The Highly Effective Family


teven Covey, highly acclaimed author of the number-one best seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (which has sold more than ten million copies) in his new book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families,* shows how to apply these proven principles to build a strong, close family.

Habit One: Be Proactive. One of my kids, who is still living at home, had a choice of continued family support should he go on to higher education after graduating from high school or go to work and start supporting himself. He chose the latter but wasn't enthusiastic about the "start supporting yourself" idea. He finally got a part-time job and then quit. I was upset and felt like blasting him because I thought he had been irresponsible.

I started to get mad and realized that this wouldn't help. I decided to be proactive in a positive way rather than reacting in a negative way. I asked him to explain what happened and how he was feeling. When he realized I cared, he wanted to talk things over. I encouraged him by reminding him I had heard several times that he was a good worker. We both agreed that it may have been a good thing he quit because he could now look for a better job.

Habit Two: Put First Things First. As a business or an individual needs to have a mission statement—a clearly defined statement of purpose—to be successful, so does a family. In defining a family mission, it is important to include the children and ask what they want the family to be and achieve. The mission statement needs to be written out and as the children get older and the family more experienced, it can be updated.

The number one destroyer
of families is the inability to
resolve conflict creatively.

Habit Three: Put First Things First. Because of the pressures of living in today's world, the family needs to prioritize responsibilities. If this isn’t done, chances are that instead of the family making "things" happen, things (usually negative things) will happen to the family. To achieve this goal, Covey's family felt their most important commitment was to set aside one night every week to be together for "planning, problem-solving, teaching and fun.

"Habit Four: Think "Win-Win". According to research conducted over the past twenty years by the University of Colorado, the number one destroyer of families is the inability to resolve conflict creatively.

Many of us feel insecure to some degree and tend to have a need to win in a conflict. We think our viewpoint is the only right one. Our goal is thus "win-lose"–and nobody wins.

We need to learn how to "fight" fair; that is, how to resolve conflict creatively. We need to appreciate that every family member sees things from their perspective. Therefore, when differences of opinion arise, it is helpful to ask the other/s how they see things and then say how you see things. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle. This makes compromise possible and everybody wins.

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