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Benefits for all familes - a good reference book - a little sappy.
on February 25, 2014
I’ve resisted the Stephen Covey bandwagon: his particular presentation doesn’t appeal to me. His books – to me – read a bit too much like tracts. And the sappy stories and drawings kind of freak me out. I have an overall sense that he is restraining his desire to preach, to lead me to salvation, to shout ‘AMEN!’ But I won’t for one single second deny that he has an unusual insight and wisdom pertaining to success and purpose.
So I read The Seven Habits for Families. There is a lot in here. So much so that I think this is almost better used as a reference book – something to page through every now and then to mull over for a few days. From my vantage the real value of the book comes in the first few chapters when Covey explores the stimulus-pause-response cycle. Something happens – a child breaks a vase or a dad gets a bonus and we have an inclination to act. Act now. To be in the moment, so to speak. Covey takes some pages to show that this space between action and response is where we are able to direct our futures. Our decisions about how to respond set up our future circumstances. It’s a cycle that we can use to point our lives in a direction of our choosing.
Through the rest of the book he focuses on the Seven Habits with applications for families: priorities, relationships, family and personal growth. He spends a good amount of time on the family business plan: putting together a real document that outlines a family’s core principles, priorities, and goals. Take this with a grain of salt and adjust it to your family situation. Other reviewers point out that a family is not a business or a sports team. True enough. But the truism sums it up: it’s easy to get there when you don’t know where you are going. The family plan is an opportunity to talk about what is important and to set common goals. Nothing has to be written in stone. Real business plans certainly aren’t. They set goals and develop plans for how to reach them and then, at regular intervals, assess how they are doing and make requisite changes. I was impressed that Covey stresses that this is not something that is to be churned out in a weekend by dad – it’s not a rule book. He cautions that everyone in the family must be able to take the time they need to think hard about how they and their desires fit into the family. It’s clear to me that the plan is well in play when you simply start thinking about it.
The book settles nicely into Covey’s folksy, ah shucks writing style. It’s easy to read and easy to digest. Some will call it wishful thinking – this is the new millennium after all. Families look different, entertainment looks different, you can have an electronic pet if you prefer. But I think Covey would say that we still want the same thing: parents want their children to grow up to be kind and respectful. We want to enjoy meaningful time with our family and friends. Children want to be understood and listened to. Though the times change human nature remains the same.
People come to these kinds of books with different expectations. For some the book will provide a few useful tips for navigating your family toward a known goal. Others will find it a godsend of wisdom. I find it hard to imagine a family that couldn’t benefit from a reading of the Habits for Families.