all about creating space. As trust is built, conversations will happen.
Fourth, it is important that you say what you’re holding back. This is something you’ll only understand once you are in a Board Meeting. What often happens is that once you’ve set this time aside, had fun together, eaten a meal, and had a focused reflection, you will end up reaching a moment of emotional clarity where you want to say something meaningful.
If you hold back when that opportunity comes, you’ll regret it. Why? Because vulnerability must be met with vulnerability. If your child trusts you enough to be vulnerable, you must reciprocate.
That authentic statement of love and appreciation you’re thinking about (but hesitating to say) could be the game-changer in taking your relationship to a new level.
Fifth and last, you absolutely must have fun on your Board Meeting. Our experience has taught us that this is a common denominator for successful Board Meetings. The ability to have fun with your children is priceless when developing a deeper connection.
If you can’t let go, they will notice. They will notice your stiffness. They may even feel slighted by your inability to have fun with them. They will get the sense that you’d rather be somewhere else.
One of the best things about having children is that they can teach us to have fun in their way, but to let that happen we must relax, let go, and accept them as our teachers.
Many of us can’t imagine letting ourselves be guided by a child because we’re accustomed to our role of guiding them, but there is nobody more qualified to teach fun than a child. Every single child is born with a Ph.D. in FUN.
Let them be your teacher.
I am confident that, if you follow the three steps to connection and remember these simple rules, you will have an incredible quality time experience with your child.