Category Archives: community

Create a Family Vision – Strengthen your Family Unit

This is a guest post by Jesse Lynn Stoner

Today’s children live in a world where stress and pressure comes at them from countless sources – from peers, teachers, and coaches to the media that paints a picture of unattainable perfection, parents who want the best but sometimes push too hard, and a world that that can seem painfully harsh.

In their own homes, children can watch a war in another country in real-time. And it is difficult to tell the difference between what is real and the simulated violence in movies and electronic games.

Statistics in the United States are alarming. According to SADD, nearly three quarters of students (72%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, and more than a third (37%) have done so by eighth grade. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teenage marijuana and other drug use is on the rise for the first time in ten years. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, over 40% of all teenagers with Internet access report being bullied online.

How can we protect our children?

Clearly there are no easy answers. However, parents are not helpless in the face of these challenges.  There are some things you can do to create a strong foundation for your children as they experience the pressures of their world.

One of the best places to start is to create a family vision.

Athletes and great leaders understand the power of vision. Vision means knowing who you are, where you’re going, and what will guide your journey. Families can also harness the power of vision.

Business executive Jack Bates and his wife created a family vision with their daughters when they were 7 and 9 years old.

They sat at the kitchen table with the girls. They each talked about what the family meant to them, what they wanted it to be and what they needed from each other. They then wrote a family vision, which they taped to the refrigerator.

Over the years, they used the vision to make decisions and to explain actions. As a family they revisited the vision regularly, updating it as the girls got older.  According to Jack,

If you read our family vision, it might not sound like much to you, but it means very real things to each of us because we discussed it at length before we wrote. We remember the meaning behind the words.  It provided guidance when I had to make tough decisions.  And it helped the children understand the reason for these decisions. We used the vision to help determine specific household chores, allowance, and privileges. When our older daughter was in high school, she used our vision to help me see that I was lecturing her too much and not listening enough.  The vision helped our younger daughter once in a very tough situation to resist peer pressure and make a good decision.

How can a vision equip your children face the demands, stress and challenges of today’s world?

Vision provides children with a strong foundation.  It helps them know who they are.  It gives them a base to test their decisions against.

Having a vision is not just a picture of the destination.  It also means having clear values that guide your journey.  When someone is off-base, your vision can be used to hold each other accountable (both children and parents) and to get back on track.

Use these guidelines to create and live your family vision.

Create the vision together.  Listen to each other’s hopes and dreams.  Create shared pictures of what it would look like if you were living your purpose and values consistently.  Talk until everyone has agreed and is committed to the vision.

  1. Maintain the vision.  As a parent, hold yourself, your spouse and your children accountable to the vision.  If it looks like someone has behaved inconsistently with the vision, it is time to sit down and discuss what happened in terms of the vision.  Set household rules and limits that are consistent with the vision.
  2. Model the vision.  The adults in the house must act as role models that demonstrate the behaviors consistent with the vision.
  3. When you encounter tough times, revisit the vision.  The vision provides a great frame of reference to have discussions without blame or finger pointing.  It allows you to focus on what you need to do, rather than making people defensive.

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A true story – is hard effort really worth it?

Some wisdom from Australia.

An economics teacher at a local school made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but recently failed an entire class.  Here’s the story:
His economics class insisted that Gillard/Brown socialism worked, that society where no one would be poor and no one would be rich was the great equalizer.  The teacher then said, “Okay, we will have an experiment in this class on the Gillard / Brown plan.  All grades will be averaged, and everyone will receive the same grade, so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.”  
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone received a B.  The students who studied really hard were upset, and the students who studied little were happy.
The second test rolled around, and the students who studied hard were tired of giving everyone else a free ride, so they studied a little less.  The ones who studies little also studied even less.  Average grade was a D!  No one was happy.
When the third test rolled around,  the average grade was an F.  As the test proceeded, the scores never increased and the bickering, blame and name-calling resulted in hard feelings — nobody would study for the benefit of anyone else.
To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the teacher told them that socialism would ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away and gives to those who do nothing, nobody will try or want to succeed.
The lessons for us?
1)  one cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity
2)  we cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
The interesting last thought…….. there is a test coming up.
 The next election.
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Leadership Lessons from Colin Powell

Colin Powell offers some great advice on leadership that transcends typical military and business models:  he explains the essence of leadership in a very humanistic way:

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3 Fun Ways to Give Your Office a Lift

Got the boredom blues at the office?

Here are some ways to perk up the mood or give your staff an attitude lift:

1)  set up office mini-golf, charge a buck and give the proceeds to charity

We set up a course one Sunday evening, then surprised office staff Monday morning with a fun warm up to the day. Design two or three “fairways” using garbage cans, chair legs, bookends, office plants, coffee cups, business books or anything else you can think of.

Consider these options:

  • use pool cues, hockey sticks or other implements in lieu of golf putter
  • make one fairway a blindfolded start, another using reverse-handed strokes
  • create small prizes like office sticky pads, logo pens, ball caps, etc.
  • use video or photos to document your event, publish in employee newsletter

2)  arrange a tacky tie day

  • create an anonymous voting system for employees to choose their favorites
  • provide prizes for the tackiest, most inspirational, most original tie
  • document participants with photos and publish in a company newsletter/email

3) Create your own Office Olympics

Divide employees into a handful of teams, ensuring a cross section of employees and levels on each team.

Differentiate each team with a color or unique name.

Plan one event each week for the next 3 month period, where employees can win points for their house team.  Events might include:

  • baking or BBQ contest  – sell the goods for charity fundraiser (team who sells the most wins more points)
  • fun quiz contest – find quizes on google (entrants submit answers and scores count toward points for their house team)
  • “name the baby” contest – employees submit baby photos, teams try to match employees to the baby photo (most matches wins points)
  • golf putting contest
  • picnic lunch or spaghetti feed (charge nominal fee, proceeds to charity)
  • Chili cookoff contest
  • bocce or croquet tournament
  • photo caption contest – choose a handful of funny photos and have employees submit captions (print the funniest ones, vote on the best ones for points)

The goal is to think of fun ways to encourage comraderie and offset stress or boredom in the workplace.  Employees who laugh and look forward to work will become more productive in the long term.

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How Leadership really begins with Mothers

In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day, I was reflecting on how much of my late mom’s advice in my early twenties was akin to a mentor’s advice in business:

1)  Build yourself a career that you can always rely on or fall back on in hard times

(translation:  build your own career and don’t just rely on a husband for the rest of your life – stand on your own two feet, on your own merits)

2) Always treat others with respect, whether they are the janitor, the vice president or the kid down the street (translation:  everyone contributes in our society in their own way and deserves dignity)

3) Learn impeccable manners and etiquette.  This will support you in many stressful situations (translation:  Okay, Mom, when you said “eat everything on your plate”, I don’t think you were thinking about the fried silkworms and scorpions I had to eat during a joint venture negotiation in China!  But yes, those good manners will imply class, grace and confidence in difficult situations)

4) Never be late (translation:  if you are late, you send a message to others that you do not value their time)

5) Learn to golf (translation:  meet the guys in business on their own turf, where they are comfortable, and  improve your business relationships)

6) Dress upward, to what you aspire to  (translation: your dress code will influence how people perceive you)

7) Give back to the community by volunteering when you can (translation:  you are blessed with good fortune, volunteering will give you personal satisfaction, help you learn new skills, aid others and increase your business reputation)

8) Take the high road in all situations (translation:  your reputation is based on your behavior in the worst of situations; behave with integrity and ensure you are always held in high regard)

See some interesting parallels between life and business here?    Thank your own Mom if you still have the opportunity to do so.  

This post is in memory of my own  mother who passed away from diabetes related illness 13 years ago – Thanks, Mom –  some of your advice has made a difference!