Saturday, March 26, 2011

Family Furniture

By Julie Rahm

Last week, one of my coaching clients had his grandmother pass away. She was age 99. She did not have much money. She did, however, have quite a collection of furniture. Despite his personal desires, my client was persuaded by the other members of the family to assume ownership of the furniture. He already had all the furniture he needed. Now, he was acquiring a truckload of out-of-style furniture. And, the unspoken contract he had with the rest of his family did not allow him to sell or dispose of grandma’s furniture. His parents, aunts and uncles did not want the furniture, but they wanted it to stay in the family, forever.

How often in our own lives do we assume ownership of the “family furniture”? “Family furniture” is akin to beliefs and expectations. Family beliefs and expectations are thrust on us like my client’s unwanted furniture. The desire not to disappoint makes the unspoken contracts binding. We are expected to abide by family beliefs and expectations, quietly and obediently. Perhaps we are expected to inherit and run the family business, or go to college, or vote democrat/republican. Failure to comply amounts to failure as an individual. Parents lay out the blueprint. We follow. The round peg gets pounded into the square hole crushing our spirits and preventing us from becoming the creative individuals God intended us to be. More important than doing what we think we should, is doing what our heart tells us to do. When we deny the desires of our hearts, we miss out on our greatest joy and the world misses out on the unique contribution we are here to make.

As another example, a 70-year-old woman I know always wanted to start an orphanage. Her dream remains unfilled because she is paralyzed by her father’s beliefs and expectations. “Women are teachers, nurses, or housewives/mothers.” She inherited the “family furniture”! Unfortunately, her orphanage is not built and the world is not benefiting from the fine citizens that might be.

Let’s get into my Mindset Mechanic Tool Kit and examine the origin of your beliefs and expectations. Reach into the tool kit for the metaphorical flashlight and level. Use the flashlight to illuminate who is in the room with you when you make decisions. When they speak, is your level in balance or not? If not, reach for the metaphorical hammer. Hammer in beliefs and expectations that bring your level back in balance.

So, if you are going to inherit your “family furniture”, do so with total awareness of what you are accepting. In times of constant change, what worked five years ago may not work today. Follow your dreams thoughtfully and with purpose. You will have a rich and fulfilling life being who you really are!

Learn more about the Mindset Mechanic and her tool kit online at and on the radio Saturdays at 8PM and Sundays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC, and

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