by Bhaj Townsend
In his book, Principle Centered Leadership, Stephen R. Covey noted: “Too many families are managed on the basis of instant gratification, not on sound principles and rich emotional bank accounts. Then, when stress and pressure mount, people start yelling, overreacting or being cynical, critical, or silent. Children see it and think this is the way you solve problems-either fight or flight. And the cycles can be passed on for generations. This is why I recommend creating a family mission statement.”
By drafting a family mission statement, you are providing your family a compass to guide it through the various phases of childhood, adolescence and adulthood. This compass becomes the family’s tool to keep everyone on their own unique path of building the core, the values of the family.
The core of any family is what is changeless, what is always going to be there. This core is represented in a family mission statement. You will add a deeper meaning and connection when your family creates its unique mission statement.
Most families don’t have mission statements. Those families, who craft one, feel the difference. It is like attempting to grow the buds of the plant before setting its root. It won’t work…for long. It’s similar in families. Sure, two generations who grow up in the same house usually still have some relationship with each other as adults but within one or two generations, there is already a gap in that connection. Think about it yourself: as you look back three generations to your great grandparents, can you even name them all? Just looking back 2 generations, to your grandparents, do you know what they stood for, what attributes they wanted to pass on to you? Did they have a mission and did it include you? Probably not.
It doesn’t take that much to create a mission statement. It can be done in baby steps.
Initial steps include:
- As a family, identify and talk about your individual as well as your collective values. By doing this each family member will have a greater understanding of the driving forces and core meaning each individual has and the purpose the family values would have for them collectively. This is an opportunity to ask yourself both as an individual and as a family: “What do you value? What is your family all about?”
- Determine together the purpose of your family. From your values you can determine how you want to develop them for generations to come. This is a time to ask yourselves: “What do we stand for? What is our reason for being?”
- Create your communal mission statement that together you want to move forward with your strong foundation of unified values and purpose.
- Discuss how each individual can add meaning to your new purpose and mission through their strengths and values.
Doing this will set the roots for your family tree to develop for years and generations to come. You will provide a new and rich emotional bank account for your family to draw from. And that is power.