AUG, 2014

How Star Wars (yes, Star Wars) taught me balance

I could write a novel on the lessons that Star Wars has taught me. Yes, Star Wars. But this week, one quote in particular kept coming to mind as I attempted to muddle through the challenges life threw at me:

“I feel an imbalance in the Force.”

Most of you have heard this quote before, whether from the little green dude himself or from an enthusiastic fan of the franchise. Regardless, there’s something to be learned here: an imbalanced life is a troubled one. Here are our tips for balancing all your must-dos, should-dos, and wish-to-dos.

1. Take some time to ponder life and set your priorities straight. It’s important to check in with yourself frequently, to make sure that the things you’re putting your time and energy into align with the priorities you’ve set.
2. Set attainable, short-term goals for yourself. Don’t set too many, but don’t set too few either. Write them down and work on them according to their importance.
3. Budget wisely. Avoid debt as much as possible. Don’t fall for get-rich-quick schemes. Don’t trust your assets to others, and, most importantly, make sure you spend within your means. Your mind will be calmer if your budget is balanced.
4. Stay close to your family and friends. At the end of the day, your greatest memories probably won’t involve your health, your job, or your material wealth; you’ll remember the relationships you built with other people—so work hard at them! Use open and honest communication at all times.
5. Find sufficient time for rest, exercise, and relaxation. Don’t be afraid to pencil it in! A healthy body is a happy body, after all.

Keep these basic objectives in mind this week, and may the Force be with you!

This advice is certainly beyond my own wisdom! I selected these tips from an address given some years ago.
APR, 2014

It's About Time

As you enter the weekend, remember that with all the home projects, the entertainment, the opportunity to whine down, one of the best things you can do is to simply spend time with those you love. Walking, chatting, sitting, listening, reading together out loud. . .  taking time to sincerely reconnect with your family can make a significant difference in your relationship. 

“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” --Napoleon 
APR, 2014

Measure Your Life in Loaves, Not Slices

I heard a story the other day that made me laugh. It also made me think. It went like this:

"There is an old story of a waiter who asked a customer whether he had enjoyed the meal. The guest replied that everything was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread.

"The next day, when the man returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him four slices instead of two, but still the man was not happy.

"The next day, the waiter doubled the bread again, without success.

"On the fourth day, the waiter was really determined to make the man happy. And so he took a nine-foot-long loaf of bread, cut it in half, and with a smile, served that to the customer. The waiter could scarcely wait for the man’s reaction.

"After the meal, the man looked up and said, 'Good as always. But I see you’re back to giving only two slices of bread.'"

I laughed with everyone else that heard it, but now as I recount it—oh. Because you and I probably did the exact same thing just last week. And what's sad is that we probably did it to people that love us and are trying to help us. You might have complained about the broken glass, but been blind to the fact that Jenny had actually been doing the dishes without being asked. I might have grumbled about something at work, but forgotten that I have a fun, good job in a tough economy. You might have yelled at teenage Tim for parking—again—in the way of your car, but missed that he was—incredibly—home before curfew. In other words, you—and me, and all of us—might have been eating two slices of bread when our life and our family was trying to give us loaves.

Let's be grateful and notice the blessings happening in our family. Selfishness is blindness, but gratitude is abundance. It's a happier life, and at least a lot more bread. Butter, anyone?

By David Miles, Familius Digital Director

Communicate Your Family's Worth

This past month I took time to reread Steven R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you haven't read this seminal work, you should. Its 25 million books in print is testament enough, but the impact it has had on lives is even more important.

In a company training, one of our colleagues asked, "Did you have a particular epiphany rereading this book?" I did.

In the 25-year anniversary edition there is a tribute to Dr. Covey written by his family. In this tribute they write of the author as father (Papa) and husband, not presidential or CEO consultant or world-wide influencer. They write fondly of his imperfectness but also of his great effort to be a better person. And on leadership they write, "Dad had a beautiful definition of leadership: he taught that leadership is communicating others' worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves."

I can't think of a better way to consider our role as family leaders. Go out and communicate your family's worth, which, in our opinion, is infinite.
MAR, 2014

What's the condition of your family core?

Last week I attended the funeral of my uncle. After a courageous battle with cancer, he passed away leaving a wife, two sons, and two young grandchildren. Hard times seem to bring out the best and worst in people, and I suppose the same is true of families. I've seen families torn apart by a loved one's passing, with fights over belongings, quarrels over wills, and even the smallest of disagreements quickly escalating into battles that leave years of bitterness and estrangement in their wake.

But it wasn't like that this time. There was sadness, of course, but there was also strength. I saw my aunt's eight siblings come together in a way that doesn't happen very often. There were hugs and soft words. There were laughs and fond memories. There were fix-it projects at the house and lunch outings in the town. Her mother sang at the funeral, a sister played the organ and another the piano, a niece took the photos, the daughters-in-law decorated the hallway, the siblings paid for the flowers, on and on and on in a true family affair that inspired me.

What we do today affects what our family is tomorrow. And that's a course that we alone have the power to chart. Oh, there will still be times when you quarrel and don't agree and perhaps don't even want to! But the core—what the tough times expose—is nothing more or less than the silent accumulation of seconds and minutes, the hugs and thank-you notes, the phone calls home, the we-made-this-just-for-you-Dad-because-you-love-chocolate brownies, the apologies and the moments of forgiveness.

What will you do with this week's minutes to strengthen your family core?

David Miles, Familius Digital Director
FEB, 2014

What U.S. presidents have to say about family and parenting

To celebrate President's Day, here are a few of our favorite quotes on family from the presidents themselves:

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” —George Washington

"I regard no man as poor who has a godly mother." —Abraham Lincoln

"I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it." —Harry Truman
FEB, 2014

What kind of parent do you want to be?

Here is a poignant thought Jessica C. emailed to us: "Be the kind of parent you want your children to keep alive in their memories and in their dreams, not the kind of parent they will have to repress or even forget in order to keep loving you."
FEB, 2014

Saturday Home Help: An Emergency Kit for Your Car

Saturday Home Help: An Emergency Kit for Your Car

An emergency kit is an essential item to always have. Here is a list for a car emergency kit that you can fit in a plastic storage container:

Jumper cables
First aid kit
Bottled water
Non-perishable food (energy bars)
Emergency blanket
Small (or folding) shovel
Multi-purpose knife

An excerpt from Laura Torres's book The Organized Mom
FEB, 2014

The Most Important Valentine Day Gift

Do you have a daughter? Do you worry about her, worry about how to protect her, worry about how to help her navigate an increasingly confusing world?

As a father you have a key responsibility to raise her and mentor her, to help provide her with the skills and the inspiration to change the world for the better. You need to celebrate education. You need to champion virtue. You need to defend the role of womanhood. You need to turn from violence and anger. You need to nurture patience and kindness. You need to teach her that she has tremendous self worth for the unique person that she is and inspire her to seek for greatness. But what's the most important gift you can give her to accomplish all of the above? 

Love her mother. 

"Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife."  --Franz Schubert
FEB, 2014

Win the argument or have a relationship. Can you have it both ways?

Pater Familius Friday

I attended a conference last week where the speaker said, "You can either win the argument or you can have the relationship. You can't have both."

Too many family relationships are damaged or broken because someone had to be right.

The speaker ended by quoting the poet Rumi: "Out beyond the fields of right doing or wrong doing there is a field. I'll meet you there."

By Christopher Robbins, Familius CEO and Pater Familius