Does your family have a mission statement? Do you know what your priorities are as a family? Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says families need to teach their children leadership skills and how to use their unique gifts to manage life’s challenges. One way to do this is by defining your purpose as a family.
In his new book, The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time ($16.49, www.amazon.com), Covey writes about schools across the country that have raised grades and reduced discipline problems by applying the "7 Habits" in the classroom. Covey says parents can apply these same principles at home to help define what’s important in life.
"The whole idea of developing a family mission statement is something we did in our own family about 20 years ago," says Covey, father to nine children. "You cannot believe the impact that has had, because it gives everyone the same criteria for making decisions."
Mission statements should consider the family’s overall purpose and values. Goals established are done within the context of the mission statement. "Our (mission statement) is basically focused on serving others. We just had our 50th grandchild and all these family members have the mission in mind to serve others and each other," Covey says. "This is what we call a family of significance, rather than a successful family."
Covey’s book also talks about encouraging children to be leaders in their own lives by affirming their worth and potential "continuously and so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves, so they feel like ‘I am a leader, I lead my own life and I have influence for good in others,’ " Covey says.
Covey’s suggestions in the book are based on principles that every family and school can apply. "It’s so interesting to see what happens to academics when you focus on the larger context. In all these schools, the morale of teachers goes up, discipline problems go down, test scores go up, because they have this sense of purpose, ‘I am a leader. I have this responsibility,’ " he says.