An interesting quote, today, from Covey’s ‘Principle Centred Leadership, made me think. It read:
“One common reactive pattern is to live life in value-based compartments, where our behaviour is largely the product of expectations built in to certain roles: spouse, parent, child, business executive, community leader, and so on. Because each of these compartments carries its 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.” (Covey, Stephen R.. Principle-Centred Leadership (p. 20). Rosetta Books. Kindle Edition.)
Years ago, when I was a serving officer, I considered myself to be quite competent. Something would happen and I would quite easily approach and deal with it using my training and experience. Then, one day, something happened to one of my kids – and I was completely lost. I called a colleague, who dealt with it very well indeed, but I remember thinking, afterwards, “Why didn’t I do that?”
And, reading the above quote, I think I might have an inkling as to why. I was in Parent/Daughter mode, and applied a different kind of thinking than I would have, if I’d gone into Policeman/Victim mode – which was more objective, less emotionally involved. In that moment, I was probably applying a different role, and subsequently different values.
Which was odd, because I believe that the values we have are applied universally to ‘us’, and that experience suggested otherwise. It suggests that look at our Roles through different, role-related spectacles, and act accordingly. The question is,
Is that the right way to live?
It is certainly a common way to love, as shown by athletes with drinking problems, politicians who seem to be honest but then get caught out, married people who excuse one-night stands with strangers when out on business junkets – the ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’ perspective.
For me, the ideal is that you/we have ONE set of personal values or Unifying Principles which apply whatever we are doing. The only ‘but’ being that some values may never apply in particular roles, although I am at a loss to conjure up an example for the sake of illustration. I suppose (looking at my own) a value of ‘Be an Intellectual’ might not really apply to a parenting role, except to the degree that role-modelling intellectualism may benefit a child. ‘Be organised in the home’ has little to do with work – except you tend to be more organised at work than you do at home. And role-modelling organisation benefits a messy child.
Looking at those ‘buts’, I think I’m still plumping for Values applying all the time because for every role I can think of, one of my values applies if I think about it deeply enough.
It reflects what Ghandi said. “A person cannot do right in one department whilst attempting to do wrong in another department. Life is one indivisible whole.” Which addressed people who lacked integrity and misbehaved in some fashion, but also supports the idea that our values apply universally, not on a role-by-role basis.
Are you who you are all of the time?
I’m trying to be. And while it isn’t easy it must be worth it. Ask my kids.
For more on this subject, buy my book at AMAZON, available in Kindle or paperback.
I read last night, in the Covey/Merrill book ‘First Things First’, about why otherwise successful-looking people were unhappy despite their success. They wrote, “—it became evident that there was a real difference between what people wanted and what they apparently needed in their lives. Many were achieving more and more goals…and feeling less and less happy and fulfilled.”
Probably belatedly, because of how many years I have been ‘doing’ this stuff, I realised that when people write down their values they often put down the things they are ‘supposed’ to value and neglect what they (a) truly value and (b) what they should value, but don’t write down because they perceive that they are fluffy, or too hard to meet.
Moreover, family, society, communities and organisations dictate to folk what they believe that those folk should value, and it doesn’t necessarily meet those folks’ needs. In fact, it may oppose them in some fashion. (And off I drift into the divisive Identity Politics of 2022….no.)
Anyway, I made a written note:
Meet a valued NEED over a valued WANT = success. Longer life, better relationships, the leaving of a legacy.
Meet a valued WANT over a valued NEED = fleeting satisfaction. An adrenaline rush, a new toy, five minutes on a zip line for the price of half a tank of petrol.
‘Wants’ tend to reflect an emotional attachment to a ‘thing’ or state of being, whereas ‘Needs’ tend to reflect the true, underlying, psychological musts that are to be met if we are to stay sane.
The problem is – identifying the difference.
Meeting Wants is often easier, occasionally requiring nothing more than a matter of spending a bit of cash. (Occasionally foolishly spending money we don’t yet have.)
But meeting Needs requires more effort – yes, we need to live (buy food, fuel, etc.) but there is more to a Need than there is ever to a mere Want. Meeting a Need often requires properly identifying what is behind a Want, and focusing our efforts on meeting the Need another way. And that, my friends, is hard work!
I’ve written before on replacing the value ‘Excellence’ with the value ‘Effort’ because the former is often judge extrinsically – “Do you think I did an excellent job?”; whereas the latter is measured internally – “Have I put my all into this project?” I have control on the latter, but limited control over the former. The latter may influence the assessment of excellence, of course, but doesn’t determine it. I can work really hard and still do a poor job. And thus still fail despite meeting a personal value.
But I now find myself asking, “What need am I addressing when I value effort?” And I find myself asking whether it is because I really want others’ approval. Which means my value is not the want of effort, but is, in fact, the need of approval. Which may not be a good thing to value. On the other hand, if I need to know that people have benefitted from my work, then it’s an opportunity to redefine my values
Yes, this article’s a bit of a ramble. It’s intellectually challenging to realise that your long-standing list of values may reflect wants over needs, and that you’ve been labouring under a misunderstanding for years. And don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with wanting, but as Covey and the Merrill’s have suggested, if you Wantat the expense of your Needs, then there be dragons.
Review your values. Ask yourself: “What is the need behind these things I want, and are they the same?” If they aren’t, you are truly on the way to a better life.
I am currently engaged in writing my autobiography. I am not a person of great public note, but I recently found myself making a speech about my beloved father, who passed away in 2002, and in doing so I realised just how little I knew about him. I knew what we’d done together over the years, of course, but apart from a few stories about his war-time experiences – and I mean a few, as he seldom spoke of them – I didn’t know much about ‘him’. I decided that I would not leave my kids and grandkids wondering who I was and what I did. So I began writing.
I thought I would do about a hundred pages, but owing to having been a police officer I possessed about forty notebooks for work experiences, supported by about twenty years’ worth of planning systems and diaries with associated entries, plus the occasional journal writings. As of today I’m probably well over the 300-page mark, and I’m only up to 2005.
It occurred to me that we all have a story to tell. I bet, when you’re out with your friends, you tell personal stories as a matter of course. Sometimes you’re the trigger for someone else’s stories, and a competition begins over who has the better tale to tell. (Although I do hate it when someone presages their story with ‘the best one was’ and follows that sentence with an utterly uninteresting and badly told fable.)
It would be true to say that I have two intended audiences – my family, and my old colleagues. Those colleagues will all have similar stories to mine – some will be more interesting, too. But the beauty of a biography is that a relatively common experience, properly told, will still be interesting to those who have ‘been there and done that’, because it triggers their own amusing anecdote. They laugh as they think, “Yes I did that, too.” And thus begin their own musings.
Which begs the question: Why aren’t you writing YOUR story?
One of Stephen Covey’s four human needs he identified as Leave a Legacy. Famous people leave public records – but you have a story to leave your descendants. You can’t rely on the BBC to select you for an edition of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, and they certainly won’t do the research for you. To be frank, the pre-history they discover is interesting – but not much. I find that is a failing in many biographies – the fluff that is put in to make a relatively short biography bigger. A book about a celebrity who hasn’t done much is often padded out by irrelevant social commentary, describing the council estate in which they grew up – no one cares, and anyone living in a council estate already know.
So my book is going to be a chronological history of who I am and what I did, with anecdotes about the funny, tragic, and occasionally routine things I experienced. It’s as much a tribute to those I did those things with, as it is an attempt to flatter my own ego. I’m writing it mainly because of the funny things that happened to me, in the hope that my descendants will laugh at their ancestor – so that they learn to laugh at themselves. My legacy will be – have fun, laugh at yourself, and seek out what you want.
You are the hero of your own legend, as I am in mine. Start writing now.
I’m tired. Not having properly trained on my road bike for this year, I went out last Sunday with friends and rode 56 miles. It was evident fairly early on that I was lagging behind, although in my defence I was following a friend who’d just completed a two-day, 60/40 mile ride up the Marmotte in the Alps. In fairness, then, he was much better prepared for the day than me.
But that was four days ago, and I’m still tired. So what, I hear you ask?
Being tired is no excuse for being lazy. It is tempting to give a task less than you would if you were feeling hale and hearty, but doing that serves no-one. As I sat at my desk preparing to write this blog I was soooo tempted to put it off until I felt better or, failing that, to just look up an old entry and regurgitate that, instead. But you’d have not learned anything new – well, when I say ‘learned’ and ‘new’, perhaps I’m looking more towards providing a new perspective on old learning.
And I wouldn’t have ‘got better’ in the competency sense. Added to that, perhaps my conscience would have screamed at me.
Being tired is only an excuse – nay, reason – for taking longer to do a job. The reality of personal development is that people do get tired, they do lose their sense of motivation, they are affected by moods and circumstances. Neither of which excuse largesse, but they will certainly affect performance.
But how big an effect those influences have on performance, is up to the performer.
Making the proactive choice to put in the effort required to do the better job is key. Deciding to perform at the required level – even at the highest possible level – is the first step to overcoming the drag created by fatigue. It might not be the only step, I admit. If the task to be done is a physical task, then the effect of fatigue will be more obvious and impactive than if the task to be done requires a mental approach more than a muscular one.
But if you’re thinking “I don’t really want to do this,” then the answer is to decide that you will, and to decide that you will do it to the best of your ability even if it takes a little longer than it usually does.
And if you’re experience is the same as the one I’ve just had in writing this blog after thinking about whether or not I can be bothered to do it at all, you may well find that it didn’t take as much time or effort as your brain initially calculated it would.
Because 10 minutes ago I was too tired. Now, my work here is done. Including a review and an edit and posting onto this website. Ten minutes from ‘Not Today’ until ‘Done’.
Do you have days/jobs like that? Days when you just can’t get started because you are tired? Make the decision that YOU are in charge, not your emotions.
And as a bonus, here’s another tip for when you have started but are flagging. It’s one I used when I was trying to keep up with the King of the Mountains.
SEAL Team trainers have discovered that when a candidate has ‘had enough’, the successful candidates can still find another 40% – forty percent – energy left, if they just dig deep and find it. On my bike, really feeling the fatigue from about 35 miles in and knowing I had 20+ left to go, I just reminded myself that if I wanted it, the energy was there. I knew I’d feel it later, but my body would recover to a better base level afterwards. (Hopefully, soon!)
This week I have been mostly taken by a concept that the ‘better’ coaching writers espouse as a specific, rather than ‘work it out for yourself’ idea. The oldest writing I find about this is from the 1930s in the name of Napoleon Hill. It was later reframed in 1989 by Stephen Covey, and Jack Canfield provides the same overarching advice in his 2005 book “The Success Principles”. It is an idea that underpins any level of success in business and personal relationships, and without it everything else fails.
Napoleon Hill, paraphrased it thus: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Covey calls it ‘Be Proactive’ and Canfield calls it ‘Take 100% Responsibility.’ All have the same meaning.
They mean that in order for things to happen, it’s all down to you. You either do it, or you cause it to come about.
I have taught this in personal development classes and often met resistance. It was understandable: in reality, other people and circumstances do have an influence on what we do. In truth, our success relies on us making ourselves relevant, and it relies on us dealing with those external influences. Which is where the resistance loses the argument.
Whatever happens, we have a choice. That choice is to deal with the circumstance, fight it, or accept it. As Covey described it, we have Direct, Indirect, or No Control over what happens to us. Direct Control means we can deal with it ourselves, and overcome the challenge. Indirect Control means either we deal with it in concert with other people, or we nudge it in the direction we wish to go, adapting as we do so. No Control means we smilingly accept it, rather than waste time and emotion fighting the insurmountable.
But we aren’t only talking about severe challenge. We are also talking about little things, small annoyances. I can’t tell you how much emotional effort I find myself putting into the avoidance of a two-minute annoyance! This morning I have hoovered, dusted, stocked, emptied and sorted multiple little things that really have always been someone else’s responsibility. But today, I chose responsibility and it’s all been done.
Have I gone from serious stuff to trivialities? Maybe.
But how about you? What things are you avoiding because they are annoying, in the knowledge that the person responsible is you – but you really don’t want to do them? And is ‘not doing them’ creating the result you want to achieve?
Here’s an example. I am an introvert. I’m reluctant to mix. I have found that most people are: when a group of strangers assemble, there is abundant awkwardness until – I start the conversation and introductions. Me. Shy bloke. Until I, or someone like me, starts the mixing off, it’s awfully quiet. I take 100% (etc.) for communication.
Other things: Paperwork. Cleaning. Maintenance. Shopping. ‘That’ conversation’. All yuk jobs, but all necessary for a smoother existence. All or some of which are things which you think you have delegated, but which the delegate ain’t doing.
Of course, I haven’t yet mentioned the moral victory when you make it plain that you’ve briefly, and pointedly, taken responsibility for someone else’s work. Rub it in their faces. Let it be known far and wide.
Sometimes, the mantra ‘I will take 100% Responsibility’ means doing the ‘thing’ so that you can move on from it, and move closer to your desired outcome. Even if that ‘thing’ just means clearing the dishes from the work surfaces you won’t need for three hours – but will now be clean and ready when you get there.
Take charge of as much as possible. Even if you don’t want to do it – do it.
Today, I want to write about objectivity. Objectivity is a discipline, and one that is not easy to execute because we are all biased by our experiences, upbringing and value systems. What we see, we see through a lens that has been fogged to some degree, unless we occasionally choose to clean it in an effort to ensure that some clarity is possible. I raise this issue because what I see going on around the world is, it appears to me, the result of deliberate fogging of lenses by interest groups that have become so powerful because of social media that we risk going down a path that could so easily be avoided if we just asked better questions when ‘facts’ are trotted out for us to gullibly accept.
I heard a statistic the other day. The speaker (a socialist) was upset that 1 in 5 children lived below the poverty line. I thought, “Is that possible? That would require 8 houses in my street to be ‘in poverty’, and for every street that had no poverty there would have to be streets with massively more than one in five.
Of course, if you conclude that children don’t earn any money, and that relative poverty is defined as poverty created when people earn less than 50% of the average wage, then that statement could be true – but the kids weren’t necessarily poor or living in a poor household.
Another one – According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales year ending March 2020, an estimated 5.5% of adults aged 16 to 74 years (2.3 million) experienced domestic abuse in the last year. Extrapolated, that means that domestic violence takes place in two houses in my street, or more in other streets. Or is it more likely that the same victims are being abused by the same perpetrators and this isn’t reflected in that figure? A third – and a remarkably consistent one – is that 250,000 people go missing from home annually. When I was a cop, the same girl went missing from a children’s home every day – are those separately counted, or is each a separately counted incident?
Of course, I don’t know. I do know that figures can be warped; as I say, I was a copper and crime figures – well, least said, soonest amended. The COVID stats are hilariously warped – crushed by rocks but died within 28 days of a positive covid test? Boom, another covid death. And more justification for lockdowns and other restrictions on freedom. (The Sue Grey Report came out yesterday. Ironic.)
So the discipline I invite people to consider is this: to question what you are told, and not blindly accept everything you hear. I say this because I see the anger, ire, combativeness and hatred created by facts that simply aren’t yet verified.
This week, a child reported he’d been racially abused, chased, and lost a finger having climbed a fence to escape. I don’t want that to be true – the thought of kids that age being racist in 2022 is sad. If it is true, let punishment follow. But years of child abuse input (and some personal experiences) state that a child should not be interviewed by untrained staff, nor asked repeatedly what happened, because of the risk of accidental embellishment if they feel they’re being challenged.
Yet the press, celebdom and interest groups have all had their bandwagon launched, and statements have been demanded and occasionally delivered from those in authority, all of whom are angry and incensed – before any police investigation has even started. And all of them are supposed to be intellectual and objective. Their bandwagon behaviour suggests otherwise. It means either they’re not astute enough to wait for the facts to be fully provided (bad) or it suits their agenda to spout (really bad and malevolent).
So my plea today is to wait. Use the gap between stimulus and response to decide if you have enough data to believe what is being put to you.
Because that’s exactly what you’d hope would happen if YOU were the subject of conjecture, wouldn’t you?
When you have something to do that involves a long wait, what’s your plan? Are you an ‘unlimited coffee’ drinking Wetherspoons telly reader (because the sound’s off and the subtitles are behind the speaker)? Do you search the local shops with no intention of buying anything? Do you manically find some urgent task that you might just progress if the opportunity arises and can be taken? Or do you just chill?
Yesterday, I had a car serviced by a friendly mechanic in Cardiff and such is the distance that it’s not worth going home because as soon as I’d get there, I’d be called back to collect the vehicle. So when I’d booked the service, and in anticipation of the expected wait, I planned my day by first asking Neil (for that is his name) how long it would take. As a result of that one question I was able to make a plan as to what I’d do during the wait AND plan the rest of my post-service day.
First, I decided to go to a library and review my Personal Mission Statement and Goals, just to reset and refocus. That is a valuable activity that reinvigorates motivation and allows you to plan and envision how much better you’ll with deal with a challenge the next time someone annoys you. Then I decided to visit Cardiff Crown Court ‘for old times’ sake’, which proved to be a bust because inn the lead up to lunch there seemed to be little enthusiasm for starting the trial. (Wonder why courts are suffering delays? This is why: “Well, it’s midday, we’ll only get the jury sworn in and have to start the trial later, so let’s have lunch now and start the process at 2pm.”) Finally, I adjourned (ha!) to the adjacent museum and amused myself with some Natural History input – did you know that Wales is made up of rocks, like THE REST OF THE WORLD?
I walked 14km that morning and when I got home, I got to walk the dog, too. Yay.
But it was the first hour, the library life review, that made all the difference. No major changes in terms of my approaches to life, just a reminder where I was and wasn’t performing in terms of the person I want to be. A couple of short-term goals were identified, but the main benefit was just reminding myself who ME is supposed to be.
For those who just chill, kudos to you. Taking a break from the high demands of life is as valuable – I don’t do that because no matter how much I try I am always thinking about the next thing, so Mindfulness is a no-hoper. But for those who find meditation valuable, go for it when you have a long wait.
Charles R Hobbs, author of Time Power (best practical time management tome ever, available second hand only), suggests that when planning for a waiting period it is always good practice to have what he called a ‘High A’ to hand, meaning an important task that you can progress during your wait. Suggestions included making important phone calls or reading something related to your profession, but a good novel that lets you put the stresses of work behind you is as good a High A as a report that needs to be read but in respect of which you’re not really going to be able to provide the appropriate focus.
But the message remains clear –shopping, telly watching and other mind-numbing time fillers aren’t valuable enough for you to be wasting time on them.
What’s your High A, the one you can use to fill spaces in your day?
Like many of you I am an unremarkable person. That sounds modest, but I mean it in the sense that I am no celebrity – I am just one of millions of people who do their ‘thing’ on a daily basis, and that ‘thing’ is fairly normal, certainly to those in the same industry and related fields. Such people tell stories to each other and never consider whether, or how much, people outside their fields will find their lives interesting. But we all have a story to tell.
Recently it occurred to me that as much as I loved and respected my father, and we had a very good relationship, my knowledge of who he was “pre-DC” was lacking. I knew he served in WWII as an aircraft mechanic on a Typhoon squadron, and I knew he’d been an electrical engineer with a power supplier until he retired. I had heard a couple of amusing stories, but he died many years ago and I realise I knew less than I should.
I have five beautiful grandchildren. I had my own kids when we were young and they pretty much experienced a lot of my policing life with me, but none of them know the full story. So I decided to write an autobiography. I knew I had a few funny stories to tell and I figured they might find them amusing. So I began. I am 100 pages of A4 in, and I am only up to 1990 – 28 years old. Most of what I have written is based on memory and from before I kept a real diary, so the remaining 32 years are going to fill a lot more pages because i am diarised up the wazoo. And every memory disclosed sparks another tale, regardless of the records, so I keep having to go back and fill an older chapter with a new tale of derring-do – or embarrassment.
And I realised that this is not just an ego-trip – it’s my legacy. Every story can, in some way, provide a life lesson to my descendants.
People tend to provide life lessons when a situation demands, but wouldn’t it always be better to provide the lessons in advance of the challenges they can solve?
This book – which I will publish on Amazon but only so that I can give hard copies to my family, you can ignore it if you want! – will be an opportunity to give my kids the wisdom it took me 60 years to learn. Yes, The Three Resolutions book contains my philosophy on life from which they can learn, but the autobiography will be the background detail as to why I needed them!
My suggestion this week, therefore, is that you consider writing down your own life story so that those who you love, and will love, and who will wonder who you are and what you did, won’t have to listen to vague recollections of others – they can have a first-hand account.
Jordan Peterson is a Canadian Professor of Psychology, known around the world for his right-of-centre views on the steady creep of authoritarianism that is intended to dictate to people how they should speak. That is why he became famous – he spoke to his government to say that there was a huge ideological difference between directing what people should NOT be allowed to say (genuine hate-speech) and directing what people HAD to say, e.g. enforced gender pronouns. You can have your own views on that, but rest assured I will not be TOLD what to say. You can ask nicely, and I’ll do my best to comply, but I refuse to apologise if I inadvertently ‘misgender’ someone based on several million years of evolution and 60 years of hitherto reliable guesses.
But he is also, as indicated, an expert on human behaviour, and in an interview on YouTube (and nearly everything he’s ever said is on YouTube so don’t second guess what you think may have he said, he’ll rip your argument apart) he made this interesting comment when discussing how people are so easily swayed from the disciplined path. You know, when one more cigarette/pasty/drink etc. won’t matter, or ‘it’s too hard to keep pursuing this goal’. We’ve all been there.
He said, “You can change direction if you want – as long as the new road is equally or more difficult.”
I can’t say I’d ever given that idea too much thought, before. But it’s a great piece of advice. It reflects the reality that, sometimes, the path you’ve chosen for yourself isn’t necessarily the right one. Many would give up, but Peterson counsels not giving up, but redirecting the same or greater level of effort towards a properly considered, alternative route to the success you sought, or even a new definition of success.
To use a poor analogy based on personal experience, I used to be a runner and did a couple of half marathons, but about 5 years ago my knees started grumbling. Friends introduced me to road cycling, and I recovered a level of fitness I hadn’t experienced for a while. Now, that is an accidental example of ‘changing direction but applying the same level of discipline’ to achieve a similar goal – physical fitness.
What have you been chasing, but no longer ‘love’? Were you on a particular career path that you now question? For example, and again based on what I saw in the organisation I worked for, have you been desperately seeking upward promotion and ignored potentially rewarding sideways development – less pay but a greater sense of contribution, achievement and purpose? To do either takes discipline, but they may also require similar mental and academic approaches which are just as difficult to travel, yet more satisfying.
In the same interview, the interviewer spoke of a friend who’d retired from some enterprise and initially enjoyed retirement, but realised he was getting bored. He made an astute observation with which I sympathise. He said, “I miss being good at something.”
You don’t only have upward, better paid options available. You have specialisation options, academic options, different job options – lots of options. And when you choose the option that works best for you, you discover the pleasure of being good at something.
What could that be? Apply self-discipline, and go and get that.
For more on this subject, buy The Three Resolutions in paperback or Kindle HERE at Amazon.co.uk .
This week, I’d like to take an opportunity to tell you more about my book “The Way: Integrity on Purpose.”
In 2014 I self-published ‘The Three Resolutions’, an effort to expand upon Stephen Covey’s own writing under that title, which was a small chapter in his book ‘Principle-Centred Leadership’. The chapter described how making three commitments could make quantum improvements in an individual’s life, specifically in three areas. The areas were the physical self in terms of the wellbeing of the body; the ‘mental’ self in terms of character and competence; and the spiritual self in terms of contribution and service to others. The commitments were to overcome appetites and passions through the application of self-discipline and self-denial; overcome pretentions and pride through becoming a person of good character, and of great professional competence; and to overcome unbridled ambition and aspiration through a focus outside oneself.
I expanded on the concepts and publicly committed to a set of rules, values and a personal mission statement that reflected those headings. In many ways I succeeded in executing to a degree, but I felt that I wasn’t as compliant with my intentions as I could or should have been. Asking myself why, and considering the self-generated feedback that resulted, I concluded that there were four reasons why I, and many others, don’t feel as though our level of compliance with our mission statements is as high as we would like.
This realisation led me to consider the reasons for this, and how we could go about addressing the gap between desire and execution in living our personal mission statement; or, for the purposes of this book, living The Way.
First, though, I want to make one clear statement.
When I use the expression ‘The Way’ I am not saying there is only one ‘way’.
When I use the expression ‘The Way’ I am talking about what you will discover, in this book and through its study, is YOUR ‘Way’. Not mine, yours. This book isn’t about moralising and dictating what you should think, feel and do. I may make some suggestions, but the focus is intended to be on assisting the reader to discover his or her own Way, not just reproduce people who believe in mine. The objective is to help you design your better way of living, and for me to redesign and recommit to mine. But yours and mine will be different, either to some small degree if we are alike in some way, or by a huge difference if your values are hugely different to mine.
I concluded that there is only one true route to personal success. It’s a straightforward formula of four phases. They are:
Find the Way
Learn the Way
Live the Way
Teach the Way
These four phases systematically summarise a strategy for living. The system reflects the identification, learning and application process, that process which we all undertake when learning to live, to work, to earn, to relate to others, to manage – everything. They embody all the skills we need to have and to demonstrate in our efforts to live ‘properly’. They also reflect those areas where, if we are not careful, we will act badly.
This system parallels any development process undertaken anywhere, by anyone, for any purpose. It is how a professional learns; it is how a religion becomes ingrained into an adherent to that religion; it is how a family member learns to become a contributor to that family. The reason that such a system works is because it is neutral. It is a principle in action. It is the principle of progression, of starting out as a novice with the aim of becoming a master.
I believe that the route to living your Way is taken through these four steps. The steps are progressive, and they involve properly and fully identifying the Way, studying in greater detail about how the Way can be executed, then living in such a fashion as to clearly be in congruence with the Way, and finally to reinforce your Way by teaching it.
In brief, the four elements of The Way are expanded thus:
Find the Way
To quote Covey, the first challenges we face when deciding The Way is that we are not sure who we are, and where we want to go. The first part of the book is therefore intended to help you decide what values you have or want to have, the associated behaviours you believe will help you comply with those values, and writing them down so that you, yourself, clearly understand them.
Learn the Way
The second challenge, once we have put our fingers on who we want to be and where we want to go, is to learn how to do so. This section will be about studying and committing to the behaviours that serve execution of The Way.
Live the Way
Having overcome the first two challenges, there remain still further challenges to living the Way.
The first is that we do not realise that we are compliant because we don’t feel as though we are ‘doing’ our mission all of the time. Life gets in our way in the sense that it is hard to consider yourself ‘carrying out your mission’ when you are filling the dishwasher. Life is full of little routines that have to be done but aren’t, well, exciting.
The second reason for ineffective application of The Way that we have identified is inextricably linked to the first. As our lives are littered with unexciting, routine, non-mission projects, tasks and other activities, we fail to properly and routinely recognise opportunities to execute on our missions. For example, part of my own mission is to be patient with others. Imagine a day cluttered with runs to the shops, commuting in traffic jams, banking and managing money – then something jumps at you and interrupts you and in that second you react impatiently, because you haven’t seen, in the clutter, that opportunity to be what you want to be. The third part of the book is intended to help you overcome the challenges and live The Way – the way that you want to.
Teach the Way
And one way of living The Way is to spend a lot of time teaching it. Covey counselled participants at his many events that the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. He would ‘volunteer’ random attendees and tell them he was about to teach something that they would have to repeat to other participants. Then he would point out to those others that his ‘volunteers’ had just pricked up their ears and picked up their pens – they were now listening because they knew they had to understand what they were about to teach. The fourth part of the book will advise you on how to do this.
To summarise, then, the objective of this book is to
Help the student identify the values, disciplines and objectives for their future success in life.
Help the student find the motivation to learn the precise definition of those values so that they are content they reflect their true desires. And then to master that understanding.
Help the student master and execute the behaviours and actions needed to live in accordance with the values they themselves have identified in the first two parts.
Encourage the student to teach others, with the objectives of both spreading the word and ingraining their own improved mastery of their chosen path.
I hope you take the opportunity to get a copy, which is available at Amazon through THIS LINK and is as much a bargain of a paperback as I could make it!