Recently, we had the privilege of hosting couples in Oklahoma City for our inaugural Family Leadership Summit. It was an educational, inspiring and also convicting day. I realized how easy it is to become complacent in our homes and that living our core values requires daily mindfulness and action. I walked away from the summit motivated to be more intentional about passing core values to my sons, and my wife, Marissa, and I are already taking steps to do so.
What are core values? As my friend and mentor Lee Brower says, core values are defining elements of our being without which we are not ourselves. They make you you. And although they are inherent, they need to be nurtured in order to live meaningful, fulfilling and happy lives.
In this insightful article by Ellen Miley Perry, it’s made very clear that values without action cannot be transferred to future generations. Based on the philosophy that “values are caught, not taught,” we asked summit attendees to answer some tough questions about the values truly exhibited in their homes. If you were unable to attend, I encourage you and your spouse to work through this exercise to find your family’s core values:
- What three to five values would your kids or close friends say describe your household?
- What three to five values would you want them to say? (Don’t be discouraged if these don’t match. That’s true for many of us. Identifying those discrepancies is the first step to more clearly living and transferring them.)
- What are your individual core values? If you aren’t sure, answer these three additional questions:
- What is core to who you are? (Examples: spirituality, responsibility, generosity, compassion, etc.)
- What do you love to do so much you’d do it even if nobody paid you?
- Where do you maximize your own joy and bring the most service and joy to others?
- What are your spouse’s core values? (Ask them. Don’t simply write what you think they would say.)
- Where do your individual values align? Where do they differ? Can you come to an agreement about which ones are priorities for your children to catch?
Once you’ve clearly identified your family’s core values, almost everything becomes a tool for expressing them – your calendar, your household budget, your will or trust – if you choose to be purposeful and plan ahead. So, take this critical next step: write actions you’ll take in the next year to support each value. Maybe you start a family tradition. Maybe you delegate a task that robs you of time. Maybe you instate chores or allowance systems for your kids. And maybe, just maybe, you join us at next year’s Family Leadership Summit to celebrate how far you’ve come.
Blog by Kyle Brownlee, Chief Executive Officer.