What standard does your family live up to? Does it feel like it belongs to you or a set of rules you are “supposed’ to live by? Is it a standard that expects the bare minimum or one you must work toward? What if your family standard meant everyone in your household might transform into their highest and truest version?
Your Family, Your Elite Team
I recently had the chance to ask Richard Thompson, a former Navy SEAL, about applying the lessons of elite warriors and teams to parenting and family life. You may ask yourself what Navy SEAL teams and families have in common. This is a fair question, as there has not yet been even one woman in the SEALs. However, suppose we see our family as our most important team. The team we’re willing to show up every day and do the work for, the team where everyone is ready to lead and ready to follow, the team we’re committed to doing and becoming our best in so we can serve powerfully – something beyond the typical family dynamic is on the other side. And that’s the kind of family I want to raise, be part of, and become my best to serve greatly.
When I spoke with Coach Thompson, he shared mindblowing lessons about resilience, failure, and leadership. But there was one idea I haven’t since been able to shake. He said, “To create an elite team, you have to set an incredibly high standard to live into. The team will live into whatever standard you set.” And it was at that moment I realized that my family had an opportunity in front of us. A chance to take an unconscious standard and turn it into a conscious standard that we all intend to live by.
What Your Stand Can Do for You
Why might sitting down to determine your family’s stand or ethos be important? As Coach Thompson pointed out, we are already living to a standard; it’s just not one we necessarily chose. So why not choose a high standard that asks the very best of us to show up every single day? And then put it somewhere everyone can see it. Be willing to have open and honest conversations about where we fall short. Celebrate our successes and the effort we put forth to achieving them.
In families with young children, setting your standard might be between the parents. Consider how you want to show up for each other and the family. Perhaps consider the values that are most important to model for your children. Families with school-age or older children can bring all opinions and voices into the conversation. Our family has children ages 10-16, so everyone was part of the conversation and final determination of our stand.
Create Your Family Standard
Here’s how you can get started:
- Ask each family member one important value they want to be part of your family. Now, even with young children, you can get significant answers.
- If a toddler says they care about playing, this is critical information. Play can be the glue that bonds young children and parents. Play may be precisely the thing that optimizes how a family works together.
- If you have a child that says they want the family to stop yelling, you have a new awareness that can shift the entire family dynamic. Perhaps calm communication is what the family now gets to work toward.
- Have each person write an individual stand and share it with the family. You might even hang each stand in a particular place everyone can see and then support each person in sticking to their standard.
- Use a template with open-ended questions to gather each person’s response. Bring each person’s responses into a conversation. See where there are overlapping ideas and use those as your framework.
Now Do the Work
However you determine your standard, there is great value in ensuring it is a standard the whole family agrees to, understands, and wants to live by. It is a huge opportunity to see where you might do your developmental work to hold up your end of the bargain. Will it be easy? Probably not. High standards typically require something special deep in our core that looks much like work.
However, I invite you to imagine the kind of impact a family living to a high standard has on the world. Could your family shift from old patterns into something that feels more like love and connection? Who would your family serve if, inside your home, the best of each of you was being developed each day? These are not small questions. These are life-changing, world-shifting questions of what a family who shows up with intention and is ready to do the work can do.
If you’d like a little inspiration, the Navy SEALs have an incredible ethos that is expected of everyone from the top leader to the new guy. Check it out here.
For more from my conversation with Richard Thompson, check out our podcast.