Albert Einstein observed, "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
As we look around us and within us and recognize the problems created as we live and interact within the personality ethic, we begin to realize that these are deep, fundamental problems that cannot be solved on the superficial level on which they were created.
We need a new level, a deeper level of thinking --a paradigm based on the principles that accurately describe the territory of effective human being and interacting --to solve these deep concerns. This new level of thinking is what Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is about. It's a principle-centered, character-based, "Inside-Out" approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness.
"Inside-Out" means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self --with your paradigms, your character, and your motives. It says if you want to have a happy marriage, be the kind of person who generates positive energy and sidesteps negative energy rather than empowering it. If you want to have a more pleasant, cooperative teenager, be a more understanding, empathic, consistent, loving parent. If you want to have more freedom, more latitude in your job, be a more responsible, a more helpful, a more contributing employee. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. If you want the secondary greatness of recognized talent, focus first on primary greatness of character. The Inside-Out approach says that Private Victories TM precede Public Victories TM, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to others. It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves.
Inside-Out is a process --a continuing process of renewal based on the natural laws that govern human growth and progress. It's an upward spiral of growth that leads to progressively higher forms of responsible independence and effective interdependence.
I have had the opportunity to work with many people --wonderful people, talented people, people who deeply want to achieve happiness and success, people who are searching, people who are hurting. I've worked with business executives, college students, church and civic groups, families and marriage partners. And in all of my experience, I have never seen lasting solutions to problems, lasting happiness and success, that came from the outside in.
What I have seen result from the outside-in paradigm is unhappy people who feel victimized and immobilized, who focus on the weaknesses of other people and the circumstances they feel are responsible for their own stagnant situation. I've seen unhappy marriages where each spouse wants the other to change, where each is confessing the other's "sins," where each is trying to shape up the other. I've seen labor management disputes where people spend tremendous amounts of time and energy trying to create legislation that would force people to act as though the foundation of trust were really there.
Members of our family have lived in three of the "hottest" spots on earth --South Africa, Israel, and Ireland --and I believe the source of the continuing problems in each of these places has been the dominant social paradigm of outside-in. Each involved group is convinced the problem is "out there" and if "they" (meaning others) would "shape up" or suddenly "ship out" of existence, the problem would be solved.
Inside-Out is a dramatic Paradigm Shift for most people, largely because of the powerful impact of conditioning and the current social paradigm of the personality ethic. But from my own experience --both personal and in working with thousands of other people --and from careful examination of successful individuals and societies throughout history, I am persuaded that many of the principles embodied in the Seven Habits are already deep within us, in our conscience and our common sense. To recognize and develop them and to use them in meeting our deepest concerns, we need to think differently, to shift our paradigms to a new, deeper, "Inside-Out" level. As we sincerely seek to understand and integrate these principles into our lives, I am convinced we will discover and rediscover the truth of T. S. Eliot's observation: We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.
About the book:
In his doctoral thesis, the author, Stephen. R. Covey, found a contrast in the self-help literature existing through generations. While the books from 1920s onwards focused on personality traits, the older books stressed on character development. The author believes that a balance must exist between the two, but he also maintains that character development is more fundamental in nature.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People thus focuses on the values which comprise of character ethics on which the personality ethics has to be built. These values include integrity, courage, a sense of justice and honesty. This book discusses the seven main habits which one must adopt to live a more fulfilling life. The author also takes the readers through three stages of character development.
Snippet from The Sound of Things Falling
- Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Snippet from Things Fall Apart
- Chinua Achebe