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Creating a Family Culture of Resilience

(To Prepare for Hard Times)

First, some background:

The Family CultureManifesto

This 'manifesto' is 26 years in the making.

It started when a teenage boy, who had left home and was out on his own, began searching for the reason that some families were happy and others were miserable.

Over a period of years, ideas were gathered, insights occurred, and application was (eventually) made. 

These ideas are not uniquely ours. They have been shared by others for decades, and sometimes, hundreds or thousands of years.

We've simply collected them and applied them to our own family with great results -- and now we are sharing them with you.

But before we do that we want to provide some context.

My husband married me because I was a reader. :)

The foundations of our life are built on the backs of the books we have read. They have had guided every major decision and every approach to family life.

Between the two of us we average 1-2 books a week and have read close to 2,000 books in every genre from personal development to spiritual literature (like the Quran and Bhagavad Gita) to quantum physics to classic literature.

We've spent tens of thousands of hours thinking and discussing deeply our 'craft' -- family development.

We've developed mental models and frameworks to further improve our understanding (and results) of how to make family life better and easier.

We are now the parents of seven children currently (2020) ages 3, 6, 9, 13, 14, 16, and 17. We have traveled with them to 37+ countries on five continents since 2007 (when we had four children under the age of four).

 

Our oldest child is adopted African American. Three of our children were born in Alaska, Costa Rica, and Germany. (All, except our adopted daughter, were born naturally at home.)

Traveling with children is not fun or easy. It is a crucible that tries and challenges your parenting skills in a way that requires you to 'level-up or go home'. It's not for the faint of heart or the weak.

Throughout our travels and online we've had the privilege to mentor, coach, inspire, and influence thousands of families.

Those who apply these principles experience positive, long-lasting change in their family. Those who are struggling are usually missing one of these pieces.

 

More importantly, we really are just like you. We are parents and spouses, passionate about education and living the best (family) life possible.

 

We realize that we are 100% responsible for the stability and growth of our family. We've faced many of the same parenting and marriage challenges you have and I'm sure we've shared similar struggles.

 

Experience has led us to discover that 'staying stuck' in the struggles is not how family life has to be. It is possible to move past them, growing and developing as individuals and as a family, as you apply a few simple truths.

 

(Of course there will always be new struggles to face further along the path -- but staying stuck in one part of the path is frustrating and keeps you from progressing).

 

Respecting and applying the 'simple truths' of family culture is the difference between success and failure in family life.

 

To paraphrase Tolstoy:

 

"All successful families resemble each other because they apply the same simple truths. But all unhappy families are unhappy in their own chaotic way."

Here are 5 simple family culture truths we've found to be particularly wonderful.

Simple Truth #1 -- Family Culture 'Eats Everything Else for Breakfast'

What does that even mean?

Well, we got the idea from management guru, Peter Drucker, who once said:

 

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

 

"He was referring to the fact that a toxic culture can derail anything [business] management is planning to achieve."

 

In family terms, that means your family culture (especially if it's toxic) will derail any of your plans for change, growth or improvement.

Any new ideas or good habits, routines, systems, or positive changes you want to make will be undermined by a 'bad' or negative family culture.

That's why creating family change is so difficult. Your FAMILY CULTURE will determine what habits, routines, and relationships dominate your daily family life.

Trying to create change in the midst of a negative family culture is like trying to paddle upstream in an inner tube using just your hands.

 

It's hard work and you won't get very far, and as soon as you stop paddling you'll be carried downstream with the current.

So what's a family to do? 

That brings us to the next Simple Truths.

Simple Truth #2 -- You Have a Family Culture Even if You Don't Think You Do

At its core, every family has a culture, whether they realize it or not, whether they have 'intentionally' created a culture or not.

'Culture' is the (unconscious) reason behind everything your family does (or doesn't do).

  • how you do meal times (or if you do meal times at all)

  • the kind of food you eat

  • what you do in your free time

  • your income and spending habits

  • who cleans and how often cleaning happens

  • your automatic responses to failure, challenge, fear, and discomfort

  • and so much more.

 

The good news is that once you are aware of 'family culture' you can begin to be intentional about molding yours.

Before it happened by default, without thought, planning, or deliberateness.

Now it can happen with an 'end in mind' approach of the type of family you want to create.

Simple Truth #3 -- Awareness of What Your Culture Is  Now and a Vision of What You Want Instead is the First Step

To change family culture, you have to change the 'underpinnings' or foundations of what your family is built on.

But before you can do that you have to know what those foundations are.

Start paying attention. Then write it down. Just observe.

 

  • How does your family talk to one another?

  • How do they handle boredom? Disappointment?

  • What do they do when they have 'nothing to do'?

  • What do you eat? How often?

  • How much do you sleep? When & how do you wake up?

  • How do you bond or spend time together? How do you have fun?

  • What traditions do you have?

  • What makes your family unique? What makes you a 'team'?

  • Start to observe anything you 'just do' and notice that it's part of your family culture.

Then make a list of what you love and want to keep, and what you want to get rid of (and what you want to replace it with).

This is a great activity to do together with your family.

Simple Truth #4 -- To Make Any Lasting Changes You Have to Change the Culture

You've probably tried to change in the past and it 'didn't work'.

You may have even 'read all the books' or 'tried everything' with no luck.

The reason you didn't have success is because you were trying to paddle upstream against the current on an inner tube using only your hands.

If you want to create real change you have to change the current, instead of trying to change the direction of your inner tube. 

Simple Truth #4 -- Changing Family Culture Starts With Changing Small Daily Habits

Changing the 'current' begins with the smallest part of family life -- your days.

When you can begin to design and direct your days then you start to truly design and direct your life.

"How you spend your days is, of course, how you spend your life."

If you want to change your family culture -- which IS your family life -- it starts by changing your days.

Changing your days happens when you evaluate what you're doing that's sabotaging your success -- and eliminating it...

And replacing it with what you DO want.

Saying you'll 'never do [old habit] again' or you'll 'always do this [new habit]' is too abstract (and too enormous) for our minds to grasp.

But saying you will/won't do something for ONE DAY?

 

That's doable.

It's a small, daily commitment you make to yourself that, repeated over time, creates new habits, which in turn creates a new culture, which then creates a new life.

The easiest way to make and keep these small daily commitments is to TRACK them with a Habit Tracker.

Simple Truth #5 -- Track, Reevaluate, Rinse, and Repeat  the Process

It really is that simple.

Become aware of your current culture.

 

Get a vision of the culture you want.

 

Make small, daily commitments and track them.

 

Reevaluate at the end of the week.

 

Rinse.

 

Repeat.

You'll make mistakes. You'll mess up. You'll try something and it won't work. You'll miss a day (or two).

 

That's okay. It's a process and that's how it works.

  • Keep learning.

  • Receive more training.

  • Ask questions and advice from extraordinary parents you admire.

  • Reevaluate what's working and what's not working. Why?

  • Recommit.

  • Rinse and retry.

  • Repeat.

It's a journey, not a destination. 

It take practice and repetition.

And a system that works.

 

When we internalize these 5 Simple Truths and begin to act on them, we tap into a powerful force -- the "slight edge".

Your measuring stick becomes progress -- constant and never-ending improvement, not spinning in circles.

Which leads to the obvious question?

How do you progress?

How do you continually improve?

Where do you find a system that helps you do this as a family?

 

We're glad you asked...

 

My husband Greg and I have created a paid monthly training that we call the 28-Day Challenge.

We’ll start with core concepts, timeless foundational principles, and a behind-the-scenes look at the reality of changing your family culture.

Then we'll show you how to apply those concepts and principles to create long-term change in your family culture. There will be live Q&A calls with us, new training videos nearly everyday, and a private Facebook group where you can have access to us on a daily basis to ask questions, receive feedback, and connect with our tribe of extraordinary parents.

Additional upgrade options will be available for those who would like additional in-depth courses and training on marriage, parenting, lifestyle design, morning routines, bibliotherapy and more!

Our goal for this Challenge is simple -- 

To inspire and share decades of experience and education with a intentional parents who will use it to improve and build their families to extraordinary levels.

 

And, since we're being authentic, we have a selfish reason as well. We love "teachin' and preachin'". It requires us to be our best selves, to level-up in all areas, to 'practice what we preach' and to go deep in personal thought and insight. We love it!

And we look forward to sharing our passion with you in an intimate group setting!

The 28-Day Challenge Outline & Schedule

The 28-Day Challenge is a family focused challenge designed to help families strategically and consistently work on 'family development' (the equal to 'personal development' but designed for families).

It's focus will be on the 'fundamentals' that all successful families have in common -- simple, specific truths which we have compiled and call the Extraordinary Family Life Formula.

That's because highly successful (extraordinary) families are more 'predictable' than unsuccessful (ordinary or dysfunctional) families.

They are 'predictable' in that they follow similar patterns of success, because "success leaves clues."

Tolstoy once said,

"All happy families resemble each other, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

The emphasis of the Challenge will be on learning these effective strategies -- the 'success clues' -- and then implementing them into your family life to create gradual but consistent improvement.

The Challenge is also designed in a way that you can ask questions and receive specific feedback, with additional video training (if necessary), to overcome your unique family challenges.

The goal is to have a daily action plan for making specific, consistent, measurable improvements in the areas your family needs them most.

Other goals include:

  • identifying the habits, mindsets, heart-sets, and skill-sets that are contributing to OR sabotaging your family's happiness (aka why are you children fighting so much? Why aren't they motivated or taking initiative?)

  • making the tweaks in family life that produce the results you want (more peace & cooperation, better relationships & influence, more direction & motivation)

  • implementing strategies for more family unity and resilience

  • frameworks & tools for discipline, emotional mastery, independence, & responsibility

  • meaningful family goals and proactive daily habits

  • (and a lot more...)

Why a 28-Day Challenge?

Creating change and altering family culture is a lifetime pursuit

 

(We have been pursuing it since before we were married over 19 years ago).

But the truth is, no one would be interested in joining a LIFETIME challenge.

It's too big. Too overwhelming

But 28 days?

Anyone can do anything for 28 days... it's a determined set of time with a beginning and an end.

But it's also long enough that it can create new habits and cement change for the long-term.

 

However, since real progress and change IS a long term, life-long pursuit we also know that a one-and-done 28 day challenge isn't enough.

 

Our 'tricky' solution?

 

We do a new 28 day challenge every month... so essentially you (can, if you want to) be a part of a family-development-focused challenge for every month (though not quite every day) of the year.

 

It's a way to keep you working on improving your family day after day, month after month, year after year without feeling like you've committed to do doing that... since you're only committing to the next 28 days.

 

Brilliant, right?

 

(That's human psychology for ya').

 

What does the 28-Day Challenge look like?

The 28-Day Challenge begins the first Sunday of the month and ends four weeks later (on a Saturday).

 

However, it's not critical to start 'on time' (unless you are trying to win one of the prizes -- more on those below).

You really can join ANYTIME and go through the videos (more on those below) at your own pace and schedule.

There is also a Habit Tracker for your to print out and track your new habits -- your small daily commitments. (More on that below).

 

On our end, we release a new training video (almost) every day of the Challenge.

They will be in line with the theme for that month (you can see what those are below).

You will be able to watch the videos in our private Facebook community of like-minded parents...

...and leave comments or ask clarifying questions.

Or in your Dashboard where you access your courses.

In the Dashboard you will also have access to ALL past videos from the previous month's Challenges (so far about 60 videos).

You will have access to past -- and to all future -- Challenges for as long as you remain a member.

The 28 Day Challenge is a monthly membership which you can cancel at anytime.

There is also the option to upgrade to the All-Access Pass which give you unlimited access to all of our family development courses.

Why a monthly membership? Why charge at all? Or why not just do a one time price?

First of all, we could offer this Challenge for free, especially during this global crisis.

 

But we realized that people are now being inundated with free resources. How do they choose which ones to utilize? How do they not get lost in a sea of information and support?

The best way (we've discovered through experience) is to create something that parents say 'Heck yeah! I NEED that in my life' -- and then ask them to make a commitment to us and themselves.

This is done through a membership which is paid monthly. It's a financial reminder to YOU that you've committed to investing in the improvement and development of your family.

Paying for it actually increases your odds of taking action.

It's human nature to value MORE the things we pay for than those we get for free.

And in fact, we often value the things we pay MORE for than the ones we paid less for.

I know it's weird, but true.

(It also means we're likely to raise our prices in the future, as the course content grows and becomes more valuable month after month (20+ MORE videos every month) -- parents will value it more and take more action because they paid more for it.)

We are committed to creating high-quality, specific trainings for the next year on every aspect of family development.

If having access to that content is a 'heck yeah!' for you, then we ask you to make a commitment to us -- and to yourself -- to watch, read, and apply it.

And the science shows you're more likely to do that if you pay for it instead of getting it for free.

And you're more likely to regularly and consistently do that if you pay for it monthly instead of with a one-time payment.

That's why we've chosen to charge for it. The price is currently $37/month.

The optional upgrade to the All-Access Pass is offered at a special price for 28-Day Challenge Members at $67/month (usually $219/month). It includes $1865 worth of family development courses.

What are the Themes each month? WHY have monthly themes?

The monthly themes are as follows (may change to reflect current needs):

  • January --      [Y] YOU

  • February --    [M] MARRIAGE

  • March --         [P] PARENTING

  • April --            [F] FAMILY CULTURE

  • May --             [Fi] FINANCES

  • June --            [L] LIFESTYLE DESIGN

  • July --             [Q] QUESTIONING

  • August --       [P] PRINCIPLES & PRACTICES

  • September   [O] OWNERSHIP

  • October --     [S] STRATEGIES

  • November -  [M] MIND & [E] EMOTIONS

  • December -  [T] TRUST

 

We've chosen monthly themes to ensure that all aspects of family life are addressed.

Think of your family as a bike tire. The family as a whole is represented in the rim. But it is the spokes of the wheel provide shape and stability.

 

If some of those spokes are bent or missing, then family life begins to be imbalanced and wobble... and eventually becomes dysfunctional.

In order to create 'balanced' development in the family it's critical to address ALL aspects of family life.

That's why we devote a one month to a different theme -- to contribute to holistic family development.

What are the prizes you're offering? How do I win?

The Habit Tracker is the basis of the 28-Day Challenge

 

It's designed to help you make -- and keep -- small daily commitments to yourself... which is the only way real change is created.

To win prizes, you simply print out the Habit Tracker for the month and identify which new habits you will be working on.

You write one on each line (as many or as few as you would like) -- and then you check it off each day that you complete it.

If you don't complete it, you don't get to check it off.

Each month you turn in your Habit Tracker.

Whoever has the most days/habits checked off will win first place.

Second place and third place follow with the second most and third most check marks.

If you're at all confused, don't worry. There is a video in the Dashboard that explains it all.

  1. First Place -- One-on-one coaching session with Greg or Rachel 

  2. Second Place  -- One month free to the 28-Day Challenge

  3. Third Place --  A free audio program or mini-course

What are the video trainings this month?

  • Creating a Solid Family Culture of Resilience & Strength -- April 5th

  • What is Family Culture and Why Does it Matter So Much? -- April 6th

  • Identifying What Type of Family Culture You Want (with Assignment) -- April 7th

  • Making it Visual -- Creating Your Family Manifesto -- April 8th

  • How to Overcome the Resistance (from Your Kids) -- April 9th

  • Creating Systems of Self-and-Family Care -- April 10th

  • Developing Parental Resilience in Order to Model it For Children -- April 13th

  • Choosing Challenge -- The Obstacle IS the Way -- April 14th

  • Cognitive Restructuring -- Giving Experiences & Events the Meaning YOU Want Them to Have -- April 15th

  • Unlearning & Relearning -- Why What You KNOW and Don't Know May Be Sabotaging Your Family -- April 16th

  • Stress & Recovery: How to Stress to Grow & Recover to Stay Sane -- April 17th

  • Plus more that I haven't come up with titles for yet...

Our mission is to train parents to create extraordinary families that will change the world.

You'll become a more extraordinary parent with regular training and inspiration and by having more extraordinary parents in your 'social group'.

That is why we have created this Challenge -- to help you connect with like-minded parents and to train you on becoming extraordinary one day, week, and month at a time.

If this is something you can say 'Heck Yeah!' to, then we want you to join us.

If you're not sure... if you're on the fence, then this isn't for you.

It is NOT for people who are looking for the 'bare minimum' requirements to become extraordinary...

Being extraordinary is NOT about the bare minimums. It's about the EXTRA!

So we're looking for parents to join us who are 'extra' -- the go-getting high-performers who want the best for themselves, their families and their life.

If that's you, then please join us.

If you're not sure, or you just don't have the time or energy to invest in making changes, then this is probably not for you right now.

Enrollment is opened at the end of each month for one week. You'll be able to enroll for $37/month.

ENROLLMENT OPENS IN:

Enter your name & email to get notified when enrollment is open

(and if you open all the emails we'll share a 'sneaky' way to get in early!)

- Rachel & Greg Denning

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