A Gallup Poll revealed that by a count of ten to one Americans prefer a good relationship with their loved ones above financial gain or corporate position. The reality is, most time is spent earning money and building careers. Fact: If standard of living is your number one objective, quality of life almost never improves. But if quality of life is your number one objective, standard of living invariably improves.
Conclusion: Success starts at home with those we love. Here are a few thoughts and processes that have worked wonderfully well for us.
We are blessed to have four children--three daughters and a son. The good news is we were able to raise all of them with none of them feeling that we had a favorite. One of the things we did was give all of our children and grandchildren nicknames. For example, we called our oldest daughter, Suzan, "Doll." Our next daughter, Cindy, "Sweetnin'." Our youngest daughter, Julie, we call "The Little One." Now our son carries his given name, Tom, but I fondly call him "Son" when we're together.
One of our two oldest grandchildren, Amey, is called "Sunshine." The other, Katherine, is "Keeper." When I talk to my wife, whose name is Jean, I call her "Sugar Baby," or when I'm talking about her I call her "The Red Head." In private conversation it's "Sweetheart" or "my love."
I believe it's important that we use names of endearment that reflect a special feeling for the individual involved. Apparently part of what we've done has worked. I say that because after 59 honeymoons my wife and I are more in love than ever. I also hasten to add that one of our greatest joys is the fact that all of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live within an hour and a half's easy drive from us.
We spend a lot of time together as a family. For example, my son is the president of our company, my son-in-law is the Chief Operating Officer, and "Keeper" is the executive assistant to both of them. My youngest daughter is the editor of my books and Cindy, our other daughter, has a therapy dog and loves to go into nursing homes and hospitals where she is able to encourage people. It's amazing the response of those who have been injured or are critically ill when they have the privilege of seeing a friendly dog and get to stroke, pet and talk to that dog. There have been a number of miracle stories result from Cindy's ministry.
In addition, there is something else we do that is important. My wife and our two daughters (our oldest daughter, Suzan, is in Heaven) every year go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and spend the three-day Memorial Day weekend overdosing on good Southern Gospel music. My son and one of my sons-in-law have a four-day golf outing with me in the mountains of the far west every year.
When we have family visits we frequently play a dominoes game we call "Mexican Train." We will spend several hours playing that game and enjoying one another. Since my family is cut-throat when it comes to competition, no one shows mercy to the others. We kibbutz with each other, laugh at and with each other, and just have a hilarious time together, sometimes playing for several hours.
Now I'll be the first to admit that what works beautifully for us might not work as well for you, but the binding factor in all of this is that we truly love each other, enjoy each other and respect each other. When you put all of these things together it means that in our professional lives we are free to concentrate on whatever we are doing at the moment because we don't have to worry about what's going on at home with our mate or with our children. This enables us to perform at a high level in our profession and have complete freedom and enjoyment with our families. That makes for a good, balanced combination.