Thursday, June 02, 2011

Stephen Covey's Habits For Your Family: Part 1

I've been reading Stephen Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families
Not just reading, but also trying to get the whole family to adopt and practice the principles taught therein. 

  • He is on Time Magazine's list of 25 most influential American.
  • He is the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century. The book that I am reading (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families) shows us how to apply those habits to family life. And you know what? It is the No. 1 best-selling hardcover book on family.  
  • He has 9 children and 44 grandchildren. 
  • He is the co-founder and vice chairman of FranklinCovey, the leading global professional services firm with offices in 123 countries.
  • Most of all, he is someone who has changed many people's lives. He is a great teacher, motivator, leader and consultant. 
  • Habit 1: Be proactive.
    You can choose. You are responsible for your life and your actions. No blaming others. Focus on what you can do rather than what you cannot do. Spend your time working on things you have influence on.
  • Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind.
    What do you want to be, where do you want to go, what is your goal? Creating a mission statement to capture your vision of where you want to end up.
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First
    Get your priorities right.
  • Habit 4: Think win-win
    Learning to find solutions that are mutually benefiting. Nobody loses. Learning to achieve balance between courage and consideration. 
  • Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
    Improving our communication skills. Learning the art of listening.
  • Habit 6: Synergize
    It's about teamwork and creative cooperation. Making our differences into our strengths. Coming up with better solutions together.
  • Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw
    Renewing yourself in four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. It is taking care of your well-being.

Above is a picture of our Emotional Bank Account box. This goes with Habit 1 which is being proactive. The idea is to make "deposits" to other people's "Emotional Bank". In other words, saying things to strengthen your relationships with each other. As parents, we are so accustom to barking out orders and pointing out what our children do wrong. Saying things like "Why are you always messing up the house?" or "Do your homework. Don't be lazy", are considered to be "withdrawals". The same way you would rather put money in your bank account than take money out, you want to make your family member's Emotional Bank rich, not bankrupt.

And so we nicely decorated a box to become our EBA box. It sits in our living room. At first, we only read the "deposit slips" after 1 week. But I find reading it at the end of the day is better because then, it is always on the children's mind. It motivates them to make deposits daily. So we've got stuff like "Thanks mom for playing with me", "I really appreciate you D1 for staying back after dinner to help clear the table and wipe the dishes" and "Thanks jie-jie for switching on the bathroom light for me".

Of course there are still lots of "withdrawals". Bad habits are hard to break. Improvements take time but at least we are doing something about our problem. Slowly, we can change the way we talk to each other: with kindness, courtesy and respect as oppose to shouting, demanding and with rudeness.

The kids look forward to opening the Emotional Bank every night. We had to tell them it was NOT a competition when they started comparing who had the most "deposit slips". Giving is as important as receiving.

There is still much improvements to do. We have to work on getting rid of blaming and making excuses. The kids' favorite line is "She do me first, so I must do her back" and "He force me to do it". Being proactive is a BIG change. However, it is better we take the steps to change now than never.

Tell me how can being proactive help your family?


  1. I have also read Stephen Covey's book. I think it is probably one book that most people know about - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But I haven't read the Family one though. Personally speaking, it is full of ideas but on practical terms, it also depends very much on you to put what you learn into practice.

  2. Hi Lian, thats a good book. I guess today there's lots of books, articles about this.
    Can imagine old days how our parents brought us up, with hope and prayers, I guess, ha ha.

    We brought up our kids with not 1 book....strictly thru trial and error. It worked!
    "Don wan to eat? okay, don eat'!
    "Don wan eat vegetables, okay don eat'.....
    Mother cooks all vegetable dishes, ha ha.
    They survived!
    You have fun and keep well. Lee.

  3. Wah, managing the family the corporate style! Shall try that :)

  4. Infant Toys:
    Oh yes definitely. Knowledge is useless if not put to practice.

    Uncle Lee:
    Parenting these days is different from those days. With the internet and media, kids these days are exposed to all kinds of stuff. Hope and prayers are still essential. There is still trial and error but I'm trying to minimize the error of course :) Thanks for dropping by Uncle Lee.

    Health Freak Mommy:
    It's not really corporate style. They are actually timeless principles that can be applied to different settings e.g. corporate or home.

  5. I like the way you teach your children on the emotional bank account thing. :)

  6. An EBA box is something that I should give a try now. Thanks for sharing this tip...


Don't go without saying something. I would love to read your comments. BUT no junk comments please.