A Year In Mill Valley

How Will You Measure Your Life?

(email sent to some friends and family today)

Great article about measuring your life in the Harvard Business Review at http://hbr.org/2010/07/how-will-you-measure-your-life/ar/1.

I was really struck by how he asks and answers these three questions:

  • How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
  • How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?
  • How can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?

I particularly loved this bit on page 4 about making sure we don’t use “power tools” (i.e. coercion, threats, punishment, and so on) with our kids when they’re younger just because it’s easiest for us rather than building a culture of respect so the teen years have a better chance of turning out well for all involved.

In using this model to address the question, How can I be sure that my family becomes an enduring source of happiness?, my students quickly see that the simplest tools that parents can wield to elicit cooperation from children are power tools. But there comes a point during the teen years when power tools no longer work. At that point parents start wishing that they had begun working with their children at a very young age to build a culture at home in which children instinctively behave respectfully toward one another, obey their parents, and choose the right thing to do. Families have cultures, just as companies do. Those cultures can be built consciously or evolve inadvertently.

If you want your kids to have strong self-esteem and confidence that they can solve hard problems, those qualities won’t magically materialize in high school. You have to design them into your family’s culture—and you have to think about this very early on. Like employees, children build self-esteem by doing things that are hard and learning what works.

Let me know what you think…

— Frank

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. Whitney August 7th, 2010 8:39 pm

    Hiya Frankie,

    Here’s a nice exploration of that theme by David Brooks: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/opinion/03brooks.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss



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