Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar, American motivational speaker and author said, “If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.” That’s the reasoning for why many companies will make it your first priority to memorize and adopt their “mission statement” when you begin working for them. Alongside this, many companies will also provide an accompanying set of “core values.” These two pieces together give each employee a clear understanding of the vision that the company hopes that you will follow, with and without oversight. In order for a company to be successful, it needs to have two things: 1) a plan; 2) adherence to the plan. The same applies to military operations, sports plays, and cinematic masterpieces. I suggest that the same could apply to a family just as well.

If you are anything like me, you hate planning ahead. Though it’s rough when things don’t go well for me, I rarely ever do anything to prepare for a favorable outcome. It’s easy to watch life go by and take things as they come. However, if you want your children and your relationship with your partner to succeed, you are going to need to commit to something. Whether it’s easy to admit it or not, it is our responsibility as men to lead our household. Your mission statement for your family, as well as your core values, need to be understood by each family member. Is education a priority to you? How about maintaining a moral code of conduct? Without a plan, you are likely to miss opportunities along the way to instill the basics needed to achieve these aspirations.

     Let’s start small. First grab a paper and pencil. It is beneficial to write these things down, because it increases the solidity of what you are committing to, and it will likely help you remember what you decide. Next, ask yourself, “What do I want most for my family?” If you can narrow your response to a sentence or two that can clearly be understood by others, then you have for yourself a mission statement. Now take one more step, ask yourself, “what values support the vision that I have?” If you are struggling with this part, here is a small list of some values you might consider:
– Discipline              – Honor                    – Strength
– Integrity                – Dignity                   – Courage
– Honesty                 – Respect                  – Resourcefulness
– Diligence               – Passion                  – Dedication
– Responsibility      – Zeal                         – Persistence
– Leadership            – Adaptability          – Loyalty
– Mastery                  – Justice                   – Grace
– Love                        – Faithfulness          – Wisdom
– Curiosity                – Will                         – Contentment
     This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should give you a good place to start. The last step is to write down a few opportunities that you don’t want to miss in order to guide your family toward these values. Think of these opportunities as “openings.” This is how we adhere to the plan.Try to catch as many openings as you can while your child grows up. The more you can make the most of these, the stronger those values will stick. Openings to consider are meals at the dinner table, moments before bedtime, sports games/meets, car rides, after school activities, or family vacations. Again, these aren’t the only opportunities. If you can think of others, write them down. Most importantly, be the example for your family. No one wants to follow a leader that doesn’t follow his own teaching. Children are more likely to do what you do than what you say. Your partner is more likely to value what you value if it is apparent in your behavior. With a mission statement, some core values, and adherence to a plan, then you have one of the greatest tools for your success; you have direction.