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“If the thing you’ve committed to is principle-centred, you gradually become a little more principle-centred. You keep the promise to yourself and your personal integrity account goes up.” Stephen R Covey.

You may be familiar with the 4 stages of learning ‘model’, described on Wikipedia thus:

“Initially described as “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill”, the theory was developed at the Gordon Training International by its employee Noel Burch in the 1970s. It has since been frequently attributed to Abraham Maslow, although the model does not appear in his major works.”

In a nutshell, you go from unconscious incompetence (you don’t know that you don’t know), to conscious incompetence (you now know what you need to learn), to conscious competence (the learning phase where ‘doing’ requires conscious thought) to unconscious competence (where you do without thought).

What Dr Covey is alluding to in today’s quote from First Things First is that through conscious application of principle-centred leadership and The Three Resolutions we slowly and inexorably become firstly consciously competent – we know we are doing it – and finally unconsciously competent, where we finally become what we sought to be. We are no longer ‘doing’. We are ‘being’. We are not performing principle-centred leadership – we ARE principle-centred leaders.

Some people don’t understand this progression. We make a declaration that we intend to live in accordance with this or any other positive philosophy, and their focus immediately goes to our first failure, and they attack us for it. ‘You said you were going to give up swearing, and you just said XXXXX – you failed’, they declare. This is a false assessment – we failed then, in that moment, but we may never fail again and our intention remains to never swear. We remain at the third level a little longer – but at least we are aware of our intention. Unlike most, who live with no thought as to how to live.

So declare your intention and don’t be swayed by the detractors who can’t live to a higher standard. Seek to live up to your own.