By Cheri Fuller
I was fascinated as I watched four sisters being interviewed by the morning show anchor one day recently. All four of these women were CEOs of companies and credited the way they were raised for giving them the work ethic, perseverance, teamwork and character to lead major businesses. The Sullivan sisters didn't grow up in a family of privilege or a perfect family, but their mom and dad definitely did some things right and their daughters gave their family life a lot of credit for their success. Want to know the secrets?
The first was "Job Jars." From an early age, all four girls were expected to do chores around the house.
Each daughter had a jar and certain tasks were written on slips of paper and put in their jars at the first of the week. All their jobs had to be finished by the end of each week. Because they could trade jobs with each other, the job jar system gave them opportunities to wheel and deal when they wanted to trade tasks with a sister. It made them feel like part of a family team and learn a strong work ethic.
Family fitness was a priority. Every morning at 6 a.m., they exercised together as a family. In doing so, mom and dad were being great role models of the importance of a lifestyle of exercise. All four sisters were slim, fit and energetic in their adulthood.
They also learned the art of negotiation and selling because if the sisters wanted something, they had to negotiate with mom and dad. When Colleen wanted a ten-speed bike, for example, she had to make a list of reasons. When another sister wanted to buy a horse, she had to come up with a business plan to present to her dad.
They had a lot of fun as a family, with vacations, outings, and game-playing. It was a work hard-play hard lifestyle. They learned some of their best lessons from games like "Chutes and Ladders": If you go down the chute, you get up and go again and try to go up the ladder on your next turn. Good training for life's ups and downs!
They had lively dinner table conversations, so all four grew to be terrific communicators. "We had to articulate our ideas and our desires and had lots of opportunities to do so around the table and in talking with each other and our parents," one of the sisters said.
They learned how to handle failure. The family principle was: it's okay to make a mistake or fail, but make it a learning experience. Find out what went wrong. What did you learn from the failure? Analyze it, course correct and fix it.
The parents communicated the value of a good education and how to set goals. And Dad shared all he knew about business with his daughters and let them know that ambition is feminine just as other traits are.
This summer I hope you take advantage of the time kids are out of school to make family exercise and dinner table conversation with your kids a priority, create some job jars, have a lot of fun as a family, and maybe even play some board games like Chutes and Ladders! You might just be helping your children learn skills that will help them become leaders when they grow up. HAPPY SUMMER!
(Use only with permission of author.)
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