First let me start with how much I appreciate Stephen Covey and his strength of approachability. After reading the introduction, I felt respected and valued as a person. I never interpreted a haughty or self-righteous tone, but a genuine concern for me and the need to understand where I've come from before speaking. In fact, what he wrote here encapsulates it well,
No one will ever know the full reality of your situation, and until you feel that they do, their advice is worthless. Similarly, you will never know the full reality of another family or another person's family situation. Our common tendency is to project our own situation onto others and try to prescribe what is right for them. But what we see on the surface is usually only the tip of the iceberg. Many people think that other families are just about perfect while theirs is falling apart. Yet every family has its challenges, its own bag of rocks.I underlined this in the book to come back to as a reminder for myself to not impose my own realities on someone else, or compare my bag of rocks with another person's bag of rocks. I valued knowing Covey wasn't trying to say he fully understands what my family is like or even pretend to know the hurt, or joys. Instead, he wrote about knowing that each family dynamic is unique (and there are a lot of them out there) and how do we work with what we have; rather, than trying to live out something we don't have.
With that in mind, he laid out the premise of the book in three steps and using the analogy of families being like a plane flight. There are times when the pilot has to deter from the navigation, they get off course, but in the end the only important component is getting to the destination. And so as a family, it's knowing that we will get off course 90% of the time; but, what's important is knowing where we're going.
Therefore, he writes about wanting to help the reader develop three things to stay on course:
- A clear vision of your destination (this is a shared vision within your family and seeing your family as a unique make-up, a family mission statement)
- A flight plan (knowing regardless of situation, the 7 Habits will help diagnose your situation and become an agent of change)
- A compass (knowing your four unique gifts you bring to your situation and your families' situation)
- In relation to the airplane analogy, when do you feel your family is "off-course?" When do you feel your family is "on-course?" When were times when you threw your family off-course? How did you go about being an agent of change to redeem that situation?
- How do you learn and share together as a family?
- If you were to view each family member having a love piggy bank (love being an action not a feeling) and in need of daily deposits, what would those deposits look like for your spouse, child and yourself?
- Covey uses an illustration of the Chinese bamboo tree where after planting the seed you see nothing for four years, because the growth is happening under the ground. It isn't until the fifth year that the tree grows up to eighty feet tall. How does this impact the way you think about your family and the struggles you face? Are there any specific areas or relationships in which we need to allow time for growth?