Broken Windows – A Family Metaphor

Broken Windows Theory, NYC Crime, Quality of Life, details matter, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Space Shuttle Challenger, Top States for Business, Detroit Police, Devil in the Details

Article first published as Broken Windows – A Family Metaphor on Technorati.

Broken Windows Theory was first put forth by James Q. Wilson to help reduce crime in major cities.  In short, this theory suggests that serious crime decreases faster when greater attention is focused on quality of life issues rather than on crime itself.  It seems to work.  New York City saw a decrease in serious crime by adopting the broken windows approach in the 1980s and 90s.  Now the Detroit Police are giving it a try.  From crime to cancer treatment, and even deciding where to locate your business, quality of life details prove significant.

 “Because the quality of life category carries such heavy weight in our study . . . states that do well here have a big jump on the competition.”  CNBC’s Top States for Business Study

Metaphor for Families

Arguments, deceit, and other family problems represent the serious “crimes” we want to avoid in our families.  Quality of life issues are the small glitches in the fabric of the home environment.  Things like torn furniture, stained carpets, squeaky doors, and burned-out light bulbs that decrease the quality of life for everyone.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Kristine Carlson’s book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms,” suggests doing way with worry over the details that ultimately don’t matter.  While I agree that parents must prioritize the ways in which they spend energy, I disagree that details don’t matter—a spotless home may not be necessary, but a cluttered home matters a great deal.

Devil in the Details

Details are often misjudged as insignificant until there’s a problem.  Time and again we see catastrophe traced back to an overlooked detail.   Consider the Space Shuttle Challenger:

The consensus of the Commission and participating investigative agencies is that the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger was caused by a failure in the joint between the two lower segments of the right Solid Rocket Motor. –Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident

Physical Disorder and Social Disorder

The quality of the family environment is a reflection of the quality of the relationships within the family.  By addressing disorder in the environment, quality of life improves because a new message of respect is reflected back to the family members.

Our goal is to prevent “broken windows” and it takes a proactive approach to details.  When small details consistently matter, the big picture gets handled automatically.

Create Quality

Straighten crooked pictures on the wall, clean the bathroom mirror, wash decorative pillows cases, relocate the outside garbage cans if you’re having to walk around them every day, push the dining room chairs in, wipe down your front door, etc.  These are a few quality of life details masquerading as insignificant.  Just think of it:  you now have an endless number of opportunities to take action in support of the quality of your family’s life.  You’ll be successful, one detail at a time.

Related Articles:   Holiday Opportunity, Caution: Tripping Hazard, Integrity,

Related Tip of the Week:  Manners, Ignore List,

Suggested Reading:  The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell

Chime in >>




Remember to be respectfully honest. Critical is fine but if you're rude, we'll delete your stuff. URL links look like spam and delay the post. You're accountable for your posts. Have fun and thanks again for being here!

Author: Lorraine Esposito

Lorraine Esposito 914-410-7502 Lorraine Esposito is a certified professional life coach, mentor coach, owner of The Center for Coaching Mastery at Westchester Community College in New York, and nationally recognized author of The Peacemaker Parent, Solving Problems for Today, Teaching Independence for a Lifetime, Lorraine is the featured life coach for a popular New York radio station, WFAS 103.9 FM and is in collaboration with and featured blogger for the National Football League and USA Football adding a ‘coach approach’ to coaching youth sports. Lorraine’s client base includes CEO’s in the entertainment industry, White House and Capitol Hill public affairs staff, entrepreneurs, global TED speakers, award winning writers, new coaches just starting out, successful business women between 40 and 55 looking for more out of life, and parents needing a little help making good on their parenting promises. Lorraine’s career matches the diversity in her coaching practices. Starting out in the rural mid-west, Lorraine has owned four small businesses; the first, an automobile repair center, started at age 16. Her corporate experience is mainly in negotiating multimillion dollar contracts as the buyer of domestic in-flight food and beverages for Trans World Airlines and then as a procurement manager for the New York City Transit Authority. Lorraine’s strength has always been creatively finding solutions to even the most complicated goal. In addition, Lorraine’s 30 years as a professional fitness coach continues to add depth to all her endeavors. She has been featured in various print, broadcast, and on-line media and is a public speaker regarding personal leadership to community and school-based audiences. Lorraine lives in New York with her husband and two teenage sons.

2 thoughts on “Broken Windows – A Family Metaphor”

Leave a Reply