Family Mottos

Growing up, you probably had a bunch of things you always heard your parents say when they were giving you advice, or teaching you how to do something. In this episode of the Motivational Intelligence Podcast, John Casey shares with us 18 of his family mottos, and there is something to be learned from each of them.

John discusses the fact that every family has a culture, aka, shared dominant beliefs. Below are all 18 of his family mottos- take a look and feel free to use them in your daily life!

#1: We have unlimited potential to grow and learn, and we access it through goal setting and practice.

#2 We never give up, because there is always another way to try.

#3 Mistakes are okay, that’s how we, learn and we don’t repeat them.

#4 No one can ruin our day without our permission, and we don’t have to give it to them.

#5 We never lose- every day, we win or learn

#6 Having butterflies is a good thing- it means we’re about to grow!

#7 We have fun and laugh a lot!

#8 Nobody can tell us who we can or can’t be, or what we can/can’t do, unless they care about us and will be supportive

#9 When learning too soon and too often is better than too late and not enough

#10 When things or people go wrong, we don’t have to go with them

#11 We finish what we start, and we try for maximums, not minimums

#12 We give no complaints without suggestions

#13 We all have the power to make people (including ourselves) feel good or bad

#14 We keep our word, even when its hard

#15 To whom much is given, much is expected- we make each day count!

#16 If the answer is yes to the question, is it the right thing to do? If so, then we do it!

#17 Since takers lose, and givers win, we give, we are kind!

#18 Since life is 10% what happens and 90% how we react, we think before we react

Hopefully when reading these over, you were able to make some connections as to how these mottos could be used in your daily life. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out the Motivational Intelligence Podcast and be sure to follow 2logical on social media: Facebook, Instagram, twitter and linkedin.

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Transcribed Audio

Family Mottos

John Casey: Hi everyone. This is John Casey and this podcast is a special one. This is called family mottos and it’s about a very important subject: culture in the home. You know, we have a culture in our workplace. We have a culture at home. And of course all culture really is, is the shared dominant beliefs of the group.

As a business traveler, I realized before I started a family that I wasn’t going to be home very much. I realized also that whether you know, dad is in the home or not doesn’t necessarily matter. There is already a presence of a culture in the home. So before my wife and I started to have a family, we actually talked about, you know, what kind of culture we wanted to have in the home.

We wanted it to be very inclusive and give everybody a say. So the following is a list of, the family mottos that we came up with, that we have instilled in our children. We’ve had these family mottos on the refrigerator in our home. We’ve talked about them over the years.

It didn’t necessarily start with a list of 18 mottos on a piece of paper. It just started with one. On the day, both of our children were born, I said the same thing to them. I said, “Hi, it’s your dad. I know, I know. I’ve been talking to you for a few months now, but today’s the first day that we’ve met  and I can’t be more happy, I can’t be more proud. There is a couple of very important things I want to tell you, and I’m going to tell you these things many times. The first is that your mother and father love you very much. The second thing is you have unlimited potential. You have greatness inside of you and part of your mother and I’s job is to help you bring all that out.” So that was one of the things I said to them over and over their first couple of years and even when I was out of town on business, I would, you know, have my wife put the phone next to their head so I could say those things.

So the very first Casey family motto before it was actually a list on a piece of paper was the following: we have unlimited potential to grow and learn. And we access it through goal setting and practice. So, you know, this is what we repeated early in their lives, we wanted to actually codify, and I wanted it written in the present positive tense, so that they would say, you know, we have unlimited potential to grow and learn. We access it through goal setting and practice. So if they could repeat it to themselves, with the pronoun I or we, it would be present tense and positive.

So that was the very first one. It wasn’t written on a piece of paper. And, we’ve always been a goal-directed family. We’ve always talked about the things that we want to be, do and have, at the beginning of the each calendar year, perhaps at the beginning of summer, before summer vacation, we would talk about the things we wanted to be, do, have, and listening to their goals, over their journey through life, it was interesting to see how they changed over time. So that was the very first family motto, about unlimited potential and really how do we get it through goal setting and practice. So the second family motto, because I didn’t want them to try something once or twice and give up, really wanted to encourage, you know, stick-to-it-ness, resiliency. So the second family motto is: we never give up because there’s always another way to try. And, you know, I remember watching my two sons learn how to walk and it took them well over a year to master it, and they fell down scores, hundreds of times and never once did they give up.

So, you know, that kind of hearkens back to that resiliency that we’re all born with to not give up on something. So that is the second family motto, we never give up. There’s always another way to try, to not want to have my children give up early on anything, especially themselves.

So the third family motto, because mistakes are so prevalent in our life, and you know, essentially, mistakes aren’t a bad thing at all because trial and error is a great way to learn. Going back to that one year old learning how to walk, they’re going to fall down a hundreds of times.

So the third family motto is: mistakes are okay. That’s how we learn. And of course we don’t repeat them. So, you know, when most adults make a mistake, they beat themselves up or they feel that they’re being judged by others. And you know, a one year old learning how to walk doesn’t face any of those issues.

So let’s remind ourselves about that, that mistakes are okay. That’s certainly how we learn, especially early. Whenever we’re trying anything new, they are certainly okay. We learn from them and we certainly learned more probably from our mistakes than our successes, so they can be a great guide.

So that was the third family motto: mistakes are okay, that’s how we learn and we don’t repeat them. Fourth: no one can ruin our day without our permission, and we don’t have to give it to them. I realized that there were bullies in school when I went to school. There’s always going to be bullies in schools, and you know, then I went into the workplace and guess what?

There are bullies in the workplace, too. So, you know, I wanted to let my children know that they don’t have to allow anyone to ruin their day. It’s their choice and no one can do it without our permission. And we hold the cards on that one. So I thought that to be very empowering. The fifth family motto is something that’s very near and dear to my heart when I made a huge mistake in my professional life, it was not only a professional mistake, but it was a huge financial mistake. I received so much wisdom and learning. So our fifth family motto is: we never lose, every day we win or learn.

I’ve thought about that saying over the years and often I have to repeat it to myself throughout the day, “Win or learn Johnny, win or learn?” If you think about it, every single day, even the really difficult ones can be put into a win or learn category.

By my recollection, both winning and learning are two positive things. And if every single day can be put into one of those two categories, I guess that means every day is positive and boy, if you’ll look at it that way, they are. So, that’s the real family motto.

Win or learn, every day we win or learn.  Number six, and this is for kids as well as grown-ups and the more I think about these family mottos, they’re all for kids as well as grownups. Number six: having butterflies is a good thing. It means we’re about to grow.  I realized

I did not want my children to shy away from anything that made them feel nervous, or if they had fear or self-doubt, not to shrink, not to run away, to maybe even run towards, so there’s a story, taking off the training wheels of one of the kids. He said, “I’m afraid,” and I said, “So you’ve got those butterflies in your tummy?”

He goes, “Yeah,” and I looked at him in a rare moment of brilliance, I said, “You’ve got those butterflies in your tummy. That’s a good thing. That’s what growing feels like. Butterflies in our tummy means we’re about to grow. And that’s a good thing. So we have to do it.”

So that was the, the genesis of having butterflies is a good thing. It means we’re about to grow, the sixth family motto. Number seven: we have fun and laugh a lot and you know what? We do. There is no sense of humor gene, but anyone can develop a sense of humor and I wanted our family to do that.

So we do laugh a lot, and we do have a lot of fun.  Along those same lines, I want to teach my kids as well as I myself, that we take the roles that we embrace seriously. But not ourselves, you know. So our role as a student, our role as a family member, our role as a friend, our role as a teammate, our role as an employee, yes, we take those roles very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves very seriously.

We should all have the ability to laugh at ourselves and that’s a really healthy thing. Take our role seriously, but not ourselves. So we have fun and laugh a lot, number seven. Number eight: nobody can tell us what we can or can’t be or what we can or can’t do unless they care about us and will be supportive.

We know there’s bullies at school. We know there’s bullies in the workplace, and no one can ruin our day without our permission. But who do we identify as our friends? How do we know those special folks that will really be supportive and encouraging? Well, that’s the origination of number eight: identify who our real friends are and always remember, nobody can tell us who we can or can’t be or what we can or can’t do unless they care about us and won’t support us on our journey.

Number nine, you know, getting started is such an important step. That first step. So number nine is: when learning or doing important things too soon, and too often is better than too late and not enough. The most important step is the getting started step. So, there’s an old famous quote, by Brian Tracy who said, “Do the thing and you’ll get the energy to do the thing.” So, you know, overcoming procrastination and getting started is what that is all about. Number 10: when things or people go wrong, we don’t have to go with them. You know, that’s the 10th family motto. I always wanted to let my kids know that we decide, that they decide what direction they go in and who or what to follow, and at any time they can certainly stop or turn around or pivot. Number 11: we finish what we start and we try for maximums, not minimums. So I always, my father taught me that the last step in project management is putting your tools away and cleaning up your workspace, like you were never there.

That’s the last step. A lot of last steps usually get overlooked and you know, most people are really good at doing 70% of a job. But then it kind of gets undone or it doesn’t get the loop closed. So I wanted that 11th family motto to address that. We finish what we start and we try for maximums, not minimums.

Number 12 is one that’s really taken a lot of root in our home: we give no complaints without suggestions. I wanted to give the kids a voice into how we did things. Certainly we’re all trained, I think, on how to complain and we can probably complain about anything, but that’s kind of wasted mental energy, just complaining about something.

So I wanted to shift that mental energy to pointing out what’s wrong to coming up with a workaround, coming up with a better suggestion, an idea, a new way of doing things. So we give no complaints without suggestions. Everybody can have a voice, but it’s got to be the right voice. You can’t just tear something else down.

You have to provide a better suggestion. And I have to say, we have many, many examples in our home of where one of the kids have made a suggestion about where we put our grocery shopping list, when we write something on it and what we buy at the grocery store and where we put things and how we have the kitchen organized.

We’ve had some of the kids, even before they were teenagers, present a very good argument, as to why we should do something this way versus a different way and frankly, they were right. Many of the ways that we do things in the home, especially for the kitchen for some reason, the kids have made suggestions and they’re both fairly decent cooks now and its been much better with the way they’ve suggested. And now, once, you know, a child makes a suggestion and we actually, because it’s a better one, we actually changed to that new way of doing things, that later on becomes a success story that I remind them of, that underscores the fact that they’re a leader and they have good ideas and they’re innovative and creative.

So, we give no complaints without suggestions, number 12. Number 13: we all have the power to make people, including ourselves, feel good or bad, and we use our power for good. You know, we can all say and do things that can put someone else down, or we can even put ourselves down and that’s not how we use our power.

We don’t use our power to shrink people or, or put them down. We use our power to encourage and support and remind people of how smart they are and all those important things. So that’s 13. We have the power to, to make ourselves or others feel good or bad, and we use our power for good.

Number 14, short, but so important: we keep our word, even when it’s hard. Over the years, I’ve thought about, what do I remember about the people whose paths I cross? And a lot has to do with when they gave their word, did they keep it?  Did they make a promise and then do it or did it for whatever reason, slip through the cracks?

I think that’s so important that reputations are built not necessarily on IQ or the grades we got, or if we’re good at this sport or that musical instrument or whatever, we often get remembered on honor and integrity.  When we give our word, do we keep it?

So that’s what number 14 is about. Number 15 is: to whom much is given, much is expected. We make each day count.  I’ve told my kids stories about my grandparents, who were all immigrants and none of them really finished any schooling that mattered. But they came to this country, they left everything behind and they built a better life for their families, which included my mother and father.

It’s so important to remember and honor our ancestors and the choices that they’ve made. And of course, being very grateful that we’re born in a nation where every citizen has a voice and we can build the life filled with our dreams. So being grateful for where we are, to whom much is given, much is expected.

We make each day count. So number 16, I wanted to give my kids as they got older, kind of like a self-test, when they had to make a decision by themselves. So here’s number 16: if the answer is yes to the question, is that the right thing to do? Then we do it. So, you know, when no one’s looking, if we have a choice to make, we just have to ask ourselves the question, is that the right thing to do? And if the answer is yes, then we do it. Well, it’s pretty simple test. It’s kind of like a black and white thing. I’ve used a lot of these mottos to have conversations with my kids and I can even say “too soon and too often,” and they’ll finish with, “is better than too late and not enough.”

Um, you know, the same with this one. I’ll. Instead of telling them what to do, I’ll just ask, you know, “is that the right thing to do?” and they’ll say yes. And then I go, well, and then they kind of say, “Well, then I have to do it.” So you know, these are kind of like swing thoughts, if you will.

Number 17: since takers lose and givers win, we give, we are kind. You know, taking from others starts a really bad cycle. And it can be not just taking possessions, but taking, self-belief is taking something and it starts a real bad cycle that seems to continue.

I heard a long time ago that friends in your life will come and go, but enemies will accumulate. So I’ve tried to share those with my kids and say, you know, we’re not supposed to make enemies, or a lot of them because they accumulate, whereas friends will come and go in our lives.

So, we give, even if we don’t receive in return, we give and we are kind. And lastly, number 18: since life is 10% what happens and 90%, how we react to it, we think before we react. You know, I don’t know about your family, but my family’s emotional, and it’s exciting, its ups and downs. But I really do want to limit our bad or negative, knee-jerk emotional reactions. This last one kind of encompasses a whole lot of things, but just slowing ourselves down, especially in the heat of battle and thinking before we actually react. Just that three to five second pause that maybe prevents us from saying or doing something that we would regret later.

So, there you have it. Those are the 18 family mottos. They’ve been on our refrigerator throughout the years. When my first went off to university, I got him a framed copy, hopefully he’s got it someplace where he can see it, as he’s at college. I’ve often printed this out on a eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper, and then cut it into little 18 strips and folded them up small, like little fortune cookie notes, and then put them in the sock drawer or the gym bag, or the book bag for the kids. So they find them later and they’re like, time-released little nuggets of wisdom, if you will.  They go off later, perhaps when I’m even out of town or out of the country. So, you know, these are the Casey family mottos, borrow if you like.

I certainly borrowed a lot of that wisdom from others. Actually proactively defining the culture that we want in our home and sharing it with the family as we grow and engage Each other, hopefully some of it takes root and, they carry it forward, and begin to share it with their friends and hopefully families as well.

So thank you for your time today listening to our podcast, “The Family Mottos”, again, this is John Casey, and until next time, we’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.

*Transcription was edited for clarity

Show Notes: Family Mottos

1:00- Intro into Family Mottos

1:15- What is culture?

3:40: Unlimited Potential

5:00- Never give up

5:54- Mistakes aren’t a bad thing

7:03- No one can ruin our day without our permission

7:45- Win or learn

9:10- Butterflies are good!

10:29- Have fun and laugh a lot

11:38- Nobody can tell us who we can or can’t be, or what we can/can’t do, unless they care about us and will be supportive

12:25- Learn too soon and too often

13:06- When people go wrong, we don’t have to go with them

13:37- Finish what we start

14:25- Give no complaints without suggestions

16:49- We all have the power to make people feel good or bad

17:36- We keep our word, even when it is hard

18:30- Make each day count!

19:37- If the answer is yes…do the right thing

20:44- We are kind

21:57- We think before we react…

We want to know what you think!

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Let us know in the comments below!

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