Yesterday we looked at the Personality Ethic and the Character Ethic, just after we explored Paradigms. Paradigms influence how we see thing, and we see things either through a lens of Character, or Personality. How does knowing about paradigms affect personal change?

Personality is a map; it is just someone’s subjective representation of the truth. But Character is the territory itself, it is the objective reality. Our maps tell us where to go – so we need accurate maps. Have the wrong map, you get nowhere fast. The territory only tells the truth.

Our Paradigms affect our behaviour – we cannot act outside of our perception and assessment of what we see.

Another way of understanding the effect and use of the concept of paradigms is to explore the See-Do-Get Cycle. The Cycle suggests that how we see – our paradigms – influences what we do, and what we do influences our results, what we get. Often, the response to challenge in our workplace is to change what we Do, but Covey proposes that all this provides is temporary relief before the new way of Doing no longer addresses the original problem. He suggests that changing the way you see the problem provides better results. What does that mean for personal change?

It means changing from the Inside, Out.

Returning to the idea that we are responsible for our response to what happens to us, how we see what happens to us requires an accurate paradigm if we are to address it correctly, with character. Assuming you have acknowledged and accepted the idea that having an accurate paradigm is an essential element of any improvement process, then you now have to decide what to do about it. As it is in work, so it is with personal change.

You have to see that you are the problem, and that the solution is within you.

Jim Rohn said you won’t get fit by getting someone else to do press-ups for you. Personal change requires you do the work, not someone else. Other people can be resources for personal change, but you are the one who has to make the changes and put in the effort, not them.

Personality Ethic people solve their problems by putting on wild clothes, being louder and even more whacky. They change their image and so the Outside sees them differently – but what Outside sees still isn’t reality. They change their Do, but the real problem isn’t addressed. They redraw their map but the territory stayed the same.

Character Ethic people look inside and ask themselves “What is the truth, what is the right thing to do, and am I willing to do it? And when they have an answer to those questions, they set about doing it. They change from the Inside, and Outside sees the change – and it is real. The world moved, not the drawing of it.

This process reflects that how Character Ethic people saw the problem was part of the problem, and now they see differently they get better results.

What Covey was saying is that lasting, beneficial change comes from within. It is not a false front that lasts as long as the current trend. If you want to change for the better, look inside, look at your paradigm of self, see what your current truth is, decide what the real truth should be, and base your next actions on that.

Tomorrow – we look at Principles.