Your Family’s Secret Influence On Career Success

Summary: Family patterns can impact individual development. This includes the ability to become influential adult leaders. Leaders who become more aware of the impact of the past on the present are the ones who will win long-term.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

As head of HR at a very competitive organization, one of my main areas of responsibility is to help leaders grow to be excellent communicators and encourage creative methods to solve complex problems.

Your book “Don’t Bring It To Work: Breaking The Family Patterns That Limit Success” discusses the patterns we bring from childhood into the conference room.

Can you please tell a specific story that will light a fire under my senior leadership team to do personal work to break the old, ingrained patterns?

Discussing how family patterns show up at work is new and valuable.

All in all, why is it that if I bring the idea of “family patterns” into a conversation, everyone looks like they are sucking on a lemon?

I know this can make a difference for individuals and teams. However, I need help convincing others of its importance.

In short, please give me something to move my leaders past their fear and ambivalence to, as I hear you say, “clear the past to free the present.”

I also see you have been named one of the Top 50 Coaches for 2023 by Thinkers 360. Congrats!!!

Do you still make “house calls?”


Change Agent in Training

Human Resources is vital in creating a healthy workplace with physical and psychological safety.

Dear CA in Training,

Firstly, I want to congratulate you. Your keen awareness delights me. It’s great that you see the fact that family patterns have a profound impact on our behavior and beliefs. Also, these patterns show up at work. Yes, they do!

Thanks for the acknowledgment of the Thinkers 360 award. In answer to your question about house calls, no, I don’t make “house calls,” however, I do make Zoom calls. After Covid, it finally feels very familiar and comfortable.

I love to teach about family patterns as part of my work. Please keep reading.

Ultimately, by understanding how specific family patterns can get in the way of productivity, individuals can address negative patterns and develop positive behaviors that promote success and satisfaction in their careers.

Families have a secret influence on career success

You ask for a specific story. This is a new situation handled over the past few months. Here it is.

I became the executive coach for Alex, who climbed the ranks of his company through sheer hard work and determination.

Sadly, Alex faced a deeply ingrained family pattern behind the scenes. Initially, he was not aware of it.

Nor was he concerned it could eventually bring his career to a halt if not corrected.

Here is the core issue: Alex came from a family where success was everything.

He grew up under constant pressure to achieve and exceed expectations.

In addition, the belief internalized that his worth and performance were tied together.

This belief had served Alex well in his career to date. Yet, it created an unhealthy drive for perfectionism. And that spilled over into his leadership style.

Super-achievers can transform into creative collaborators.

Alex became known as a super-achiever for his relentless pursuit of excellence at work.

He was also “famous” for his harsh and critical feedback.

Hence, he expected the best from his team. Anything less met with intense scrutiny and even reprimand.

Alex’s colleagues often commented on how difficult it was to work with him and how much pressure they felt to meet his high standards.

In the same vein, he became known as th “me, me, me guy” who had all the answers and wanted everyone to do his bidding.

Despite this, Alex continued to climb the corporate ladder. He was promoted to high-level leadership.

At some point, outdated behavior methods catch up and no longer work.

However, the same family pattern that had propelled Alex’s success also led to his potential downfall. As a leader, Alex struggled to delegate tasks. He did not trust his team to get the job done.

For instance, he micromanaged every aspect of the team’s work and took on an impossible workload, leaving little time for rest and self-care.

Over time, Alex’s super-achieving perfectionism turned into burnout, and colleagues and subordinates began to notice.

Eventually, Alex’s boss and HR had to step in and confront him about his performance. They pointed out that his leadership style was unsustainable.

That is when I entered the picture.

Behavior patterns can be as addictive as any substance.

Alex needed to take a step back and learn to trust his team. But by this point, it was close to the edge of being too late. Alex’s reputation was tarnished, and his career was in shambles.

Ultimately, Alex’s family pattern of being a super-achiever and an addiction to perfectionism almost led him to self-destruction.

I convinced him to examine his family history. That led to doing the Sankofa Map. He took the long view of where his behavior got stuck.

As an illustration, his need to prove how great he is and his unwillingness to trust others was now seen as a way he would ingratiate himself with his parents and siblings.

He saw how his relentless pursuit of success had left him isolated, burnt out, and unable to continue his leadership career.

Consequently, he could make positive changes once he understood his outdated, ingrained patterns.

Exploring new horizons and overcoming challenges is a sign of extraordinary leadership.

As a result, Alex now shares his story with leaders who remind him of his old behavior. He helps them see how they demand more from themselves and others than possible.

It is a cautionary tale for anyone who believes that success is everything. It is also a reminder that sometimes, the greatest obstacle to our success can be the patterns we inherit from our families.

In conclusion, I suggest you find a coach who can help you dissect your family patterns. Keep the positive ones and leave the rest in the recycle bin.

Here’s to your success,

Sylvia Lafair

PS. Our Pattern Breakthrough Coaches are ready to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us at to find the perfect fit for you and your team.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options