The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Families

By Stephen Covey Habit #1: Be Proactive Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness. We need a > pause button= that we can press to enable us to stop between what happens to us and our response to it. Habit #1 is the ability to act based on principles and values rather than on emotion or circumstance. The ability to do this is based on four unique human gifts: (1) Self-Awareness - the ability to stand back and observe our lives, thoughts, actions, etc. (2) Conscience - an inner voice that helps us to evaluate what we observe. (3) Imagination - the ability to see something different from past experiences or responses. (4) Independent will - the power to take action. Habit #1 is the key to all the other habits - the power to choose! We must learn how to focus on things that we can do something about. There are things that we can be concerned about (our circle of concern) but there are things that we are able to influence (circle of influence). We need to focus on our circle of influence. How do we put this habit into practise? The Emotional Bank Account illustration is helpful. In our relationships with people we make "deposits" (proactively doing things that build trust in the relationship) or "withdrawals" (reactively doing things that decrease trust in the relationship). The balance of trust in the account determines how well we will communicate and solve problems with another person. The following deposits need to be made: 1. Be Kind - using words or phrases like thank you, please, excuse me, you go first, may I help you? Performing unexpected acts of service - helping with the dishes, kids, etc. Finding little ways to express love - through notes, expressing appreciation, giving compliments. 2. Apologise - saying I am sorry. We must agree on the right to disagree - allow other people to see things differently. 3. Be Loyal to Those Not Present - Not criticising or gossipping behind the backs of family members. We must talk about others as if they were present. We should choose to focus on the positive rather than the negative. When we talk about weaknesses we do it in a responsible and constructive way. 4. Make and Keep Promises - Excitement and hope is created when a promise is made. Marriage vows and promises to take care of children should be kept. 5. Forgive - When we forgive we open the channels through which trust and unconditional love can flow. These deposits are based on the three Primary Laws of Love (love that is unconditional): (1) Acceptance rather than rejection; (2) understanding rather than judgment; and (3) participation rather than manipulation. We need to view every problem as an opportunity to make a deposit: someone's bad day is an opportunity to make a deposit; an offense is an opportunity to apologise and to forgive.

and abilities of family members? What are our responsibilities as family members? What are the principles and guidelines we want our family to follow? Who are our heroes? What is it about them that we like and would like to emulate? What families inspire us and why do we admire them? How can we contribute to society as a family and become more service-oriented? In the discussion phase there are three ground rules: (1) listen with respect. think about it.as family members need to look at it. compelling vision of what you and your family are all about. with the creation of bonds between family members. live with it. It should be viewed as a rough draft . and with the keeping of marriage and parenting vows. with the setting and meeting of standards. gifts. Step 3: Use it to stay on track It is the constitution of your family life. discuss it and make changes to it. and (3) write down the ideas that are generated.it takes a lot of listening to one another.everyone must work on it and help to create it.so you must always keep it before you. It is the principle of vision. We must decide what kind of family we want and then identify principles that will help us get there.the mission must be translated into everyday living . . (3) Don't ignore it . (2) Don't rush it .Habit #2: Begin With the End in Mind The second habit involves creating a clear. When developing a mission statement avoid the following: (1) Don't announce it . If there is no involvement. distil and pull together the ideas into an expression that reflects the collective feelings of all those who contributed. Habit number 3 will show how we can turn the mission statement into a constitution.the process is as important as the product . The following questions are helpful: What is the purpose of our family? What kind of family do we want to be? What kinds of things do we want to do? What kind of feeling do we want to have in our home? What kind of relationships do we want to have with one another? How do we want to treat one another and speak to one another? What things are truly important to us as a family? What are our family's highest priority goals? What are the unique talents. there will be no commitment. Step 2: Write down your family mission statement Now you need to refine. There are three steps to follow in creating a mission statement: Step 1: Explore what your family is all about Get everyone's feelings and ideas out on the table. The key is creating a family mission statement which is a unified expression from all family members of what the family is all about and the principles that will govern family life. reflect on it and use it as a constitution for family life. A mission statement is valuable because it helps with parenting. (2) restate accurately to show you understand.

The role of parenting is a sacred role . problem-solving. Unless we get the rocks in first. A powerful quote from this chapter follows: "The song that I came to sing remains unsung. etc. where the most significant sharing. We're busy . it could be that our society is working against the family. Weekly Family Time We need a specific time set aside each week just for the family. mental and spiritual. enticed or derailed by other things. each week. we are going to have to create structures that will help. the most profound teaching and the deepest bonding takes place. This covers the four main ingredients of a successful family time: planning. including popular culture. We need to ensure that the roles of father/mother and husband/wife are clearly indicated in our weekly schedules and see to it that we achieve the goals we have set for the week. Although we may say that family is a priority in our lives. We're going through the motions. and having fun." . stones. we will never get them in. We are so easily driven. The following things can happen during this time: review the calendar for the coming week. discuss issues and problems affecting the family (get suggestions and make decisions). sand and water into a jar (in that order). If we are going to prioritise family in the world today. It could start out as just a family dinner together 2.Habit #3: Put First Things First The third habit is all about developing ways to turn the mission statement into a family constitution. social. Husbands and wives need a retreat time where they can get away from the children and plan their future.incredibly busy. Why? Firstly. or influence children who are being powerfully influenced by social forces outside the family. it could be that we are not really connected to our deepest priorities. Covey uses the analogy from Seven Habits of Highly Effective People of trying to fit rocks. The time should cover all four needs: physical. laws. This is where the real work of family is done. have a talent show. Parents need a time with each child where they create the agenda.when we are finished our career in the work place we will still be parents. where the deepest nurturing of heart and soul takes place. we often reveal by the way we live that this is not the case. shave a devotion or lesson and pray and sing together. Much has changed during the past 50 years. I have spent my days in stringing and unstringing my instrument. Shifts in the meta-structures are dislocating everything. One of the best ways to do this is to organise around our most important roles . teaching. save marriages. But we never seem to reach the level of life where the music happens. One-on-One Bonding Time The second structure to put in place is a time to be completely present with each family member. technology. the economy. If we put the advance prevention time into building relationships and investing in unifying and organising our families we will spend less time trying to mend broken relationships. Secondly. There are two structures that are essential: 1.creating goals for each role.

which work together to help us accomplish the first three habits. higher way". When we love another and seek to live with a "we" mentality when we make a sacrifice we are actually giving up something small for something big. but a "better. Also we will expert a powerful influence to bring out the best in others if we act on the assumption that they are doing their best as they see it.Habit #4: Think Win-Win The fourth habit is introduced with an overview of habits four to six.in fact no one actually wins when this paradigm is followed (win-lose bankrupts the Emotional Bank Account of family members. Together these habits work together to help a family work together to create new ideas and solutions that are better than an individual member could come up with. (4) Accountability . There are five elements in creating win-win agreement in our family interaction (Covey uses a case study to flesh out these elements on page 192): (1) Desired Results . We must pause between what happens to us and our response. lasting marriages: (1) both partners stop being single at heart and become married at heart. we will want to move to the win-win paradigm. it can be an incredibly hard thing to do when we are caught up in the emotion and the behaviour of the moment.we discuss the resources that are at the person's disposal. Habits 4 to 6 also build on each other: Habit 4 is the root . The consequences of win-lose on a family are devastating . (3) Resources . If the paradigm is lose-win the result is co-dependency which is also destructive (if we use a lose-win approach we may be popular in the short-run but will find that we have no standard or respect). While no one likes to lose. Habit 5 is the route . The key is to connect with the earlier habits: like keeping our destination in mind. One of the hindrances to win-win living involves expectations that are not clarified. (2) Guidelines . While to think win-win is at the heart of what family is all about. and (2) they care more about the health of the relationship that they do about winning arguments. we often go into situation with a win-lose mind-set. Covey draws on Frederick Herzberg's motivation insights and says: (1) don't expect a lot of praise and appreciation from children.the end result that is not "your way" or "my way".we share guidelines for how they could accomplish the task. Once we realise that both of these paradigms are actually lose-lose. . To move towards win-win in a family we should do the following: (1) Let children win in the little things.it is the fundamental paradigm of seeking mutual benefit . (3) Take steps to offset the competition focus (stress that team work and co-operation are more important than beating others). Habit 6 is the fruit .the method or pathway that leads to rich interdependent interaction. A good family or marriage require service and sacrifice. expectation and assumptions that will guide our family. (2) Interact with children around the big things. and results in children who grow up unable to make healthy decisions). We need to share vision.we place the onus on them to be responsible for the task.the nurturing attitude out of which understanding and synergy grow. Two characteristics produce healthy.we explore with the person what we would like to see happen. and (5) Consequences we explore consequences that will follow if the task is not handled correctly. We will grow as a family when we move from "me" (a scarcity mentality) to "we" (an abundance mentality). (2) eliminate as many dissatisfiers as possible and (3) don't define satisfaction for your children.

that it would have been much easier to practise habit #5 from the beginning . The real fruit of this habit. (3) separate the person from the behaviour. acceptance and participation. it is much easier to communicate with them in a way in which they will understand.. empathic listening is listening from within the other person's frame of reference. It takes so much effort to repair the damage that is done through yelling at each other. (2) pretend listening..sharing the way we see the world. We base our judgments on our expectations. caring.ie.Then to be Understood The fifth habit opens the floodgates of heart-to-heart family living. This means that before we take a position on what they said.to translate and communicate back to the other person in new words the essential meaning of their communication with us. . as with all the others. There are two primary causes of misunderstand in a relationship: we interpret the same event differently and we define the same words differently. diagnose before prescribing. . but the real joys of family are lost with independent living. We interpret all the data we receive in a way that confirms our judgment. but they are so emotionally charged and disrespectful of each other that they react defensiveness and with more anger . As we prioritise family we realise that the family is too important to let offenses keep members from talking to each other. supportive and encouraging environment . The first. we feedback the essence of what we have heard. To change this cycle it we must go deep within ourselves and resolve to change the way we interact with others in the family. This is difficult to do because we carry so much negative baggage from our past and negative emotions in the present.in other words. There are two aspects to this habit. rather than using it sporadically. we could learn to take it into consideration and adjust our expectations accordingly.a vicious cycle that feeds on itself. In the short-run it is easier to live independently within the family. Not seeking to understand leads to judgment. When we really understand people. (4) attentive listening.exercising enough self-control and patience to listen first. Our role should be that of a faithful translator . (2) understand the person and speak their language. A key part of seeking to be understood is giving feedback . So much of our interaction with people is based on pre-judice or prejudgment. (3) selective listening.caring enough to confront. (4) be sensitive and patient regarding their blind spots. threatens and overpowers the other and they tend to fight back which compounds the problem. or they give in with a win-lose attitude. We need to learn how to express our anger in more productive ways and we must decide not to be offended by others. a nurturing culture.Habit #5: Seek First to Understand. and (5) empathic listening. and (5) use "I" messages. rejection and manipulation. We need to make up our minds to acknowledge negative tendencies. The second half of the habit involves seeking to be understood. whereas the fifth. To really listen to others involves listening with empathy. If we could just realise that there are differences between people. Our different natures and backgrounds condition us to do this. so it is important that we clarify expectations. When one person becomes angry and loses control it wounds. they basically want to be understood. There are five levels of listening: (1) ignoring. This is to ensure that we really understand them. Before we seek to influence we must first seek to understand . while seeking to understand leads to understanding. Probably the most important thing that we can do for our family is to create a warm. It is helpful to ask questions to check for understanding. seeking to understand is crucial because when people are yelling at each other. overcome them and apologise to others for them. is when it becomes a consistent practise in our lives. When we do this we must: (1) ensure the feedback is helpful to the person. intimidates. Interdependence is hard work. The first four are listening from within your own frame of reference.

complaining. by thinking "win-win" rather than "win-lose". When all parties are at the point where they are open to be taught and find new solutions. In our family we must be functioning proactively (habit #1). a setback. Then we will be ready to apply the next three habits and develop creative solutions to problems that are mutually acceptable. This strategy should be used with everyday issues as well as potentially divisive and emotionally charged ones. The following exercise is suggested to help a family through a specific issue that needs to be resolved: (1) What is the problem from everyone's point of view? This involves really listening to one another in order to understand. refine and prioritise them so everyone feels represented. comparing and competing. Synergy is creative teamwork. (2) What are the key issues involved? Now you can look at the problem together and identify the issues that need to be resolved. Then they need to listen to one another in order to truly understand each other. creative cooperation. (3) What would constitute a fully acceptable solution? It is now important to determine the result that would be a win for each person. conscience.5. Habits 4.where the immune system is triggered so that you never get the full-blown disease. It helps them to deal with whatever challenges are thrown at them. When a family develops a regular practise of applying these habits they develop a healthy immune system. The key to synergy is to learn to value. This healthy immune systems will strengthen the family against four deadly cancers that threaten family life: criticising. we need to have one-on-one bonding times where we build into each other Emotional Bank Account (habit #3). or were not considered. before they seek to be understood. Covey stresses a second time in this chapter how that to function synergistically all the habits must work together. Make sure everyone expresses their point of view to their satisfaction. It also involves using habit #1 where we create a pause between what we hear and what we say in response. They are not unrelated items that can be practised occasionally or independently of each other. 5 and 6 used together is a powerful problem-solving tool. (4) What new options would meet those criteria? Synergise around creative approaches and solutions to the issue. The process in which synergy works involves using the three habits (4. Family members need to believe that their differences are a strength and not a weakness in their relationship. they will then be able to create new solutions that were either not possible earlier. of synergising. we must be living according to our mutual mission (habit #2). A problem becomes a vaccination .Habit #6: Synergise The sixth habit is the key to the development of genuine interdependence in the family. To synergise is to create new solutions together . imagination and independent will). and even more than this. Covey uses an illustration on pages 258 and 258 to show how this works in practise).6) as well as the four human gifts: selfawareness. Put all the criteria on the table.5 and 6 work together as follows: In order for a family to be interdependent they need to have mutual respect for one another. This process will help people to focus on the problem and the desired end result rather than their personalities and positions. Habits number 4. or fatigue and turn it into a growth experience that makes the family more capable of solving problems. It involves creating something new that was not there before and could not have been created if we did not celebrate the differences. . We can learn how to take a problem. to celebrate differences.it is seen where one plus one equals three and not two.

Covey speaks of principle-centered family leadership: . This is a movement from a problem-solving approach to a creating approach. How do we do this? (a) empathise listen with your heart to their heart. Teaching . Significant .the family moves past survival and reaches a state where it is stable and dependable. Covey draws on the sharpening the saw analogy to suggest that we need to engage in regular family renewal. 4. These are activities that bond. we express love and affirm family members. (e) Sacrifice for them. 3. learning. Survival .enjoying each other and the home environment. We must be making constant deposits into the Emotional Bank Account to just keep it where it is now.a shared interest should be found that family members can learn about. Successful . Family dinner . Covey has one final chapter in which he draws together various insights from his different books. emotions and convictions. Modelling . 9.this could be at corporate worship gathering or in family devotions.doing things around the home together. 4. To move a family from survival to significance involves four family roles: 1.here the family is involved in something meaningful outside of itself. 4. Mentoring . Birthdays . physically and spiritually. 2. mentally. He suggests the following: 1.as we create traditions around birthdays. (c) Affirm them with validation. Here is a summary of the chapter. Working together . 8. appreciation and convictions. investing in the Emotional Bank Account.working on projects together bring meaning and fulfilment. socially or spiritually. They have a sense of stewardship and responsibility to humankind.here it is fighting to survive economically. These are times of sharing and teaching. Stability . Family vacation .the family must be organised if it is to accomplish what it is trying to do.this involves finding teaching moments to empower family members so they develop the internal capacity and skills to live effectively. (b) Share insights. anticipate and take a holiday.this is called entropy. by creating traditions that will grow the family. 10. This reminds us of the family mission statement that we have set and the structures to realise our mission. (d) Pray for and with them.what our children see in us speaks more loudly than anything we say.having a regular mealtime together is important. Serving together . 7. 2. unify and renew the family socially. and championing them.here the family starts to accomplish worthy goals together. things like weekly family time and one-on-one bonding. The 7 habits are all about pro-activity. Worshipping together . 3.the family is renewed when we plan. mentally. Having fun together . Effective systems and structures must be developed to help it accomplish what is truly important. Organising . It is letting people know that we care about them. 3. Unless we consciously attend to our family it will become disordered and deteriorate. Holidays . Learning together .special days like Christmas and Easter can be used to develop renewing traditions. To improve it still further we need to find more creative deposits that we can make. 5. 2. 6.this is building relationships. ie.many activities lend themselves to larger family involvement. Intergenerational activities .Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw Anything left alone will disintegrate until it reaches it most elemental form . A family functions at one of four levels: 1.

2. To Learn (mental) 2. To Leave a Legacy (spiritual) Role Teaching Organising Mentoring Modelling Gifts Imagination Independent will Self-awareness Conscience As we model our family will see our example and learn to trust us. 3. and as we teach they hear and do and they learn to trust principles and themselves.1.teaching The four basic needs of humans relate to the four roles and the four unique human gifts: Needs 1. Setting an example of trustworthiness . 4. as we organise they experience order in their lives and they grow to trust our family structures to meet their needs. as we mentor they feel our unconditional love and begin to value themselves. To Live (physical/economic) 3.modelling Building relationships of respect and caring . . To Love (social/emotional) 4.mentoring Aligning our structures to our mission .organising Teaching empowering principles .

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