It’s Time for Bold Family Lifestyle Leadership

by Tess on July 12, 2010

Our guest today, Hugh DeBurgh, The Passionate Warrior, has dedicated his life to the achievement of the ultimate family lifestyle. Currently he is on the second leg of a worldwide travel adventure with his wife and four young children. How brave is that? Follow Hugh on  Twitter or sign up for his RSS feed and don't miss an update!


Since you are reading this article, you are probably someone who wants to bring positive change into your life.

There are many strategies and methods that you can use to achieve this, of course.

But, what if you have a family, and you want to improve the quality of your entire family's lifestyle?  How do you go about following your personal dreams when you have to talk a bunch of other people into doing it with you?  Do you just have to wait until the kids are grown?  Does your partner get to decide whether your dreams will come true?

Living Your Dreams When You Have a Family

This is a huge challenge for any of us who aren't single. Does having a family determine whether you get to live out your dreams?  Is there any way to incorporate your family into your burning desire to reach your dreams?

A lot of people say that you chose to put off your personal dreams when you decided to start a family.  Or even when you decided to get married.  These folks say that families are all about compromise and sacrifice.

I respectfully disagree.

There is a way to live your dreams and bring your family along with you.  But it requires that you look into yourself and develop a skill that you may not realize you already have.

You need to accept yourself as a bold family lifestyle leader.

Bold Family Lifestyle Leadership

Bold family lifestyle leadership means taking the initiative and setting your family's long-term agenda and direction along the lines of your dreams.  In most relationships, one partner will be the dreamer, and the other the natural follower.  Even if your partner is a Type-A leader in other areas of his or her life, I'll bet when it comes to family lifestyle leadership they haven't a clue.  They'll appreciate your leadership initiative in an area they neglect.

When Both of You Want to Lead

If, however, your partner also wants to be a lifestyle leader, but he or she is taking your family away from the type of lifestyle you dream of, then it's time for a conversation.  And it's time to get creative.

I'm not a big believer in compromise. Instead, I strive for what I call composite solutions.  This means I try to create a new vision that incorporates the most important aspects of both your and your partner's dreams. To me, compromise usually involves one side (the stronger negotiator) getting what they want, while the other side settles for something less than satisfying.  And it assumes that your differing lifestyle visions are incompatible, which they may not be.

There is no guarantee that this approach will work for you, of course.  And if you are dealing with a particularly obstinate or change-resistant partner, you may just have to figure out whether pursuing your dreams or staying in the relationship is the greater priority for you.

Is it Selfish to Be a Bold Family Lifestyle Leader?

It can be. It's all in your approach. Some might say that being a bold family lifestye leader really means imposing your dreams onto the rest of your family. But in my experience most families are adrift. These families are hungry for someone to take the reins of their family's lifestyle direction.It's quite possible that your family is hungry for you to take charge and spice up their boring family life.

Getting Your Family On Board

Obviously, you shouldn't just fly off and make all kinds of plans for your family without consulting them.  And even if you do, they probably won't cooperate once it's time to do things with you.  In fact, if your dreams require a substantial adjustment in the way your family lives day-to-day, you will have to have everone on board (or at least cooperative) before you do anything.

Talk about it.  These are your dreams, after all.  No one is better capable of painting a picture for your family of a new and exciting lifestyle than you are.  Even if you are normally meek and tongue-tied, when talking about what really matters to you, you will find your voice.

Don't be pushy or impatient.  People don't like new things to be shoved down their throats.  Make them think it's their idea.  Get them involved in different aspects of planning.  Introduce your family to other families who are already following this new lifestyle.  Seeing what could be can be a real eye opener for many people.

You Have to Decide the Best Approach for Your Family

Every family is unique.  And every set of relationships within that family creates its own dynamic.  So only you are capable of determining the best approach for your family.

The key here is that you are setting the pace, and the agenda.  If you are not prepared to boldly lobby and lead the effort to bring your family along in pursuit of your dream lifestyle, it's just not going to happen.

Nothing's Gonna Happen Until You Take Action

This is where the boldness comes in. The first step towards the life and lifestyle of your dreams is to take ownership of that dream, and accept that nothing is going to happen until you choose to boldly lead your family in the right direction. Then you have to start taking action.  One small step at a time, carefully measuring your family's reaction and concerns, is usually the best way to approach these things.

If you aren't prepared to take the lead, and to take the lion's share of the burden of incorporating your family into your dreams, then you might as well forget about those dreams.  You are the only one who can make this happen.  So start today by taking action to bring your family along on your new dream lifestyle adventure!

All the best,


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    { 23 comments… read them below or add one }

    Simon Hay July 12, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Hugh, that was awesome. Well written too. This line – “I’m not a big believer in compromise. Instead, I strive for what I call composite solutions.” I absolutely love, and I agree. I think compromise is a bit like hesitation and being afraid to say what you mean.

    Thanks, Tess, for introducing us to Hugh.
    .-= Simon Hay´s last post…I’d like to fill a Hospital with Love =-.


    Hugh DeBurgh ~ The Passionate Warrior July 12, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Thanks Simon!

    The “composite” approach, as I like to call it, requires a lot more imagination and flexibility by all parties. But if you can make it happen, it can be fantastic!

    And I am reminded that composite materials are often the world’s strongest. Perhaps the same is true for composite solutions?

    All the best,



    Karl Staib - Work Happy Now July 12, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Yes! We are using these things as an excuse not to take action. It’s scary to start up a business or develop a new career, but in the long run it’s worth it. The happier we become the happier the people around us become. It’s a 15% boost.

    We can’t afford to be unhappy for long extended periods because we are actually hurting the growth of our families.
    .-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last post…Retrain Your Brain =-.


    Julie July 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Hi, Hugh. What a wonderful article you’ve shared with us. One part I really like is how you recognize that roles, positions vary in a dynamic relationship like a marriage. Another is pointing out how we often make assumptions about what a lifestyle “should” look like and fail to think creatively. Yet the most powerful words you offered are your last two paragraphs. I’m taking them to heart.
    .-= Julie´s last post…I Am Like the Squirrels =-.


    rob white July 12, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Hi Hugh,
    Boy, I appreciate your spirit and innovative attitude. I love the idea of your bold family initiative… too often I have seen creative, talented people bowled over by family obligations. Our authentic creative spirit is always looking to express itself and you are seeing your family as a conduit to do so. It is really for the good of all concerned, you will instill values and principles in your family that will have them flourishing in their own lives.
    .-= rob white´s last post…Life Mastery 101 =-.


    Hugh DeBurgh ~ The Passionate Warrior July 12, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Hey Karl!

    I decided that I was not willing to put off my life until my family was grown. So I had no choice but to figure out ways to make things work NOW.

    You know, what do we have to lose? If we try, and we fail to lead our family where we want to go, perhaps by then they’ll be grown anyway?

    Thanks for your comment!


    Thank you for the kind comments!

    Yes, when you are trying to incorporate various other people into your dreams, you have to consider all kinds of complex dynamics.

    That’s part of the creative approach to family leadership.

    The other big part is looking past stereotypical lifestyles and daring to imagine a lifestyle that looks odd, and yet fits you to a “tee.”


    Hugh :-)

    Rob –

    Thank you for your very kind comments! :-)

    I sincerely hope that you are right! I think that, perhaps, this approach to family life will teach my kids how to resolve conflicts in their own family lives someday between different ideas of how a family ought to live.

    So, there is more than one benefit to this approach to family leadership!

    All the best,



    Keith July 12, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Hello Hugh,

    “The first step towards the life and lifestyle of your dreams is to take ownership of that dream”…WOW! A whole other article could be written on that statement alone.

    Great article Hugh, and I applaud Tess for having you on her blog. Your article really spoke to me. You speak to a mindset that so many have. I have had it myself in times past. Many feel that once you have a family you must put life on hold, that you must wait until years later, when the kids are “outta the house”, before you can pursue a life of fun and adventure. What garbage is that line of thinking!

    I love your concept of composite solutions as opposed to compromise. This is a more balanced approach to be sure.

    I think you’re right that families can be living lives that are a little boring, and probably don’t know what to do to change it. Maybe some don’t even think of changing it. This is when the Bold Family Lifestyle Leader enters the picture!

    Great article Hugh. I’m off to see your blog now!

    .-= Keith´s last post…An Ounce Of Action =-.

    Reply July 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Great post. So many families I know have not a leader nor follower, just 2 stagnant individuals so that no dreams at all are ever achieved. In my own family I am the leader and hubby follows along. (mostly whining I might add..)


    Shaz July 12, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Great post Hugh! Tess, this blog is so positive and uplifting! Thanks!
    .-= Shaz´s last post…The Healthy Bits =-.


    Joyce of What Would You Do In Heaven? July 13, 2010 at 4:01 am

    Awesome! To be able to achieve your dreams is another, but to be able to lead people achieve a great dream and be happy for it is something close to miracles! ;)
    .-= Joyce of What Would You Do In Heaven?´s last post…Quote About Heaven 071110 =-.


    Topi July 13, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Ok, so first up you have my absolute respect for travelling with 4 kids. I’ve only got 3, and I’m not that brave, so go you!
    Secondly, I just loved all of this post, yep, all of it…but the bit I loved the most was the idea of composite solutions. We’re taught to trade off in order to achieve compromise, when as you’ve pointed out there’s a whole other option – taking the best of both worlds, brilliant! It makes me think of the concept from the Science of Getting Rich, where the author talks about operating on a creative level rather than a competitive level. Just inspiring stuff. Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m off to visit your blog!
    .-= Topi´s last post…Wisdom =-.


    The Exception July 13, 2010 at 6:16 am

    This was great to read. I dream of giving my daughter experiences and exposure to the world and different ways of living – because it is just the two of us, I am giving her this. I dream of traveling with her – and we started truly traveling outside the country just last month – but we travel in other ways all quite often.

    The hard part is owning the dream – but not just owning it, finding it and determining if it is the dream you want. I had wonderful professional goals and dreams before I became a single mom, then I chose to change career paths and chose to spend time with my daughter to the extent possible. The dream changed in that I would love to have those professions, but my dream is to share my daughter’s life and share mine with her – to teach and learn – to explore and experience.

    I know people who have let their dreams go because of the financial risk or the lack of support form a spouse or the idea that dreams are for kids and lack validity or will require a change of lifestyle…

    This was a great post!!

    (And I too like the composite concept. It is hard to build composites with those who like round pegs in round holes or have the “win” mentality… but it is worth striving for a composite solution)
    .-= The Exception´s last post…The Calling =-.


    Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord July 13, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Hugh, I love the idea of a composite solution! Wow… I hadn’t thought of it from that perspective before, but that makes good sense, and seems to create an entirely new possibility that perhaps wouldn’t have been considered otherwise.

    You have a unique message here, and I think it’s fabulous. May you continue to be blessed in your adventure!


    Mark July 13, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Great post! It is all about being aware, taking accountability and responsibility and living authentically as a family, then you can take the lead and be the creator of the life you want for your family. Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Mark´s last post…Mr Fix-it to Mr Vulnerability =-.


    Marko -- Calm Growth July 13, 2010 at 11:15 am

    This is one nice article.

    I agree that the individual does not have to give up their dreams because of the family. I think it’s often an excuse than a real situation. It is always possible to create a win-win situation. I was creating a win-win situations with much more difficult people than my girlfriend… :) Of course, every family is unique and each person has a set of values, it makes the situation a little more complex, however, I am sure a solution is possible.

    (just to mention, I don’t have family, so that it does not speak from practical family experience, I have a girlfriend (soon to be wife) that I love very much, and that’s it. :-) )

    I like your site Hugh, I wish you all the best on your travel adventure… :-)


    Hugh DeBurgh ~ The Passionate Warrior July 13, 2010 at 2:27 pm


    Thank you guys for your very kind words!

    To me, owning your dreams means taking your dreams to heart and assuming full responsibility for making them reality. And I believe that means today, not “someday,” or when the kids are grown.

    So the idea of putting dreams on-hold until some uncertain day in the future makes parenthood way more sacrificial than it needs to me, and probably creates a lot of unconscious resentment of the children by the parents. That cannot be good for building a solid family relationship!

    Composite solutions, as I said in the post, require a lot of flexibility on everyone’s part. And, after years of quiet spousal conflict some of us can get a bit emotionally inflexible. That inflexibility can make it more difficult to suddenly be open to letting go of our entrenched points of view. Yet that is exactly what we will have to do to make composite solutions happen.

    It takes a lot of mutual trust for a couple to open up and offer to surrender their old positions without any guarantee that they will be able to successfully work out a mutually satisfying solution. So, creating composite solutions is the best possible outcome, but it takes two to tango.

    If your children are old enough to understand all of this, I believe that you should include them in the composite process as well. This will not only bind the family closer together, it is a healthy way for kids to learn how to solve family conflicts with their own spouse and kids someday.

    When you do not see those around you as a barrier to your happiness, you are much more likely to enjoy their company. If we believe that getting along with our spouse and kids requires significant compromising of our personal dreams, it is understandable why many of us quietly simmer and end up not doing much of anything interesting with our families.

    I see this as a tragedy, and hope that more trust and creativity, combined with leadership from the more visionary partner, can lead to a happier, healthier and more fulfilling family experience.

    I wish all of you luck in your own relationships!



    Evita July 13, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Hugh

    It is music to my ears all that you wrote. I will echo what was said by some above, because it is such a treat to hear another person (and others) seeing and feeling the same way about the whole compromise idea.

    Your line here:
    “…families are all about compromise and sacrifice. I respectfully disagree.”
    is brilliant!

    Life can be wholesome and balanced, when WE make it wholesome and balanced. I really love the energy you resonate with in these words and message. Good for you for living out your dreams and passions, for being such an awesome inspiration to us all and for giving your family such a great adventure!
    .-= Evita´s last post…Megan Bord- A Letter To My Future Self =-.


    Hugh DeBurgh ~ The Passionate Warrior July 13, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks so much Evita! :-)


    Joy July 14, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Thank you for sharing!!! Wow…
    I am a single mom with two young children..fulfilling my lifelong dream of living on a sailboat…There are people who encouraged me to dream, then asked me to wait to fulfill those dreams until they didn’t affect my children..LOL–*everything* I do affects my children…dreaming, realizing, and yes, even postponing:)
    So, we live on the boat..and our solution is to allow each of us to fulfill our dreams as we live on the boat..My dream doesn’t “trump” any of theirs or make any of theirs less possible..and their dreams take fruition early on because they know *anything* is possible..they know this, because they *live* it..
    Thank you for sharing your message..I love the responses so full of Hope, Joy, Excitement…Awe-some indeed:)
    And, thank you Tess, as always *you rock* and teach much by sharing yoru space:)
    .-= Joy´s last post…Wednesday Wisdom- A Threshold… =-.


    Preeti @ Heart and Mind July 14, 2010 at 1:29 pm


    This is refreshing to read this as a parent of 2 young children I really appreciate to keep our dreams still. Mine have changed after having kids and family centric dreams are there too. I think we have to find a balance between being person that we are and as a parent both and it is possible. It is great to know you here through Tess’s blog.


    Patricia July 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I like your ideas and that you push and suggest that being creative and communicating well can accomplish lots of dreams. I think there are too many followers right now and not so many supporters of dreams – yes one needs to take hold and decide about the dream coming true. I know that many, many couples and families have someone who gave up their dreams and hopes because of responsibility not think it possible to have it all.
    thank you Tess for sharing Hugh’s words with us
    .-= Patricia´s last post…5 In 2 =-.


    Farouk July 18, 2010 at 1:32 am

    hi Tess,
    I like your post, and i agree that a family needs someone to help it sail in the correct direction, thank you for posting it :)
    .-= Farouk´s last post…Response cached until Mon 19 @ 9:26 GMT (Refreshes in 23.91 Hours) =-.


    Hugh DeBurgh - The Passionate Warrior July 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks guys! :-)

    Joy – You are my inspiration!

    If anyone wants to know how to live life in spite of everything, and how to really raise great kids, read Joy’s comment.

    We model the behavior that our kids emulate – or reject. Never put your dreams off until your kids are grown – or they’ll just repeat that mistake with their own kids.

    Live your life to the fullest – and let your kids watch you do it! :-) That’s real parenting in my book!!

    Patricia – I hope to reach all of those who are “sacrificing their dreams” on the alter of “family.” I want them to realize that they are making a huge mistake, both for themselves AND their family.

    I hope that I can at least reach a few.

    I am so passionate about this because I was once one of them. I’ve been where they are now, and perhaps you have, too.

    And now that I’ve seen the “other side,” I want them to realize what I now know. Sometimes, all people need is a few words of encouragement and a little kick in the a** to get them started. And off on the road they go. :-)

    Thanks so much Preeti and Farouk for your thoughtful comments as well! I love when we, as parents and family leaders, can share our thoughts in this way.

    All the best,



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