Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families by Steven Covey

The Emotional Bank Account

The Emotional Bank Account represents the quality of the
relationship you have with others. It’s like a financial bank account in that
you can make “deposits,” by proactively doing things that build trust in the
relationship, or you can make “withdrawals,” by reactivity doing things that
decrease the level of trust. And at any given time the balance of trust in the
account determines how well you can communicate and solve problems with another

A high balance indicates a high level of trust.
Communication is open and free. You can even make a mistake in the
relationship, and the “emotional reserves” will compensate for it.

A low or even overdrawn balance indicates no trust and thus
no authentic communication. It’s like walking on minefields. You have to
measure every word. And even your better intentions are misunderstood. There is
no trust, no real communication, no ability to work together to solve problems.

Make deposits:

Being Kind, in relationships the little things are the big things.;

Apologizing, the sooner we learn to apologize, the better;

Be Loyal to Those Not Present, next to apologizing, this is the
toughest and one of the most important;

Making and Keeping Promises, you would be hard pressed to come up
with a deposit that has more impact;

Forgiving, when you truly forgive, you open the channels through
which trust and unconditional love can flow;

Until you understand another person, you are never going to
know what constitutes a deposit in his or her account.

Joy of being together and doing things together will have
tremendous positive effect on the Emotional Bank Account in the family. Family
will have its normal challenges, but the culture should be fundamentally
nurturing, caring, and empowering.

In physics, “entropy” means that anything left to itself
will eventually disintegrate until it reaches its most elemental form. So also
with regard to the family culture: It requires constant deposits into the
Emotional Bank Account to just keep it where it is now, because you’re dealing
with continuing relationships and continuing expectations. And unless those
expectations are met, entropy will set in. The old deposits will evaporate. The
relationship will become stilted, more formal, colder. And to improve it
requires new creative deposits.

There’s no way to have rich, rewarding family relationships
without real understanding. Relationships can be superficial. They can be
functional. They can be transactional. But they can’t be transformational — and
deeply satisfying — unless they’re built on the foundation of genuine
understanding. In fact, at the heart of most of the real pain in families is


Family itself is a “we” experience, a “we” mentality. When
your happiness comes primarily from the happiness of others, you know you have
moved from “me” to “we”.

Scarcity Mentality – there’s only one pie, so if you get a
bigger piece, then I get less. so everything has to be win-lose. Abundance
Mentality – the idea that there’s plenty for everyone and that there is an
infinite number of third alternative solutions, better ways to work things out
that make a win for everyone. This abundance mentality is the spirit of
“family.” it’s the spirit of “we.” And this is what marriage and family are all

Self-awareness becomes family awareness — our ability to see
ourselves as a family. Conscience become family conscience — the unity of the
shared moral nature of everyone in the family and the clarity that came from
discussing these things together. Imagination becomes creative synergy as we
hammered out the issues and came to something everyone could agree on. And
independent will become interdependent will and social will as we all worked
together to make it happen.

We now live in a world that values personal freedom and
independence more than responsibly and interdependence — in a world with
tremendous mobility in which creature comforts (especially television) enable
social isolation and independent entertainment.

Interdependency is hard. It takes tremendous effort,
constant effort, and courage. It’s much easier in the short run to live
independently inside a family — to do your own thing, to come and go as you
wish, to take care of your own needs, and to interact as little as possible
with others. But the real joys of family life are lost. When children grow up
with this kind of modeling, they think that is the way family is, and the cycle
continues. The devastating effect of these cyclical cold wars is almost as bad
as the destruction of the hot wars.

Make marriage Happy and long-lasting:

Stop being single at heart and
become married at heart.

Care more about the health of the
relationship than they do about winning arguments.

The hardest thing about getting married or having children
is that it changes your entire lifestyle. You can no longer just focus on your
own schedule, your own priorities. You have to sacrifice. You have to think
about others, about meeting their needs, about what makes them happy. A good
marriage and a good family require service and sacrifice. But when you truly
love another and share a transcendent sense of purpose in creating the “we” —
such as raising a child — then sacrifice is nothing more than giving up
something small for something big. True fulfillment comes from sacrifice. It is
this very shift from “me” to “we” that makes family, family!

The ability to work together to create new ideas, new
solutions that are better than any individual family member could ever come up
with alone. Principles of mutual respect, mutual understanding, and creative

Some of the biggest deposits and withdrawals in the family
come from how you handle expectations. Sometimes people just assume certain
things about relationships. These things are never talked about, but he
assumptions, the expectations, are there. And when these expectations are not
fulfilled, it becomes a major withdrawal. The key is in creating clear
expectations up front, and family “win-win agreements” can help you do this.
You cannot hold people responsible for results if you supervise their methods.
Five elements of a win-win agreements — desired results, guidelines, resources,
accountability, and consequences. At the beginning it will probably seem as if
the five elements take a lot of time to set up. But it is far more effective to
invest the time early on rather than deal with the consequences of not doing it
later on.

What is important to another person must be as important to
you as the other person is to you. My love for you is so great and our
happiness is so entwined that I would not feel good if I got my say and you
were unhappy — particularly when you feel so strongly about it. Issue that is
important to someone else is also really important to you, and so you’ll need
to move toward synergy — to find some transcendent purpose or value that unites
you, enabling the release of creative juices to find a better way in
actualizing that value or achieving that goal or purpose.

Win-win is really the only solid foundation for effective
family interaction. It’s the only pattern of thinking and interacting that
builds long term relationships of trust and unconditional love.

Of all the vocations that men may pursue in this life, no vocation
is fraught with as much responsibly and attended with as much boundless
opportunity as the great calling of husband and father. No man, whatever his
accomplishments may be, can be said to have achieved success in life if he is
not surrounded by his loved ones.

There are times when “being understood” means giving
feedback to other family members. And this can be very hard to do. People often
don’t want to hear feedback. It doesn’t match the image they have of
themselves, and they don’t want to hear anything that reflects an image that is
any less than the one they have in their minds.

Not seeking to understand leads to judgment (usually
misjudgment), rejection, and manipulation. Seeking to understand leads to
understanding, acceptance, and participation. Obviously, only one of these
paths is built on the principles that create quality family life.

To understand that reality — and to adjust expectations
accordingly — is, to a great extent, to control our own satisfaction. That
experience demonstrates why seeking to understand is so important. Being
understood is the emotional and psychological equivalent of getting air, and
when people are grasping for air — or for understanding — until they get it,
nothing else matters. Nothing. The deepest hunger of the human heart is to be
understood, for understanding implicitly affirms, validates, recognizes, and
appreciates the intrinsic worth of anther. When you really listen to another
person, you acknowledge and respond to that most insistent need.

When someone has completed a major task or project, or has
accomplished something that required supreme effort, always express admiration,
appreciation, and praise. Never give negative feedback — even though it may be
deserved and even though you do it in a constructive way and with good motives
in order to help the person do better. Give the constructive feedback at a
later time when the person is ready for it.

But at the time, praise the effort. Praise the heart that
went into it. praise the worth of the person, the personal identify that was
transmitted into the project or work. You’re not compromising your integrity
when you take such an encouraging, appreciating, affirming approach. You’re
simply focusing on that which is more important than some nervous definition of

There’s no way to have rich, rewarding family relationships
without real understanding. Relationships can be superficial. They can be
functional. They can be transactional. But they can’t be transformational — and
deeply satisfying — unless they’re built on the foundation of genuine
understanding. In fact, at the heart of most of the real pain in families is

Hold Family Night

Review calendar on upcoming
events, hold a family council and discuss issues and problems, give
suggestions, and together make decisions, talent show where the kids show music
or dance, a short lesson, a family activity and serve refreshments, pray together,
or sing family’s favorite songs.


Read together as a family. Focus
primarily on learning, not grades.

Set aside a special family time
each week for planning, communicating, teaching values, and having fun
together. (18)

Go over each person’s goals and
activities, put them on a magnetic chart that hangs on the door.

Phantom Family — make a special
treat on family night — popcorn balls, candy apples, cupcakes, or something
similar. Decided which family to spotlight. Put the treat on their porch, along
with a note that tells how we admire their family and appreciate them. End the
note with The Phantom Family Strikes Again. Ring doorbell and run like

Family times

Mealtimes should always be happy, pleasant occasions for
eating, sharing pleasant talk, and learning — sometimes even serious
discussions about various intellectual or spiritual topics — but never a place
for disciplining, correcting, or judging.

If family is not most important priority for many years,
many years of precious family experiences become lost. Clearly, putting family
first doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to buy a new home and give up your
job. But it does mean that you “walk your talk” — that your life really
reflects and nurtures the supreme value of family.

Family traditions include rituals and celebrations and
meaningful events that you do in your family. They help you understand who you
are; that you are part of a family that’s a strong unit, that you love one
another, that you respect and honor one another, that you celebrate one
another’s birthdays and special events, and make positive memories for
everybody. You give a feeling of belonging, of being supported, of being
understood. You are committed to one another. You are a part of something
that’s greater than yourself. You express and show loyalty to one another. You
need to be needed, you need to be wanted, and you’re glad to be part of a
family. When parents and children cultivate traditions that are meaningful to
them, every time they go back to that tradition it renews the emotional energy
and bonding of the past. So family involvement is not the central force in
their lives; it is an occasional “holidays only” guilt reliever.

Extended and intergenerational family members can be
involved in almost everything you do. Provide a support system from the family
to show that we care and that each person in the family is appreciated and
loved. An open invitation for anyone in the extended and intergenerational
family who can to come to such activities. Grandparents must never become
anesthetized by the “retirement” mind-set into thinking that there is no longer
a vital need for family involvement. You never “retire” from the family.

Place high priority on scheduling and being at children’s
events. Can’t go to every activity. But do what we can and always try to
communicate to all family members how important they and their activities are.

In your family you may talk “love” and “family fun,” but if
you never plan any time together, then your very lack of origination gets in
the way. You may say “I love you” to someone, but if you’re always too busy to
spend meaningful one-on-one time with that person and fail to prioritize that
relationship, you will allow entropy and decay to set in.

As kids get older, parents need to make the transition from
being “the parent” to being a best friend. Even when the children are out of
the nest, parents need to recognize their children’s need for affirmation of
their roles as parents and of how well they’re doing; they need to recognize
their grandchildren’s need to have special time with their grandmother and
grandfather, both collectively and one-on-one. In this way they serve a another
source of reinforcing the teaching given in that home or help compensate for
temporary deficiencies in the home. And regardless of your age, you can always
be that “someone” who the best research shows is vital to healthy, happy
children and grandchildren — someone who is absolutely, positively,
unconditionally “crazy” about them.

The first line of defense must always be the family — the
nuclear family, the intergenerational family, and the extended family.

True healing involves all four dimensions: the physical, the
social/emotional (generating positive energy and avoiding negative energy such
as criticism, envy, and hatred, as well as being connected to the support base
created by family and friends who are all adding their faith, prayers, and
support), the mental, and the spiritual (exercising faith and tapping into
those spiritual powers higher than our own).

Worship together, go to church together, become aligned as a
family with common values and goals. Rely on one anther to solve problems and
find answers. Worshipping together is one of the major characteristics of a
healthy, happy family.


Example is the very foundation of influence. We are first
and foremost, models to our children. What they see in us speaks far more
loudly than anything we could ever say. You cannot hide or disguise your
deepest self. The deepest part of this Principle-Centered Family Leadership
Tree represents your role as a model. If you’re a parent, you cannot not model.

If we are careful observers, we can see our own weakness
reappear in the lives of our children. This is most evident in the way
differences and disagreements are handled.

When you raise your children, you’re also raising your
grandchildren. Become loving and empathic as you respect the individuality of
each child and allow your children to be self-regulating, to make their own
decisions within the scope of their experience and wisdom.

Key is to nurture the four gifts inside each child and to
build relationships of trust and unconditional love so that you can teach and
influence the members of your family in principle-centered ways.

Lies Parents Tell Themselves About Why They Work:

We need the extra money

Day care is perfectly good — 15
percent of day care facilities were excellent, 70 percent were ‘barely
adequate’, and 15 percent were abysmal

Inflexible companies are the key

Dads would gladly stay home if
their wives earned more money

High taxes force both of us to

When you feel inclined to try to teach or correct your
child; you might want to push your pause button and ask yourself this: Is my
relationship with this child sufficient to sustain this effort? Is there enough
reserve in the Emotional Bank Account to enable this child to have an open ear,
or will my words just bounces off a though he or she were surrounded by
bulletproof shield? Stop to ask yourself if what we’re about to do will be
effective — if it will accomplish what we really want to accomplish.

In the middle of a situation, try to stop and think: Is this
something that really matters? Justify being strong with the children only if
it’s something that really affects their life.

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 freedom.

Punishment would be saying to the child, “Okay, you’ve got
to go into the time-out room for thirty minutes.” Discipline would be saying,
“Okay, you need to go into the time-out room until you decide to live by what
we agreed.” Whether the child stays in the room for one minute or one hour
doesn’t matter, as long as the child has exercised the necessary proactivity to
make the right choice. You’re showing respect and affirming that he has the
power to choose the behavior that is consistent with the principles in the
agreement. Disciple is not emotional.

Family Situations

Probably more than any other single factor, what gets
families off track and gets in the way of synergy is negative emotions,
including anger and taking offense, Temper gets us into problems, and pride
keeps us there. Even if anger surfaces only one-tenth of 1 percent of the time,
that will affect the quality of all the rest of the time because people are
never sure when that raw nerve might be touched again.

We need to be deeply honest with ourselves and realize that
most anger is merely guilt overflowing when provoked by the weakness of

Whenever we disagree with others, we need to quickly “agree”
with them — not on the issue of disagreement but on the right to disagree, to
see it the way they see it.

When someone in the family becomes angry and loses control,
the effects are so wounding, so intimidating, so threatening, so overpowering
that others lose their bearings. They tend to either fight back, which only
exacerbates the problem, or capitulate and give in to this win-lose spirit. And
then even compromise is not likely. The more likely scenario is that people
will separate and go their own ways, refusing to communicate at all about
anything meaningful. They try to live with the satisfactions of independence,
since interdependence seems too hard, too far off, and too unrealistic. And no
one has the mind-set or the skill-set to go for it. When any of us overreacts
to a minor situation say, “Have a laugh!.”

It’s often important to process negative experiences — to
talk them through, resolve them, empathize with each other, and seek
forgiveness. Whenever ugly experiences take place, you can unfreeze them by
acknowledging your part in them and by listening empathically to understand how
other people saw them and how they felt about them. You can ignore people. You
can pretend to listen. You can listen selectively or even attentively. But
until you listen empathically, you’re still inside your own frame of reference.

Instead of trying to eliminate negative things from the
family, focus on trying to create positive things that were not there before —
new goals, new options, new alternatives that will optimize situations.

In working with families, there are at least three common
misleading maps:

The “advice from others” map. What
works in one situation does not necessarily work in another.

The social values map. Consists of
theories that are based on social values rather than principles.

The “deterministic” map. The
picture it creates is that essentially we are victims of our genes and
circumstances. People who live with this map tend to speak and think in terms
such as: “That’s just the way I am. There’s nothing I can do about it.” It denies
our fundamental power to choose.

All truly great things are born of sacrifice and only
through sacrifice can a truly good family come into being.

So when you really love someone, you need to care enough to
confront — but in always that are filled with positive energy and respect. You
need to be able to give feedback in a way that actually builds the Emotional
Bank Account instead of making withdrawals. We simply must care enough to
confront other people — to not give in to them but to not give up on them,
either. There are times when really loving people means giving them a shock
treatment — shocking them into an awareness of what they’re doing — and then
showing more love than ever afterward so they know you really care. When you
need to give feedback, you may find these five keys helpful:

“Will this feedback really be
helpful to this person, or does it just fulfill my own need to set this person
straight?” If there’s any anger inside you, it’s probably not the time or the
place to give feedback.

Seek first to understand. Know
what’s important to the person and how your feedback will help that person
accomplish his or her goals. Always try to speak that person’s language of

Separate the person from the
behavior. Describe our observation of the consequences of these behaviors
and/or our own feelings, concerns, and perceptions that flow from these

Be especially sensitive and
patient regarding blind sports. Also, don’t give feedback on something they
can’t realistically do anything about.

Use “I” messages. You’re sharing
your own perception — the way you see the world. So give “I” messages: “This is
my perception.” “My concern is . . . “ The moment you start sending “you”
messages — “You are so self-centered!” — you’re playing God. You’re making
yourself the ultimate judge of that person. And this becomes a huge withdrawal.

Every time you build your emotional life on the weaknesses
of others, you give your power — that is, your unique human gifts (Conscience,
Self-Awareness, Independent Will, and Imagination) — away to their weaknesses
so that your emotional life is a product of how they treat you. You disempower
yourself and empower the weaknesses of others. You will always be a victim
until you forgive. Remember, it isn’t
the snake bite that does the serious damage; it’s chasing the snake that drives
the poison to the heart.

Primary Laws

Principles — laws of life:




Honor and Honesty



Having integrity means their lives
are integrated around a balanced set of principles that are universal,
timeless, and self-evident.


You can’t talk yourself out of
problems you behave yourself into, and unless you are trustworthy, you cannot
produce trust. Principles of trustworthiness, integrity, and honesty are the
foundation of any relationship that endures over time. Violated principles
destroy trust. Ultimately, there is a moral law and a moral sense — an inward
knowing, a set of principles that are universal, timeless, and self-evident —
that control.

Courage is the quality of every
quality at its highest testing point.

One of the best parts of being a
family is that you can encourage one anther. You can put courage into one
another. You can believe in one another. You can affirm one another. You can
assure one another that you are never going to give up, that you see the
potential, and that you are acting in faith based on that potential rather than
on any particular behavior or circumstance. You can be bold and strengthen one
another’s hearts and minds. You can weave a strong and secure safety net of
encouraging circumstances in the home so that family members can cultivate
those kinds of internal resilience and strengths that will enable them to deal
with the discouraging, anti-family circumstances outside.

Qualities of virtue

Patience, persistence, temperance,
humility, charity, fidelity, cheerfulness, wisdom and integrity.

A principle that is truly universal, timeless, and
self-evident can be proven by imagining the absurdity of trying to live its
opposite. the violation of these principles virtually guarantees failure in
family situations. Decide to put principles ahead of each other and ahead of
your family.

Identify some of the principles you want to use in raising
children. “What kind of strength and abilities will our children need to have
in order to be successful when they’re grown?” These could include the ability
to work, to learn, to communicate, to solve problems, to repent, to forgive, to
serve, to worship, to survive in the wilderness, and to play and have fun.

Who is really at the “center” of our lives. Who am I? How do
I define myself? (Security) Where do I go and what do I do to receive direction
to guide my life? (Guidance) how does life work? How should I live my life?
(Wisdom) What resources and influences do I access to nurture myself and
others? (Power)

We have the ability to tap into a higher form of influences:
the power of God. If we continue in faithfulness — never giving up on wayward
sons and daughters but doing everything in our power to reach them and
continually offering a prayer of faith — God may take a hand in the situation
in His way and in His time.

If you have your direction and principles clear, and you
consistently respond to them based on that direction and those principles, they
will gradually come to feel the sense of that unchanging core. You will feel
the strength of it also as you interact with them in principle-centered ways
through the storm.

Principle-Centered Family Leadership Tree

Roots — Modeling
(example of trustworthiness). The family members see and trust you.

Modeling is essentially the
spiritual. It draws primarily upon conscience for its energy and direction.
mentoring is essentially social and draws primarily upon self-awareness as
manifested in respecting others, understanding others, empathizing and synergizing
with others. Organizing I essentially the physical and taps into the
independent as well as the social will to organize time and life — to set up a
family mission statement, weekly family times, and one-on-ones. Teaching is
primarily mental. The mind is the steering wheel of life as we are guided into
a future that we create first in our minds through the power of our
imagination. One thing to realize is that you are doing all four of these things
anyway. Like it or not, you are a leader in your family, and one way or another
you are already fulfilling each of these roles.

Trunk — Mentoring

(Relationship of respect and carring). The family members feels and values self

Branches — Organizaing
(aligning structure to mission). The family members expereince and trusts

Leaves — Teaching (Empowering
princples). The family members hears/does and trusts principles and self.

Always remember that, as with
modeling and mentoring, you cannot not teach. With regard to teaching. Four

1.      Discern the overall situations. When people feel threatened, an effort
to teach by precept — or telling — will generally increase the resentment
toward both the teacher and the teaching.

2.      Sense your own spirit and attitude. If you’re angry and frustrated, you
can’t avoid communicating this regardless of the logic of your words or the
value of the principle you’re trying to teach. Restrain yourself or distance
yourself. Teach at another time. A good rule of thumb: If you can gently touch
or hold the arm or hand of your child while correcting or teaching and you both
feel comfortable with this, you’ll have a positive influence. You simply cannot
do this in an angry mood. Remember that 70 to 80 percent of all communication
is nonverbal. In this sense you cannot not communicate.

3.      Distinguish between the time to teach and the time to give help and
support. To rush in with preachments and success formulas when your spouse or
child is emotionally fatigued or under a lot of pressure in comparable to trying to teach a drowning
man to swim. he needs a rope or a helping hand, not a lecture.

4.      Realize that in a large sense we are teaching one thing or another all
the time because we are constantly radiating what we are.

People often make one of three common mistakes:

To Think That Any One Role Is
Sufficient. Many people seem to think that modeling alone is sufficient, that
if you persist and set a good example long enough, children will eventually
follow that example. Others feel that mentoring or loving is al-sufficient,
that if you build a relationship and constantly communicate love, it will cover
a multitude of sins. Some are convinced that proper organizing. Their families
may be well managed, but they lack leadership. They may be proceeding correctly
but in the wrong direction. Children will tend to move away from these
situations as soon as possible and may not desire to return – except perhaps
out of a sense of family duty. Others feel that the role of parents is basically
to teach by way of telling and that explaining more clearly and consistently
will eventually work. If it doesn’t work, it at least transfers responsibility
to the children. Each role is necessary, but absolutely insufficient without
the other three. Children need not only to see it and feel it but also to
experience it and hear it – or they may never understand the important laws of
life that govern happiness and success.

To Ignore the Sequence. The second
mistake, is to ignore the sequence: to think that you can explicitly teach
without having the relationship; or that you can build a good relationship
without being a trustworthy person; or that verbal teaching is sufficient and
that the principles and laws of life contained in this verbal teaching do not need
to be embodied into the patterns and process, the structures and systems of
everyday family life. The sequence and the synergy are the important things.
People do not hear if they do not feel and see.

To Think That Once is Enough.
Model, mentor, organize, and teach are present-tense verbs that must
continually take place. We must continually make deposits in the Emotional Bank
Account because yesterday’s meal does not satisfy today’s hunger, especially in
family relationships where expectations are high.

Of Love

Laws which reflect the reality
that love in its purest form is unconditional: acceptance rather than
rejection, understanding rather than judgment, and participation rather than
manipulation. These laws are the foundation
of a beautiful family culture.


People can love the end in mind
more than they love the person. They love conditionally. In other words, they
use love to manipulate and control. As a result, others feel rejected and fight
to stay the same.

A nurturing culture where family
members deeply, sincerely, and genuinely enjoy being together, where they have
a sense of shared beliefs and values, where they act and interact in ways that
really work, based on the principles that govern in all of life. (20)

Mentoring is building relationships. It’s investing in the
Emotional Bank Account. It’s letting people know that you care about them —
deeply, sincerely, personally, unconditionally. It’s championing them. Only
when you live the Primary Laws of Love — when you consistently make deposits in
the Emotional Bank Account of others because you love them unconditionally and
because of their intrinsic worth rather than because of their behavior or
social status or for any other reason — do you encourage obedience to the
Primary Laws of Life, laws such as honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility,
and trust. Positively or negatively, you cannot not mentor. The way you fulfill
your mentoring role with any family member — but particularly with your most
difficult child — will have a profound impact on the level of trust in the
entire family.

Love is certainly the roses and the dinners out an the
romantic vacations. But its also the hugs and the bathrobes and getting the
morning paper for each other or making the coffee or feeding the guinea pigs.
It’s in the details as well as the symphony.

Unbelievable power in loving another person in five ways

Empathizing: listening with your
own heart to another’s heart.

Sharing authentically your most
deeply felt insights, learnings, emotions, and convictions.

Affirming the other person with a
profound sense of belief, valuation, confirmation, appreciation, and

Praying with and for the other
person from the depths of your soul, tapping into the energy and wisdom of
higher powers.

Sacrificing for the other person:
going the second mile, doing far more than is expected, caring and serving
until it sometimes even hurts.

Circles of Concern and Influence

Circle of Concern is a large circle that embraces everything
in your life that you may be concerned about. If you are in the Concern, your
language will be blaming, accusing, reactive.

Focus on the Circle of Influence. Circle of Influence is a
smaller circle within the Circle of Concern that embraces the things you can
actually do something about. In the Influence, your language will be proactive,
reflecting a focus on the things you can do something about. Force yourself to
use proactive words and phrases.

Focus on the Circle of Influence.

1.      Identify a problem in your family culture

2.      Describe it to someone else (or write it) using completely reactive
terms. Focus on your Circle of Concern. Work hard. See how completely you can
convince someone else that this problem is not your fault.

3.      Describe the same problem in completely proactive terms. Focus on your
response-ability. Talk about what you can do in your Circle of Influence.
Convince someone else that you can make a real difference in this situation.

4.      Now think about the difference in two descriptions. Which one more
closely resembles your normal habit pattern when talking about family problems?


Synergy is producing not just a third alternative solution
but a third alternative spirit — the spirit of the family. Synergy is something
new is crated that was not there before and could not have been created without
celebrating differences.

Synergy that comes through a complementary approach — an
approach in which one person’s strength is utilized and his or her weaknesses
are made irrelevant by the strength of another. People work together like a
team, but there’s not effort to integrate their thought processes to produce
better solutions. When people are open to feedback regarding strengths and
weaknesses marvelous things begin to happen.

Three habits — root, route, and fruit


Think win-win — is the root. It’s
the fundamental paradigm of seeking mutual benefit, or the “Golden Rule.” It’s
the underlying motive, the nurturing attitude out of which understanding and
synergy grow.

Seek first to understand . . .
then to be understood — is the route. It’s the method, the pathway that leads
to rich interdependent interaction. It’s the ability to step out of your own
autobiography and really get into the head and heart of someone else. It takes
character to seek first to understand when you think you really know what
someone’s thinking (you usually don’t), when you’re sure you have the perfect
answer to the problem (you usually don’t), and when you have an important
appointment you have to be at in five minutes. It take character to celebrate
differences, to look for the third-alternative solutions, to work with the
members of your family to create this sense of synergy in the culture.

Synergize — is the fruit. It’s the
result, the end product, the rich reward of the effort. It’s creating
transcendent third-alternative solutions. It’s not “your way” or “my way”; it’s
a better, higher way.

Research data indicate that families that limit television
viewing to a maximum of two hours a day of carefully selected programs may see
the following significant changes in family relationships:

Value setting will be taught and
reinforced by the family.

Relationships between parents and
youth will improve n families.

Homework will be completed with
less time pressure.


Personal conversations will
increase substantially.

Children’s imaginations will come
back to life.

Each family member will become a
discriminating selector and evaluator of programs.

Parents can become family leaders

Good reading habits may be
substituted for television viewing.

The 7 Habits Family Worksheet — Page 356



I am in control, I can choose a
better way, I am responsible for myself.

Teach them how to recognize the
whispering of conscience and to be faithful and truthful — even when others are

Happy families are all alike;
every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. — Anna Karenina, epic novelist

Your greatest responsibility as a
son/daughter is to love each of your parents and to chart your own course.

No mother is happier than her most
unhappy child.

Treat a man as he is and he will
remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he
can and should be. — Goethe

I have sulked or napped or sneered
or snubbed or stormed. I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect
myself. . . Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best
evidence for what sort of man he is. Surely what pops out before the man has
time to put on a disguise is the truth. Suddenness of the provocation does not
make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. We
realize that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done
only by God.

Our deepest fear is not that we
are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is
our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I
to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s
nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure
around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make
manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s
in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other
people permission to do the same. An we’re liberated from our own fear, our
presence automatically liberates others. — Marianne Williamson

“The significant problems we face
cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
— Einstein

Some men see the rules of marriage
as a prison, others — the happy ones — see them as boundary lines that enclose
all the things they hold.

He who carries a wrong heart into
the married life and cherishes it in selfishness or finds there a selfish heart
that persists in remaining wrong, will make or find married life irritating,
galling, unbearable . . . One who expects to be ministered to in the married
state is acting on a principle that will pervert the whole life. He who marries
for the purpose of receiving, rather than bestowing, makes a false start . . .
. “Married life can never be what it ought to be while the husband or wife
makes personal happiness the main object. — J. S. Kirtley and Edward Bok

Okay, now, I know what you’re
going to hear from people is “We don’t have the time.” But if you don’t have
the time for one night or at least one hour during the week where everybody can
come together as a family, then the family is not the priority. — Oprah Winfrey

Manipulation means that the real
motive is hidden even though good techniques are being used. When people feel
manipulated, they are not committed. And when people feel manipulated, a major
withdrawal takes place, and your next efforts — even though sincere — will be
perceived as another form of manipulation. Nothing baffles a person who is full
of tricks and duplicity more than simple, straightforward honesty on the part
of another.

Ideas/Things to Try:

We ought always to assume good
faith. By acting on the assumption that others are trying to do their best as
they see it, we can exert a powerful influence in brining out the best in them.

As we project our conditioning
experiences onto the outside world, we assume we’re seeing the world the way it
is. But we’re not. We’re seeing the world as we are — or as we have been
conditioned to be. And until we gain the capacity to step out of our own
autobiography — to set aside our own glasses and really see the world through
the eyes of others — we will never be able to build deep, authentic relationships
and have the capacity to influence in positive ways.

Make a list of changes someone
else has to make in order to “stay”. On the other side, make a list of changes
you would agree to. Learn from you side, are the more things for you to do?

Have regular one-on-one bonding
times with each member of your family — times when the agenda is written by the
other person.

Whenever there is a difference or
disagreement, people can’t make their own point until they restate the other
person’s point to that person’s satisfaction.


Post a sheet of paper on the
refrigerator, and anyone who wants to talk about any issue, problem, hope, or
plan simply writes the issue and his or her name on the paper. This person is
responsible for taking everyone through the process of solving the problem or
doing whatever it involved.

Take some issue that needs to be
resolved, an issue where people have different opinions and different points of
view. Try working together to answer the following four questions:

What is the problem form
everyone’s point of view? Really listen to one another with the intent to
understand, not to reply. Work at it until other people can express each
person’s point of view to that persons satisfaction. Focus on interests, not

What are the key issues involved?
Once the viewpoints are expressed and everyone feels thoroughly understood,
then look at the problem together and identify the issues that need to be

What would constitute a fully
acceptable solution? Determine the net results that would be a win for each
person. Put the criteria on the table and refine and prioritize them so that
everyone is satisfied they represent all involved.

What new options would meet those
criteria? Synergize around creative new approaches and solutions.

You can also help children improve
their ability to make good choices by encouraging them to keep a persona

When you want a child to perform a
task ask three questions:

Should the child do it (a value
question)? Value questions, the solution usually lies in building the Emotional
Bank Account and educating.

Can the child do it (a competency
question)? Competency question lies in training.

Does the child want to do it (a
motivation question)? Education means “to draw forth” to provide a deep and
proper explanation that tends to draw forth the sense of “this is what I should
do” Training means “to put in” in this case, to put into the child the
knowledge of how to do the task. The answer generally lies in reinforcing the
desired behavior either extrinsically or intrinsically, or in combination.
Intrinsic rewards (the inner peace and satisfaction that comes when people do
things because they’re the right thing to do, when they listen to and obey
their conscience).

When a situation requires a quick
decision. Not all decisions can be made with synergy. Ask Where are you on a
scale of one to ten, how strongly do you feel about your point? Go with the
approach of the person who feels the strongest. If we both say five, we may go
for a quick compromise. To make this work, everyone have to agree that we will
always be totally honest with each other about where on the scale we are. Develop a kind of
democracy that shows respect for the depth of feeling behind a person’s opinion
or desire so that his or her vote counts more.

One minute speeches during dinner.
Give a family member a topic — anything from honesty to the funniest thing that
happened that day — and the person speaks for one minute on it.

Have favorite teacher dinners.

Have birth weeks. For the entire
week we would try to focus on letting children know how special they are to us.
Have rooms decorated with sings and balloons, presents at breakfast, a “friend”
party, a special dinner out with Mom and Dad, and dinner with the extended
family, the person’s favorite meal, favorite cake, and compliments. To
celebrate a birthday is to celebrate the person.

Make valentines and attach long
stings to them. Put them on people’s porches, ring the doorbell, run and hide.
When they bend down to pick it up, jerk it a few inches away.


Dress in green leprechaun outfit
and appear uninvited in each child’s room. Sing Irish songs, and tell stories.
Pass out shamrock cookie and pinch the boys and girls who aren’t wearing green.

Spend some time together for a few
minutes each morning to begin our day with a feeling of togetherness and

Ten minute program before bed.
Every person in the family works really hard for ten minutes to clean up the

Work parties, work really hard for
three or four hours to get something done, but have food and laugh and talk
while working. Do something fun afterward — like go to the movie.

Make a fuss over comings and
goings. Take time out from whatever and concentrate on them. It’s very
rewarding to have someone listen to you, ask about your concerns, sense you
mood, and seem to love being with you.

Adopt Children’s friends. Friends
end up being influenced by our family instead of the other way around.

Share book with others by using
end of chapter suggestions

Do questionnaire on page 37.
(Highly developed gift is Conscience; Active gifts are Self-Awareness,
Independent Will, and Imagination; Independent Will and Imagination need

Write Personal Mission Statement

If you were to do one thing you
know would make a tremendous difference for good in your personal life, what
would that one thing be? Examine the answers and determine whether what you
wrote down is urgent or important or both. “Urgent” comes from the outside,
from environmental pressures and crises. “Important” comes from the inside,
from your own deep value system. Truly effective people in all walks of life
focus on the important rather than the merely urgent. Research shows that
worldwide, the most successful executives focus on importance, and less effective
executives focus on urgency. Sometimes the urgent is also important, but much
of the time it is not. It’s true in all walks of life — including the family.

Write Marriage Mission Statement

Write a one-sentence answer to
this question: What is the purpose of our marriage? What is the essential
reason for being? What are it’s high priority goals?

Ask questions like: What kind of
marriage partners do we want to be? how do we want to treat each other? How do
we want to resolve our differences? How do we want to handle our finances? What
kind of parents do we want to be? What principles do we want to teach our
children to help them prepare for adulthood and to lead responsible, caring
lives? How do we help develop the potential talent of our children? What kind of
discipline do we want to use with our children? What roles (earning, financial
management, housekeeping, and so on) will each of us have? How can we best
relate to each other’s families? What traditions do we bring with us from the
families in which we were raised? What traditions do we want to keep and
create? What intergenerational traits or tendencies are we happy or unhappy
with, and how do we make changes? How do we want to give back?

Write Family Mission Statement

Don’t give up on a family mission statement. Do what work
you can as a family. Do what you can, one-on-one, with these resistant
children. Love them unconditionally. Make continual deposits into their
Emotional Bank Accounts. You may even have to come up with some kind of
statement that reflects the hearts and minds of those who will cooperate and
just keep reaching out to the others in unconditional love.

Should be a vision that is shared
and owned by all family members, not just the two of you.

Step one: Explore what your family
is all about. What is the purpose of our family? What kind of family do we real
want to be? What kind of home would you like to invite your friends to? 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, gifts, and
abilities of family members? What are our responsibilities as family members/
What are the principles and guidelines we want our family to follow? What 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? What embarrasses you about our
family? What makes you feel comfortable here? What makes you want to come home?
What makes you feel drawn to us as your parents so that you are open to our
influence? What makes us feel open to your influence? What do we want to be
remembered by?

Step two: Write your family
mission statement.


Step three: Use it to Stay on
Track — constitution of your family life.

Ask family members to make their
own list of things that are important to them. Discuss why these traits were so
important or desirable.

Look at it often and ask: “How
well are we living up to what we have decided to be and to do? Is our home
really a place where the sounds of love are found? Are we being cynical and
critical? Do we use cutting humor? Do we walk out on each other and not
communicate? Are we giving back or only taking? Every New Year’s Eve sit down
and work on the mission statement and write goals for the coming year.

A combined, unified expression
from all family members of what your family is all about — what it is you
really want to do and be – -and the principles you choose to govern your family

Write a one-sentence answer to
this question: What is the essential mission or purpose of this family, and
what is its main strategy in accomplishing that purpose?

Everybody’s ideas are important.
You may have to deal with all kinds of positive and negative expressions. Don’t
judge them. Respect them. Let them be expressed freely. Don’t try to resolve

Three ground rules: First, listen
with respect. Second, restate accurately to show you understand. Third,
consider writing down the ideas. Don’t evaluate the ideas. Don’t judge them.
Don’t compare their relative worth.

Write down their top five values
and then eliminate them one at a time until they are down to one.

Three Watch Outs

1.      Don’t announce it — If the members of your family don’t feel that the
mission statement represents them, they won’t support it. Except for little
children, remember: No involvement, no commitment. With little children,
identification (emotional bonding) is even more powerful than involvement.

2.      Don’t rush it — It requires deep and genuine involvement, listening to
one another, and working together to make sure the mission statement represents
the thoughts and feelings of everyone involved.

3.      Don’t ignore it — Begin with the end in mind

Examples of family mission statements:

We will recognize when we are
experiencing stress in our lies and not pass it on to others.

Nurturing place of faith, truth,
love, happiness, and relaxation.

Value honesty with ourselves and
others, support and encouragement, Respect and accept each person’s unique
personality and talents. Loving, kind, and happy atmosphere. Patience through
understanding. Resolve conflicts rather than harboring anger.

Wisdom in what we choose to eat,
read, see and do at home.

Has fun together, unconditional
love in our family and inspiration for each other. Believe that diversity of
race and culture is a give. Appreciate the grace of God.


Respectful, and supportive of each
other, spiritual feeling in the home, love each other unconditionally, make
this house a place we want to come home to.

We’re going to help each other.
We’re not going to let anyone fail. We’re going to pray for each other. We’re
going to serve each other. We’re going to forgive each other. We’re not going
to hold grudges. We’re not going to be offended.

Make a plaque and hang it by the
doorbell. Inside this house are the sounds of love and the spirit of service.