You are the friend, parent, leader your values define

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ted Weibel
  • 71st Flying Training Wing chief of Safety
Recently I traveled home to see my family and celebrate my daughter's first birthday and my 40th. 

During that trip I thought about my family's values, what I had learned over my life and what I will be passing along to my daughter. My wife and I talked about what we thought important to teach our daughter in the coming years. 

Even though we are from different backgrounds, our values and expectations for our daughter are the same. The more we talked the more I realized the many correlations between my family's values and those of the Air Force. 

I decided to surf the Internet and see what other people think of family values. More specifically, why do we teach family values? Ultimately, I found that we teach family values to provide a moral compass, set standards of behavior and provide our children a basis to make good, healthy decisions. 

It was starting to make more sense to me. But, how would I teach my daughter these values? I began thinking about what and how my parents had taught my sisters and me over the years, what I might capture from these lessons and what I will pass along to my family. 

First and foremost, don't hide anything, good or bad. My everyday activities show those around me what is important, where my priorities lie and what is acceptable. 

I spend my time at work and home much like my parents did. I put in an honest, and sometimes long, day's work and then spend the remaining time with my family. My wife and I already share our daily tales over dinner and talk about what tomorrow will bring. 

I am connected to my family's doings, both big and small. Once my daughter is old enough to talk, she will share in dinner discussions. In the meantime, I set aside time to play with her, no matter the activity or how little time I have. Ultimately, this is about connecting and communicating with those around you. Being open and honest is the only way to go. 

Second, surround yourself with good people. Sounds simple enough but there is some depth here. As a young kid, it meant not hanging around with troublemakers and in hindsight, it was probably an appropriate lesson learned. 

As I got older, it meant surrounding myself with people I wanted to be like. Still later in life, the value morphed into looking for the good in people, and capitalizing on those attributes. 

But it doesn't mean ignoring people who exhibit negative behaviors. I take that opportunity to make them better for themselves, their families and the organization. It is never easy, but putting in the effort to help others goes a long way. 

This leads to the next life lesson I want my daughter to understand. You get out of it what you put into it. Though this is not a value per se, it certainly speaks of a mindset I'd like her to fully understand. 

Much like your career, education or even physical fitness, you get out proportionally what you put in. Even after I left home some 22 years ago, I still hear my dad saying this to me. Anytime I feel I'm not achieving a goal, I think about those words. 

You want good grades, study effectively. You want your car to last, take care of it. You want a lower golf score, practice more at the range. This applies to relationships and families too. If you want strong bonds, seated values and enduring relationships in your family, you need to nurture them -- period. 

And last, it is important to both work hard and play hard together as a family and that usually means work now, play later. The best part of family rewards is doing them together. 

I can vividly remember needing to finish the yard work as a family before we were allowed to visit the community pool, or cleaning out the garage before we all went on a bike ride. 

Likewise, if we all did a good job at work, school and stayed out of trouble we'd be rewarded with a vacation as a family. It was never about the great places we went, but that we spent most of the time doing things together. When we worked hard together and played hard together, I felt the family bonds tightly wrapped around us. 

We all carry family values with us that we use every day. The good part for me, and hopefully for you, is that your family values align with your entire lifestyle. How you demonstrate these values to your family, friends and coworkers is up to you. 

Ultimately, you are the friend, parent or leader your values define.