Family Cultures & Cultural Energy Fields
Webster’s defines culture as "A particular form of civilization, especially the beliefs, customs, arts and institutions of a society at a given time."
Family culture is the unique way that a family forms and defines itself in terms of its worldviews, traditions, beliefs, values, capabilities and Brain Preferences. The racial or ethnic culture in which a family lives may strongly influence their culture. Some families are no longer tied to cultural norms of their ethnic or racial group. Every family is different; every family has its own, unique culture. Family Culture is about similarities and differences – legitimate, important differences.
As advisors, developing family cultural competence occurs when we not only discover what the individual family culture of a family is, but we also appreciate the cultural differences of the family.
We generally know strong family cultures when we see them. For example, when we think of the Kennedys, attributes like political service, risk taking, living large, playing hard and working hard, and poise in tragedy might come to mind. In this sense, being a Kennedy means something and it shapes the experiences of the family members over generations.
Every family that is generationally successful has developed a particular identity uniquely its own, but incredibly robust. It is one of the very few things that dynastic families have in common. If family leaders want to raise happy and successful children over generations, developing a strong, intentional family culture is paramount. We see family culture as a constellation of many elements, but fundamentally it is the unique way that a family forms itself in terms of its:
* Brain Preferences (reflected in learning, decision & communication styles)
Family Culture Energy Fields
Family cultures or, for that matter, any organization may be viewed as fields of energy that
Exhibit fundamental properties of process, flux and change. These energetic fields are aspects
Of human consciousness manifesting in the qualities of the people and relationships in the
Family, the cultural context in which they meet, and the patterns of their interactions within the
Family and with the world.
Family culture can be mapped along eight energetic fields.
(adapted from Paul Tosey & Peter Smith: “Assessing the Learning Organization”)
For example, families dominated by crisis and survival/security issues tend to be focused in the
energy field of Existence/Basic Competency. In contrast, families in which a sense of openness
and mutually supportive relationships is embodied would tend to be more active in the
Community/Heart field. Dynastic multi generation families that have become somewhat fossilized or bureaucratized would tend to demonstrate a lack of Inspiration/Spirit and may be focused largely in the energy field of Control/Order.