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“The key to meeting an unmet need is in addressing, not ignoring the other needs.” Stephen R Covey.

It is widely acknowledged that we humans have four needs. Various writers have jiggled with them, added some, changed the terminology and so on, but for the purpose of this article I’ll use Covey’s four – the physical (food, drink, rest, exercise), the social-emotional (relationships), the mental (intellectual growth) and the spiritual (meaning). Covey opines that so often, when one of these needs is unmet we tend to address that gap it by only focusing on that area – for example, by exercising passionately when we need to lose weight. This can work, of course it can, but what about the other needs that are being minimised or even ignored while you sit and sweat on the exercise bike? Are you ignoring your spouse? Are you moving forward on your other, important goals? Are you ignoring professional development? Are all these areas suffering because of your manic focus on the ‘one problem’ you have identified? The answer is often Yes.

To the same degree, I decided to explore The Three Resolutions. In my book I describe how they present a progressive self-development from self-discipline and self-denial, through competence and character, to the achievement of a self-identified purpose through service to others.

I consider they confirm Covey’s thinking. My life’s experience is full of examples of people who focus in one or two areas identified in the Resolutions, and yet remain oblivious to the fact that their singular focus in one area prevents them becoming the best that they could be. (Of course, I also have examples of great successes who, coincidentally, demonstrate compliance with all three.) Athletes who excel – and then we find they used performance enhancing drugs. Amazing singers – whose hypocrisy about green issues gets laid bare when they buy a plane ticket for their hat. Dedicated politicians – whose expense claims render them untrustworthy.

For me, as for Covey – and I’ll be candid and say I ain’t no perfect example either – the finest expression of greatness is seen when all Three Resolutions are addressed, and when all three are addressed simultaneously. When we utilise our self-discipline to empower our competence, which is founded in great personal character, and serve others for a worthwhile purpose.

You can train in each area separately, but success in each enables success in all of the others.

So, just as Covey suggests with his needs, consider this: when you have a problem or personal challenge, don’t just think which ONE of the Three Resolutions you need to address: think how you could address that issue with all three.

Not fit enough? Don’t just hit the bricks (discipline) – research fitness (competence), train with and help others (service), and do so with dedication (character).

Don’t know enough? Don’t ‘just’ study (discipline) – carefully identify what you need to learn and set about it (competence), resist others’ invitations to take unnecessary breaks (character), and teach as you learn (service), which enhances that learning.

Want to serve others but don’t know how? Consider and understand your needs, capacities and competencies (character/competence), identify what service you can provide (purpose) and then learn ways of using that before allotting time (discipline) to providing the optimum service to the best effect.

You can be the buffest, prettiest, strongest, fittest, shiniest narcissist in the gym – but you won’t get the respect you’ll get if it’s all about you.

Exercise all the Resolutions. The best among us have shown you this works.