When I started this series of posts, I didn't intend to drag it out over the course of a few weeks. I guess prioritizing the elements of our frantic life has pushed blogging down a few notches. It's good that life is a lot less frantic at five in the morning so I can send some thoughts out to the world. (That's an early morning yawn, not my operetta impression.)
After reading the book, Kent and I sat down for several conversations to dissect those things that make our family unique and to identify the values we hold. We used a couple of date nights to this purpose. One date was to Kent's office where we used the conference room's white board to draft some lists. Another night found us in the Cafe Rio--do I have your attention now, Christy?--parking lot where we hashed out value statements over take out. Talking and writing together was nice.
Kent added a first step to Patrick Lencioni's process. He (Kent) suggested that we could identify our family's unique qualities by looking at those things that give him and me energy. So we began some lists, which became fuel for thought and observance about me as a person. I'll include my other thoughts on that subject in a sequel post titled "What I Have Learned About Myself".
Kent had three lists for himself: "Who I Am" (finder of information, humorous, night person, etc.); "What Gives Me Energy" (reading, serving, work projects, etc.); and "What Sucks Away Energy" (half-hearted effort, lack of down time, etc.). In compiling my list of "What Gives Me Energy", I felt complete enough to not need the other two lists. Of the 26 items I listed, I was surprised how deeply important some of the items were to me, to the point that tears came to my eyes, for example, when I thought about how much I need date nights and girls' nights out of the house. Following are other items on my energy-giving list that initially surprised me by showing up there:
-Clean stand-up comedy
-Personal devotional time
-Having meaningful discussions
-Editing the written word (mine or others')
-Attending meetings (except sales pitch meetings)
-Shooting things (I don't do this often, but I do like aiming a laser gun, arrow, or Airsoft rifle at a non-living target)
-Eating meals that I didn't have to prepare
-Pursuing passing interests (photography, inventions, and so forth)
I truly enjoyed putting this list together for its own merits as well as the aim to recognize traits and values that our family holds. I'll come back to that first thought in my sequel post.
Next, we put together a list that represents our family currently. We left aspirations out of the list and tried to get a snapshot of the family we really are with all the constraints we face. Here is a sampling:
-We aren't helicopter parents.
-We don't watch much TV.
-We all work in our garden.
-We like game nights and having friends over.
-We volunteer in the school, community, and Church.
-We read to our kids at night.
-Kent resents the pets.
-We have holiday traditions.
-We eat dinners together.
-Our kids take piano lessons.
-We are entrepreneurial.
Kent and I merged all the lists to identify those things that make our family unique. We considered involving the children in this process, but as we talked about our observations of the children's values, we recognized that our values represent pretty well what they would contribute. This is probably partly because they are young and have not developed their identities much, and partly because as their parents, we model our values and they incorporate them into their own lives. We came up with four stand-out values and three others that are important to us and put them all together in the following statement:
"In our family we each work to better the household, and we like to play together. Our home is open to friends and family, and we deeply value intimate relationships. We strive to be grateful and to serve others. We pursue our passions and interests. We take care of our minds, bodies, and spirits; we make time for self-renewal. We value humor, even when it gets us into trouble!"
In his book, The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family, Lencioni encourages writing a statement so a family will have a basis for making decisions and so we won't try to be all things to all people. You can see more examples of family statements here.
To keep these values at the forefront, Kent and I hung a whiteboard in our kitchen so all family members will see it frequently. We wrote our statement at the top, and then moved on to the other two steps in the process...which I would really like to blog about now, but reality will probably postpone that by several days. We asked each of our children if they thought the statement applied to us well, and they nonchalantly agreed with a shrug, or a "Sure". (I'm glad we didn't waste their time or ours involving them in our processing conversations!)