Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day – Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
By: STEPHEN R. COVEY
How do we as individuals and organizations survive and thrive amid tremendous change? Why are efforts to improve falling so short in real results despite the millions of dollars in time, capital and human effort being spent on them? How do we unleash the creativity, talent, and energy within ourselves and others in the midst of pressure? Is it realistic to believe that balance among personal, family, and professional life is possible?
Stephen R. Covey demonstrates that the answer to these and other dilemmas is Principle Centered Leadership (PCL), a long-term, inside-out approach to developing people and oragnizations. The key to dealing with the challenges that face us today is the recognition of a principle-centered core within both ourselves and our organizations. Dr. Covey offers insights and guidelines that can help you apply these principles both at work and at home – leading not just to a new understanding of how to increase quality and productivity, but also to a new appreciation of the importance of building personal and professional relationships in order to enjoy a more balanced, more rewarding, more effective life.
– Another book from Franklin Covey Co. Which brought you THE 7 HABITS Of HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE
I Really enjoyed this book personally. The title really got my attention:
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day – Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
Both my husband and I have always resonated with this saying. It is striking. If you give someone food, they eat for a day – if you teach someone to cook, budget, organize – they will eat for a lifetime.
The title really caught my attention, and as I was reading the back ( The above paragragh in bold) I was very interested to see what this book was about. I have recently been hearing about THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE from another blog I follow – Brian Johnson at https://www.optimize.me/master-class/habits-101/. He talks extensively about our habits and how if we build good habits, we can be that much more creative, becasue our minds are not bogged down with minute details such as did I brush my teeth, what will I make for dinner, when is the laundry going to be done – They touch on that topic in this book as well.
So, when I came across a book by the author of THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE – I was all for giving it a go and I just thought I would share with everyone about what I have learned so far:
I will admit – This book is VERY INTENSE – I can usually kick out 300-500 page book in 2-3 days, this book is 325pgs and it has taken me about 2-3 months to finish. You can only read a few pages at a time, because it is so intense and touches on so many topics! You really have to stop and think about what you just read, and stop again, and think about it again – But I learned so much from this book, very effective!
Some Habits of ineffectiveness are rooted in our social conditioning toward quick-fix, short-term thinking. In school, many of us procrastinate and then successfully cram for tests. But does cramming work on a farm? Can you go two weeks without milking the cow and then get out there and milk like crazy? Can you ‘forget’ to plant in the spring or goof off all summer and then hit the ground real hard in the fall to bring in the harvest? We might laugh at such ludicrous approaches to agriculture, but then in an academic environment we might cram to get the grades and degrees we need to get the jobs we want, even if we fail to get a good general education.
These are problems that common approaches can’t solve. The quick, easy, free and fun approach wont work on the farm because there – we’re subject to natural laws or governing principles. Natural laws, based upon principles, operate regardless of our awareness of them or our obedience to them. The only thing that endures over time is the law of the farm:
I must prepare the ground, put in the seed, cultivate it, weed it, water it, then gradually nurture growth and development to full maturity.
So also in marriage or in helping a teenager through a difficult identity crisis, making a lifestyle change – there is no quick fix, where you can just move in and make everything right with a positive mental attitude and a bunch of success formulas. The law of the harvest governs. Natural laws – principles – operate regardless. So get these principles at the center of your life, at the center of your relationships, at the center of your management contracts, at the center of your entire organization.
If I try to use manipulative strategies and tactics to get other people to do what I want – while my character is flawed or my competency is questionable – then I can’t be successful over time. Rhetoric and good intentions aside, if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. But if we learn to manage things and lead people, we will have the best bottom line because we will unleash the energy and talent of people.
We often think of change and improvement coming from the outside in rather than the inside out. Even if we recognize the need for change within, we usually think in terms of learning new skills, rather than showing more integrity to basic principles. But significant breakthroughs often represent internal breaks with traditional ways of thinking. He refers to these as PARADIGM SHIFTS.
Principle centered leadership introduces a new PARADIGM – that we center our lives and our leadership of organizations and people on certain ‘true-north’ principles. In this book, they talk about what those principles are, why we need to become principle centered, and how we attain this quality.
Principles are not invented by us or by society; they are the laws of the universe that pertain to human relationships and human organizations. Our effectiveness is predicted upon certain in-volatile principles – natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real as gravity are in the physical dimension. These principles are part of the human condition, consciousness and conscience. To the degree people recognize and live in harmony with such basic principles as fairness, equity, justice, integrity, honesty, and trust, they move forward toward either survival and stability on the one hand or disintegration and destruction on the other.
Principle centered leadership is based on the reality that we can not violate these natural laws with impunity. Weather or not we believe in them, they have been proven throughout centuries of human history.
They are not easy, quick fix solutions to personal and interpersonal problems. Rather, they are foundational principles that when applied consistently become behavioral habits enabling fundamental transformations of individual, relationships, and organizations.
Principles, unlike values, ore objective and external. They operate in obedience to natural laws, regardless of conditions.
Values are subjective and internal.
Values are like maps. Maps are not the territories; they are only subjective attempts to describe or represent the territory. The more closely our values(or maps) are aligned with correct principles – with the realities of the territory, with things as they really are – the more accurate and useful they will be. However, when the territory is constantly changing, when markets are constantly shifting, any map is soon obsolete.
A Value-Based map may provide some useful description, but the Principle Centered Compass provides invaluable vision and direction. An accurate map is a good management tool, but a compass set on ‘true-north’ principles is a leadership and empowerment tool. When pointing to true north, the needle reflects alignment with natural laws. If we are locked into managing by maps, we will waste many resources wandering aimlessly or squandering opportunity.
Our Values often reflect the beliefs of our cultural background. From childhood, we develop a value system that represents a combination of cultural influences, personal discoveries, and family scripts. These become the ‘glasses’ through which we look at the world. We evaluate, assign priorities, judge and behave based on how we see life through these glasses.
One common REACTIVE pattern is to live life in value-based compartments, where our behavior is largely the product of expectations built into certain roles: spouse, parent, child, business executive, community leader and so on. Because each of these compartments carries it’s own value system, reactive people often find themselves trying to meet conflicting expectations and living by differing values according to the role or the environment they are in at any particular time. ( Personally – I have been working on being less reactive – INSTEAD OF BEING REACTIVE, BE PROACTIVE!, from Brian Johnson)
When people align their personal values with correct principles, they are liberated from old perceptions or PARADIGMS. One of the characteristics of authentic leaders is there humility, evident in their ability to take off their glasses and examine the lens objectively, analyzing how well their values perceptions, beliefs, behaviors align with ‘true-north’ principles. Where there are discrepancies ( prejudice,ignorance, or error), they make adjustments to realign with greater wisdom. Centering on unchanging principles brings permanency and power into their lives.
Centering life on correct principles is the key to developing this rich internal power in our lives, and with this power we can realize many of our dreams.
A center secures, guides, empowers. Like the hub of a wheel, it unifies and integrates
Whatever lies at the center of our lives becomes the primary source of our life-support system. In large measure, that system is represented by four fundamental sources of strength.
Focusing on alternative centers – work, pleasure, friends, enemies, spouse, family, self, church, possessions, money, and so on – weakens and disorients us. For example, if we are focused on the social mirror, we empower circumstances and the opinions of others to control us. Lacking security and self esteem, we tend to be emotionally dependent on others. Lacking wisdom, we tend to repeat past mistakes. Lacking guidance, we tend to follow trends and not finish what we start. Lacking power, we tend to reflect what happens to us and react to external conditions and internal moods.
But when we center our lives on correct principles, we become more balanced, unified, anchored and rooted. We have a foundation for all activities, relationships and decisions. We also have a sense of stewardship about everything in our lives, including time, talents, money, possessions, relationships, our families and our bodies. We recognize the need to use them for good purposes, and as a steward, to be accountable for their use.
Centering on principles provides sufficient security to not be threatened by change, comparisons, or criticisms; guidance to discover our mission, define our roles and write scripts and goals; wisdom to learn from our mistakes and seek continuous improvement; and power to communicate and cooperate, even under conditions of stress and fatigue.
SECURITY: Security represents our sense of worth, identity, emotional anchorage, self-esteem and personal strength. Of course, we see various degrees of security – on a continuum between a deep sense of high intrinsic worth on one end and an extreme insecurity on the other, where in a persons life is buffeted by all the fickle forces that play upon it.
GUIDANCE: Guidance is the direction we receive in life. Much of it comes from the standards, principles, or criteria that govern our decision making and doing. This internal monitor serves as a conscience. People who operate on the low end of the guidance continuum tend to have strong physical addictions and emotional dependencies, conditioned by their centering on selfish, sensual or social lifestyles. The middle of the continuum represents development of the social conscience – the conscience educated and cultivated by centering on human institutions, traditions and relationships. On the high end of the continuum is the spiritual conscience, wherein guidance comes from inspired or inspiring sources – a compass centered on true principles.
WISDOM: Wisdom suggests a sage perspective on life, a sense of balance, a keen understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. It embraces judgement, discernment, comprehension. It is a oneness, an integrated wholeness. At the low end of the wisdom continuum are inaccurate maps, which cause people to base their thinking on distorted, discordant principles. The high end represents an accurate and complete life compass wherein all the arts and principles are properly related to each other. As we move toward the high end, we have an increasing sense of the ideal( things as they should be) as well as a sensitive, practical approach to realities ( things as they are). Wisdom also includes the ability to discern pure joy as distinct from temporary pleasure.
POWER: Power is the capacity to act, the strength and courage to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also represents the capacity to overcome deeply embedded HABITS. At the low end of the power continuum we see people who are essentially powerless, insecure, products of what happens or what has happened to them. They are largely dependent upon circumstances and on others. They are reflections of other peoples opinions and directions; they have no real comprehension of true joy or happiness. At the high end of the power continuum we see people with vision and discipline, whose lives are functional products of personal decisions rather than of external conditions. These people make things happen; they are PROACTIVE; they choose their responses to situations based upon timeless principles and universal standards. They take responsibility for their feelings, moods and attitudes, as well as their thoughts and actions.
These four factors – security, guidance, wisdom, power – are interdependent. Security and well-founded guidance bring true wisdom, and wisdom becomes the spark or catalyst to release and direct power. When these four factors are harmonized, they create the great force of a NOBLE PERSONALITY, A BALANCED CHARACTER, A BEAUTIFULLY INTEGRATED INDIVIDUAL.
Once you get principles at the center, you realize that the only way to treat people is how you want them to treat you. You see your competition as a learning source, as friends who can keep you sharp and teach you where your weakness’s are. Your identity is not threatened by them or other external conditions because you have an anchor and a compass. Even in a sea of turbulent change, you maintain perspective and judgement. And you are always empowered from within.
Alternate organizational centers – profit, supplier, employee,owner, customer, program, policy, competition, image and technology – are flawed compared with a principle centered PARADIGM. As with individuals, principle centered companies enjoy a greater degree of security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
For example, if the security of an organization comes from it’s image, or cash flow or from comparisons with competitors or from the opinions of customers, its leaders tend either to overreact or to under react to the news and events of the day. Moreover, they tend to see business ( and Life) as a zero-sum game; to be threatened by the success and recognition of others; and to delight in the failures of competitors. If our security is founded on the weaknesses of others, we actually empower those weaknesses to control us.
REAL EMPOWERMENT comes from having both the principles and the practices understood and applied at all levels of the organization. Practices are the what to do’s, specific applications that fit specific circumstances. Principles are the why to do’s, the elements upon which applications or practices are built. Without understanding the principles of any given task, people become incapacitated when the situation changes and different practices are required to be successful. When training people, we often teach skills and practices, the specific how to of a task. But when we teach practices without principles, we tend to make people dependent on us or others for further instruction or direction.
Principle centered men leaders are men and women of character who work with competence ‘on farms’ with ‘seed and soil’ on the basis of natural principles and build those principles into the center of their lives, into the center of their relationships with others, into the center of their agreements and contracts, into their management processes, and into their mission statements.
The challenge is to be a LIGHT, not a judge, to be a model, not a CRITIC.
PERSONAL AND INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS:
I have long advocated a natural, gradual, day-to-day approach to personal development. My feeling is that any product or program – weather it deals with losing weight or mastering a skill – that promises ‘quick, free instant and easy’ results is probably not based on correct principles. Yet virtually all advertising uses one or more of these words to entice us to buy. Small wonder many of us are addicted to ‘quick fix’ approaches to personal development.
Of course we do not live alone on an island, isolated from other people. We are born into families; we grow up in societies, we become students of schools, members of other organizations. Once into our profession, we find that our jobs require us to interact frequently and effectively with others. If we fail to learn and apply the principles of interpersonal effectiveness, we can expect our progress to slow or stop.
So, In this section they talk alot about the attitudes, skills and strategies for creating and maintaining trustful relationships.
Resolving dilemmas: As you read this section you will gain an understanding of the basic principles of effective personal leadership, and this new understanding will empower you to resolve tough questions by yourself.
Trustworthiness: Trust, or lack of it, is at the root of all success or failure in relationships and in the bottom line results of business, industry, education and government.
Trustworthiness at the personal level: Trustworthiness is based on character, what you are as a person, and competence, what you can do. Trust at the interpersonal level. Trustworthiness is the foundation of trust. Trust is the emotional bank account( more on this later) between two people that enables them to have a win-win performance agreement. If two people trust each other, based on the trustworthiness of each other, they can enjoy clear communication, empathy, synergy, and productive interdependancy. If one is incompetent, training and development can help. But if one has a character flaw, he or she must make and keep promises to increase internal security, improve skills and rebuild relationships of trust.
CHARACTERISTICS OF PRINCIPLE CENTERED LEADERS:
They are continually learning, They are service oriented, They radiate positive energy, They believe in other people, They lead balanced lives, They see life as an adventure, They are synergistic, They exercise for self – renewal.
PRIVATE VICTORY LEADS TO PUBLIC VICTORY: Finally, they regularly exercise the four dimensions of the human personality: Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. They participate in some kind of balanced moderate regular program of aerobic exercise, meaning cardiovascular exercise – using the large leg muscles and working the heart and lungs. This provides endurance – improving the capacity of the body and brain to use oxygen – along with many other physical and mental benefits ( Personally – I wanted to make exercising a daily habit, so I worked really hard at doing it everyday weather I felt like it or not – two years later – it is just a habit now, I wake up every morning and work out and I feel alot better physically and mentally) Also valuable are stretching exercises for flexibility and resistance exercises for strength and muscle tone.
They exercise their minds through reading, creative problem solving, writing, and visualizing. Emotionally, they make an effort to be patient, to listen to others with genuine empathy, to show unconditional love, and t accept responsibility for their own lives, decisions and reactions. Spiritually they focus on prayer, scripture study, meditation and fasting.
I’m convinced that if a person will spend one hour a day on these basic exercises, he or she will improve the quality, productivity, and satisfaction of every hour of the day, including the depth and restfulness of sleep.
No other single hour of your day will return as much as the hour you invest in sharpening the saw – That is, in exercising these four dimensions of the human personality. If you will do this daily, you will soon experience an impact for good on your life.
I find that if I do this hour of exercise early in the morning, it is like a private victory and just about guarantee’s public victories throughout the day. But if I take the course of least resistance and neglect all of part of the program, I forfeit the private victory and find myself uprooted by public pressures and stresses throughout the day.
These principles of self – renewal will gradually produce a strong and healthy character with a powerfully disciplined, service – focused will.
So that ends CHAPTER ONE. I found all of the information very useful! and I am looking forward to posting about CHAPTER TWO soon.
TITLE: Principle Centered Leadership
AUTHOR: Steven R. Covey
PHOTO COURTESY: puddlejumperlures.com