The Engaging Leader Diary – ‘Family Values’ – 1′
If we want to succeed in life the success of our work will one day be measured by the impact we had on the lives of others.
In this diary post, I want to share some of the lessons and ideas that we learn as leaders during the journey that is life. Today’s point is that engaging leadership includes being an engaging leader at home. We will have rough days and good days at home as we do at work though being a success in one area of your life does not mean you are success as a whole. As one CEO of a sizeable organization sadly said to me after a team programme with me ‘I was so busy building this business that when my kids were younger I had no time for them. Now that I am older and have time, they have no time for me’.
In a recent interview with two inspiring leaders Caspar Craven and Dan Kuschell we discussed the things that we have learned from our kids. What this inspired in me was to sit down with my wife, Ruth and two boys Matthew age 11 and Daniel age 8 and to work out our values and vision as a family. Why would we do this at work but not also do this at home?
This turned out to be an incredible family experience. My eldest was initially guarded while the youngest was full of creativity and ideas. What this led to was the following family statement, which the boys decided to call the ‘Super Cooper Family Values’. So our family values of Kindness, Joy, Health, Teamwork, Growth, Love and Gratitude were born. Also a special statement ‘We really care about our family and home, other people and the environment. We have great life experiences, we listen, learn from our mistakes and work hard to become the best we can be!’
Over the last few weeks, Matthew started to think about our number one value ‘Kindness’. It was suggested at school that they watch ‘The Kindness Diaries on Netflix’. This is where Leon Logothetis is traveling the globe on his bike and side car nicknamed ‘Kindness One’ living off the kindness of strangers. He took no money with him and even in the poorest countries like India lived off the generosity of others asking for a bed, food and also fuel for his bike. Unknown to those who offered help, Leon and his friends have money. The most worthy people who often had very little to offer would then be surprised when he confessed at the end of the stay and gave them something they needed. The programme brings tears to eyes and has transformed orphanages, given money for operations to cure the blind and even bought a tuk tuk for a very poor and kind Indian man who had slept on the floor with his pregnant wife to let Leon sleep on his bed.
With my aspiration to be an engaging father in my kids lives, I watched the programme with Matthew and was inspired. So I sent an email to Leon and we are are now talking about him becoming a guest on my radio show. He also kindly sent Matthew his book which he was thrilled by and I am sure he will have the opportunity to say thanks to Leon when we skype next week.
So what has been the impact so far of our values. Last Monday we were in Stratford Upon Avon the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The boys both became very sad when we saw three homeless people. So this is where we had to step up and engage. ‘Kindness’ is at the top of our family values. What do we do? We had a huddle and came up with the idea that we would buy them some food. So off we trotted to McDonald’s and bought burgers and tea for three homeless men as you can see in the photo below.
As we look back on our lives as parents and business leaders it is moments like this when living by our principles leaves memories in our minds. Also memories in the minds of impressionable young people. I forwarded the photo to Leon who sent me a note back to say ‘I loved this, tell the kids I am proud of them’ which gave the boys a bigger feeling of warmth. From the act of creating our values and a family vision statement more engagement as a family is occurring and we are all growing closer. There will be ups and downs as in all family life and business. But all has to better where engagement is truly present.
Chris Cooper is an engagement specialist, coach and speaker. He is host of the Business Elevation Show on Voice America and Co-Author of The Power To Get Things Done (Whether You Feel Like It Or Not). www.chriscooper.co.uk