Key Learnings from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families



Last Nov.20, 2004, Rache and I had the chance to attend Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s on “Family!” seminar in Henry Lee Irwin, S.J. Theather in Ateneo de Manila University @ P1,000/ticket! It was an awesome experience seeing one of the most respected inspiring personalities that I admire ever since I was in college 10 years ago. It was also a very insightful seminar and complimented with the audiobook on 7 habits of Highly Effective Families (which I just finished listening this week), it gave me a new sense of direction on where we want our family to be. This is to share with you my key insights and I hope you learn something from them too:

1. Personal Management vs Time Management. You should manage your life based on what is important to you and aligned with your personal/family mission statement rather than managing appointments and activities. Your calendar should start with the personal and family events, 1on1 with people, relationship building activities rather than meetings, activities, and appointments. One of my favorite songs from the broadway musical, Rent, was able to capture this in the song Seasons of Love — “Measure your life in Love” (not in terms of seconds).

2. Eliminate the C’s and focus on the B’s. We should eliminate the emotional cancers of the family or relationships –> Complaining, Criticizing, Comparing, Competing. Rather, the focus should be on something you can Be — Be more patient, Be more forgiving, Be an example. Rache would always reminds me that we should not compare ourselves or whoever to another person. I realized that this applies to all relationship with direct reports @ work, family and colleagues. Also, in the past, my motivation is based on an endless competition to be the best among the rest. One of my key insight is really to focus on improving yourself and seek to be your Best self.

3. “Etos, Patos, Logos.” — The global philoshophy of influence. Often our influencing models is based on the fairness principle of give and take or based on position power. Power comes through honor & integrity and influencing through patience and gentle persuasion:
a). Being an example of Kindness and Trustworthiness — Always say Please, Thank you, Loved to served, I love You, How may I help? The absence of it, would surely be noticed and I’ve learned this from experience (i.e. when you ask a contact number from another person via text, sometimes we forgot to say thank you and this means alot to the other person; or in badminton, if somebody goes down because of losing his balance, the mere gesture of offering a helping hand means alot)
b). Seeking first to understand then be understood — Always understand first the person your talking to in their own frame of reference. Easier said than done, but it is truly rewarding if your able to do so. One of the ways to do this is to make sure that you truly listen to the person talking until she finishes communicating her point of view. Sometimes, we ended up thinking of a rebuttal already, respond immediately after a few sentences.
c). Changing people by changing their scripts — Each of us is a product of the scripting by our family upbringing — good or bad. The Holy Scriptures is a source of true scripts that we should follow to change any negative scripting we recieved in the past.

4). Emotional Bank Account Deposits — I’ve already been in a situation where I experience over withdrawing my emotional bank account with another person at work and it ended up with a word war III. It was a direct result of always withdrawing from the EBA by not delivering promises, not following through on agreements, and basically not understanding the person. At home, I also sometimes do this with my wife by being selfish, not being considerate, and not seeking first to understand. I learned to continously deposit through:
a). Listen twice as much as you speak – understanding the person from their own frame of reference. The example of the talking stick really helps alot to illustrate the power of this concept. We also need to understand that a deposit is different from one another and it is critical that we understand what is a good deposit for that person.
b). Sincerely apologize and acknowledge if you have apologized before for the same mistake. Initiate the apologies even if you are the one that have been offended by another person.
c). Don’t hold grudges by readily forgiving and forgeting. Simple but powerful concept if you truly honestly forgive and only remember the learning from the experience.
d). Appropriately Give and Receive Timely Feedback. It is important to give a timely feedback given with love to the person. Often times, specially Filipinos, we were not trained to give upfront feedback and this hurts our relationship.
e). Make and Keep promises. I find this specially important in marriage where you would think that you already have a huge emotional bank account that you can withdraw sometimes by breaking your promises. No wonder, there are marriages lasting 27 years but still ends up in separation.
f). Express Kindness and Courtesies by all means. Specially in this day and age of technology, expressing thank you and extending courtesies through text and email is extremely important when you don’t see the person just the message.
g). Spend Quality time with the family. I often neglect this specially if I’m engrossed on reading blogs or desperately needing a badminton fix. I forget that being at home is not the same as spending quality time.

5). The Essence of the Family — is to communicate people’s worth & potential so that they can also see it by themselves. Parents are still the most influential people to the young. The family should be brought up with the following scripting/ mental models:
a). Focus on intrinsic worth vs. a comparison based identity (never compare!)
b). Focus on self vs. on image (which is socially defined)
c). Peace of conscience (integrity) vs. peace of mind (external peacefulness)
d). Discipline is upfront agreement on natural consequences. To discipline without love is a form of punishment/ rejection.
e). Keep affirming them. ” I love you and I believe in you! “
f). Be a model, mentor, teacher, and organizer to achieve a beautiful family culture.
g). Develop a family mission statement to achieve the significance stage of family life.
h). Develop Family Traditions! — on birthdays, going on vacation, family rituals.

One thought on “Key Learnings from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

  1. Hi anton,
    i think we have a few interests in common. family, photography, blogging, technology, reflections.
    Interesting 43 list you have. I should make my list too. reminds me of that movie of … mandy moore … what was it, “a walk to remember”? her list included “be in two places at one time”.
    btw, you might find Wilson’s blog interesting:

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