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My review and implementation (at home) of The Leader in Me continues.

by Laughing Squid

Some nice surprises have resulted since beginning our journey to teach our children the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Here are a few:

  • My son organized his desk (see before photo in my last post) on his own with no pushing! This is a quantum leap! (See After photo below).
  • He has begun to accomplish his goal of practicing golf 3-4 times per week.
  • In addition to being the “leader of his room”,  he, on his own, requested to do additional chores around the house, including walking the dog, helping with laundry, dusting his room, and keeping our windows clean. YAY!!
  • My daughter and I sing the kindergarten “Proactive Song” (see my last post), and she just loves it! We’ve invented some other cute songs relating to being proactive as well.
  • You’ll often hear her telling all of us spontaneously, “You’re not being proactive!” She gets it.

Jake's Desk - After

Gotta love it. The best part is that we haven’t even gotten that deep into the Habits. Up until this point, we’ve only covered Habits 1-4 lightly.  However, as the book warns , this process does not happen overnight. In fact, A.B. Combs’ success came about over time. As Stephen Covey tells us,

“A.B. Combs is nearly a decade into the leadership theme, and much of what appears (in these chapters) came about piece by piece, gradually emerging over time.”

It has been interesting, especially, to observe my son over these few weeks. I’m perceiving that he’s feeling a sense of empowerment through the Habits. It seems logical that he would prefer to feel he has the power to choose how to lead (versus being told what to do and why) as well as knowing that we are placing our trust in him to make decisions which are best for him. Either way, he better understands that his actions, regardless, will lead to consequences–positive or negative.

I can see how it would be important to weave the Habits into all that we do so that they simply become a part of us. The children are more inclined to let me speak about the Habits as we are experiencing (in the moment) great ways of using them,  as opposed to sitting down and having a “lesson”.  The language used by the teachers and students as described in the book suggest how they become second nature to them. They say things like, “(this is) The way we do things around here“; “We dwell in possibilities here“; “You did such a marvelous job with your responsibilities“, etc.  When I refer to the Habits and my children give me push back, I simply say, “This is the way we do things around here,” and that’s the end of the conversation. The process is respected. I am also making sure to celebrate their successes.

What’s next? Well, my plans are to continue working in the Habits over time. Because I’ve practiced the Habits myself, I already know that it is important to master the first three, which deal with self-mastery, before moving ahead into the next three, which focus on collaboration. But, mostly, what excites me is the process of unleashing our family’s leadership culture. What A.B. Combs has mastered is to create a unique and deep leadership culture. And, according to The Leader in Me, these are the factors that helped them create this culture:

  • Behaviors (i.e., leadership roles, data notebooks, classroom mission statements, etc.)
  • Language (i.e., “We focus on the positive”; “We are all leaders”; “We honor the greatness in you”.)
  • Artifacts (i.e., murals, posters and artwork expressing the Habits)
  • Traditions/Rituals (i.e., Leadership Day, Celebrate Success Hour, service projects, etc.)
  • Folklore (stories that have arisen since day 1 of implementation and continue to be shared year after year)

I remember attending a Franklin Covey workshop on the 7 Habits, where everyone in the room represented the business community except for three individuals. When it came time for them to introduce themselves they shared how they were a family (mother and two daughters) who had begun practicing the Habits as a family and recently developed their Family Mission Statement. I was in awe. I remember telling myself,

“Now that is one empowered family! I will do that one day.”

Well, that day has arrived.

If I ask myself what our family culture is, I am not sure I have a clear answer. Using the factors listed above, I plan to move us into the direction of establishing clear examples of how we will bring about this 7 Habits culture in an authentic way; in a way that will make us all proud. After all, wouldn’t it be just as important for families to have a strong, effective culture as it is for companies?

by O ox X

In closing, I’ll share with you A.B. Combs’ Mission and Vision for a bit of inspiration:

MISSION

To Develop Leaders One Child at a Time.

VISION

To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy.

We Live by striving to be the best we can be.

We Love by caring for others.

We Learn by working hard in the school and always doing our best.

We Leave a Legacy by sharing our school with others and trying to make a difference in the world.

Have a great week,

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

My Lil' Golfer

My review and implementation (at home) of The Leader in Me continues.

He stumped me! Yes, my son, Jacob. During our first 7 Habits discussion at I-Hop (I figured it would be easier over chocolate chip pancakes!), Jacob claimed he was already perfectly proactive. Part of me (the proud Mom) said, “You go, boy! Be proud of all you do!” And another part of me said, “You must be kidding me! Look at your room!!!” So, strategically, I decided I would keep the conversation very positive, focus on what is working well, and get him to Begin with the End in Mind first (Habit 2). I asked him, “What’s one thing you would absolutely love to achieve this year?” He answered, “Mom, I want to win first place in a golf competition.” Great! We have our first goal. My second question (back to Habit 1: Be Proactive) to him was, “What do you feel you need to do to achieve this goal?” He quickly answered, “Practice more.” Bingo.

In The Leader in Me, A.B. Combs uses a few techniques to keep the Habits ever-present for the children. First, all the children have a leadership role (mail carrier, greeter, safety patrol, critter keeper, etc.), and second, they keep a Data Notebook (3-ring binder) to track their goals and successes and share with students, teachers and parents. Although I am not adopting all of the exact strategies used in the book, I am using the same concepts. Both Nia and Jake picked their first Leadership Roles for home. Of course, I have plenty of roles I could assign to them, but that would defeat the purpose. I let them choose their roles, and I am committed to helping them feel successful and track their successes within their chosen roles.

Nia wants to be the leader of her new tortoise, Coney.  So, daily, we’ll coach her on what it means to be a leader for her pet. Jake decided he wants to be the leader of his room. Secretly, I think this means he wants to keep his little sister out of his room (LOL!), but we also will coach him around the power around this role. In fact, I had him observe one area of his room (that drives me crazy…see photo below), and I asked him, “What purpose does this area of your room hold for you?” His smart alec answer… “It holds my stuff.” Yeah…that’s obvious! So, I countered that answer by asking, “Okay, how could it better hold your stuff?” He responds, “Mom, this area of my room doesn’t bother me!” Gosh, he stumped me again! But, I didn’t let him win. Once again I focused on Habit 2 (this one seems to work well for Jake) by asking, “What do you think about making this your Golf Goal Space?” His eyes opened wide and he enthusiastically said, “Yes, Mom, I can already see it!” Okay….I pat myself on the back.

Yikes! Help me!

Instead of Data Books, we liked the idea of having a cork board for each of them in their rooms, where they could read the Habits daily, we (parents) could re-direct them to the Habits as necessary, and they also could post a photo reflecting one or more of their goals as if achieved. So, while Jacob wants to win a competition, Nia decided she wanted a dolphin on her board to reminder her of wanting to scuba dive (like father like daughter!). We’ll be working on those boards over the next week as well as getting Jake’s Golf Goal Space off to a good start.

Nia and I also read a beautiful new book, which nicely reflects Habits 1 and 2 as well as the 8th Habit, which is all about finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. The book, titled The Curious Garden, is a simple and beautiful story about a little boy who lives in a big, cold city with lots of big buildings. He finds some weeds growing up through an old, long train track, and decides he will help the plants flourish. Soon, the entire track is filled with beautiful gardens. His work later inspired others in the city to grow gardens, changing the energy of the city altogether. When I asked Nia how the boy was proactive, she said to me “Mom, he helped the garden grow and then other people grew gardens too!” I actually couldn’t believe she got it! I guess you CAN teach a 5-year-old how to be proactive! She loves the new word and is beginning to use it often. Bingo. Next week we will tackle Habits 3 and 4… Put First Things First, and Think Win-Win, while continuing to strengthen the first two.

So, Week 1 of infusing the 7 Habits into our world is feeling positive. In The Leader in Me it is clear that one of the reasons A.B. Combs was so successful is because the teaching of the Habits was ubiquitous. They didn’t teach one habit per month (referred to as character education) or just pick a few activities to initiate during the year. No. The Habits are built into EVERYTHING the school does. It has become the foundation for the school’s culture.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a simple song developed by an A.B. Combs kindergarten teacher to help her students remember Habit 1 (to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star):

Be Proactive Every Day,

Be Proactive, Stop and Think.

Even Though it’s hard to do,

I think you should try it too.

Be Proactive Every Day,

Be Proactive, Stop and Think.

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

No More Mommy Guilt!

April 5, 2010

There has been a theme to my life this past month, and although I was enthralled by Seth Godin’s Linchpin, which really makes us think about being indispensable in our work lives, in the back of my mind I couldn’t stop thinking about being indispensable for my children. And, it’s not so much that I want them to see me as something they can’t live without (yes, I’ll take that too!) as much as I want to believe…know in my gut…that I’ve done what is within my power to help them develop as Linchpins themselves.

I was invited in March to attend an event where Stephen Covey was speaking about how the 7 Habits are now being taught to children as young as 5 years old in schools across the U.S.. I was not able to make the engagement, but coincidentally, I received an invitation to a webinar about this new movement and the book that describes it– The Leader in Me. Well, I was positively floored with what I heard and saw. And, happy that so many schools are now making it a priority to teach children how to take personal responsibility for their thoughts, actions, feelings, and see themselves as leaders beginning at a young age. Mostly, though, I became motivated to begin this process at home with my children.

My family and close friends know that I have a sign in my bedroom that reads “No More Mommy Guilt!” Mommies out there…you know what I mean! I’ve been able to wipe away the good majority of this guilt from my life, but it does creep in during stressful times. So I decided to take action after I received this email that sounded too close to home this month:

From Raising Small Souls:
If a recording were to be made of the interaction between a parent and her child on a typical day, studies show that it would sound something like this:

“Take your shoes off the couch.”
“Get your shoes on already.”
“Hurry up!”
“Don’t yell.”
“We’re late, hurry!”
“Food belongs in the kitchen.”
“Oh! Look at the mess you made!”
“What do you mean, you can’t find your shoes?”
“Did you brush your teeth?”
“Where was the other shoe?”
“Finish up, we’ve gotta go!”
“I SAID DON’T YELL!”
etc.

How do we stop this tape from continuously running in our homes? I now have a thesis I hope to prove that implementing the 7 Habits at home will dramatically help us all to shift out of this type of one-way chatter and into a self-led proactive communication and action model. Cross your fingers (along with me!). I’m going for it.

So, for you Mommies (and Daddies!) who want to join me in implementing the 7 Habits at home, this is my Relaxed Book Club topic of the month (maybe not so relaxed this time!).

You can find The Leader in Me in book stores, and you can download the Parent’s Guide for less than $5.

Here’s to creating the most adorable bunch of Linchpins at home!

I hope you will become inspired as well and join me!

In the spirit of leadership,

Monique… the “no more mommy guilt” Mommy!

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.