Hi there Blogowers – I trust this finds you well? For those who’ve just jumped on board, I’ve been talking about change from within i.e. change is an inside-out process and it IS possible to carry your own weather with you. It’s astonishing what you can influence and you don’t have to be a victim of circumstance. In my last blog I gave an overview of the seminal work of Stephen R Covey, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. In this blog I‘ll introduce some guiding principles which underpin the whole book and we’ll take a look at Habit 1.
OK – some founding concepts then; Paradigms and Principles. Both are very powerful and influence us more heavily than perhaps we care to think. What’s a Paradigm I hear you ask? Well, it’s a way of thinking, a mind-set or seeing the world. A great example of this is that at one time, everyone thought the world was flat until this theory was disproved and we now think of it as spherical. That paradigm heavily influences many scientific phenomenon and will determine how we approach tasks associated with geography, travel etc…
But some paradigms die hard. In business, for example, the paradigm of ‘command and control’, of hierarchical structures, has served us well for many years. But in the global economy, people increasingly expect their knowledge to be tapped into; some call it the ‘knowledge worker’ economy. It taps into our mental creativity and seeks to appease our higher needs associated with meaning and purpose. Command and control won’t serve these needs for much longer! We must all change our paradigm of business if we are to survive.
OK so you now know what a paradigm is, OK? This links nicely into the next idea of principles. A principle in this context is a natural law. It transcends all cultures, beliefs and values. It has to be right. OK, let’s use a simple example. When you grow tomatoes, you need certain conditions right? You need fertile soil, light, water, an atmosphere at a certain temperature etc…. These things are principles for growing tomatoes. Even if you don’t like tomatoes, you know these things are needed to grow them. Not liking tomatoes would be a value you hold about them. Everyone can have different value sets, but principles hold true whoever you are. Goddit?
OK, now we’re rolling. Bringing these two key concepts together, we can think of each of the 7 Habits in terms of a cycle known as the model. My paradigm (or way of thinking – the way I ‘see’ things) will impact on my behaviours (what I ‘do’) and will determine the results I ‘get’. This is illustrated below:
As an example, if I think of you as lazy, I will treat you as such. Should I be surprised if you continue to be lazy? However, if I believe in your abilities, this will show up in how I behave towards you and you are more likely to rise to the challenge of showing me that you are capable of better things. This may not happen over night, but the 7 Habits are a long term development programme, so don’t expect instant results. Try it. Change your paradigm of somebody with whom you don’t see eye to eye and see if you get different or better results from them.
OK, so those are the founding principles. Now lets’ take a look at Habit 1; Be proactive; the first within the ‘private victory’. This is the habit of choice i.e. you are the product of your choices. Believe it or not, nobody can make you feel a particular way. Only you can feel the way you do. How many times have you said to yourself “xxxx has put me in a bad mood”. Well, I have some news for you. You’re the only person who can be in the mood you are. The trick is to learn to give yourself some space between the stimulus (what someone or something does to you) and your response (your thoughts and behaviours). I’m not saying this is easy. We’re all human after all and we’re conditioned towards flight, fight or fright. But as intelligent human beings, we have the capacity to be more considered in our actions if we wish to build lasting relationships with others.
Ever responded in haste to an e-mail and regretted it? Next time you feel that way, write your reply in anger and stick it in the ‘outbox’. Sleep on it and go back to it the next day. You’ll probably re-read it and amend it to sound more conciliatory. This is the gap between stimulus and response and can be enormously powerful in building better relationships.
By being proactive in this way, you are more control of the things you can influence. Covey uses the concept of a circle within a circle; the circle in the middle is the circle of influence (with you in the middle) and surrounding that is the circle of concern (things over which you have no control). For example, your relationships with others might be in your circle of influence and climate change might be in your circle of concern. But the more things you can bring into your circle of influence (and therefore expand it), the more effective you become.
So there you are peeps. We’re off the starting block and we’re well on the way to succeeding in the private victory – the self-mastery bit (you may remember that from the last blog).
In the next blog, we’ll cover habits 2 and 3 which will complete the private victory.