The Personality and Character Ethics
The character ethic taught that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character. But shortly after World War I the basic view of success shifted from the character ethic to what we might call the personality ethic. Success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques, that lubricate the processes of human interaction.
I am not suggesting that elements of the personality ethic -- personality growth, communication skill training, and education in the field of influence strategies and positive thinking -- are not beneficial, in fact sometimes essential for success. I believe they are. But these are secondary, not primary traits. If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other -- while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity -- then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do -- even using so-called good human relations techniques -- will be perceived as manipulative. It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique. To focus on technique is like cramming your way through school. You sometimes get by, perhaps even get good grades, but if you don't pay the price day in and day out, you never achieve true mastery of the subjects you study or develop an educated mind. In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.
To try to change outward attitudes and behaviors does very little good in the long run if we fail to examine the basic paradigms from which those attitudes and behaviors flow. Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are -- or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. It becomes obvious that if we want to make relatively minor changes in our lives, we can perhaps appropriately focus on our attitudes and behaviors. But if we want to make significant, quantum change, we need to work on our basic paradigms.
The Maturity Continuum
The Seven Habits are not a set of separate or piecemeal psyche-up formulas. In harmony with the natural laws of growth, they provide an incremental, sequential, highly integrated approach to the development of personal and interpersonal effectiveness. They move us progressively on a Maturity Continuum from dependence to interdependence. Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.
Life is, by nature, highly interdependent. To try to achieve maximum effectiveness through independence is like trying to play tennis with a golf club -- the tool is not suited to the reality. Interdependence is a far more mature, more advanced concept. If I am physically interdependent, I am self-reliant and capable, but I also realize that you and I working together can accomplish far more than, even at my best, I could accomplish alone. If I am emotionally interdependent, I derive a great sense of worth within myself, but I also recognize the need for love, for giving, and for receiving love from others. If I am intellectually interdependent, I realize that I need the best thinking of other people to join with my own. As an interdependent person, I have the opportunity to share myself deeply, meaningfully, with others, and I have access to the vast resources and potential of other human beings.
To maintain the P/PC Balance, the balance between the golden egg (Production) and the health and welfare of the goose (Production Capability) is often a difficult judgment call. But I suggest it is the very essence of effectiveness. It balances short term with long term.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Between stimulus and response is our greatest power -- the freedom to choose. The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values -- carefully thought about, selected and internalized values. Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response.
A serious problem with reactive language is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People become reinforced in the paradigm that they are determined, and they produce evidence to support the belief. They feel increasingly victimized and out of control, not in charge of their life or their destiny.
Another excellent way to become more self-aware regarding our own degree of proactivity is to look at where we focus our time and energy. We each have a wide range of concerns -- our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war. We could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement by creating a "Circle of Concern. As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them within a smaller Circle of Influence. Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.
The proactive approach is to change from the Inside-Out: to be different, and by being different, to effect positive change in what's out there -- I can be more resourceful, I can be more diligent, I can be more creative, I can be more cooperative.
For a full day, listen to your language and to the language of the people around you. How often do you use and hear reactive phrases such as "If only," "I can't," or "I have to"
Identify an experience you might encounter in the near future where, based on past experience, you would probably behave reactively. Review the situation in the context of your Circle of Influence. How could you respond proactively? Take several moments and create the experience vividly in your mind, picturing yourself responding in a proactive manner. Remind yourself of the gap between stimulus and response. Make a commitment to yourself to exercise your freedom to choose.
Select a problem from your work or personal life that is frustrating to you. Determine whether it is a direct, indirect, or no control problem. Identify the first step you can take in your Circle of Influence to solve it and then take that step.
Try the 30-day test of proactivity. Be aware of the change in your Circle of Influence.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Each part of your life -- today's behavior, tomorrow's behavior, next week's behavior, next month's behavior -- can be examined in the context of the whole, of what really matters most to you. By keeping that end clearly in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important, and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole.
Management is a bottom-line focus: How can I best accomplish certain things? Leadership deals with the top line: What are the things I want to accomplish? In the words of both Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
In developing our own self-awareness many of us discover ineffective scripts, deeply embedded habits that are totally unworthy of us, totally incongruent with the things we really value in life. Habit 2 says we don't have to live with those scripts. We are response-able to use our imagination and creativity to write new ones that are more effective, more congruent with our deepest values and with the correct principles that give our values meaning.
A personal mission statement focuses on what you want to be (character) and to do (contributions and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based. People can't live with change if there's not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value. With a mission statement, we can flow with changes. A mission statement is not something you write overnight. It takes deep introspection, careful analysis, thoughtful expression, and often many rewrites to produce it in final form. It may take you several weeks or even months before you feel really comfortable with it, before you feel it is a complete and concise expression of your innermost values and directions. Even then, you will want to review it regularly and make minor changes as the years bring additional insights or changing circumstances. But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life. I find the process is as important as the product. Writing or reviewing a mission statement changes you because it forces you to think through your priorities deeply, carefully, and to align your behavior with your beliefs. As you do, other people begin to sense that you're not being driven by everything that happens to you. You have a sense of mission about what you're trying to do and you are excited about it.
You may find that your mission statement will be much more balanced, much easier to work with, if you break it down into the specific role areas of your life and the goals you want to accomplish in each area. Writing your mission in terms of the important roles in your life gives you balance and harmony. It keeps each role clearly before you. You can review your roles frequently to make sure that you don't get totally absorbed by one role to the exclusion of others that are equally or even more important in your life.
Just as breathing exercises help integrate body and mind, writing is a kind of psycho-neural muscular activity which helps bridge and integrate the conscious and subconscious minds. Writing distills, crystallizes, and clarifies thought and helps break the whole into parts.
The more we are able to draw upon our right-brain capacity, the more fully we will be able to visualize, to synthesize, to transcend time and present circumstances, to project a holistic picture of what we want to do and to be in life. There are a number of ways to expand our perspective. Through the powers of your imagination, you can visualize your own funeral, as we did at the beginning of this chapter. Write your own eulogy. Actually write it out. Be specific. You can visualize your retirement from your present occupation. What contributions, what achievements will you want to have made in your field? What plans will you have after retirement? Will you enter a second career? Expand your mind. Visualize in rich detail. Involve as many emotions and feelings as possible. Involve as many of the senses as you can.
I can use my right-brain power of visualization to write an "affirmation" that will help me become more congruent with my deeper values in my daily life. A good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it's personal, it's positive, it's present tense, it's visual, and it's emotional. So I might write something like this: "It is deeply satisfying (emotional) that I (personal) respond (present tense) with wisdom, love, firmness, and self-control (positive) when my children misbehave." Then I can visualize it. I can spend a few minutes each day and totally relax my mind and body. I can think about situations in which my children might misbehave. I can visualize them in rich detail. You can do it in every area of your life. Before a performance, a sales presentation, a difficult confrontation, or the daily challenge of meeting a goal, see it clearly, vividly, relentlessly, over and over again. Create an internal "comfort zone." Then, when you get into the situation, it isn't foreign. It doesn't scare you.
Take the time to record the impressions you had in the funeral visualization at the beginning of this chapter.
Take a few moments and write down your roles as you now see them. Are you satisfied with that mirror image of your life?
Set up time to completely separate yourself from daily activities and to begin work on your personal mission statement.
Start a collection of notes, quotes, and ideas you may want to use as resource material in writing your personal mission statement.
Identify a project you will be facing in the near future and apply the principles of mental creation. Write down the results you desire and what steps will lead to those results.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
The best thinking in the area of time management can be captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities.
Effective people stay out of Quadrants III and IV because, urgent or not, they aren't important. They also shrink Quadrant I down to size by spending more time in Quadrant II. Quadrant II is the heart of effective personal management. It deals with things that are not urgent, but are important. It deals with things like building relationships, writing a personal mission statement, long-range planning, exercising, preventive maintenance, preparation -- all those things we know we need to do, but somehow seldom get around to doing, because they aren't urgent. The way you spend your time is a result of the way you see your time and the way you really see your priorities. If your priorities grow out of a principle center and a personal mission, if they are deeply planted in your heart and in your mind, you will see Quadrant II as a natural, exciting place to invest your time.
You need a planning tool that encourages you, motivates you, actually helps you spend the time you need in Quadrant II, so that you're dealing with prevention rather than prioritizing crises. In my opinion, the best way to do this is to organize your life on a weekly basis. You can still adapt and prioritize on a daily basis, but the fundamental thrust is organizing the week.
Quadrant II organizing involves four key activities:
Identify a Quadrant II activity you know has been neglected in your life -- one that, if done well, would have a significant impact in your life, either personally or professionally. Write it down and commit to implement it.
Draw a Time Management Matrix and try to estimate what percentage of your time you spend in each quadrant. Then log your time for three days in 15-minute intervals. How accurate was your estimate? Are you satisfied with the way you spend your time? What do you need to change?
Make a list of responsibilities you could delegate and the people you could delegate to or train to be responsible in these areas. Determine what is needed to start the process of delegation or training.
Organize your next week. Start by writing down your roles and goals for the week, then transfer the goals to a specific action plan. At the end of the week, evaluate how well your plan translated your deep values and purposes into your daily life and the degree of integrity you were able to maintain to those values and purposes.
Commit yourself to start organizing on a weekly basis and set up a regular time to do it.
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that's been built up in a relationship. It's the feeling of safeness you have with another human being. I suggest that in an interdependent situation, every P problem is a PC opportunity -- a chance to build the Emotional Bank Accounts that significantly affect interdependent production.
Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a win-win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win-win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena. Win-win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, that one person's success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others.
Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody.
Win-win or no deal basically means that if we can't find a solution that would benefit us both, we agree to disagree agreeably -- no deal. No expectations have been created, no performance contracts established. I don't hire you or we don't take on a particular assignment together because it's obvious that our values or our goals are going in opposite directions.
Think about an upcoming interaction wherein you will be attempting to reach an agreement or negotiate a solution. Commit to maintain a balance between courage and consideration.
Make a list of obstacles that keep you from applying the win-win paradigm more frequently. Determine what could be done within your Circle of Influence to eliminate some of those obstacles.
Select a specific relationship where you would like to develop a Win-Win Agreement. Try to put yourself in the other person's place, and write down explicitly how you think that person sees the solution. Then list, from your own perspective, what results would constitute a win for you. Approach the other person and ask if he or she would be willing to communicate until you reach a point of agreement and mutually beneficial solution.
Identify three key relationships in your life. Give some indication of what you feel the balance is in each of the Emotional Bank Accounts. Write down some specific ways you could make deposits in each account.
Deeply consider your own scripting. Is it win-lose? How does that scripting affect your interactions with other people? Can you identify the main source of that script? Determine whether or not those scripts serve well in your current reality.
Try to identify a model of win-win thinking who, even in hard situations, really seeks mutual benefit. Determine now to more closely watch and learn from this person's example.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
In empathic listening, you listen with your ears, but you also, and more importantly, listen with your eyes and with your heart. You listen for feeling, for meaning. You listen for behavior. You use your right brain as well as your left. You sense, you intuit, you feel.
The early Greeks had a magnificent philosophy which is embodied in three sequentially arranged words: ethos, pathos, and logos. I suggest these three words contain the essence of seeking first to understand and making effective presentations. Notice the sequence: ethos, pathos, logos -- your character, and your relationships, and then the logic of your presentation. When you can present your own ideas clearly, specifically, visually, and most important, contextually -- in the context of a deep understanding of their paradigms and concerns -- you significantly increase the credibility of your ideas.
Select a relationship in which you sense the Emotional Bank Account is in the red. Try to understand and write down the situation from the other person's point of view. In your next interaction, listen for understanding, comparing what you are hearing with what you wrote down. How valid were your assumptions? Did you really understand that individual's perspective.
Share the concept of empathy with someone close to you. Tell him or her you want to work on really listening to others and ask for feedback in a week. How did you do? How did it make that person feel.
The next time you have an opportunity to watch people communicate, cover your ears for a few minutes and just watch. What emotions are being communicated that may not come across in words alone.
Next time you catch yourself inappropriately using one of the autobiographical responses -- probing, evaluating, advising, or interpreting -- try to turn the situation into a deposit by acknowledgment and apology. ("I'm sorry, I just realized I'm not really trying to understand. Could we start again?")
Base your next presentation on empathy. Describe the other point of view as well as or better than its proponents; then seek to have your point understood from their frame of reference.
Habit 6: Synergize
Many people have not really experienced even a moderate degree of synergy in their family life or in other interactions. They've been trained and scripted into defensive and protective communications or into believing that life or other people can't be trusted. This represents one of the great tragedies and wastes in life, because so much potential remains untapped -- completely undeveloped and unused. Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives.
As Carl Rogers taught, "That which is most personal is most general." The more authentic you become, the more genuine in your expression, particularly regarding personal experiences and even self-doubts, the more people can relate to your expression and the safer it makes them feel to express themselves. That expression in turn feeds back on the other person's spirit, and genuine creative empathy takes place, producing new insights and learnings and a sense of excitement and adventure that keeps the process going.
Insecure people think that all reality should be amenable to their paradigms. They have a high need to clone others, to mold them over into their own thinking. They don't realize that the very strength of the relationship is in having another point of view. Sameness is not oneness; uniformity is not unity. Unity, or oneness, is complementariness, not sameness. Sameness is uncreative...and boring. The essence of synergy is to value the differences.
The person who is truly effective has the humility and reverence to recognize his own perceptual limitations and to appreciate the rich resources available through interaction with the hearts and minds of other human beings. That person values the differences because those differences add to his knowledge, to his understanding of reality. When we're left to our own experiences, we constantly suffer from a shortage of data.
When you see only two alternatives -- yours and the "wrong" one -- you can look for a synergistic Third Alternative. There's almost always a Third Alternative, and if you work with a win-win philosophy and really seek to understand, you usually can find a solution that will be better for everyone concerned.
Think about a person who typically sees things differently than you do. Consider ways in which those differences might be used as stepping-stones to Third Alternative solutions. Perhaps you could seek out his or her views on a current project or problem, valuing the different views you are likely to hear.
Make a list of people who irritate you. Do they represent different views that could lead to synergy if you had greater intrinsic security and valued the differences?
Identify a situation in which you desire greater teamwork and synergy. What conditions would need to exist to support synergy? What can you do to create those conditions.
The next time you have a disagreement or confrontation with someone, attempt to understand the concerns underlying that person's position. Address those concerns in a creative and mutually beneficial way.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Habit 7 is personal PC. It's preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have -- you. It's renewing the four dimensions of your nature -- physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional. The Daily Private Victory -- a minimum of one hour a day in renewal of the physical, spiritual, and mental dimensions -- is the key to the development of the Seven Habits and it's completely within your Circle of Influence.
Make a list of activities that would help you keep in good physical shape, that would fit your life-style and that you could enjoy over time.
Select one of the activities and list it as a goal in your personal role area for the coming week. At the end of the week evaluate your performance. If you didn't make your goal, was it because you subordinated it to a genuinely higher value? Or did you fail to act with integrity to your values.
Make a similar list of renewing activities in your spiritual and mental dimensions. In your social-emotional area, list relationships you would like to improve or specific circumstances in which Public Victory would bring greater effectiveness. Select one item in each area to list as a goal for the week. Implement and evaluate.
Commit to write down specific "sharpen the saw" activities in all four dimensions every week, to do them, and to evaluate your performance and results.