Why It’s Important To Develop Your Family’s Core Values

In the classic 1964 film “Mary Poppins,” family patriarch George Banks informs the newly-arrived Mary that “a British bank is run with precision; a British home requires nothing less.” Tradition, discipline and rules must be the tools!”

Mary Poppins spends the rest of the movie undermining the uptight notion that a family should operate like a corporation.

I absolutely agree with the movie’s message. And yet, as a husband, father, and student of leadership, I’ve discovered that some workplace best practices can also help families and their members achieve more success. Among these: identifying core values, which are critical to keeping any group of people on track towards the goals that matter.

Our family’s three core values are simple but powerful:

  1. Reiners are nice.
  2. Reiners are smart.
  3. Reiners have grit.

The “nice” value covers all of our personal interactions. We strive to treat everyone – family, friends, co-workers, classmates, strangers – with warmth, respect, and politeness. We use our manners and play well with others.

The smart thing isn’t a brag. It means we understand the power of the mind and strive to harness it. We value education, mindfulness, and thinking carefully before we speak or act. We either succeed, or we learn from failure.

Grit is arguably more important to achievement than intelligence or education. This trait is defined as the ability to persevere in the face of obstacles over a protracted period to achieve a goal. It’s something your parents or grandparents may have called “stick-to-it-tive-ness.” I remember being told as a kid that a college degree didn’t prove that you were educated; it proved that you could set a long-term goal and do what was necessary year-in, year-out to meet that objective. Our family works to nurture this powerful characteristic.

These core values serve as our North Star, a vital reference point for our entire family. They guide every decision we make as we move through life as a group and as individuals. My wife and I try always to model these standards; the kids understand that any behavior that fails to honor Reiner values will be met with disapproval.

We believe so firmly in the power of our core values that we reference them in the children’s names. Our son is Micah, which means “humble” in Hebrew. Humility is a cornerstone of niceness. We named our daughter Ayla, which is Hebrew for “oak tree.” We hope she will always be strong like her namesake, the mighty oak.

It’s not possible to know what paths lie ahead for our family, or what mountains Ayla and Micah will choose to climb. But it’s reassuring to know that wherever life takes us, our core values will keep our paths well-lit.

What are your family’s core values? How do you try to incorporate them into your kids’ hearts and minds?

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