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“You never find yourself until you face the truth.” Pearl Bailey

I have probably listened to or read Stephen Covey on Paradigms a million and three times. (How specific is that?) For any new readers, a paradigm is the way we see things and this view can be easily influenced by our upbringing, and our beliefs.

Which is why, today, I announce a new learning despite all that previous study.

In the shed where I store the world’s cr4p and my spin-cycle (why do people buy Peloton when they can do it for free), I was sat astride the offending clothes-horse as part of my Private Victory and re-watching an oft-watched video in which the Good Doctor Covey was espousing about Centres. He reminded me about how we see things through our Centres – if we are spouse centred we put their needs before others, including work: if we are work-centred she can bog off. You get the idea?

To be true to ‘life’, he advised that instead of seeing life through centres such as spouse, family, work, money, church, possessions, friends, enemy and self, we should instead see life through principles. Got that? Good.

He then suggested some principles, such as truth, contribution, integrity, and so on. He opined that seeing life through principles rather than centres provides for a more holistic, objective and effective way of living. So when it’s a choice between wife and work, we don’t just plump for ‘work’ because we always do – we look at the situation and make an objective, right decision. Got it so far? Marvellous.

But today, for the first time, I heard him address his audience and say, “Right now, you are even looking at principles through the paradigm of your centres.” AHA!

In other words, he said we look at Principles and ask, “What would my wife think?”: “How can I make this fit work?”: “Is this a way to make money?”: “What is in this for me?”

This is a default position for most people, and that includes you and me. Now, it may not always be a default acted upon, because context also has an influence on our decision-making, but it made me think.

Do I/we often make choices based on convenience, to avoid conflict, to make a fast buck and so on, when we could make better decisions if we just gave the situation a little more thought? Of course we do. We do it all the time. We know this because now and then we regret the decision we made, and not because the situation changed but because something happened that we could have known if we’d given thought to it, or which we did know about but we ignored in the moment because we weren’t being objective.

Yesterday, The Guardian published a cartoon of an Asian politician, depicting her as a pig with horns. They probably, in the moment, thought it would be funny. They looked at the situation through their Left-Wing ideology, concluded that all things Right-Wing are evil, and printed away.

Then some other people reminded them that they were supposed to be an anti-racism publication and depicting a Moslem as a pig was highly offensive: and, given the Guardian’s claim to be accepting of all races and ardently pro-diversity – clearly racist.

Looked at through a left-wing ideological paradigm, this was ‘good’. Looked at it from another paradigm, it was ‘bad’.

Looked at from a Principled Paradigm, it was plainly unnecessary.

Look through a Principle Centre – take a moment, think about what you’re about to decide, and then commit to principled action.

Because your Paradigms are a two-way lens – people can see the real you through them, too.