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Read the digital editionSeptember/October 2014

Family Matters

Planting the Seeds for a Stronger Family

May 3rd, 2012

By: Lesli Gee

 Spring is here! As you stash away your winter clothes and spend more time outside, why not also plant the seeds for a stronger family?

 With today’s crazy schedules, most families are beyond tired – they are exhausted. The morning carpool rush, the back-to-back meetings, the barrage of emails, texts and tweets, the chauffeuring of overscheduled kids to triple-booked activities, the rush to pick up dinner, the struggles over homework… and then replaying the scene all over again the next morning. But what if it could be different? What if you and your family could live the life you’ve imagined?

It is possible. This spring, consider revitalizing your family by adopting a few simple, proven practices used by the most successful businesses around the globe. Top organizations aren’t successful by chance. Instead, they use simple but powerful tools such as communication, visioning, and process improvement to help their teams get along well, thrive and achieve their goals.  Families can also achieve their dreams by taking a similar approach.

This might sound like a foreign concept. It’s easy to think of family life in the same way that you think about the weather - unconsciously behaving as if your home life is guided by fate or other distant forces, but not by your own intentions. Most people would laugh at the idea of a business plan for your family.

Yet most of us wouldn’t dream of being so passive in other areas of our lives. For example, think about your last vacation. How much time did you spend researching the right destination, including where you stayed and the activities you enjoyed? Or when it came to buying a new television? Strange as it may seem, many of us probably spend more time comparison-shopping for a new laptop or cell phone than we have ever spent consciously designing our family lives. 

Consider some of these basics:

§  Communication – As a family, how are you staying connected? Decide on the best way to communicate as a family, whether it’s through a weekly family huddle, a family Facebook page or special one-on-one times. The most successful companies invest in communication tools and strategies to ensure everyone on the team stays informed and aligned.

§  Culture – How would you describe what is most important to your family? Talk about a few of your family’s most cherished values that guide your life and decision-making. What’s ok and what’s not ok to do at home? Brainstorm a short set of guidelines that all family members can agree to follow. This might include how you speak to one another, spend money or make decisions. If your family were a brand, what would it look like? Spend an afternoon as a family creating a fun family logo, a visible representation of your family’s unique values and passions. The most successful organizations purposefully shape their culture so everyone on the team can do their best work.

§  Mission – What do you want your family’s future to look like? Create a shared vision by asking each family member to imagine it is three years from now and you are very happy with your family life. What dreams and wishes of yours have come true? The most successful organizations regularly envision and plan for their future.

§  Practices – Running a family’s day-to-day operations can sometimes feel as complex as running a small business! Pick one area that is causing the most pain in your daily family life, identify the root cause of the problem, and agree on a plan to fix it together.  A common issue for many families include the morning rush of getting everyone off to work and school. Also, does everyone have a way to contribute in the family or is one person carrying the burden of the work? Share responsibilities by tapping into the unique talents of each family member, just as the most successful businesses do.

By adopting just a few of these basic business practices at home, your family will see a “greater return on investment” – in this case, in the form of your time, energy and love.

Barbara Fagan-Smith and Lesli Gee are co-authors of The Family ROI Experience: A Step-by-Step Guide to Realizing Your Best Family. Their non-profit organization, Family ROI, uses proven business practices to revitalize, focus, and strengthen families. For more information, visit www.FamilyROI.org.

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