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A common phenomenon these days is that soon after a Psychologist or eminent scholar publishes a finding in the form of a law or principle, others jump onto the bandwagon with corollaries and riders. Take the adage first printed by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in 1955, which was so widely accepted that it became a law. Parkinson’s Law states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” He derived the dictum from his extensive experience in the Machiavellian manipulations carried out by the British Civil Service. Those who have seen the superb TV serials Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister will agree that the British Civil Service, like most Civil Services round the globe, is guilty as implied by Parkinson. Parkinson noted that bureaucracies expanded over time, at a rate of 5-7% per year "irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done." The number of employees at the British Colonial Office increased even while its overseas empire declined!
His rationale was simple:
The corollaries that sprouted are too numerous to pen, but the more relevant ones are:
Something similar has taken place in recent times. Stephen F. Covey's popular treatise
on the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” first published in 1989, is a self-help book that has spawned another, the Eighth Habit, but authored by himself. Covey takes 432 pages to describe just one Habit, whereas his first book on Seven Habits was 358 pages long. We will come back to the seven habits later, before discussing the eighth habit.
Will Edwards, founder of White Dove Books and the Inspiration newsletter, has also looked at success and located seven key parameters that must be met if one is to succeed. As human beings, he says we all share certain basic wants and needs: we have need for food, water, shelter, safety, love, respect and self esteem (Maslow). We all share an in-built tendency (Freud) to want to move away from pain and toward pleasure. This tendency is part of the human condition for our own good; it keeps us away from harm and generally helps us to make good choices. Most persons settle for a pursuing a career that satisfies these basic human wants and needs; and never really think beyond them to what their life could be about.
When it really came down to discovering his purpose in life, a sure sign of ageing, the ‘person’ finally realized that he needed to look within to discover his own purpose; and once he found out what it was, it then became impossible to dedicate himself to fulfilling it, nor did he have the time.
So his message is simple: it is time for us to wake-up! It is time for us to start thinking of our life in a different way. It is time for us to fulfill our dream - whatever that may be. That is why we are here on the planet right now. By finding and fulfilling our own unique purpose in life, we will be living our lives to the full. He hopes that we will begin to see ourselves as special persons, with a truly unique purpose in life - because that is the truth! And Stephen Covey says much the same, albeit in his own style.
He lists seven requirements, as follows:
Covey has listed his third principle as time management. Learning how to ‘put first things first,’ which is how he words it and which is the essence of good time management can be a real challenge for many people. There is no doubt that the principles outlined in Covey’s book are fundamental truths, indeed they were even known to Aristotle. There are three basic steps that you must take to get what you want out of life:
It is crucial that you don't under-estimate the value of these simple steps because here you have the ultimate success formula. It forms the underlying tenet that everyone who has ever been successful, in any field of endeavor, has used. It is the real font of self motivation. We are all truly self motivated people because the motivation to achieve comes from within; and you are already motivated to achieve the things you want - the things that are most important.
Most people are driven by the concept of urgency. But to really effect positive change in our lives, we need to reorganize the way we spend our time; based on the concept of
importance - not urgency. Consider this matrix of time demands:
As Edwards says, you can see that we are continually doing the urgent stuff, at the expense of the important. We have no real choice when it comes to Quadrant 1 activity because Quadrant 1 operates on us; that is, activity which falls into this category must be done. The real choice is when it comes to Quadrant 2. We can choose to spend time here or not but Quadrant 2 is the key to getting things under control. The results of properly dedicating ourselves to Quadrant 2 activity are that we will gain control over what is happening in our lives: we will thereby reduce the time we spend in Quadrant 1. Time for Quadrant 2 activity, of course, must come from Quadrants 3 and 4; minimize or eliminate the time you spend here.
Will Edwards has been teaching these important principles, seen people re-define their lives as a consequence, and go for what they really want. In order to bring this information to a wider audience via the internet, he has developed a useful resource, the 4tm Spreadsheet. This Spreadsheet provides an instant analysis of where your time is being spent in relation to your mission and goals - an extremely useful aid to instantly see if you are spending enough time on your important priorities and whether or not you are getting better at the process of realigning your effort to achieve your purpose. It takes no more that one or two minutes at the end of each day to enter an approximation of where you have spent your time that day. It then produces two important graphical representations. Immediately, you can see where you have been spending your time; you can tell whether or not you are getting better at managing your time as it also produces a helpful break-down of your most important priorities. This free
spreadsheet enables you to get from theory to the practice and ensure you focus your efforts on your most important priorities so that you will absolutely get what you want out of life.
Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott is known as a very modern guru. Her theories explain our attitudes and behavior with a special clarity, and provide a practical guide to behavior and self development. Her book 'If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules' is essential reading if you are interested in behavior, relationships, communications, and human personality. Her rules for life - also known as 'The Ten Rules For Being Human' and identified in her book with Jack Canfield: 'Chicken Soup For The Soul' - are a map for understanding and pursuing personal development, and for helping others to understand and develop too.
Cherie Carter-Scott's Rules of Life
Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood." (Helen Keller)
Don Miguel Ruiz - The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz's book, The Four Agreements was published in 1997. Like many gurus and philosophical pioneers, Ruiz has to an extent, packaged, promoted and commercialized his work; nevertheless the simplicity of his thinking remains a source of great enlightenment and aspiration. The simple ideas of The Four Agreements provide an inspirational code for life; a personal development model, and a template for personal development, behavior, communications and relationships. Here is how Don Miguel Ruiz summarizes 'The Four Agreements':
The 7 Keys to Success
Edwards’ first key is Commitment. He defines Commitment as the act of binding yourself, intellectually or emotionally, to a definite course of action. He also pulls out a unique mix of words, Committedness: the trait of sincere and steadfast fixity of purpose (sic).
It is said that we are never given a wish without the power to fulfill it. Each person is capable of programming his own mind to achieve what he desires. What are you doing with your Life: would you say you are living your dream; or are you living from hand to mouth, making the best of things, just getting to the next week - what we might call: existing rather than living? If you are living your dream, then you are truly on the road to success. If you are not living your dream - or even if you have no dream at present - then find your dream, develop it and then to actually achieve it! To live a truly successful life, you do need to first have a dream. As Carl Sandburg, American historian, poet and novelist put it, "nothing happens unless first a dream". If you think about it, nothing at all that now exists within our experience of physical reality did not first exist in the mind of the person who made it or brought it into being. In all cases, everything is created twice: the physical creation follows the mental creation.
Your dream will appear if you think positive. Thinking positive is a way of life. In order for us to live a successful, positive life, it’s critically important to develop a positive attitude. You can’t have positive success without a positive life and you can’t have a positive life without a positive attitude.
The ability to think positive is a result of a positive attitude toward life. The thing about thinking positive is that it's a developed trait and it all starts with your heart and your mind. If you want to think positive, then you have got to make a commitment to change. You've got to make a willing commitment to become positive. Surround yourself with family and friends that are positive, upbeat and optimistic. You can also help yourself by getting a self-help book or CD that shows you how to move from the negative to the positive. There are lots of good books and CDs available that will help you transit from negative to positive thinking.
Opportunities seem to become more available. Believe it or not, but your finances will increase because you're thinking actually becomes clearer and you can make better decisions. Along with positive thinking comes a positive life. In order to live a positive life, you've got to have integrity and you've got be honest and decent to yourself and others. Now is the perfect time to be creating a career for yourself. As the economy moves from the Industrial Era into the Knowledge Era, everything is in a state of flux. That means it’s no longer true the only way to succeed is by climbing the corporate ladder with a lifetime employer. Instead, there are no limits to what you can do and how you can shape and mold your own career. It’s now easier than ever before to use your initiative to put together a fabulous career for yourself – something you look back on with pride because it involved doing great work.
Workers in the Industrial Age were considered to be “small cogs in a large machine.” The way to succeed back then was to get a job with a stable company and work your way to the top if you were lucky. You would stay with one company for your entire career and then retire with a pension. In today’s turbulent job marketplace, that model doesn’t hold true for most people. Corporations have downsized and shed workers with such regularity nobody but an optimist today believes they will stay with one company forever. The dynamics of the marketplace means today there are lots of problems coming to the surface. People who can solve these problems will do well. There is no need to be bound by an old set of assumptions about careers which no longer applies. You’re free to dream, design and then build a career which will unleash your highest and best talents and passions. But are you ready for it? This is the key question.
To succeed, you must have a vision - and you must completely commit yourself to its ultimate fulfillment - that is the essence of the mental creation. Here is one of the real secrets of success: you should dream big dreams, because you can have anything you want! Yes, it is true that you can have anything you want; you can be anything you want to be; and you can do anything you want to do. Your plan will naturally include the education and training necessary to reach your career goal. Part of your preparation is being professional. Professionalism is an asset that differentiates an achiever from an average person.
What is Professionalism? Professionalism has been defined as ‘meticulous adherence to undeviating courtesy, honesty, and responsibility in one's dealings with customers and associates, plus a level of excellence that goes over and above the commercial considerations and legal requirements’ (www. businessdictionary.com). Heather Eastridge, a business professional, believes that professionalism is an essential trait both in business and society. ‘It is that quality which drives a person's appearance, personal and professional interactions, and which provides others with a first impression.’ Professionalism is of significance as it plays an important role in how a person is perceived by his employer, his co-workers and casual contacts-actually, by every person with whom he interacts. The greater the degree to which a person exemplifies professionalism, the easier it will be for him to be set apart from people around him. This outstanding characteristic will cause his superiors to take notice. Professionalism can and should be applied in every business setting in all industries. The more a person displays professionalism, the more opportunities for success he will have.
Edward’s second key is ‘Be open-minded’. He defines Openness as a phenomenon characterized by an attitude of ready accessibility about one's actions or purposes. Almost immediately, the concept of receptiveness jumps into the fray. If you are accessible to suggestions about your actions or purposes, then you will ipso facto possess the facet of receptiveness, defined by him as willingness or readiness to receive - especially impressions or ideas. Once you have committed yourself to achieving your dream, you send out a signal of your intent and people around you understand your actions or behavior. Almost everybody will accommodate you, such is the nature of mankind. Since man is first insular and inward focused at the outset of any activity, there is a slight delay in realization overall. But soon after, you should begin to notice something rather odd starting to happen in your life: the universe actually begins to help you to achieve it!
You just need to be Open-Minded - that is, you need to be ready and willing to receive what the universe has in store for you. Some people call this principle the Law of Attraction. It sets in motion unseen forces which will definitely assist you with the manifestation of your dream. The Law of Attraction has most interesting connotations. It refers to the idea that thoughts influence chance. The Law of Attraction argues that thoughts (both conscious and unconscious) can affect things outside the head, not just through motivation, but by other means. This law became widely popular after the release of The Secret, a 2006 film by Australian television writer and producer Rhonda Byrne and a book by the same name. Theorists debunked the claims of the Law of Attraction, stating that they are unsupported by scientific evidence, and violate the scientific principles and understanding of the universe. Instead, the Law may be explained as an illusion created by the connection between self confidence and success or ones own perception, like the placebo effect.
The main principle of the Law of Attraction is: You get what you believe in. It is easy to imprint new objectives directly into your subconscious mind and to achieve everything you want in your life. Everyone wants to experience things which make us happy. Each one of us has a lot of wants and wishes which have remained unfulfilled. But it is our desires that bring unhappiness to our life. Equip yourself with the basics of law of attraction and you will become empowered enough to drive your life to happiness.
Desire, perhaps, is the best thing one can experience. The reason why this world came into existence is this desire. It is due to desires only that we come together, physically and metaphysically to create new life. Every one of us would be delighted if we had a magic mantra or a genie who would make true every wish that we have garnered in our life. But the fact is we need not possess anything like a mantra or genie to make this happen. There is a lot of power endowed into us. We just have to discover and unleash it for our benefit.
There are religious overtones as well. The Bible has said that we, human beings, were created in the image of God. It also says the results that we experience are due to the actions we have taken in the past. That is we create and by that we are God, endowed with power of creation. We can co- create what we desire by our unwavering focus on our thoughts. Prayer is a beautiful way to ask for God’s help and the best prayer is to imagine that we already have what we desire and express gratitude for the same. This is called affirmative prayer. The more we express gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us, the more the blessings will come into our life. Our thoughts and true prayer can help us achieve a lot.
Creative visualization is another method to use this law. It is nothing complicated. It is simply to imagine every detail of what we desire. Many people express inability to visualize. It is not at all complex. Indeed, it is the technique we have always used. I am sure each of us does think about things he wants to eat, or remembers the weekend trip. In this process what we do is visualize. It is the basic power endowed to each individual in this universe. We practice it unconsciously, but when we do it consciously we are moving in the direction of co-creation.
“Thoughts are things” is a neat epigram. Each of our thoughts, beliefs and feelings are real, nothing imaginary and unrealistic about them. They have life and spiritual substance. Every experience that we go through has its origins in the non physical. Each thought that is born in our mind is a seed. Each time we think about that idea we are watering it and fertilize it when we put it emotion into the thought. The more we strongly believe in our desire and visualize it, the faster it will become a reality in our life.
All this has a lot of proof present all around us. People who are positive are reassured about their optimism by the results of their actions. Likewise, pessimists too bear the results of their actions. A pessimist usually focuses his thoughts on what he is concerned about. As a result, he ends up creating more of what he/she is worried about. A pessimist can definitely bring about a change to what he creates by initiating a change in what he thinks and focuses on. Everything that happens- happens for good. Most people believe in this aphorism. The Laws of the Universe are always functioning for our good. It is up to us to be aware of them and use them for our benefit. The Law of Attraction is a great way to make this world more enjoyable and peaceful to live in.
People, events and circumstances will be drawn to you that will actually assist you in the achievement of your dream. You can probably only fully accept this truth when you experience it for yourself; and once you have committed to your dream, you will begin to experience it. Things will start to happen: they may seem like coincidence at first, but you are now living in an altered reality.
Edward’s third key is Persistence: refusing to give up, especially when faced with opposition or difficulty. He says that if having a dream and committing to its ultimate achievement is something like plotting your final destination ahead of an exciting journey, then persistence is rather like the engine you need in order to get there. Persistence is what drives you on to take the next step in your journey; persistence is what prevents you from getting discouraged by what may have happened in the past; persistence is where the rubber meets the road!
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. Calvin Coolidge
Steve Pavlina, writing in his blog on self-discipline, says Persistence is the ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings. You press on even when you feel like quitting. When you work on any big goal, your motivation will wax and wane like waves hitting the shore. Sometimes you’ll feel motivated; sometimes you won’t. But it’s not your motivation that will produce results- it’s your action. Persistence allows you to keep taking action even when you don’t feel motivated to do so, hence you keep accumulating results. Persistence will ultimately provide its own motivation. If you simply keep taking action, you’ll eventually get results, and results can be very motivating. For example, you may become a lot more enthusiastic about dieting and exercising once you’ve lost those first 10 pounds and feel your clothes fitting more loosely.
He adds an interesting thought, on whether you should always persist and never give up. Sometimes giving up is the best option. So how do you know when to press on versus when to give up? Is your plan still correct? If not, update the plan. Is your goal still correct? If not, update or abandon your goal. There’s no honor in clinging to a goal that no longer inspires you. Persistence is not stubbornness. If you’re growing at all as a human being, then you’re going to be a different person each year than you were the previous year. And if you consciously pursue personal development, then the changes will often be dramatic and rapid. You can’t guarantee that the goals you set today will still be ones you’ll want to achieve a year from now.
In order to make room for new goals, we have to delete or complete old ones. And sometimes new goals are so compelling and inspiring that there’s no time to complete old ones — they have to be abandoned half-finished. It will be uncomfortable to do this, but it is necessary. The value of persistence comes not from stubbornly clinging to the past. It comes from a vision of the future that’s so compelling you would give almost anything to make it real. Persistence of action comes from persistence of vision. When you’re super-clear about what you want in such a way that your vision doesn’t change much, you’ll be more consistent — and persistent — in your actions. And that consistency of action will produce consistency of results.
Can you identify a part of your life where you’ve demonstrated a pattern of long-term persistence? I think if you can identify such an area, it may provide a clue to your mission — something you can work towards where passion and self-discipline function synergistically.
They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or ability, or to misfortune, rather than to insufficient application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. Thus talent is a species of vigor. Eric Hoffer
A crucial ingredient of persistence is will power. How many commercials have you seen that attempt to position their products as a substitute for willpower? They begin by telling you that willpower doesn’t work and then attempt to sell you something “fast and easy” like a diet pill or some wacky exercise equipment. Often they’ll even guarantee impossible results in a dramatically short period of time — that’s a safe bet because people who lack willpower probably won’t take the time to return these useless products. But guess what… willpower does work. But in order to take full advantage of it, you must learn what it can and cannot do. People who say willpower doesn’t work are trying to use it in a way that’s beyond its capabilities.
What Is Willpower? Willpower is your ability to set a course of action and say, “Engage!”
Willpower provides an intensely powerful yet temporary boost. Think of it as a one-shot thruster. It burns out quickly, but if directed intelligently, it can provide the burst you need to overcome inertia and create momentum. Willpower is the spearhead of self-discipline. Will--power is a concentration of force. You gather up all your energy and make a massive thrust forward. You attack your problems strategically at their weakest points until they crack, allowing you enough room to maneuver deeper into their territory and finish them off. The application of willpower includes the following steps:
Choose your objective
Create a plan of attack
Execute the plan
With willpower you may take your time implementing steps 1 and 2, but when you get to step 3, you’ve got to hit it hard and fast. Don’t try to tackle your problems and challenges in such a way that a high level of willpower is required every day. Willpower is unsustainable. If you attempt to use it for too long, you’ll burn out. It requires a level of energy that you can maintain only for a short period of time… in most cases the fuel is spent within a matter of days. So if willpower can only be used in short, powerful bursts, then what’s the best way to apply it? How do you keep from slipping back into old patterns once the temporary willpower blast is over? The best way to use willpower is to establish a beachhead, such that further progress can be made with far less effort than is required of the initial thrust. So the proper use of willpower is to establish that beachhead — to permanently change the territory itself such that it’s easier to continue moving on. Use willpower to reduce the ongoing need for such a high level of sustained force.
Edward’s fourth key is Flexibility, where he sees it as a measure of the ability to respond to changes in demand, or the quality of being adaptable.
It is a sound principle that to become successful, we need to notice what is working and what is not; and be prepared to change our approach in order to get what we want - that is the essence of flexibility. He quotes an example: A wise person once said, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got". That is an absolutely true statement - in other words, if you continue doing exactly what you are now doing, then don't be surprised when you don't see any increase or change in your results.
It is the law of cause and effect in operation. The results you are now getting (effects) are the product of the causes (efforts) you have made in the past. To get greater benefits in the future, you need to change what you are doing in the present in order to produce them.
Whilst persistence is an important quality, persistence without flexibility can indeed be futile because, without some flexibility in your approach, you could end up trying to move an immovable object for the rest of your life. The willingness to constantly change what we are now doing and also demonstrate persistence is what gets us around seemingly insurmountable obstacles. So notice exactly what is working for you; and notice what is not. Change your approach in some way - you will need to brainstorm various approaches - then continue to observe. By continually changing your approach and finding what works and what doesn't, you will literally become unstoppable.
In an unusual perspective posted on advancing women professionals, flexibility is usually seen as an ad hoc arrangement. The core principles drawn from these experiments are:
If you really want success, in whatever field of endeavor you are pursuing, you can have it - yes you can! But you need to be prepared to work for it - to do whatever it takes. Finding out and then doing whatever it takes is the quality of flexibility.
Edward’s fifth key is Faith. He believes that there will be many people who will tell you that you will never, or simply cannot, achieve your dream. They are the 80% of people who once had a dream but have now settled for something less. They are the children who once stood in line at school, believing they would one-day become pilots, doctors, actors, singers, ballerinas, missionaries, air-hostesses and so on. But their experience of life gradually ground them down; and their dreams were reluctantly put away. Those dreams still live somewhere, deep down within their hearts, but they no longer believe that they are achievable.
What Is Faith? Trust is an abstract feeling, which is, at one time, both emotional and logical. Emotionally, it is where you expose your weak underbelly to others, in the belief they will not take undue advantage of your being so forthright. Logically, it is where you have weighed the possibilities of gain versus loss, calculating expected utility based on hard evidential data, concluding that the person in question will behave predictably.
The dimensions of faith include predictability. It is a normal part of the human condition to be constantly forecasting ahead. We build internal models of the world based both on our experiences and what others tell us, and then use these to guess what will happen next. This allows us to spot and prepare for threats and also make plans to achieve our longer-term goals. The greatest unpredictability is at 50%; a reliable enemy can be preferable to an unpredictable friend, as at least we know where we are with them.
Faith also includes value exchange. Most of what we do with other people is based around exchange, which is the basis for businesses as well as relationships. At its simplest, it is exchange of goods. Things get more complex when less tangible forces come into play. A parent exchanges attention for love. A company exchanges not only pay but good working conditions for the intellectual and manual efforts of its workforce. Value exchange works because we each value things differently. The principle of reciprocity is what binds societies together. Faith in value exchange occurs when we do not know fully whether what we are receiving is what we expect.
Coming back to the losers, after all the negative conditioning, only a few of those pilots-in-the-making believed they could still learn to fly aircraft; only a few of those singers still believed they were destined to sing for their supper. Many people had their dream literally strangled out of them. And when you are once again ready to pursue what is in your heart, you need to be aware that you are still not immune to this negative conditioning: there will still be very many people ready to tell you why what you are now doing, or about to do, is hopeless! That's why you need faith - a deep-down belief that, regardless of the evidence, you are going to make it! You are going to achieve what you have set out to accomplish. You are going to make a difference in this life.
The next key is ‘Thankfulness’. Edwards says that attitude affects many things in life. Sales-people are told to maintain a positive mental attitude because it ultimately affects their sales, sports-people are told to cultivate a winner's attitude because it affects their performance. The laws of success tell us to cultivate a grateful attitude but why should thankfulness affect our success? Thankfulness is fundamentally related to positivity and negativity. It is so much easier to be positive about your life and the things that are going on in it right now when you are grateful.
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. G.K. Chesterton.
The work-place is full of people who are cynical - ready to run the company down, run the boss down and run the industry down; they can, and do, actually produce the evidence that supports their beliefs. Yet, having an attitude of gratitude impacts your countenance and your general outlook on life; and people generally will prefer to work with happy, cheerful, grateful
people than miserable, down-cast, merchants of doom and gloom. As a consequence truly grateful people, literally attract opportunities that others miss or even possibly repel. Two psychologists conducted a study on the subject of gratitude and thanksgiving and found that the exercise of daily gratitude resulted in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Essentially,
Thankfulness is an attitude and an important key to success. It is an attitude we all need to learn to acquire - particularly when we feel we are in difficult circumstances.
I love the Land of Thankfulness where blessings overflow.
I claim it as my native home, most charming land I know;
And if I've need of anything, no matter what it be,
I just give thanks with confidence and see it come to me.
I like to live in Thankfulness! Would live there all my days;
Would let its spirit stir my soul and fill my heart with praise.
I questioned once how I had found a place of such a kind;
Knew I'd discovered it, because I'd thankful thoughts in mind
Oh, come with me to Thankfulness! We ask this of you:
That you be always thankful, friend, but this is all you do.
And if there's anything you need, no longer doubt or fear;
The thing you seek's awaiting you, it surely will appear.
Frank B. Whitney
Edward’s final key is Passion, which he defines as your heart's one true desire or the deepest desire of your heart. He believes it is impossible to think about passion without reference to the heart. Deep within your heart, there is a desire, the pursuit of which will bring you all the happiness, success and fulfillment you really want. To find your passion is to identify your own unique purpose in life; to live your passion is to achieve the Deepest Desire of Your Heart.
Career Expert Jonathan Fields says, "If your passion happens to lie in some field with a clear path to a great income, you may be one of the lucky few who can make a great living doing what you love by simply following the mainstream path. But, if there’s no ‘mainstream’ way to make money to live well in the world with your passion, wisdom says drop it or sacrifice passion for money. In such a case, should you take the plunge and go for your dreams? It’s not easy. It may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It’s a giant, challenge…but it’s a challenge worth rising to! Martha Stewart, the American business magnate & TV host also has strong views about passion. “Without passion, work is just work, a chore.” At the end of the day, its your call.
Before we get to Covey’s eighth habit, let’s just see what the first seven were.
The Personality Ethic: Stephen R. Covey noticed that since the 1920's, success stories have focused on solutions to specific problems. In some cases such tactical advice may have been effective, but only for immediate issues and not for the long-term, underlying ones. The success literature of the last half of the 20th century largely attributed success to personality traits, skills, techniques, maintaining a positive attitude, etc. This philosophy can be referred to as the Personality Ethic.
The Character Ethic: During the century preceding that period, the literature on success was more character oriented. It emphasized the deeper principles and foundations of success. This philosophy is known as the Character Ethic, under which success is attributed more to underlying characteristics such as integrity, courage, justice, patience, etc.
The elements of the Character Ethic are primary traits while those of the Personality Ethic are secondary. While secondary traits may help one to play the game to succeed in some specific circumstances, for long-term success both are necessary. One's character is what is most visible in long-term relationships.
The problem with relying on the Personality Ethic is that unless the basic underlying paradigms are right, simply changing outward behavior is ineffective. We see the world based on our perspective, which impacts the way we perceive things. For example, many experiments have been conducted in which two groups of people are shown two different drawings. One group is shown, for instance, a drawing of a young, beautiful woman and the other group is shown a drawing of an old, frail woman. After the initial exposure to the pictures, both groups are shown one picture of a more abstract drawing. This drawing actually contains the elements of both the young and the old woman. Almost invariably, everybody in the group that was first shown the young woman sees a young woman in the abstract drawing, and those who were shown the old woman see an old woman. Each group was convinced that it had objectively evaluated the drawing. The point is that we see things not as they are, but as we are conditioned to see them. Once we understand the importance of our past conditioning, we can experience a paradigm shift in the way we see things. To make large changes in our lives, we must work on the basic paradigms through which we see the world.
The Character Ethic assumes that there are some absolute principles that exist in all human beings. Some examples of such principles are fairness, honesty, integrity, human dignity, quality, potential, and growth. Principles contrast with practices in that practices are for specific situations whereas principles have universal application. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People presents an "inside-out" approach to effectiveness that is centered on principles and character. Inside-out means that the change starts within oneself, representing a paradigm shift away from the Personality Ethic and toward the Character Ethic.
The Seven Habits - An Overview
Our character is a collection of our habits, and habits have a powerful role in our lives. Habits consist of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge allows us to know what to do, skill gives us the ability to know how to do it, and desire is the motivation to do it. The Seven Habits move us through the following stages:
Much of the success literature today tends to value independence, encouraging people to become liberated and do their own thing. The reality is that we are interdependent, and the independent model is not optimal for use in an interdependent environment that requires leaders and team players. To make the choice to become interdependent, one first must be independent, since dependent people have not yet developed the character forinter--dependence. Therefore, the first three habits focus on self-mastery, that is, achieving the private victories required to move from dependence to independence. The first three habits are:
Balancing Your Body, Heart, Mind and Soul
Bill Austen says “Balancing your body, heart, mind and soul is key to becoming whole and realizing your full potential. I am an energy healer who has worked with hundreds of people from around the world helping them to release negativity so that they may embody their inner divinity. Many of my clients focus so intently on spiritual growth that they ignore the needs of their bodies; experience out of control emotions; and operate from the ego mind. We are here to ground the energy of Spirit into our body, emotions and mind as well as to evolve the soul. Each body is like the leg of a chair; it is great to grow one leg but if you don´t grow all of them roughly at the same time, your seat gets awfully wobbly and eventually collapses. If you want to focus on one thing, focus on love for love heals the body, soothes the emotions, slows down the mind and advances the soul. The path I prefer is to heal the body, then work with emotions, then the mind and then the soul and then back to the body to repeat the cycle all over again. This way I feel I grow in an ever-expanding spiral. This is really how the universe functions: Stars are like spirals of energy - like Van Gogh´s picture, Starry Night. One of the angelic healing sessions I offer to clients (angelic healing templates) works with all of these bodies and helps clear out negativity and re-balance and re calibrate them.”
Covey is not so esoteric. He says that an individual is a composite of four parts:
Each of these components has a corresponding basic need or motivation: Physical body – “To live”; Mind – “To learn”; Heart – “To love”; and Spirit – “To leave a legacy”, which are manifested as Vision, Discipline, Passion and Conscience, respectively. As you start to understand, respect and ultimately balance these manifestations for yourself, the potential bequeathed to you at birth, synergy is created and you find your voice. There remains the problem of expressing it, to influence others.
Whenever you express your own voice using the four manifestations – vision, discipline, passion and conscience – you are displaying personal leadership. In the case of an organization, its leaders must convert the manifestations into something more concrete. They must
These four mandates affect manifestation in many ways. You need not be top honcho of your organization to influence people around you, your organization, to do better in the future. You only need to project yourself favorably. How?
A close look will show that all these and other parameters have been covered in one form or another by the various authors quoted in this eBook. You need to also build trust, as we saw while discussing faith. In practical terms, to be trustworthy, you must have integrity, maturity, competence – the skills and knowledge needed to accomplish the task at hand; conceptual knowledge; the ability to think strategically and awareness. You have to build strong relationships with them first. Effective and sustainable relationships are always built on a foundation of trust. So is marriage!
Having built a strong relationship, you must carry it forward and increase the amount of trust in yourself. There are quite a few ways you can do this. Create mutual understanding; generate an environment of integrity; be open and courteous; always think win/win; be loyal; give and receive genuine feedback and finally, be forgiving. There is no alternative to this
The Win-Win mindset is the principle behind this alternative. It is not important for both parties to think win-win. Only one party has to believe in this mindset. That one party must prepare the other party by practicing empathy and deep listening until the other party feels trust. The most important skill in life is communication and this can be broken down into four categories—reading, writing, speaking and listening. Of the four, listening represents 40 to 50 percent of communication time. Unfortunately, only a minuscule percentage of people have been trained formally on how to listen.
There are five levels of listening:
Searching for the Alternative
One Voice: path finding shared visions, values and strategy.
As already stated, the Eighth Habit is a combination of attitude, skill and knowledge. To
be a great leader you need more than your trustworthiness. You need to be able to guide people on how to become better individuals. People need a model to see how they can work and lead in a different way. It is worth reiterating that path finding is the toughest undertaking of all since you have to deal with many issues, personalities, agendas, levels of trust and egos. To fully comprehend and execute the path finding role, you must know and wrestle with your realities. You need to clarify these four realities before you can focus on where the organization is heading.
The Four Realities
Through group interaction, create a written mission statement and a strategic plan. A mission statement should include your sense of purpose, your vision and your values. This is your goal—your road map. A strategic plan describes how you will provide value to your customers and stakeholders. This is your focus. Your strategic plan tells you how to be on track. Properly empowered mission statements are usually produced when there are enough people who are fully informed, who interact freely and synergistically, and are in an environment of high trust.
Alignment and Empowering
Aligning goals and systems for results:
The second major source of trust is the organization. However, an organization requires both organizational character and organizational competence. These are the very principles that people have built into their value systems. These principles are the basis for designing structures, systems, processes and personal values aligned with organizational values.
Discipline is needed at this phase. You need to be able to align your structures, systems, processes and culture to be able to realize your vision.
Aligning requires constant vigilance. It requires constant adjustments due to changes in realities. Systems must be changed to keep up with the times but must also be based on unchanging universal principles. One alignment tool that you can use is the Balance Score Card feedback system. This system can inform you if your strategy is still in-line with your mission, or if you are still on track in meeting your goals.
The Empowering Voice- Releasing Passion and Talent
Empowerment is the result of personal and organizational trustworthiness. It allows people to take control, manage and organize their lives and careers. When people are empowered, the leader ceases to be the boss. He becomes a servant to the organization. It shows that the leader is not afraid of losing control. Rather, the leader is giving his people the power to take control of the things that directly affect them. Leaders create a much-higher degree of flexibility, adaptability and creativity by focusing on the maturity, character and competence of each team member.
Empowerment and Performance Appraisal
A simple set of questions allows you to carry out an introspection and self appraisal:
The Eighth Habit gives you the key to understand and unleash both your own potential and the potential of the other people around you. As a review, you must remember what part each role player plays and their importance.
Modeling: inspires trust without expecting it.
Strategizing: creates order without demanding it.
Aligning: produces institutionalized moral authority.
Empowering: unleashes human potential without external motivation.
Modeling and strategizing or path finding give you focus. Aligning and empowerment, on the other hand, make things happen, and are based on the permanence of focus.
Six Core Drivers to Execution
Covey lists six parameters which form the propulsive force to execution. These are:
The Four Disciplines of Execution
There are four disciplines which can help close the gap between focus and execution for any organization:
The seven habits from Stephen Covey’s previous book are still relevant. However, the Knowledge Worker Age calls for the need of an 8th Habit that can help you further in your journey towards personal and organizational excellence. You must find your voice and inspire others to find theirs. Start by creating your own personal significance. After you have done so, inspire others to do so as well. If you are managing a team, create a trusting work environment where people search for win-win solutions and share visions. With the Eighth Habit, what was good can only get so much better.