My husband and I created a family mission statement, then wrote it out in beautiful fonts on a chalkboard and hung it in our foyer. It took quite a bit of soul-searching and discussion, but it was worth the effort. We felt empowered and excited for what the future held for us as a family. But then we got busy (again) and defaulted to behaviors that were easy and convenient and not necessarily ones that represented our values.
If your values and behaviors don’t align, family members and outsiders will notice. It will be clear to them you don’t practice what you preach.
This is not surprising because everything I’ve learned about organizational culture says that just knowing your values is not enough. You can say you stand for something, but unless you translate those values into behaviors, you will go about your days continuing with habits that are familiar and comfortable.
Words like creativity, integrity, and efficiency are just nouns or abstractions. You may have a general understanding what they mean, but what do they look like practically?
Once you have discovered your values, there are steps you can take to intentionally make them a part of your life.
This matters to me most as a parent. When I tell my kids to do things in excellence (one of our family’s values), they may not know what it means. Even if they understand that word, they may think it means something entirely different than I do. If I've already decided what precisely what excellence means to me I can say, “I’d like you to clean your room with excellence. Please complete the task promptly and thoroughly.” They know what I expect.
When you create practices around your values they come to life.
1. Actionable – It can be acted upon
2. Repeatable - It can be done over and over again.
3. Observable – Others will notice.
4. Measurable – You and others can gauge the success of it in your life.
Here’s how to empower your values:
If you haven’t already, determine your top 5-7 values with the Core Values Kit HERE.
For each of your values, create 3-5 statements, with an emphasis on the verbs, on how you’d like to see that value show up in your life. It will look different for our family then it does for yours.
For example, let’s consider generosity, also one of our top 5 values. My husband and I decided what that word means to us. Notice the verbs highlighted.
“Our family lives within our means. We do not spend more than we earn.”
“Our family budgets money to give 15% of our income away. 10% to our church and 5% to other causes that are important to us, such as school and church food, clothing, or toy drives.”
“Cook or purchase a meal for people in our community that have a baby, lose a family member, or who are struggling.”
“Host meetings or gatherings in our home as needed.”
These are behaviors we can teach, coach, measure, and celebrate.
Other expressions include:
“Be fanatical about…”
As parents, you can build systems or develop incentives around these practices which is essential in training your children. As an individual or a couple, you can identify if you've intentionally incorporated your values into your life.
Write these practice down where they can frequently be referenced. Creating culture is primarily a teaching function. That means that these methods should be taught, coached, and celebrated over and over again until they become habits.
Be flexible and revisit these practice often. It is unlikely that over time your values will change, however how you live them out will. In the early years of your career, success may look different when you have little ones. Or once when your kids have grown, and you downsize your home the ways you live out hospitality will probably look different.
Don't get discouraged if it takes time for your value practices to become habits. It may take time to work them into your life if you are busy and do things in a certain way. Also, give yourself grace when there are other people involved such as family members. Over time, as you take consistent steps that point to what is important to you and your family you will create a family culture that others that represent you.
Ready to Empower Your Values?
I have created resource that will walk you through the process of turning your values into simple practices that are actionable, repeatable, observable, and measurable. You can download it for FREE.
For more on the topics listen to:
Episode 048 Empowering Your Values
Join Elise Daly Parker, Noelle Rhodes, and me as we talk about how to turn our values into simple practices that are actionable, repeatable, observable, and measurable.