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"What to Do When You’re Overwhelmed in Your Family Business"



In my teenage years of working in the restaurant industry, I experienced a lot of havoc and chaos. At times, tables were packed, guests were clamoring for my attention, the kitchen was backed up with orders, and there were conflicts between servers at the front of the restaurant and cooks and dishwashers at the back.


It could get absolutely insane at times.


I was interested to read in Atlas of the Heart about the restaurant term of “in the weeds” and “blown”. The former means you have a lot on the go, you’re getting behind, and you need a helping hand from a coworker. When we said “in the weeds” to each other, my coworkers and I knew we needed to help each other out, fast - running food to a table, getting a table checked out, a coffee refill, etc.


As I read the book what is new to me is the restaurant term of “blown”. Brown shares it as being so completely overwhelmed that you cannot function. At all. You’re absolutely done. Basically, you need to get away for ten minutes, just to breathe, to calm down, to cry, deep breathing, whatever you need to do to collect yourself. When you’re blown, your team steps up and takes over; they don’t ask you what needs to be done because they know you’re not able to verbalize it. They just figure it out and give you a few minutes to get yourself together.


As I read the book, I recalled feeling exactly that way, especially on Sunday mornings when the Church groups came in. Not only was I overwhelmed at times, I was also hurt when instead of leaving me a tip which would help with my tuition costs for University, the guests would leave me a prayer card. Growing up in a religious family, I had plenty of prayers. What I needed was cash to pay for my schooling. In those moments, I really could have used a time out.


For whatever reason, having a 10 minute “blow out” break was never discussed where I worked. We were expected to keep moving, faster and faster, to make clients happy, and keep the tables turning over.


While on one hand I worked with my father in our family insurance brokerage, when it came to working for other organizations, I felt that I was a cog in the wheel, that I had to keep going, that it really didn’t matter how I felt. Maybe this is part of why for decades I have said “I am unemployable; I can only ever work for myself”.


Unfortunately, though, I carried this pattern of overworking into my family business. For so many years, I kept going, even when I was completely exhausted and needed a break, even just for a few minutes.


This in turn made it so much harder to cope with disruption. With a frazzled, exhausted, and confused brain, it was awfully hard to make sound business decisions in the early years of my business ownership.


Along the way, I decided to change that pattern, to take time outs when I needed them, to breathe.


And, I inspired and mentored others to do the same, which ultimately led to more focus, productivity, and prosperity.


If you can relate, to feeling like you’re fighting to keep it together, to struggling with last minute emergencies, and you don’t want to be blown over by the latest disruption, you can check out the guide I’ve created to help at https://guide.dreamteamconsulting.ca/ .



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