Covey habit 2

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Habit 2:  “Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Vision.”

After identifying and describing the negative professional attribute you would like to change, identify and describe the positive attribute that it will be replaced with and what it will look like when performed/operationalized.


Stephen R. Covey

Stephen Covey has written a remarkable book about the human condition, so elegantly
written, so understanding of our embedded concerns, so useful for our organization and
personal lives, that it’s going to be my gift to everyone I know.
— Warren Bennis, author of On Becoming a Leader

I’ve never known any teacher or mentor on improving personal effectiveness to generate
such an Overwhelmingly positive reaction…. This book captures beautifully Stephen’s
philosophy of principles. I think anyone reading it will quickly understand the enormous
reaction I and others have had to Dr.Covey’s teachings.
— John Pepper, President, Procter and Gamble

Stephen Covey is an American Socrates, opening your mind to the ‘permanent things’ —
values, family, relationships, communicating.
— Brian Tracy, author of Psychology of Achievement

Stephen R. Covey’s book teaches with power, conviction, and feeling. Both the content
and the methodology of these principles form a solid foundation for effective
communication. As an educator, I think this book to be a significant addition to my
— William Rolfe Kerr, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education

Few students of management and organization — and people — have thought as long and
hard about first principles as Stephen Covey. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective
People, he offers us an opportunity, not a how-to guide. The opportunity is to explore our
impact and ourselves on others, and to do so by taking advantage of his profound
insights. It is a wonderful book that could change your life.
— Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

The ethical basis for human relations in this book defines a way of life, not just a
methodology for succeeding at business. That it works is apparent.
— Bruce L. Christensen, President, Public Broadcasting Service

At a time when American organizations desperately need to energize people and
produce leaders at all levels, Covey provides an empowering philosophy for life that is
also the best guarantee of success in business…a perfect blend of wisdom, compassion,
and practical experience.
— Rosabeth Moss Kanter, editor of the Harvard Business Review and author of When
Giants Learn to Dance

I have learned so much from Stephen Covey over the years that every time I sit down to
write, I’m worried about subconscious plagiarism! Seven Habits is not pop psychology or
trendy self-help. It is solid wisdom and sound principles.
— Richard M. Eyre, author of Life Balance and Teaching Children Values

We could do well to make the reading and use of this book a requirement for anyone at
any level of public service. It would be far more effective than any legislation regarding
ethical conduct.
— Senator Jake Garn, first senator in space

When Stephen Covey talks, executives listen. — Dun’s Business Month

Stephen Covey’s inspirational book will undoubtedly be the psychology handbook of the
’90s. The principles discussed are universal and can be applied to every aspect of life.


These principles, however, are like an opera. They cannot simply be performed, they
must be rehearsed!
— Ariel Bybee, mezzo-soprano, Metropolitan Opera

I found this book stimulating and thought-provoking. In fact, I keep referring to it.
— Richard M. DeVos, President, Amway

Winning is a habit. So is losing. Twenty-five years of experience, thought, and research
have convinced Covey that seven habits distinguish the happy, healthy, successful from
those who fail or who must sacrifice meaning and happiness for success in the narrow
— Ron Zemke, coauthor of The Service Edge and Service America

Stephen R. Covey is a marvelous human being. He writes insightfully and he cares about
people.The equivalent of an entire library of success literature is found in this one
volume. The principles he teaches in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People have
made a real difference in my life.
— Ken Blanchard, Ph.D., author of The One-Minute Manager

The Seven Habits are keys to success for people in all walks of life. It is very thought-
— Edward A. Brennan, Chairman, President and CEO, Sears, Roebuck and Company

Covey validates the durable truths as they apply to family, business, and society in
general, sparing us the psycho-babble that pollutes so much of current literature on
human relations. His book is not a photograph, but a process, and should be treated as
such. He is neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but a possibilist, who believes that we and
we alone can open the door to change within ourselves. There are many more than seven
good reasons to read this book.
— Steve Labunski, Executive Director, International Radio and Television Society

Knowledge is the quickest and safest path to success in any area of life. Stephen Covey
has encapsulated the strategies used by all those who are highly effective. Success can be
learned and this book is a highly effective way to learn it.
— Charles Givens, President, Charles J. Givens Organization, Inc., author of Wealth
Without Risk

I know of no one who has contributed more to helping leaders in our society than
Stephen R. Covey…. There is no literate person in our society who would not benefit by
reading this book and applying its principles
— Senator Orrin G. Hatch

One of the greatest habits you can develop is to learn and internalize the wisdom of
Stephen Covey. He lives what he says and this book can help you live, permanently, in
the “Winner’s Circle.”
— Dr. Denis Waitley, author of The Psychology of Winning

It’s powerful reading. His principles of vision, leadership, and human relations make it a
practical teaching tool for business leaders today. I highly recommend it.
— Nolan Archibald, President and CEO, Black and Decker


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People suggests a discipline for our personal
dealings withpeople which would be undoubtedly valuable if people stopped to think
about it.
— James C. Fletcher, Director, NASA

A wonderful contribution. Dr. Covey has synthesized the habits of our highest achievers
and presented them in a powerful, easy-to-use program. We now have a blueprint for
opening the American mind.
— Charles Garfield, author of Peak Performer

Seven Habits is an exceptional book. It does a better job of inspiring a person to integrate
the different responsibilities in one’s life — personal, family, and professional – than any
other book I have read.
— Paul H. Thompson, Dean, Marriott School of Management, BYU and author of

Goodbye, Dale Carnegie. Stephen Covey has had a profound influence on my life. His
principles are powerful. They work. Buy this book. Read, it, and as you live the principles
your life will be enriched.
— Robert G. Allen, author of Creating Wealth and Nothing Down

In the ’90s America needs to unlock the door to increased productivity both on a business
and personal basis. The best way to accomplish this goal is through enhancing the human
resource. Dr. Covey’s Seven Habits provides the guidelines for this to happen. These
principles make great sense and are right on target for the time.
— F.G. “Buck” Rodgers, author of The IBM Way

This book is filled with practical wisdom for people who want to take control of their
lives, their business and their careers. Each time I read a section again I get new insights,
which suggests the messages are fundamental and deep.
— Gifford Pinchot III, author of Intrapreneuring

Most of my learning has come from modeling after other people and what they do.
Steve’s book helps energize this modeling process through highly effective research and
— Fran Tarkenton, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback

Not only does the “character ethic” win hands down every time over the “personality
ethic” in the battle of effectiveness, it also will bring greater fulfillment and joy to
individuals seeking meaning in their personal and professional lives.
— Larry Wilson, author of Changing the Game: The New Way to Sell

Fundamentals are the key to success. Stephen Covey is a master of them. Buy this book,
but most importantly, use it!
— Anthony Robbins, author of Unlimited Power

This book contains the kind of penetrating truth about human nature that is usually
found only in fiction. At the end, you will feel not only that you know Covey, but also
that he knows you
–Orson Scott Card, winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards


Stephen Covey adds great value to any individual or organization, not just through his
words. His vision and integrity — his personal example — move people beyond mere
— Tom F. Crum, cofounder, The Windstar Foundation, and author of The Magic of

With all the responsibilities and demands of time, travel, work, and families placed upon
us in today’s competitive world, it’s a big plus to have Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits
of Highly Effective People to refer to.
— Marie Osmond

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey serves up a seven-course
meal on how to take control of one’s life and become the complete, fulfilling person one
envisions. It is a satisfying, energetic, step-by-step book that is applicable for personal
and business progress.
— Roger Staubach, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback

The conclusions he draws in this book underscore the need to restore the character ethic
in our society. This work is a valuable addition to the literature of self-help.
— W. Clement Stone, founder, Success Magazine

Stephen Covey’s deliberate integration of life and principles leads to squaring inner
thought and outward behavior, resulting in personal as well as public integrity.
— Gregory J. Newell, U.S. Ambassador to Sweden


Part One

Paradigms and Principles


There is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right living

— David Starr Jordan

* * *

In more than 25 years of working with people in business, university, and marriage and
family settings, I have come in contact with many individuals who have achieved an
incredible degree of outward success, but have found themselves struggling with an
inner hunger, a deep need for personal congruency and effectiveness and for healthy,
growing relationships with other people.

I suspect some of the problems they have shared with me may be familiar to you.

I’ve set and met my career goals and I’m having tremendous professional success. But it’s
cost me my personal and family life. I don’t know my wife and children anymore. I’m not
even sure I know myself and what’s really important to me. I’ve had to ask myself — is it
worth it?

I’ve started a new diet — for the fifth time this year. I know I’m overweight, and I really
want to change. I read all the new information, I set goals, I get myself all psyched up
with a positive mental attitude and tell myself I can do it. But I don’t. After a few weeks, I
fizzle. I just can’t seem to keep a promise I make to myself.

I’ve taken course after course on effective management training. I expect a lot out of my
employees and I work hard to be friendly toward them and to treat them right. But I
don’t feel any loyalty from them. I think if I were home sick for a day, they’d spend most
of their time gabbing at the water fountain. Why can’t I train them to be independent and
responsible — or find employees who can be?

My teenage son is rebellious and on drugs. No matter what I try, he won’t listen to me.
What can I do?
There’s so much to do. And there’s never enough time. I feel pressured and hassled
all day, every day, seven days a week. I’ve attended time management seminars and I’ve
tried half a dozen different planning systems. They’ve helped some, but I still don’t feel
I’m living the happy, productive, peaceful life I want to live.
I want to teach my children the value of work. But to get them to do anything, I have to
supervise every move; and put up with complaining every step of the way. It’s so much
easier to do it myself. Why can’t children do their work cheerfully and without being

I’m busy — really busy. But sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing will make a difference
in the long run. I’d really like to think there was meaning in my life, that somehow things
were different because I was here. I see my friends or relatives achieve some degree of
success or receive some recognition, and I smile and congratulate them enthusiastically.
But inside, I’m eating my heart out. Why do I feel this way?


I have a forceful personality. I know, in almost any interaction, I can control the outcome.
Most of the time, I can even do it by influencing others to come up with the solution I
want. I think through each situation and I really feel the ideas I come up with are usually
the best for everyone. But I feel uneasy. I always wonder what other people really think
of me and my ideas.

My marriage has gone flat. We don’t fight or anything; we just don’t love each other
anymore. We’ve gone to counseling; we’ve tried a number of things, but we just can’t
seem to rekindle the feeling we used to have.

These are deep problems, painful problems — problems that quick fix approaches can’t
solve. A few years ago, my wife Sandra and I were struggling with this kind of concern.
One of our sons was having a very difficult time in school. He was doing poorly
academically; he didn’t even know how to follow the instructions on the tests, let alone
do well in them. Socially he was immature, often embarrassing those closest to him.
Athletically, he was small, skinny, and uncoordinated — swinging his baseball bat, for
example, almost before the ball was even pitched. Others would laugh at him.

Sandra and I were consumed with a desire to help him. We felt that if “success” were
important in any area of life, it was supremely important in our role as parents. So we
worked on our attitudes and behavior toward him and we tried to work on his. We
attempted to psyche him up using positive mental attitude techniques. “Come on, son!
You can do it! We know you can. Put your hands a little higher on the bat and keep your
eye on the ball. Don’t swing till it gets close to you.” And if he did a little better, we would
go to great lengths to reinforce him. “That’s good, son, keep it up.”

When others laughed, we reprimanded them. “Leave him alone. Get off his back. He’s
just learning.” And our son would cry and insist that he’d never be any good and that he
didn’t like baseball anyway.

Nothing we did seemed to help, and we were really worried. We could see the effect this
was having on his self-esteem. We tried to be encouraging and helpful and positive, but
after repeated failure, we finally drew back and tried to look at the situation on a
different level.

At this time in my professional role I was involved in leadership development work with
various clients throughout the country. In that capacity I was preparing bimonthly
programs on the subject of communication and perception for IBM’s Executive
Development Program participants.

As I researched and prepared these presentations, I became particularly interested in how
perceptions are formed, how they behave. This led me to a study of expectancy theory
and self-fulfilling prophecies or the “Pygmalion effect,” and to a realization of how deeply
imbedded our perceptions are. It taught me that we must look at the lens through which
we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we
interpret the world.

As Sandra and I talked about the concepts I was teaching at IBM and about our own
situation, we began to realize that what we were doing to help our son was not in
harmony with the way we really saw him. When we honestly examined our deepest
feelings, we realized that our perception was that he was basically inadequate, somehow
“behind.” No matter how much we worked on our attitude and behavior, our efforts were


ineffective because, despite our actions and our words, what we really communicated to
him was, “You aren’t capable. You have to be protected.”

We began to realize that if we wanted to change the situation, we first had to change
ourselves. And to change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.

The Personality and Character Ethics

At the same time, in addition to my research on perception, I was also deeply immersed
in an in-depth study of the success literature published in the United States since 1776. I
was reading or scanning literally hundreds of books, articles, and essays in fields such as
self-improvement, popular psychology, and self-help. At my fingertips was the sum and
substance of what a free and democratic people considered to be the keys to successful

As my study took me back through 200 years of writing about success, I noticed a
startling pattern emerging in the content of the literature. Because of our own pain, and
because of similar pain I had seen in the lives and relationships of many people I had
worked with through the years, I began to feel more and more that much of the success
literature of the past 50 years was superficial. It was filled with social image
consciousness, techniques and quick fixes — with social band-aids and aspirin that
addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily — but
left the underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and again.

In stark contrast, almost all the literature in the first 150 years or so focused on what
could be called the character ethic as the foundation of success — things like integrity,
humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty,
and the Golden Rule. Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is representative of that
literature. It is, basically, the story of one man’s effort to integrate certain principles and
habits deep within his nature.

The character ethic taught that there are basic principles of effective living, and that
people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and
integrate these principles into their basic character.

But shortly after World War I the basic view of success shifted from the character ethic to
what we might call the personality ethic. Success became more a function of personality,
of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques, that lubricate the
processes of human interaction. This personality ethic essentially took two paths: one was
human and public relations techniques, and the other was positive mental attitude
(PMA). Some of this philosophy was expressed in inspiring and sometimes valid maxims
such as “Your attitude determines your altitude,” “Smiling wins more friends than
frowning,” and “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.

Other parts of the personality approach were clearly manipulative, even deceptive,
encouraging people to use techniques to get other people to like them, or to fake interest
in the hobbies of others to get out of them what they wanted, or to use the “power look,”
or to intimidate their way through life.

Some of this literature acknowledged character as an ingredient of success, but tended to
compartmentalize it rather than recognize it as foundational and catalytic. Reference to
the character ethic became mostly lip service; the basic thrust was quick-fix influence
techniques, power strategies, communication skills, and positive attitudes.


This personality ethic, I began to realize, was the subconscious source of the solutions
Sandra and I were attempting to use with our son. As I thought more deeply about the
difference between the personality and character ethics, I realized that Sandra and I had
been getting social mileage out of our children’s good behavior, and, in our eyes, this son
simply didn’t measure up. Our image of ourselves, and our role as good, caring parents
was even deeper than our image of our son and perhaps influenced it. There was a lot
more wrapped up in the way we were seeing and handling the problem than our concern
for our son’s welfare.

As Sandra and I talked, we became painfully aware of the powerful influence of our
character and motives and of our perception of him. We knew that social comparison
motives were out of harmony with our deeper values and could lead to conditional love
and eventually to our son’s lessened sense of self-worth. So we determined to focus our
efforts on us — not on our techniques, but on our deepest motives and our perception of
him. Instead of trying to change him, we tried to stand apart — to separate us from him —
and to sense his identity, individuality, separateness, and worth.

Through deep thought and the exercise of faith and prayer, we began to see our son in
terms of his own uniqueness. We saw within him layers and layers of potential that
would be realized at his own pace and speed. We decided to relax and get out of his way
and let his own personality emerge. We saw our natural role as being to affirm, enjoy,
and value him. We also conscientiously worked on our motives and cultivated internal
sources of security so that our own feelings of worth were not dependent on our
children’s “acceptable” behavior.

As we loosened up our old perception of our son and developed value-based motives,
new feelings began to emerge. We found ourselves enjoying him instead of comparing or
judging him. We stopped trying to clone him in our own image or measure him against
social expectations. We stopped trying to kindly, positively manipulate him into an
acceptable social mold. Because we saw him as fundamentally adequate and able to cope
with life, we stopped protecting him against the ridicule of others.

He had been nurtured on this protection, so he went through some withdrawal pains,
which he expressed and which we accepted, but did not necessarily respond to. “We
don’t need to protect you,” was the unspoken message. “You’re fundamentally okay.”

As the weeks and months passed, he began to feel a quiet confidence and affirmed
himself. He began to blossom, at his own pace and speed. He became outstanding as
measured by standard social criteria — academically, socially and athletically — at a rapid
clip, far beyond the so-called natural developmental process. As the years passed, he was
elected to several student body leadership positions, developed into an all-state athlete
and started bringing home straight A report cards. He developed an engaging and
guileless personality that has enabled him to relate in nonthreatening ways to all kinds of

Sandra and I believe that our son’s “socially impressive” accomplishments were more a
serendipitous expression of the feelings he had about himself than merely a response to
social reward. This was an amazing experience for Sandra and me, and a very
instructional one in dealing with our other children and in other roles as well. It brought
to our awareness on a very personal level the vital difference between the personality
ethic and the character ethic of success. The Psalmist expressed our conviction well:
“Search your own heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.”


Primary and Secondary Greatness

My experience with my son, my study of perception and my reading of the success
literature coalesced to create one of those “Aha!” experiences in life when suddenly things
click into place. I was suddenly able to see the powerful impact of the personality ethic
and to clearly understand those subtle, often consciously unidentified discrepancies
between what I knew to be true — some things I had been taught many years ago as a
child and things that were deep in my own inner sense of value — and the quick fix
philosophies that surrounded me every day. I understood at a deeper level why, as I had
worked through the years with people from all walks of life, I had found that the things I
was teaching and knew to be effective were often at variance with these popular voices.

I am not suggesting that elements of the personality ethic — personality growth,
communication skill training, and education in the field of influence strategies and
positive thinking — are not beneficial, in fact sometimes essential for success. I believe
they are. But these are secondary, not primary traits. Perhaps, in utilizing our human
capacity to build on the foundation of generations before us, we have inadvertently
become so focused on our own building that we have forgotten the foundation that holds
it up; or in reaping for so long where we have not sown, perhaps we have forgotten the
need to sow.

If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what
I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other — while my
character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity — then, in the
long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do —
even using so-called good human relations techniques — will be perceived as
manipulative. It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good
the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent
success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique.

To focus on technique is like cramming your way through school. You sometimes get by,
perhaps even get good grades, but if you don’t pay the price day in and day out, you
never achieve true mastery of the subjects you study or develop an educated mind.

Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm — to forget to
plant in the spring, play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest? The
farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always
reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.

This principle is also true, ultimately, in human behavior, in human relationships. They,
too, are natural systems based on the The Law of the Harvest. In the short run, in an
artificial social system such as school, you may be able to get by if you learn how to
manipulate the man-made rules, to “play the game.” In most one-shot or short-lived
human interactions, you can use the personality ethic to get by and to make favorable
impressions through charm and skill and pretending to be interested in other people’s
hobbies. You can pick up quick, easy techniques that may work in short-term situations.
But secondary traits alone have no permanent worth in long-term relationships.
Eventually, if there isn’t deep integrity and fundamental character strength, the
challenges of life will cause true motives to surface and human relationship failure will
replace short-term success.

Many people with secondary greatness — that is, social recognition for their talents — lack
primary greatness or goodness in their character. Sooner or later, you’ll see this in every


long-term relationship they have, whether it is with a business associate, a spouse, a
friend, or a teenage child going through an identity crisis. It is character that
communicates most eloquently. As Emerson once put it, “What you are shouts so loudly
in my ears that I cannot hear what you say.”

There are, of course, situations where people have character strength but they lack
communication skills, and that undoubtedly affects the quality of relationships as well.
But the effects are still secondary.

In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say
or do. We all know it. There are people we trust absolutely because we know their
character. Whether they’re eloquent or not, whether they have the human relations
techniques or not, we trust them, and we work successfully with them. In the words of
William George Jordan, “Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power
for good or evil — the silent unconscious, unseen influence of his life. This is simply the
constant radiation of what man really is, not what he pretends to be.”

The Power of a Paradigm

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People embody many of the fundamental principles
of human effectiveness. These habits are basic; they are primary. They represent the
internalization of correct principles upon which enduring happiness and success are

But before we can really understand these Seven Habits TM, we need to understand our
own “paradigms” and how to make a “A Paradigm Shift TM.”

Both the The Character Ethic The Personality Ethic are examples of social paradigms. The
word paradigm comes from the Greek. It was originally a scientific term, and is more
commonly used today to mean a model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of
reference. In the more general sense, it’s the way we “see” the world — not in terms of our
visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting.

For our purposes, a simple way to understand paradigms is to see them as maps. We all
know that “the map is not the territory.” A map is simply an explanation of certain
aspects of the territory. That’s exactly what a paradigm is. It is a theory, an explanation,
or model of something else.
Suppose you wanted to arrive at a specific location in central Chicago. A street map of the
city would be a great help to you in reaching your destination. But suppose you were
given the wrong map. Through a printing error, the map labeled “Chicago” was actually a
map of Detroit. Can you imagine the frustration, the ineffectiveness of trying to reach
your destination?

You might work on your behavior — you could try harder, being more diligent, doubling
your speed. But your efforts would only succeed in getting you to the wrong place faster.

You might work on your attitude — you could think more positively. You still wouldn’t
get to the right place, but perhaps you wouldn’t care. Your attitude would be so positive,
you’d be happy wherever you were. The point is, you’d still be lost. The fundamental
problem has nothing to do with your behavior or your attitude. It has everything to do
with having a wrong map.


If you have the right map of Chicago, then diligence becomes important, and when you
encounter frustrating obstacles along the way, then attitude can make a real difference.
But the first and most important requirement is the accuracy of the map.

Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main
categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way things should be,
or values. We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom
question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware that we have them. We simply
assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be.

And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of those assumptions. The way we see things
is the source of the way we think and the way we act. Before going any further, I invite
you to have an intellectual and emotional experience. Take a few seconds and just look at
the picture on the following page

Now look at the picture below and carefully describe what you see Do you see a woman?
How old would you say she is? What does she look like? What is she wearing? In what
kind of roles do you see her? You probably would describe the woman in the second
picture to be about 25 years old — very lovely, rather fashionable with a petite nose and
demure presence. If you were a single man you might like to take her out. If you were in
retailing, you might hire her as a fashion model.

But what if I were to tell you that you’re wrong? What if I said this picture is of a woman
in her 60s or 70s who looks sad, has a huge nose, and certainly is no model. She’s
someone you probably would help cross the street.

Who’s right? Look at the picture again. Can you see the old woman? If you can’t, keep
trying. Can you see her big hook nose? Her shawl?

If you and I were talking face to face, we could discuss the picture. You could describe
what you see to me, and I could talk to you about what I see. We could continue to
communicate until you clearly showed me what you see in the picture and I clearly
showed you what I see.

Because we can’t do that, turn to page 45 and study the picture there and then look at this
picture again. Can you see the old woman now? It’s important that you see her before
you continue reading.

I first encountered this exercise many years ago at the Harvard Business School. The
instructor was using it to demonstrate clearly and eloquently that two people can see the
same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical; it’s psychological.

He brought into the room a stack of large cards, half of which had the image of the young
woman you saw on page 25, and the other half of which had the old woman on page 45.

He passed them out to the class, the picture of the young woman to one side of the room
and the picture of the old woman to the other. He asked us to look at the cards,
concentrate on them for about 10 seconds and then pass them back in. He then projected
upon the screen the picture you saw on page 26 combining both images and asked the
class to describe what they saw. Almost every person in that class who had first seen the
young woman’s image on a card saw the young woman in the picture. And almost every
person in that class who had first seen the old woman’s image on a card saw an old
woman in the picture.


The professor then asked one student to explain what he saw to a student on the opposite
side of the room. As they talked back and forth, communication problems flared up.

“What do you mean, ‘old lady’? She couldn’t be more than 20 or 22 years old!

“Oh, come on. You have to be joking. She’s 70 — could be pushing 80!”

“What’s the matter with you? Are you blind? This lady is young, good looking. I’d like to
take her out. She’s lovely.”

“Lovely? She’s an old hag.

The arguments went back and forth, each person sure of, and adamant in, his or her
position. All of this occurred in spite of one exceedingly important advantage the
students had — most of them knew early in the demonstration that another point of view
did, in fact, exist — something many of us would never admit. Nevertheless, at first, only
a few students really tried to see this picture from another frame of reference.

After a period of futile communication, one student went up to the screen and pointed to
a line on the drawing. “There is the young woman’s necklace.” The other one said, “No,
that is the old woman’s mouth.” Gradually, they began to calmly discuss specific points of
difference, and finally one student, and then another, experienced sudden recognition
when the images of both came into focus. Through continued calm, respectful, and
specific communication, each of us in the room was finally able to see the other point of
view. But when we looked away and then back, most of us would immediately see the
image we had been conditioned to see in the 10-second period of time.

I frequently use this perception demonstration in working with people and organizations
because it yields so many deep insights into both personal and interpersonal
effectiveness. It shows, first of all, how powerfully conditioning affects our perceptions,
our paradigms. If 10 seconds can have that kind of impact on the way we see things, what
about the conditioning of a lifetime? The influences in our lives — family, school, church,
work environment, friends, associates, and current social paradigms such as the
personality ethic — all have made their silent unconscious impact on us and help shape
our frame of reference, our paradigms, our maps.

It also shows that these paradigms are the source of our attitudes and behaviors. We
cannot act with integrity outside of them. We simply cannot maintain wholeness if we
talk and walk differently than we see. If you were among the 90 percent who typically see
the young woman in the composite picture when conditioned to do so, you undoubtedly
found it difficult to think in terms of having to help her cross the street. Both your
attitude about her and your behavior toward her had to be congruent with the way you
saw her.

This brings into focus one of the basic flaws of the personality ethic. To try to change
outward attitudes and behaviors does very little good in the long run if we fail to
examine the basic paradigms from which those attitudes and behaviors flow.
This perception demonstration also shows how powerfully our paradigms affect the way
we interact with other people. As clearly and objectively as we think we see things, we
begin to realize that others see them differently from their own apparently equally clear
and objective point of view. “Where we stand depends on where we sit.”


Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not
the case.We see the world, not as it is, but as we are — or, as we are conditioned to see it.
When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our
perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think
something is wrong with them. But, as the demonstration shows, sincere, clearheaded
people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.

This does not mean that there are no facts. In the demonstration, two individuals who
initially have been influenced by different conditioning pictures look at the third picture
together. They are now both looking at the same identical facts — black lines and white
spaces — and they would both acknowledge these as facts. But each person’s
interpretation of these facts represents prior experiences, and the facts have no meaning
whatsoever apart from the interpretation.

The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to
which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility
for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open
to their perceptions, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view.

The Power of a Paradigm Shift

Perhaps the most important insight to be gained from the perception demonstration is in
the area of paradigm shifting, what we might call the “Aha!” experience when someone
finally “sees” the composite picture in another way. The more bound a person is by the
initial perception, the more powerful the “Aha!” experience is. It’s as though a light were
suddenly turned on inside.

The term Paradigm Shift was introduced by Thomas Kuhn in his highly influential
landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn shows how almost every
significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavor is first a break with tradition,
with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms.

For Ptolemy, the great Egyptian astronomer, the earth was the center of the universe. But
Copernicus created a Paradigm Shift, and a great deal of resistance and persecution as
well, by placing the sun at the center. Suddenly, everything took on a different

The Newtonian model of physics was a clockwork paradigm and is still the basis of
modern engineering. But it was partial, incomplete. The scientific world was
revolutionized by the Einsteinian paradigm, the relativity paradigm, which had much
higher predictive and explanatory value.

Until the germ theory was developed, a high percentage of women and children died
during childbirth, and one could understand why. In military skirmishes, more men were
dying from small wounds and diseases than from the major traumas on the front lines.
But as soon as the germ theory was developed, a whole new paradigm, a better,
improved way of understanding what was happening made dramatic, significant
medical improvement possible.

The United States today is the fruit of a Paradigm Shift. The traditional concept of
government for centuries had been a monarchy, the divine right of kings. Then a different
paradigm was developed -government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
And a constitutional democracy was born, unleashing tremendous human energy and


ingenuity, and creating a standard of living, of freedom and liberty, of influence and
hope unequaled in the history of the world.

Not all Paradigm Shifts are in positive directions. As we have observed, the shift from the
character ethic to the personality ethic has drawn us away from the very roots that
nourish true success and happiness.

But whether they shift us in positive or negative directions, whether they are
instantaneous or developmental, Paradigm Shifts move us from one way of seeing the
world to another. And those shifts create powerful change. Our paradigms, correct or
incorrect, are the sources of our attitudes and behaviors, and ultimately our relationships
with others.

I remember a mini-Paradigm Shift I experienced one Sunday morning on a subway in
New York. People were sitting quietly — some reading newspapers, some lost in thought,
some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.

Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so
loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed. The man sat down next
to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling
back and forth, throwing things, and even grabbing people’s papers. It was very
disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.

It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive to let
his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It
was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I
felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are
really disturbing a lot of people. wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”

The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time
and said softly, “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came
from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think,
and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”

Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm shifted. Suddenly I saw
things differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn’t
have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the
man’s pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. “Your wife just died?
Oh, I’m so sorry. Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?” Everything changed in
an instant.

Many people experience a similar fundamental shift in thinking when they face a life-
threatening crisis and suddenly see their priorities in a different light, or when they
suddenly step into a new role, such as that of husband or wife, parent or grandparent,
manager or leader.

We could spend weeks, months, even years laboring with the personality ethic trying to
change our attitudes and behaviors and not even begin to approach the phenomenon of
change that occurs spontaneously when we see things differently.

It becomes obvious that if we want to make relatively minor changes in our lives, we can
perhaps appropriately focus on our attitudes and behaviors. But if we want to make
significant, quantum change, we need to work on our basic paradigms.


In the words of Thoreau, “For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one
striking at the root.” We can only achieve quantum improvements in our lives as we quit
hacking at the leaves of attitude and behavior and get to work on the root, the paradigms
from which our attitudes and behaviors flow.

Seeing and Being

Of course, not all Paradigm Shifts are instantaneous. Unlike my instant insight on the
subway, the paradigm-shifting experience Sandra and I had with our son was a slow,
difficult, and deliberate process. The approach we had first taken with him was the
outgrowth of years of conditioning and experience in the personality ethic. It was the
result of deeper paradigms we held about our own success as parents as well as the
measure of success of our children. And it was not until we changed those basic
paradigms, quantum change in ourselves and in the situation.

In order to see our son differently, Sandra and I had to be differently. Our new paradigm
was created as we invested in the growth and development of our own character.

Our Paradigms are the way we “see” the world or circumstances — not in terms of our
visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting.
Paradigms are inseparable from character. Being is seeing in the human dimension. And
what we see is highly interrelated to what we are. We can’t go very far to change our
seeing without simultaneously changing our being, and vice versa.

Even in my apparently instantaneous paradigm-shifting experience that morning on the
subway, my change of vision was a result of — and limited by — my basic character.

I’m sure there are people who, even suddenly understanding the true situation, would
have felt no more than a twinge of regret or vague guilt as they continued to sit in
embarrassed silence beside the grieving, confused man. On the other hand, I am equally
certain there are people who would have been far more sensitive in the first place, who
may have recognized that a deeper problem existed and reached out to understand and
help before I did.

Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world.
The power of a Paradigm Shift is the essential power of quantum change, whether that
shift is an instantaneous or a slow and deliberate process.

The Principle-Centered Paradigm

The character ethic is based on the fundamental idea that there are principles that govern
human effectiveness — natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as
unchanging and unarguably “there” as laws such as gravity are in the physical

An idea of the reality — and the impact — of these principles can be captured in another
paradigm-shifting experience as told by Frank Kock in Proceedings, the magazine of the
Naval Institute.

Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in
heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on
the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained
on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.


Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, “Light, bearing on the
starboard bow.”

“Is it steady or moving astern?” the captain called out.

Lookout replied, “Steady, captain,” which meant we were on a dangerous collision course
with that ship. The captain then called to the signal man, “Signal that ship: We are on a
collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.”

Back came a signal, “Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees.”

The captain said, “Send, I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees.”

“I’m a seaman second class,” came the reply. “You had better change course 20 degrees.”

By that time, the captain was furious. He spat out, “Send, I’m a battleship. Change course
20 degrees.”

Back came the flashing light, “I’m a lighthouse.”

We changed course

The A Paradigm Shift is the “a-ha” experience associated with finally perceiving or
understanding some aspect of the world (or a circumstance) in a different way. Paradigm
Shift experienced by the captain — and by us as we read this account — puts the situation
in a totally different light. We can see a reality that is superseded by his limited
perceptions — a reality that is as critical for us to understand in our daily lives as it was
for the captain in the fog.

Principles are like lighthouses. They are natural laws that cannot be broken. As Cecil B.
deMille observed of the principles contained in his monumental movie, The Ten
Commandments, “It is impossible for us to break the law. We can only break ourselves
against the law.”

While individuals may look at their own lives and interactions in terms of paradigms or
maps emerging out of their experience and conditioning, these maps are not the territory.
They are a “subjective reality,” only an attempt to describe the territory.

The “objective reality,” or the territory itself, is composed of “lighthouse” principles that
govern human growth and happiness — natural laws that are woven into the fabric of
every civilized society throughout history and comprise the roots of every family and
institution that has endured and prospered. The degree to which our mental maps
accurately describe the territory does not alter its existence.
The reality of such principles or natural laws becomes obvious to anyone who thinks
deeply and examines the cycles of social history. These principles surface time and time
again, and the degree to which people in society recognize and live in harmony with
them moves them toward either survival and stability or disintegration and destruction.

The principles I am referring to are not esoteric, mysterious, or “religious” ideas. There is
not one principle taught in this book that is unique to any specific faith or religion,
including my own. These principles are a part of every major enduring religion, as well
as enduring social philosophies and ethical systems. They are self-evident and can easily
be validated by any individual. It’s almost as if these principles or natural laws are part of


the human condition, part of the human consciousness, part of the human conscience.
They seem to exist in all human beings, regardless of social conditioning and loyalty to
them, even though they might be submerged or numbed by conditions or disloyalty.

I am referring, for example, to the principle of fairness, out of which our whole concept of
equity and justice is developed. Little children seem to have an innate sense of the idea of
fairness even apart from opposite conditioning experiences. There are vast differences in
how fairness is defined and achieved, but there is almost universal awareness of the idea.

Other examples would include integrity and honesty. They create the foundation of trust
which is essential to cooperation and long-term personal and interpersonal growth.

Another principle is human dignity. The basic concept in the United States Declaration of
Independence bespeaks this value or principle. “We hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable
rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Another principle is service, or the idea of making a contribution. Another is quality or
excellence. There is the principle of potential, the idea that we are embryonic and can
grow and develop and release more and more potential, develop more and more talents.
Highly related to potential is the principle of growth — the process of releasing potential
and developing talents, with the accompanying need for principles such as patience,
nurturance, and encouragement.
Principles are not practices. A practice is a specific activity or action. A practice that
works in one circumstance will not necessarily work in another, as parents who have
tried to raise a second child exactly like they did the first one can readily attest.

While practices are situationally specific, principles are deep, fundamental truths that
have universal application. They apply to individuals, to marriages, to families, to private
and public organizations of every kind. When these truths are internalized into habits,
they empower people to create a wide variety of practices to deal with different

While practices are situationally specific, principles are deep, fundamental truths that
have universal application. They apply to individuals, to marriages, to families, to private
and public organizations of every kind. When these truths are internalized into habits,
they empower people to create a wide variety of practices to deal with different

Principles are not values. A gang of thieves can share values, but they are in violation of
the fundamental principles we’re talking about. Principles are the territory. Values are
maps. When we value correct principles, we have truth — a knowledge of things as they
Principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have enduring,
permanent value. They’re fundamental. They’re essentially unarguable because they are
self-evident. One way to quickly grasp the self-evident nature of principles is to simply
consider the absurdity of attempting to live an effective life based on their opposites. I
doubt that anyone would seriously consider unfairness, deceit, baseness, uselessness,
mediocrity, or degeneration to be a solid foundation for lasting happiness and success.
Although people may argue about how these principles are defined or manifested or
achieved, there seems to be an innate consciousness and awareness that they exist.


The more closely our maps or paradigms are aligned with these principles or natural
laws, the more accurate and functional they will be. Correct maps will infinitely impact
our personal and interpersonal effectiveness far more than any amount of effort
expended on changing our attitudes and behaviors.

Principles of Growth and Change

The glitter of the personality ethic, the massive appeal, is that there is some quick and
easy way to achieve quality of life — personal effectiveness and rich, deep relationships
with other people — without going through the natural process of work and growth that
makes it possible

It’s symbol without substance. It’s the “get rich quick” scheme promising “wealth without
work.” And it might even appear to succeed — but the schemer remains.

The personality ethic is illusory and deceptive. And trying to get high-quality results with
its techniques and quick fixes is just about as effective as trying to get to some place in
Chicago using a map of Detroit.

In the words of Erich Fromm, an astute observer of the roots and fruits of the personality
ethic. Today we come across an individual who behaves like an automaton, who does not
know or understand himself, and the only person that he knows is the person that he is
supposed to be, whose meaningless chatter has replaced communicative speech, whose
synthetic smile has replaced genuine laughter, and whose sense of dull despair has taken
the place of genuine pain. Two statements may be said concerning this individual. One is
that he suffers from defects of spontaneity and individuality which may seem to be
incurable. At the same time it may be said of him he does not differ essentially from the
millions of the rest of us who walk upon this earth.

In all of life, there are sequential stages of growth and development. A child learns to
turn over, to sit up, to crawl, and then to walk and run. Each step is important and each
one takes time. No step can be skipped.

This is true in all phases of life, in all areas of development, whether it be learning to play
the piano or communicate effectively with a working associate. It is true with individuals,
with marriages, with families, and with organizations.

We know and accept this fact or principle of process in the area of physical things, but to
understand it in emotional areas, in human relations, and even in the area of personal
character is less common and more difficult. And even if we understand it, to accept it
and to live in harmony with it are even less common and more difficult. Consequently,
we sometimes look for a shortcut, expecting to be able to skip some of these vital steps in
order to save time and effort and still reap the desired result.
But what happens when we attempt to shortcut a natural process in our growth and
development? If you are only an average tennis player but decide to play at a higher level
in order to make a better impression, what will result? Would positive thinking alone
enable you to compete effectively against a professional?

What if you were to lead your friends to believe you could play the piano at concert hall
level while your actual present skill was that of a beginner?
The answers are obvious. It is simply impossible to violate, ignore, or shortcut this
development process. It is contrary to nature, and attempting to seek such a shortcut only
results in disappointment and frustration.


On a 10-point scale, if I am at level two in any field, and desire to move to level five, I
must first take the step toward level three. “A thousand-mile journey begins with the first
step” and can only be taken one step at a time.

If you don’t let a teacher know what level you are — by asking a question, or revealing
your ignorance — you will not learn or grow. You cannot pretend for long, for you will
eventually be found out. Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.
Thoreau taught, “How can we remember our ignorance, which our growth requires,
when we are using our knowledge all of the time?”

I recall one occasion when two young women, daughters of a friend of mine, came to me
tearfully, complaining about their father’s harshness and lack of understanding. They
were afraid to open up with their parents for fear of the consequences. And yet they
desperately needed their parents’ love, understanding, and guidance.

I talked with the father and found that he was intellectually aware of what was
happening. But while he admitted he had a temper problem, he refused to take
responsibility for it and to honestly accept the fact that his emotional development level
was low. It was more than his pride could swallow to take the first step toward change.

To relate effectively with a wife, a husband, children, friends, or working associates, we
must learn to listen. And this requires emotional strength. Listening involves patience,
openness, and the desire to understand — highly developed qualities of character. It’s so
much easier to operate from a low emotional level and to give high-level advice.

Our level of development is fairly obvious with tennis or piano playing, where it is
impossible to pretend. But it is not so obvious in the areas of character and emotional
development. We can “pose” and “put on” for a stranger or an associate. We can pretend.
And for a while we can get by with it -at least in public. We might even deceive
ourselves. Yet I believe that most of us know the truth of what we really are inside; and I
think many of those we live with and work with do as well.

I have seen the consequences of attempting to shortcut this natural process of growth
often in the business world, where executives attempt to “buy” a new culture of improved
productivity, quality, morale, and customer service with the strong speeches, smile
training, and external interventions, or through mergers, acquisitions, and friendly or
unfriendly takeovers. But they ignore the low-trust climate produced by such
manipulations. When these methods don’t work, they look for other personality ethic
techniques that will — all the time ignoring and violating the natural principles and
processes on which high-trust culture is based.
I remember violating this principle myself as a father many years ago. One day I returned
home to my little girl’s third-year birthday party to find her in the corner of the front
room, defiantly clutching all of her presents, unwilling to let the other children play with
them. The first thing I noticed was several parents in the room witnessing this selfish
display. I was embarrassed, and doubly so because at the time I was teaching university
classes in human relations. And I knew, or at least felt, the expectation of these parents.

The atmosphere in the room was really charged — the children were crowding around my
little daughter with their hands out, asking to play with the presents they had just given,
and my daughter was adamantly refusing. I said to myself, “Certainly I should teach my
daughter to share. The value of sharing is one of the most basic things we believe in.”


So I first tried a simple request. “Honey, would you please share with your friends the
toys they’ve given you?

“No,” she replied flatly.

My second method was to use a little reasoning. “Honey, if you learn to share your toys
with them when they are at your home, then when you go to their homes they will share
their toys with you.”

Again, the immediate reply was “No!”

I was becoming a little more embarrassed, for it was evident I was having no influence.
The third method was bribery. Very softly I said, “Honey, if you share, I’ve got special
surprise for you. I’ll give you a piece of gum.”

“I don’t want gum!” she exploded.

Now I was becoming exasperated. For my fourth attempt, I resorted to fear and threat.
“Unless you share, you will be in real trouble!”

“I don’t care!” she cried. “These are my things. I don’t have to share!”

Finally, I resorted to force. I merely took some of the toys and gave them to the other
kids. “Here, kids, play with these.”

But at that moment, I valued the opinion those parents had of me more than the growth
and development of my child and our relationship together. I simply made an initial
judgment that I was right; she should share, and she was wrong in not doing so.

Perhaps I superimposed a higher-level expectation on her simply because on my own
scale I was at a lower level. I was unable or unwilling to give patience or understanding,
so I expected her to give things. In an attempt to compensate for my deficiency, I
borrowed strength from my position and authority and forced her to do what I wanted
her to do. But borrowing strength builds weakness. It builds weakness in the borrower
because it reinforces dependence on external factors to get things done. It builds
weakness in the person forced to
acquiesce, stunting the development of independent reasoning, growth, and internal
discipline. And finally, it builds weakness in the relationship. Fear replaces cooperation,
and both people involved become more arbitrary and defensive.

And what happens when the source of borrowed strength — be it superior size or
physical strength, position, authority, credentials, status symbols, appearance, or past
achievements — changes or is no longer there?

Had I been more mature, I could have relied on my own intrinsic strength — my
understanding of sharing and of growth and my capacity to love and nurture — and
allowed my daughter to make a free choice as to whether she wanted to share or not to
share. Perhaps after attempting to reason with her, I could have turned the attention of
the children to an interesting game, taking all that emotional pressure off my child. I’ve
learned that once children gain a sense of real possession, they share very naturally,
freely, and spontaneously.


My experience has been that there are times to teach and times not to teach. When
relationships are strained and the air charged with emotion, an attempt to teach is often
perceived as a form of judgment and rejection. But to take the child alone, quietly, when
the relationship is good and to discuss the teaching or the value seems to have much
greater impact. It may have been that the emotional maturity to do that was beyond my
level of patience and internal control at the time.

Perhaps a sense of possessing needs to come before a sense of genuine sharing. Many
people who give mechanically or refuse to give and share in their marriages and families
may never have experienced what it means to possess themselves, their own sense of
identity and self-worth. Really helping our children grow may involve being patient
enough to allow them the sense of possession as well as being wise enough to teach them
the value of giving and providing the example ourselves.

The Way We See the Problem is the Problem

People are intrigued when they see good things happening in the lives of individuals,
families, and organizations that are based on solid principles. They admire such personal
strength and maturity, such family unity and teamwork, such adaptive synergistic
organizational culture.

And their immediate request is very revealing of their basic paradigm. “How do you do
it? Teach me the techniques.” What they’re really saying is, “Give me some quick fix
advice or solution that will relieve the pain in my own situation.”

They will find people who will meet their wants and teach these things; and for a short
time, skills and techniques may appear to work. They may eliminate some of the cosmetic
or acute problems through social aspirin and band-aids.

But the underlying chronic condition remains, and eventually new acute symptoms will
appear. The more people are into quick fix and focus on the acute problems and pain, the
more that very approach contributes to the underlying chronic condition.

The way we see the problem is the problem.

Look again at some of the concerns that introduced this chapter, and at the impact of
personality ethic thinking. I’ve taken course after course on effective management
training. I expect a lot out of my employees and I work hard to be friendly toward them
and to treat them right. But I don’t feel any loyalty from them. I think if I were home sick
for a day, they’d spend most of their time gabbing at the water fountain. Why can’t I train
them to be independent and responsible — or find employees who can be?

The personality ethic tells me I could take some kind of dramatic action — shake things
up, make heads roll — that would make my employees shape up and appreciate what
they have. Or that I could find some motivational training program that would get them
committed. Or even that I could hire new people that would do a better job.

But is it possible that under that apparently disloyal behavior, these employees question
whether I really act in their best interest? Do they feel like I’m treating them as
mechanical objects? Is there some truth to that?

Deep inside, is that really the way I see them? Is there a chance the way I look at the
people who work for me is part of the problem?


There’s so much to do. And there’s never enough time. I feel pressured and hassled all
day, every day, seven days a week. I’ve attended time management seminars and I’ve
tried half a dozen different planning systems. They’ve helped some, but I still don’t feel
I’m living the happy, productive, peaceful life I want to live.

The personality ethic tells me there must be something out there — some new planner or
seminar that will help me handle all these pressures in a more efficient way.

But is there a chance that efficiency is not the answer? Is getting more things done in less
time going to make a difference — or will it just increase the pace at which I react to the
people and circumstances that seem to control my life?

Could there be something I need to see in a deeper, more fundamental way — some
paradigm within myself that affects the way I see my time, my life, and my own nature?

My marriage has gone flat. We don’t fight or anything; we just don’t love each other
anymore. We’ve gone to counseling; we’ve tried a number of things, but we just can’t
seem to rekindle the feeling we used to have.

The personality ethic tells me there must be some new book or some seminar where
people get all their feelings out that would help my wife understand me better. Or maybe
that it’s useless, and only a new relationship will provide the love I need.

But is it possible that my spouse isn’t the real problem? Could I be empowering my
spouse’s weaknesses and making my life a function of the way I’m treated?

Do I have some basic paradigm about my spouse, about marriage, about what love really
is, that is feeding the problem?

Can you see how fundamentally the paradigms of the personality ethic affect the very
way we see our problems as well as the way we attempt to solve them?

Whether people see it or not, many are becoming disillusioned with the empty promises
of the personality ethic. As I travel around the country and work with organizations, I
find that long-term thinking executives are simply turned off by psyche up psychology
and “motivational” speakers who have nothing more to share than entertaining stories
mingled with platitudes.

They want substance; they want process. They want more than aspirin and band-aids.
They want to solve the chronic underlying problems and focus on the principles that
bring long-term results.

A New Level of Thinking

Albert Einstein observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same
level of thinking we were at when we created them.

As we look around us and within us and recognize the problems created as we live and
interact within the personality ethic, we begin to realize that these are deep, fundamental
problems that cannot be solved on the superficial level on which they were created.


We need a new level, a deeper level of thinking — a paradigm based on the principles that
accurately describe the territory of effective human being and interacting — to solve these
deep concerns.

This new level of thinking is what Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is about. It’s a
principle-centered, character-based, “Inside-Out” approach to personal and interpersonal

“Inside-Out” means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the
most inside part of self — with your paradigms, your character, and your motives.

It says if you want to have a happy marriage, be the kind of person who generates
positive energy and sidesteps negative energy rather than empowering it. If you want to
have a more pleasant, cooperative teenager, be a more understanding, empathic,
consistent, loving parent. If you want to have more freedom, more latitude in your job, be
a more responsible, a more helpful, a more contributing employee. If you want to be
trusted, be trustworthy. If you want the secondary greatness of recognized talent, focus
first on primary greatness of character.

The Inside-Out approach says that Private Victories TM precede Public Victories TM, that
making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to
others. It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve
relationships with others before improving ourselves.

Inside-Out is a process — a continuing process of renewal based on the natural laws that
govern human growth and progress. It’s an upward spiral of growth that leads to
progressively higher forms of responsible independence and effective interdependence.

I have had the opportunity to work with many people — wonderful people, talented
people, people who deeply want to achieve happiness and success, people who are
searching, people who are hurting. I’ve worked with business executives, college
students, church and civic groups, families and marriage partners. And in all of my
experience, I have never seen lasting solutions to problems, lasting happiness and
success, that came from the outside in.

What I have seen result from the outside-in paradigm is unhappy people who feel
victimized and immobilized, who focus on the weaknesses of other people and the
circumstances they feel are responsible for their own stagnant situation. I’ve seen
unhappy marriages where each spouse wants the other to change, where each is
confessing the other’s “sins,” where each is trying to shape up the other. I’ve seen labor
management disputes where people spend tremendous amounts of time and energy
trying to create legislation that would force people to act as though the foundation of
trust were really there.

Members of our family have lived in three of the “hottest” spots on earth — South Africa,
Israel, and Ireland — and I believe the source of the continuing problems in each of these
places has been the dominant social paradigm of outside-in. Each involved group is
convinced the problem is “out there” and if “they” (meaning others) would “shape up” or
suddenly “ship out” of existence, the problem would be solved.
Inside Out is a dramatic Paradigm Shift for most people, largely because of the powerful
impact of conditioning and the current social paradigm of the personality ethic.


But from my own experience — both personal and in working with thousands of other
people — and from careful examination of successful individuals and societies throughout
history, I am persuaded that many of the principles embodied in the Seven Habits are
already deep within us, in our conscience and our common sense. To recognize and
develop them and to use them in meeting our deepest concerns, we need to think
differently, to shift our paradigms to a new, deeper, “Inside-Out” level.

As we sincerely seek to understand and integrate these principles into our lives, I am
convinced we will discover and rediscover the truth of T. S. Eliot’s observation:

We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive
where we began and to know the place for the first time.

The Seven Habits — An Overview

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

— Aristotl

Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow
an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,” the
maxim goes.

Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious
patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character and produce our effectiveness or

As Horace Mann, the great educator, once said, “Habits are like a cable. We weave a
strand of it everyday and soon it cannot be broken.” I personally do not agree with the
last part of his expression. I know they can be broken. Habits can be learned and
unlearned. But I also know it isn’t a quick fix. It involves a process and a tremendous

Those of us who watched the lunar voyage of Apollo 11 were transfixed as we saw the
first men walk on the moon and return to earth. Superlatives such as “fantastic” and
“incredible” were inadequate to describe those eventful days. But to get there, those
astronauts literally had to break out of the tremendous gravity pull of the earth. More
energy was spent in the first few minutes of lift-off, in the first few miles of travel, than
was used over the next several days to travel half a million miles.

Habits, too, have tremendous gravity pull — more than most people realize or would
admit. Breaking deeply imbedded habitual tendencies such as procrastination,
impatience, criticalness, or selfishness that violate basic principles of human effectiveness
involves more than a little willpower and a few minor changes in our lives. “Lift off” takes
a tremendous effort, but once we break out of the gravity pull, our freedom takes on a
whole new dimension.

Like any natural force, gravity pull can work with us or against us. The gravity pull of
some of our habits may currently be keeping us from going where we want to go. But it is
also gravity pull that keeps our world together, that keeps the planets in their orbits and
our universe in order. It is a powerful force, and if we use it effectively, we can use the


gravity pull of habit to create the cohesiveness and order necessary to establish
effectiveness in our lives.

“Habits” Defined

For our purposes, we will define a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and
desire. Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why. Skill is the
how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a
habit in our lives, we have to have all three.

I may be ineffective in my interactions with my work associates, my spouse, or my
children because I constantly tell them what I think, but I never really listen to them.
Unless I search out correct principles of human interaction, I may not even know I need
to listen.

Even if I do know that in order to interact effectively with others I really need to listen to
them, I may not have the skill. I may not know how to really listen deeply to another
human being.

But knowing I need to listen and knowing how to listen is not enough. Unless I want to
listen, unless I have the desire, it won’t be a habit in my life. Creating a habit requires
work in all three dimensions.

The being/seeing change is an upward process — being changing, seeing, which in turn
changes being, and so forth, as we move in an upward spiral of growth. By working on
knowledge, skill, and desire, we can break through to new levels of personal and
interpersonal effectiveness as we break with old paradigms that may have been a source
of pseudo-security for years.

It’s sometimes a painful process. It’s a change that has to be motivated by a higher
purpose, by the willingness to subordinate what you think you want now for what you
want later. But this process produces happiness, “the object and design of our existence.”
Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice
what we want now for what we want eventually.

The Maturity Continuum TM

The Seven Habits are not a set of separate or piecemeal psyche-up formulas. In harmony
with the natural laws of growth, they provide an incremental, sequential, highly
integrated approach to the development of personal and interpersonal effectiveness. They
move us progressively on a Maturity Continuum from dependence to interdependence.

We each begin life as an infant, totally dependent on others. We are directed, nurtured,
and sustained by others. Without this nurturing, we would only live for a few hours or a
few days at the most.

Then gradually, over the ensuing months and years, we become more and more
independent — physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially — until eventually we
can essentially take care of ourselves, becoming inner-directed and self-reliant.

As we continue to grow and mature, we become increasingly aware that all of nature is


interdependent, that there is an ecological system that governs nature, including society.
We further discover that the higher reaches of our nature have to do with our
relationships with others — that human life also is interdependent.

Our growth from infancy to adulthood is in accordance with natural law. And there are
many dimensions to growth. Reaching our full physical maturity, for example, does not
necessarily assure us of simultaneous emotional or mental maturity. On the other hand, a
person’s physical dependence does not mean that he or she is mentally or emotionally

On the maturity continuum, dependence is the paradigm of you — you take care of me;
you come through for me; you didn’t come through; I blame you for the results.
Independence is the paradigm of I — I can do it; I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can
choose. Interdependence is the paradigm of we — we can do it: we can cooperate; we can
combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.

Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what
they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts
with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.

If I were physically dependent — paralyzed or disabled or limited in some physical way —
I would need you to help me. If I were emotionally dependent, my sense of worth and
security would come from your opinion of me. If you didn’t like me, it could be
devastating. If I were intellectually dependent, I would count on you to do my thinking
for me, to think through the issues and problems of my life.

If I were independent, physically, I could pretty well make it on my own. Mentally, I
could think my own thoughts, I could move from one level of abstraction to another. I
could think creatively and analytically and organize and express my thoughts in
understandable ways. Emotionally, I would be validated from within. I would be inner
directed. My sense of worth would not be a function of being liked or treated well.

It’s easy to see that independence is much more mature than dependence. Independence
is a major achievement in and of itself. But independence is not supreme.

Nevertheless, the current social paradigm enthrones independence. It is the avowed goal
of many individuals and social movements. Most of the self-improvement material puts
independence on a pedestal, as though communication, teamwork, and cooperation were
lesser values.

Nevertheless, the current social paradigm enthrones independence. It is the avowed goal
of many individuals and social movements. Most of the self-improvement material puts
independence on a pedestal, as though communication, teamwork, and cooperation were
lesser values.

But much of our current emphasis on independence is a reaction to dependence — to
having others control us, define us, use us, and manipulate us. The little understood
concept of interdependence appears to many to smack of dependence, and therefore, we
find people often for selfish reasons, leaving their marriages, abandoning their children,
and forsaking all kinds of social responsibility — all in the name of independence.

The kind of reaction that results in people “throwing off their shackles,” becoming
“liberated,” “asserting themselves,” and “doing their own thing” often reveals more


fundamental dependencies that cannot be run away from because they are internal rather
than external — dependencies such as letting the weaknesses of other people ruin our
emotional lives or feeling victimized by people and events out of our control.

Of course, we may need to change our circumstances. But the dependence problem is a
personal maturity issue that has little to do with circumstances. Even with better
circumstances, immaturity and dependence often persist.

True independence of character empowers us to act rather than be acted upon. It frees us
from our dependence on circumstances and other people and is a worthy, liberating goal.
But it is not the ultimate goal in effective living.

Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people
who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual
producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players. They’re not coming from the
paradigm of interdependence necessary to succeed in marriage, family, or organizational

Life is, by nature, highly interdependent. To try to achieve maximum effectiveness
through independence is like trying to play tennis with a golf club — the tool is not suited
to the reality.

Interdependence is a far more mature, more advanced concept. If I am physically
interdependent, I am self-reliant and capable, but I also realize that you and I working
together can accomplish far more than, even at my best, I could accomplish alone. If I am
emotionally interdependent, I derive a great sense of worth within myself, but I also
recognize the need for love, for giving, and for receiving love from others. If I am
intellectually interdependent, I realize that I need the best thinking of other people to join
with my own.

As an interdependent person, I have the opportunity to share myself deeply,
meaningfully, with others, and I have access to the vast resources and potential of other
human beings.

Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. Dependent people
cannot choose to become interdependent. They don’t have the character to do it; they
don’t own enough of themselves.

That’s why Habits 1, 2, and 3 in the following chapters deal with self-mastery. They move
a person from dependence to independence. They are the “Private Victories,” the essence
of character growth. Private Victories precede Public Victories. You can’t invert that
process anymore than you can harvest a crop before you plant it. It’s Inside-Out.

As you become truly independent, you have the foundation for effective
interdependence. You have the character base from which you can effectively work on
the more personality-oriented “Public Victories” of teamwork, cooperation, and
communication in Habits 4, 5, and 6.

That does not mean you have to be perfect in Habits 1, 2, and 3 before working on Habits
4, 5, and 6.


Understanding the sequence will help you manage your growth more effectively, but I’m
not suggesting that you put yourself in isolation for several years until you fully develop
Habits 1, 2, and 3.

As part of an interdependent world, you have to relate to that world every day. But the
acute problems of that world can easily obscure the chronic character causes.
Understanding how what you are impacts every interdependent interaction will help you
to focus your efforts sequentially, in harmony with the natural laws of growth.

Habit 7 is the habit of renewal — a regular, balanced renewal of the four basic dimensions
of life. It circles and embodies all the other habits. It is the habit of continuous
improvement that creates the upward spiral of growth that lifts you to new levels of
understanding and living each of the habits as you come around to them on a
progressively higher plane.

The diagram on the next page is a visual representation of the sequence and the
interdependence of the Seven Habits, and will be used throughout this book as we
explore both the sequential relationship between the habits and also their synergy — how,
in relating to each other, they create bold new forms of each other that add even more to
their value. Each concept or habit will be highlighted as it is introduced.

Effectiveness Defined

The Seven Habits are habits of effectiveness. Because they are based on principles, they
bring the maximum long-term beneficial results possible. They become the basis of a
person’s character, creating an empowering center of correct maps from which an
individual can effectively solve problems, maximize opportunities, and continually learn
and integrate other principles in an upward spiral of growth.

They are also habits of effectiveness because they are based on a paradigm of
effectiveness that is in harmony with a natural law, a principle I call the “P/PC Balance,”
which many people break themselves against. This principle can be easily understood by
remembering Aesop’s fable of the Goose and the Golden Egg TM.

This fable is the story of a poor farmer who one day discovers in the nest of his pet goose
a glittering golden egg. At first, he thinks it must be some kind of trick. But as he starts to
throw the egg aside, he has second thoughts and takes it in to be appraised instead.

The egg is pure gold! The farmer can’t believe his good fortune. He becomes even more
incredulous the following day when the experience is repeated. Day after day, he
awakens to rush to the nest and find another golden egg. He becomes fabulously
wealthy; it all seems too good to be true.

But with his increasing wealth comes greed and impatience. Unable to wait day after day
for the golden eggs, the farmer decides he will kill the goose and get them all at once. But
when he opens the goose, he finds it empty. There are no golden eggs — and now there is
no way to get any more. The farmer has destroyed the goose that produced them.

But as the story shows, true effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced
(the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to produce (the goose).


If you adopt a pattern of life that focuses on golden eggs and neglects the goose, you will
soon be without the asset that produces golden eggs. On the other hand, if you only take
care of the goose with no aim toward the golden eggs, you soon won’t have the
wherewithal to feed yourself or the goose.

Effectiveness lies in the balance — what I call the P/PC Balance TM. P stands for
production of desired results, the golden eggs. PC stands for production capability, the
ability or asset that produces the golden eggs.

Three Kinds of Assets

Basically, there are three kinds of assets: physical, financial, and human. Let’s look at each
one in turn.

A few years ago, I purchased a physical asset — a power lawn mower. I used it over and
over again without doing anything to maintain it. The mower worked well for two
seasons, but then it began to break down. When I tried to revive it with service and
sharpening, I discovered the engine had lost over half its original power capacity. It was
essentially worthless.

Had I invested in PC — in preserving and maintaining the asset — I would still be
enjoying its P — the mowed lawn. As it was, I had to spend far more time and money
replacing the mower than I ever would have spent, had I maintained it. It simply wasn’t

In our quest for short-term returns, or results, we often ruin a prized physical asset — a
car, a computer, a washer or dryer, even our body or our environment. Keeping P and PC
in balance makes a tremendous difference in the effective use of physical assets.

It also powerfully impacts the effective use of financial assets. How often do people
confuse principal with interest? Have you ever invaded principal to increase your
standard of living, to get more golden eggs? The decreasing principal has decreasing
power to produce interest or income. And the dwindling capital becomes smaller and
smaller until it no longer supplies even our basic needs.

Our most important financial asset is our own capacity to earn. If we don’t continually
invest in improving our own PC, we severely limit our options. We’re locked into our
present situation, running scared of our corporation or our boss’s opinion of us,
economically dependent and defensive. Again, it simply isn’t effective.

In the human area, the P/PC Balance is equally fundamental, but even more important,
because people control physical and financial assets.

When two people in a marriage are more concerned about getting the golden eggs, the
benefits, than they are in preserving the relationship that makes them possible, they often
become insensitive and inconsiderate, neglecting the little kindnesses and courtesies so
important to a deep relationship. They begin to use control levers to manipulate each
other, to focus on their own needs, to justify their own position and look for evidence to
show the wrongness of the other person. The love, the richness, the softness, and
spontaneity begin to deteriorate. The goose gets sicker day by day.

And what about a parent’s relationship with a child? When children are little, they are
very dependent, very vulnerable. It becomes so easy to neglect the PC work — the


training, the communicating, the relating, the listening. It’s easy to take advantage, to
manipulate, to get what you want the way you want it — right now! You’re bigger, you’re
smarter, and you’re right! So why not just tell them what to do? If necessary, yell at them,
intimidate them, insist on your way.

Or you can indulge them. You can go for the golden egg of popularity, of pleasing them,
giving them their way all the time. Then they grow up without a personal commitment to
being disciplined or responsible.

Either way — authoritarian or permissive — you have the golden egg mentality. You want
to have your way or you want to be liked. But what happens, meantime, to the goose?
What sense of responsibility, of self-discipline, of confidence in the ability to make good
choices or achieve important goals is a child going to have a few years down the road?
And what about your relationship? When he reaches those critical teenage years, the
identity crises, will he know from his experience with you that you will listen without
judging, that you really, deeply care about him as a person, that you can be trusted, no
matter what? Will the relationship be strong enough for you to reach him, to
communicate with him, to influence him?

Suppose you want your daughter to have a clean room — that’s P, production, the golden
egg. And suppose you want her to clean it — that’s PC, Production Capability. Your
daughter is the goose, the asset, that produces the golden egg.

If you have P and PC in balance, she cleans the room cheerfully, without being reminded,
because she is committed and has the discipline to stay with the commitment. She is a
valuable asset, a goose that can produce golden eggs.

But if your paradigm is focused on Production, on getting the room clean, you might find
yourself nagging her to do it. You might even escalate your efforts to threatening or
yelling, and in your desire to get the golden egg, you undermine the health and welfare
of the goose.

Let me share with you an interesting PC experience I had with one of my daughters. We
were planning a private date, which is something I enjoy regularly with each of my
children. We find that the anticipation of the date is as satisfying as the realization.

So I approached my daughter and said, “Honey, tonight’s your night. What do you want
to do?”

“Oh, Dad, that’s okay,” she replied

“No, really,” I said, “What would you like to do?”

“Well,” she finally said, “what I want to do, you don’t really want to do.”

“Really, honey,” I said earnestly, “I want to do it. No matter what, it’s your choice.”

“I want to go see Star Wars,” she replied. “But I know you don’t like Star Wars. You slept
through it before. You don’t like these fantasy movies. That’s okay, Dad.”

“No, honey, if that’s what you’d like to do, I’d like to do it.”


“Dad, don’t worry about it. We don’t always have to have this date.” She paused and then
“But you know why you don’t like Star Wars? It’s because you don’t understand the
philosophy and training of a Jedi Knight.”


“You know the things you teach, Dad? Those are the same things that go into the training
of a Jedi Knight.”

“Really? Let’s go to Star Wars!”

And we did. She sat next me and gave me the paradigm. I became her student, her
learner. It was totally fascinating. I could begin to see out of a new paradigm the whole
way a Jedi Knight’s basic philosophy in training is manifested in different circumstances.

That experience was not a planned P experience; it was the serendipitous fruit of a PC
investment. It was bonding and very satisfying. But we enjoyed golden eggs, too, as the
goose — the quality of the relationship — was significantly fed.

Organizational PC

One of the immensely valuable aspects of any correct principle is that it is valid and
applicable in a wide variety of circumstances. Throughout this book, I would like to share
with you some of the ways in which these principles apply to organizations, including
families, as well as to individuals.

When people fail to respect the P/PC Balance in their use of physical assets in
organizations, they decrease organizational effectiveness and often leave others with
dying geese.

For example, a person in charge of a physical asset, such as a machine, may be eager to
make a good impression on his superiors. Perhaps the company is in a rapid growth
stage and promotions are coming fast. So he produces at optimum levels — no downtime,
no maintenance. He runs the machine day and night. The production is phenomenal,
costs are down, and profits skyrocket. Within a short time, he’s promoted. Golden eggs.

But suppose you are his successor on the job. You inherit a very sick goose, a machine
that, by this time, is rusted and starts to break down. You have to invest heavily in
downtime and maintenance. Costs skyrocket; profits nose-dive. And who gets blamed for
the loss of golden eggs? You do. Your predecessor liquidated the asset, but the
accounting system only reported unit production, costs, and profit.

The P/PC Balance is particularly important as it applies to the human assets of an
organization — the customers and the employees.

I know of a restaurant that served a fantastic clam chowder and was packed with
customers every day at lunchtime. Then the business was sold, and the new owner
focused on golden eggs — he decided to water down the chowder. For about a month,
with costs down and revenues constant, profits zoomed. But little by little, the customers
began to disappear. Trust was gone, and business dwindled to almost nothing. The new
owner tried desperately to reclaim it, but he had neglected the customers, violated their


trust, and lost the asset of customer loyalty. There was no more goose to produce the
golden egg.

There are organizations that talk a lot about the customer and then completely neglect the
people that deal with the customer — the employees. The PC principle is to always treat
your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.

You can buy a person’s hand, but you can’t buy his heart. His heart is where his
enthusiasm, his loyalty is. You can buy his back, but you can’t buy his brain. That’s where
his creativity is, his ingenuity, his resourcefulness.

PC work is treating employees as volunteers just as you treat customers as volunteers,
because that’s what they are. They volunteer the best part — their hearts and minds.

I was in a group once where someone asked, “How do you shape up lazy and
incompetent employees?” One man responded, “Drop hand grenades!” Several others
cheered that kind of macho management talk, that “shape up or ship out” supervision

But another person in the group asked, “Who picks up the pieces?”

“No pieces.”

“Well, why don’t you do that to your customers?” the other man replied. “Just say, ‘Listen,
if you’re not interested in buying, you can just ship out of this place.'”

He said, “You can’t do that to customers.”

“Well, how come you can do it to employees?”

“Because they’re in your employ.”

“I see. Are your employees devoted to you? Do they work hard? How’s the turnover?”

“Are you kidding? You can’t find good people these days. There’s too much turnover,
absenteeism, moonlighting. People just don’t care anymore.”

That focus on golden eggs — that attitude, that paradigm — is totally inadequate to tap
into the powerful energies of the mind and heart of another person. A short-term bottom
line is important, but it isn’t all-important.

Effectiveness lies in the balance. Excessive focus on P results in ruined health, worn-out
machines, depleted bank accounts, and broken relationships. Too much focus on PC is
like a person who runs for three or four hours a day, bragging about the extra 10 years of
life it creates, unaware he’s spending them running. Or a person endlessly going to
school, never producing, living on other people’s golden eggs — the eternal student

To maintain the P/PC Balance, the balance between the golden egg (Production) and the
health and welfare of the goose (Production Capability) is often a difficult judgment call.
But I suggest it is the very essence of effectiveness. It balances short term with long term.
It balances going for the grade and paying the price to get an education. It balances the


desire to have a room clean and the building of a relationship in which the child is
internally committed to do it — cheerfully, willingly, without external supervision.

It’s a principle you can see validated in your own life when you burn the candle at both
ends to get more golden eggs and wind up sick or exhausted, unable to produce any at
all; or when you get a good night’s sleep and wake up ready to produce throughout the
You can see it when you press to get your own way with someone and somehow feel an
emptiness in the relationship; or when you really take time to invest in a relationship and
you find the desire and ability to work together, to communicate, takes a quantum leap.

The P/PC Balance is the very essence of effectiveness. It’s validated in every arena of life.
We can work with it or against it, but it’s there. It’s a lighthouse. It’s the definition and
paradigm of effectiveness upon which the Seven Habits in this book are based.

How to Use This Book

Before we begin work on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I would like to
suggest two Paradigm Shifts that will greatly increase the value you will receive from this

First, I would recommend that you not “see” this material as a book, in the sense that it is
something to read once and put on a shelf.

You may choose to read it completely through once for a sense of the whole. But the
material is designed to be a companion in the continual process of change and growth. It
is organized incrementally and with suggestions for application at the end of each habit
so that you can study and focus on any particular habit as you are ready.

As you progress to deeper levels of understanding and implementation, you can go back
time and again to the principles contained in each habit and work to expand your
knowledge, skill, and desire.

Second, I would suggest that you shift your paradigm of your own involvement in this
material from the role of learner to that of teacher. Take an Inside-Out approach, and read
with the purpose in mind of sharing or discussing what you learn with someone else
within 48 hours after you learn it.

If you had known, for example, that you would be teaching the material on the P/PC
Balance Principle to someone else within 48 hours, would it have made a difference in
your reading experience?

Try it now as you read the final section in this chapter. Read as though you are going to
teach it to your spouse, your child, a business associate, or a friend today or tomorrow,
while it is still fresh, and notice the difference in your mental and emotional process.

I guarantee that if you approach the material in each of the following chapters in this
way, you will not only better remember what you read, but your perspective will be
expanded, your understanding deepened, and your motivation to apply the material

In addition, as you openly, honestly share what you’re learning with others, you may be
surprised to find that negative labels or perceptions others may have of you tend to


disappear. Those you teach will see you as a changing, growing person, and will be more
inclined to be helpful and supportive as you work, perhaps together, to integrate the
Seven Habits into your lives.

What You Can Expect

In the last analysis, as Marilyn Ferguson observed, “No one can persuade another to
change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We
cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal.

If you decide to open your “gate of change” to really understand and live the principles
embodied in the Seven Habits, I feel comfortable in assuring you several positive things
will happen.

First, your growth with be evolutionary, but the net effect will be revolutionary. Would
you not agree that the P/PC Balance principle alone, if fully lived, would transform most
individuals and organizations?

The net effect of opening the “gate of change” to the first three habits — the habits of
Private Victory — will be significantly increased self-confidence. You will come to know
yourself in a deeper, more meaningful way — your nature, your deepest values and your
unique contribution capacity. As you live your values, your sense of identity, integrity,
control, and inner-directedness will infuse you with both exhilaration and peace. You will
define yourself from within, rather than by people’s opinions or by comparisons to
others. “Wrong” and “right” will have little to do with being found out.

Ironically, you’ll find that as you care less about what others think of you; you will care
more about what others think of themselves and their worlds, including their relationship
with you. You’ll no longer build your emotional life on other people’s weaknesses. In
addition, you’ll find it easier and more desirable to change because there is something —
some core deep within — that is essentially changeless.

As you open yourself to the next three habits — the habits of Public Victory — you will
discover and unleash both the desire and the resources to heal and rebuild important
relationships that have deteriorated, or even broken. Good relationships will improve —
become deeper, more solid, more creative, and more adventuresome.

The seventh habit, if deeply internalized, will renew the first six and will make you truly
independent and capable of effective interdependence. Through it, you can charge your
own batteries.

Whatever your present situation, I assure you that you are not your habits. You can
replace old patterns of self-defeating behavior with new patterns, new habits of
effectiveness, happiness, and trust-based relationships.

With genuine caring, I encourage you to open the gate of change and growth as you
study these habits. Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground.
There’s no greater investment.

It’s obviously not a quick fix. But I assure you, you will feel benefits and see immediate
payoffs that will be encouraging. In the words of Thomas Paine, “That which we obtain
too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value.
Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods.”


Part Two

Private Victory

Habit 1: Be Proactive –Principles of Personal Visio

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his
life by conscious endeavor.
— Henry David Thorea

As you read this book, try to stand apart from yourself. Try to project your consciousness
upward into a corner of the room and see yourself, in your mind’s eye, reading. Can you
look at yourself almost as though you were someone else?

Now try something else. Think about the mood you are now in. Can you identify it?
What are you feeling? How would you describe your present mental state Now think for
a minute about how your mind is working. Is it quick and alert? Do you sense that you
are torn between doing this mental exercise and evaluating the point to be made out of it?

Your ability to do what you just did is uniquely human. Animals do not possess this
ability. We call it “self-awareness” or the ability to think about your very thought process.
This is the reason why man has dominion over all things in the world and why he can
make significant advances from generation to generation.

This is why we can evaluate and learn from others’ experiences as well as our own. This
is also why we can make and break our habits. We are not our feelings. We are not our
moods. We are not even our thoughts. The very fact that we can think about these things
separates us from them and from the animal world. Self-awareness enables us to stand
apart and examine even the way we “see” ourselves — our paradigm, the most
fundamental paradigm of effectiveness. It affects not only our attitudes and behaviors,
but also how we see other people. It becomes our map of the basic nature of mankind.
In fact, until we take how we see ourselves (and how we see others) into account, we will
be unable to understand how others see and feel about themselves and their world.
Unaware, we will be unable to understand how others see and feel about themselves and
their world. Unaware, we will project our intentions on their behavior and call ourselves

This significantly limits our personal potential and our ability to relate to others as well.
But because of the unique human capacity of self-awareness, we can examine our
paradigms to determine whether they are reality- or principle-based or if they are a
function of conditioning and conditions.

The Social Mirror

If the only vision we have of ourselves comes from the social mirror — from the current
social paradigm and from the opinions, perceptions, and paradigms of the people around
us — our view of ourselves is like the reflection in the crazy mirror room at the carnival.


“You’re never on time.”

“Why can’t you ever keep things in order?”

“You must be an artist!”

“You eat like a horse!”

“I can’t believe you won!”

“This is so simple. Why can’t you understand?”

These visions are disjointed and out of proportion. They are often more projections than
reflections, projecting the concerns and character weaknesses of people giving the input
rather than accurately reflecting what we are.

The reflection of the current social paradigm tells us we are largely determined by
conditioning and conditions. While we have acknowledged the tremendous power of
conditioning in our lives, to say that we are determined by it, that we have no control
over that influence, creates quite a different map.

There are actually three social maps — three theories of determinism widely accepted,
independently or in combination, to explain the nature of man. Genetic determinism
basically says your grandparents did it to you. That’s why you have such a temper. Your
grandparents had short tempers and it’s in your DNA. It just goes through the
generations and you inherited it. In addition, you’re Irish, and that’s the nature of Irish

Psychic determinism basically says your parents did it to you. Your upbringing, your
childhood experience essentially laid out your personal tendencies and your character
structure. That’s why you’re afraid to be in front of a group. It’s the way your parents
brought you up. You feel terribly guilty if you make a mistake because you “remember”
deep inside the emotional scripting when you were very vulnerable and tender and
dependent. You “remember” the emotional punishment, the rejection, the comparison
with somebody else when you didn’t perform as well as expected.

Environmental determinism basically says your boss is doing to you — or your spouse, or
that bratty teenager, or your economic situation, or national policies. Someone or
something in your environment is responsible for your situation.

Each of these maps is based on the stimulus/response theory we most often think of in
connection with Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. The basic idea is that we are
conditioned to respond in a particular way to a particular stimulus.

How accurately and functionally do these deterministic maps describe the territory? How
clearly do these mirrors reflect the true nature of man? Do they become self-fulfilling
prophecies? Are they based on principles we can validate within ourselves?

Between Stimulus and Response

In answer to those questions, let me share with you the catalytic story of Viktor Frankl.


Frankl was a determinist raised in the tradition of Freudian psychology, which postulates
that whatever happens to you as a child shapes your character and personality and
basically governs your whole life. The limits and parameters of your life are set, and,
basically, you can’t do much about it. Frankl was also a psychiatrist and a Jew. He was
imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany, where he experienced things that were
so repugnant to our sense of decency that we shudder to even repeat them.

His parents, his brother, and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens.
Except for his sister, his entire family perished. Frankl himself suffered torture and
innumerable indignities, never knowing from one moment to the next if his path would
lead to the ovens or if he would be among the “saved” who would remove the bodies or
shovel out the ashes of those so fated.

One day, naked and alone in a small room, he began to become aware of what he later
called “the last of the human freedoms” — the freedom his Nazi captors could not take
away. They could control his entire environment, they could do what they wanted to his
body, but Viktor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at
his very involvement. His basic identity was intact. He could decide within himself how
all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and
his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.

In the midst of his experiences, Frankl would project himself into different circumstances,
such as lecturing to his students after his release from the death camps. He would
describe himself in the classroom, in his mind’s eye, and give his students the lessons he
was learning during his very torture.

Through a series of such disciplines — mental, emotional, and moral, principally using
memory and imagination — he exercised his small, embryonic freedom until it grew
larger and larger, until he had more freedom than his Nazi captors. They had more
liberty, more options to choose from in their environment; but he had more freedom,
more internal power to exercise his options. He became an inspiration to those around
him, even to some of the guards. He helped others find meaning in their suffering and
dignity in their prison existence.

In the midst of the most degrading circumstances imaginable, Frankl used the human
endowment of self-awareness to discover a fundamental principle about the nature of
man: Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.

Within the freedom to choose are those endowments that make us uniquely human. In
addition to self-awareness, we have imagination — the ability to create in our minds
beyond our present reality. We have conscience — a deep inner awareness of right and
wrong, of the principles that govern our behavior, and a sense of the degree to which our
thoughts and actions are in harmony with them. And we have independent will — the
ability to act based on our self-awareness, free of all other influences.

Even the most intelligent animals have none of these endowments. To use a computer
metaphor, they are programmed by instinct and/or training. They can be trained to be
responsible, but they can’t take responsibility for that training; in other words, they can’t
direct it. They can’t change the programming. They’re not even aware of it.

But because of our unique human endowments, we can write new programs for
ourselves totally apart from our instincts and training. This is why an animal’s capacity is
relatively limited and man’s is unlimited. But if we live like animals, out of our own


instincts and conditioning and conditions, out of our collective memory, we too will be
The deterministic paradigm comes primarily from the study of animals — rats, monkeys,
pigeons, dogs — and neurotic and psychotic people. While this may meet certain criteria
of some researchers because it seems measurable and predictable, the history of mankind
and our own self-awareness tell us that this map doesn’t describe the territory at all!

Our unique human endowments lift us above the animal world. The extent to which we
exercise and develop these endowments empowers us to fulfill our uniquely human
potential. Between stimulus and response is our greatest power — the freedom to choose.

“Proactivity” Defined

In discovering the basic principle of the nature of man, Frankl described an accurate self-
map from which he began to develop the first and most basic habit of a highly effective
person in any environment, the habit of Proactivity.
While the word proactivity is now fairly common in management literature, it is a word
you won’t find in most dictionaries. It means more than merely taking initiative. It means
that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of
our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the
initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.

Look at the word responsibility — “response-ability” — the ability to choose your response.
Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances,
conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own
conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on
Because we are, by nature, proactive, if our lives are a function of conditioning and
conditions, it is because we have, by conscious decision or by default, chosen to empower
those things to control us.

In making such a choice, we become reactive. Reactive people are often affected by their
physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their
attitude and their performance. Proactive people can carry their own weather with them.
Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value driven; and if
their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is
conducive to it or not.

Reactive people are also affected by their social environment, by the “social weather.”
When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive
or protective. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others,
empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.

The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.
Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their
environment. Proactive people are driven by values — carefully thought about, selected
and internalized values.

Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or
psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-
based choice or response.


As Eleanor Roosevelt observed, “No one can hurt you without your consent.” In the
words of Gandhi, “They cannot take away our self respect if we do not give it to them.” It
is our willing permission, our consent to what happens to us, that hurts us far more than
what happens to us in the first place.

I admit this is very hard to accept emotionally, especially if we have had years and years
of explaining our misery in the name of circumstance or someone else’s behavior. But
until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices
I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”

Once in Sacramento when I was speaking on the subject of Proactivity, a woman in the
audience stood up in the middle of my presentation and started talking excitedly. It was a
large audience, and as a number of people turned to look at her, she suddenly became
aware of what she was doing, grew embarrassed and sat back down. But she seemed to
find it difficult to restrain herself and started talking to the people around her. She
seemed so happy.

I could hardly wait for a break to find out what had happened. When it finally came, I
immediately went to her and asked if she would be willing to share her experience.

“You just can’t imagine what’s happened to me!” she exclaimed. “I’m a full-time nurse to
the most miserable, ungrateful man you can possibly imagine. Nothing I do is good
enough for him. He never expresses appreciation; he hardly even acknowledges me. He
constantly harps at me and finds fault with everything I do. This man has made my life
miserable and I often take my frustration out on my family. The other nurses feel the
same way. We almost pray for his demise.

“And for you to have the gall to stand up there and suggest that nothing can hurt me, that
no one can hurt me without my consent, and that I have chosen my own emotional life of
being miserable — well, there was just no way I could buy into that.

“But I kept thinking about it. I really went inside myself and began to ask, ‘Do I have the
power to choose my response?”

“When I finally realized that I do have that power, when I swallowed that bitter pill and
realized that I had chosen to be miserable, I also realized that I could choose not to be

“At that moment I stood up. I felt as though I was being let out of San Quentin. I wanted
to yell to the whole world, ‘I am free! I am let out of prison! No longer am I going to be
controlled by the treatment of some person.'”

It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Of
course, things can hurt us physically or economically and can cause sorrow. But our
character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult
experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal
powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others
to do so as well.

Frankl is one of many who have been able to develop the personal freedom in difficult
circumstances to lift and inspire others. The autobiographical accounts of Vietnam
prisoners of war provide additional persuasive testimony of the transforming power of


such personal freedom and the effect of the responsible use of that freedom on the prison
culture and on the prisoners, both then and now.

We have all known individuals in very difficult circumstances, perhaps with a terminal
illness or a severe physical handicap, who maintain magnificent emotional strength. How
inspired we are by their integrity! Nothing has a greater, longer lasting impression upon
another person than the awareness that someone has transcended suffering, has
transcended circumstance, and is embodying and expressing a value that inspires and
ennobles and lifts life.

One of the most inspiring times Sandra and I have ever had took place over a four-year
period with a dear friend of ours named Carol, who had a wasting cancer disease. She
had been one of Sandra’s bridesmaids, and they had been best friends for over 25 years.

When Carol was in the very last stages of the disease, Sandra spent time at her bedside
helping her write her personal history. She returned from those protracted and difficult
sessions almost transfixed by admiration for her friend’s courage and her desire to write
special messages to be given to her children at different stages in their lives.

Carol would take as little pain-killing medication as possible so that she had full access to
her mental and emotional faculties. Then she would whisper into a tape recorder or to
Sandra directly as she took notes. Carol was so proactive, so brave, and so concerned
about others that she became an enormous source of inspiration to many people around

I’ll never forget the experience of looking deeply into Carol’s eyes the day before she
passed away and sensing out of that deep hollowed agony a person of tremendous
intrinsic worth. I could see in her eyes a life of character, contribution, and service as well
as love, concern, and appreciation.

Many times over the years, I have asked groups of people how many have ever
experienced being in the presence of a dying individual who had a magnificent attitude
and communicated love and compassion and served in unmatchable ways to the very
end. Usually, about one-fourth of the audience respond in the affirmative. I then ask how
many of them will never forget these individuals — how many were transformed, at least
temporarily, by the inspiration of such courage, and were deeply moved and motivated
to more noble acts of service and compassion. The same people respond again, almost

Viktor Frankl suggests that there are three central values in life — the experiential, or that
which happens to us; the creative, or that which we bring into existence; and the
attitudinal, or our response in difficult circumstances such as terminal illness.

My own experience with people confirms the point Frankl makes — that the highest of the
three values is attitudinal, in the paradigm of reframing sense. In other words, what
matters most is how we respond to what we experience in life.

Difficult circumstances often create Paradigm Shifts, whole new frames of reference by
which people see the world and themselves and others in it, and what life is asking of
them. Their larger perspective reflects the attitudinal values that lift and inspire us all.


Taking the Initiative

Our basic nature is to act, and not be acted upon. As well as enabling us to choose our
response to particular circumstances, this empowers us to create circumstances

Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive. It does mean
recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.

Over the years, I have frequently counseled people who wanted better jobs to show more
initiative — to take interest and aptitude tests, to study the industry, even the specific
problems the organizations they are interested in are facing, and then to develop an
effective presentation showing how their abilities can help solve the organization’s
problem. It’s called “solution selling,” and is a key paradigm in business success.

The response is usually agreement — most people can see how powerfully such an
approach would affect their opportunities for employment or advancement. But many of
them fail to take the necessary steps, the initiative, to make it happen.

“I don’t know where to go to take the interest and aptitude test.”

“How do I study industry and organizational problems? No one wants to help me.”

Many people wait for something to happen or someone to take care of them. But people
who end up with the good jobs are the proactive ones who are solutions to problems, not
problems themselves, who seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with
correct principles, to get the job done.

Whenever someone in our family, even one of the younger children, takes an
irresponsible position and waits for someone else to make things happen or provide a
solution, we tell them, “Use your R and I!” (resourcefulness and initiative). In fact, often
before we can say it, they answer their own complaints, “I know — use my R and I!”

Holding people to the responsible course is not demeaning; it is affirming. Proactivity is
part of human nature, and although the proactive muscles may be dormant, they are
there. By respecting the proactive nature of other people, we provide them with at least
one clear, undistorted reflection from the social mirror.

Of course, the maturity level of the individual has to be taken into account. We can’t
expect high creative cooperation from those who are deep into emotional dependence.
But we can, at least, affirm their basic nature and create an atmosphere where people can
seize opportunities and solve problems in an increasingly self-reliant way.

Act or be Acted Upon

The difference between people who exercise initiative and those who don’t is literally the
difference between night and day. I’m not talking about a 25 to 50 percent difference in
effectiveness; I’m talking about a 5000-plus percent difference, particularly if they are
smart, aware, and sensitive to others.

It takes initiative to create the P/PC Balance of effectiveness in your life. It takes initiative
to develop the Seven Habits. As you study the other six habits, you will see that each
depends on the development of your proactive muscles. Each puts the responsibility on


you to act. If you wait to be acted upon, you will be acted upon. And growth and
opportunity consequences attend either road.

At one time I worked with a group of people in the home improvement industry,
representatives from 20 different organizations who met quarterly to share their numbers
and problems in an uninhibited way.

This was during a time of heavy recession, and the negative impact on this particular
industry was even heavier than on the economy in general. These people were fairly
discouraged as we began.

The first day, our discussion question was “What’s happening to us? What’s the
stimulus?” Many things were happening. The environmental pressures were powerful.
There was widespread unemployment, and many of these people were laying off friends
just to maintain the viability of their enterprises. By the end of the day, everyone was
even more discouraged.

The second day, we addressed the question, “What’s going to happen in the future?” We
studied environmental trends with the underlying reactive assumption that those things
would create their future. By the end of the second day, we were even more depressed.
Things were going to get worse before they got better, and everyone knew it.

So on the third day, we decided to focus on the proactive question, “What is our
response? What are we going to do? How can we exercise initiative in this situation?” In
the morning we talked about managing and reducing costs. In the afternoon we
discussed increasing market share. We brainstormed both areas, then concentrated on
several very practical, very doable things. A new spirit of excitement, hope, and proactive
awareness concluded the meetings.

At the every end of the third day, we summarized the results of the conference in a three-
part answer to the question, “How’s business?”

Part one: What’s happening to us is not good, and the trends suggest that it will get worse
before it gets better

Part two: But what we are causing to happen is very good, for we are better managing
and reducing our costs and increasing our market share

Part three: Therefore, business is better than ever

Now what would a reactive mind say to that? “Oh, come on. Face facts. You can only
carry this positive thinking and self-psych approach so far. Sooner or later you have to
face reality.”

But that’s the difference between positive thinking and proactivity. We did face reality.
We faced the reality of the current circumstance and of future projections. But we also
faced the reality that we had the power to choose a positive response to those
circumstances and projections. Not facing reality would have been to accept the idea that
what’s happening in our environment had to determine us.

Businesses, community groups, organizations of every kind — including families — can be
proactive. They can combine the creativity and resourcefulness of proactive individuals
to create a proactive culture within the organization. The organization does not have to


be at the mercy of the environment; it can take the initiative to accomplish the shared
values and purposes of the individuals involved.

Listening to our Language

Because our attitudes and behaviors flow out of our paradigms, if we use our self-
awareness to examine them, we can often see in them the nature of our underlying maps.
Our language, for example, is a very real indicator of the degree to which we see
ourselves as proactive people.

The language of reactive people absolves them of responsibility.

“That’s me. That’s just the way I am.” I am determined. There’s nothing I can do about it.

“He makes me so mad!” I’m not responsible. My emotional life is governed by something
outside my control.

“I can’t do that. I just don’t have the time.” Something outside me — limited time — is
controlling me.

“If only my wife were more patient.” Someone else’s behavior is limiting my effectiveness.

“I have to do it.” Circumstances or other people are forcing me to do what I do. I’m not
free to choose my own actions.

Reactive Language: There’s nothing I can do. That’s just the way I am. He makes me so
mad. They won’t allow that. I have to do that. I can’t. I must. If only.

Proactive Language: Let’s look at our alternatives. I can choose a different approach. I
control my own feelings. I can create an effective presentation. I will choose an
appropriate response. choose. I prefer. I will. That language comes from a basic paradigm
of determinism. And the whole spirit of it is the transfer of responsibility. I am not
responsible, not able to choose my response.

One time a student asked me, “Will you excuse me from class? I have to go on a tennis

“You have to go, or you choose to go?” I asked.

“I really have to,” he exclaimed.

“What will happen if you don’t?”

“Why, they’ll kick me off the team.”

“How would you like that consequence?”

“I wouldn’t.”

“In other words, you choose to go because you want the consequence of staying on the
team. What will happen if you miss my class?”

“I don’t know.”


“Think hard. What do you think would be the natural consequence of not coming to

“You wouldn’t kick me out, would you?”

“That would be a social consequence. That would be artificial. If you don’t participate on
the tennis team, you don’t play. That’s natural. But if you don’t come to class, what would
be the natural consequence?”

“I guess I’ll miss the learning.”

“That’s right. So you have to weigh that consequence against the other consequence and
make a choice. I know if it were me, I’d choose to go on the tennis trip. But never say you
have to do anything.”

“I choose to go on the tennis trip,” he meekly replied.

“And miss my class?” I replied in mock disbelief.

A serious problem with reactive language is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
People become reinforced in the paradigm that they are determined, and they produce
evidence to support the belief. They feel increasingly victimized and out of control, not in
charge of their life or their destiny. They blame outside forces — other people,
circumstances, even the stars — for their own situation.

At one seminar where I was speaking on the concept of proactivity, a man came up and
said, “Stephen, I like what you’re saying. But every situation is so different. Look at my
marriage. I’m really worried. My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each
other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me.
What can I do?”

“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” I asked.

“That’s right,” he reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re really concerned about.
What do you suggest?”

“Love her,” I replied.

“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”

“Love her.”

“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”

“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”

“But how do you love when you don’t love?”

“My friend, love is a verb. Love — the feeling — is a fruit of love the verb. So love her.
Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”

In the great literature of all progressive societies, love is a verb. Reactive people make it a
feeling. They’re driven by feelings. Hollywood has generally scripted us to believe that


we are not responsible, that we are a product of our feelings. But the Hollywood script
does not describe the reality. If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have
abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.

Proactive people make love a verb. Love is something you do: the sacrifices you make,
the giving of self, like a mother bringing a newborn into the world. If you want to study
love, study those who sacrifice for others, even for people who offend or do not love in
return. If you are a parent, look at the love you have for the children you sacrificed for.
Love is a value that is actualized through loving actions. Proactive people subordinate
feelings to values. Love, the feeling, can be recaptured.

Circle of Concern. Circle of Influence.

Another excellent way to become more self-aware regarding our own degree of
proactivity is to look at where we focus our time and energy. We each have a wide range
of concerns — our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war.
We could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional
involvement by creating a “Circle of Concern.

As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there
are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something
about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them
within a smaller Circle of Influence. By determining which of these two circles is the
focus of most of our time and energy, we can discover much about the degree of our

Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things
they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and
magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.

Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus
on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances
over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes,
reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated
by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their
Circle of Influence to shrink.

As long as we are working in our Circle of Concern, we empower the things within it to
control us. We aren’t taking the proactive initiative necessary to effect positive change.

Earlier, I shared with you the story of my son who was having serious problems in
school. Sandra and I were deeply concerned about his apparent weaknesses and about
the way other people were treating him.

But those things were in our Circle of Concern. As long as we focused our efforts on those
things, we accomplished nothing, except to increase our own feelings of inadequacy and
helplessness and to reinforce our son’s dependence.

It was only when we went to work in our Circle of Influence, when we focused on our
own paradigms, that we began to create a positive energy that changed ourselves and
eventually influenced our son as well. By working on ourselves instead of worrying
about conditions, we were able to influence the conditions.


Because of position, wealth, role, or relationships, there are some circumstances in which
a person’s Circle of Influence is larger than his or her Circle of Concern.

This situation reflects on a self-inflicted emotional myopia — another reactive selfish life-
style focused in the Circle of Concern.

Though they may have to prioritize the use of their influence, proactive people have a
Circle of Concern that is at least as big as their Circle of Influence, accepting the
responsibility to use their influence effectively.

Direct, Indirect, and No Control

The problems we face fall in one of three areas: direct control (problems involving our
own behavior); indirect control (problems involving other people’s behavior); or no
control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past or situational realities). The
proactive approach puts the first step in the solution of all three kinds of problems within
our present Circle of Influence.

Direct control problems are solved by working on our habits. They are obviously within
our Circle of Influence. These are the “Private Victories” of Habits 1, 2, and 3.

Indirect control problems are solved by changing our methods of influence. These are the
“Public Victories” of Habits 4, 5, and 6. I have personally identified over 30 separate
methods of human influence — as separate as empathy is from confrontation, as separate
as example is from persuasion. Most people have only three or four of these methods in
their repertoire, starting usually with reasoning, and, if that doesn’t work, moving to
flight or fight. How liberating it is to accept the idea that I can learn new methods of
human influence instead of constantly trying to use old ineffective methods to “shape up”
someone else!

No control problems involve taking the responsibility to change the line on the bottom on
our face — to smile, to genuinely and peacefully accept these problems and learn to live
with them, even though we don’t like them. In this way, we do not empower these
problems to control us. We share in the spirit embodied in the Alcoholics Anonymous
prayer, “Lord, give me the courage to change the things which can and ought to be
changed, the serenity to accept the things which cannot be changed, and the wisdom to
know the difference.”

Whether a problem is direct, indirect, or no control, we have in our hands the first step to
the solution. Changing our habits, changing our methods of influence and changing the
way we see our no control problems are all within our Circle of Influence.

Expanding the Circle of Influence

It is inspiring to realize that in choosing our response to circumstance, we powerfully
affect our circumstance. When we change one part of the chemical formula, we change
the nature of the results

I worked with one organization for several years that was headed by a very dynamic
person. He could read trends. He was creative, talented, capable, and brilliant — and
everyone knew it. But he had a very dictatorial style of management. He tended to treat
people like “gofers,” as if they didn’t have any judgment. His manner of speaking to those


who worked in the organization was, “Go for this; go for that; now do this; now do that —
I’ll make the decisions.

The net effect was that he alienated almost the entire executive team surrounding him.
They would gather in the corridors and complain to each other about him. Their
discussion was all very sophisticated, very articulate, as if they were trying to help the
situation. But they did it endlessly, absolving themselves of responsibility in the name of
the president’s weaknesses.

“You can’t imagine what’s happened this time,” someone would say. “The other day he
went into my department. I had everything all laid out. But he came in and gave totally
different signals. Everything I’d done for months was shot, just like that. I don’t know
how I’m supposed to keep working for him. How long will it be until he retires?”

“He’s only fifty-nine,” someone else would respond. “Do you think you can survive for six
more years?”

“I don’t know. He’s the kind of person they probably won’t retire anyway.”

But one of the executives was proactive. He was driven by values, not feelings. He took
initiative — he anticipated, he empathized, he read the situation. He was not blind to the
president’s weaknesses; but instead of criticizing them, he would compensate for them.
Where the president was weak in his style, he’d try to buffer his own people and make
such weaknesses irrelevant. And he’d work with the president’s strengths — his vision,
talent, creativity.

This man focused on his Circle of Influence. He was treated like a gofer, also. But he
would do more than what was expected. He anticipated the president’s need. He read
with empathy the president’s underlying concern, so when he presented information, he
also gave his analysis and his recommendations based on that analysis.

As I sat one day with the president in an advisory capacity, he said, “Stephen, I just can’t
believe what this man has done. He’s not only given me the information I requested, but
he’s provided additional information that’s exactly what we needed. He even gave me his
analysis of it in terms of my deepest concerns, and a list of his recommendations.

“The recommendations are consistent with the analysis, and the analysis is consistent
with the data. He’s remarkable! What a relief not to have to worry about this part of the

At the next meeting, it was “go for this” and “go for that” to all the executives but one. To
this man, it was “What’s your opinion?” His Circle of Influence had grown

This caused quite a stir in the organization. The reactive minds in the executive corridors
began shooting their vindictive ammunition at this proactive man. It’s the nature of
reactive people to absolve themselves of responsibility. It’s so much safer to say, “I am not
responsible.” If I say “I am responsible,” I might have to say, “I am irresponsible.” It would
be very hard for me to say that I have the power to choose my response and that the
response I have chosen has resulted in my involvement in a negative, collusive
environment, especially if for years I have absolved myself of responsibility for results in
the name of someone else’s weaknesses.


So these executives focused on finding more information, more ammunition, more
evidence as to why they weren’t responsible.

But this man was proactive toward them, too. Little by little, his Circle of Influence
toward them grew also. It continued to expand to the extent that eventually no one made
any significant moves in the organization without that man’s involvement and approval,
including the president. But the president did not feel threatened because this man’s
strength complemented his strength and compensated for his weaknesses. So he had the
strength of two people, a complementary team.

This man’s success was not dependent on his circumstances. Many others were in the
same situation. It was his chosen response to those circumstances, his focus on his Circle
of Influence, that made the difference.

There are some people who interpret “proactive” to mean pushy, aggressive, or
insensitive; but that isn’t the case at all. Proactive people aren’t pushy. They’re smart,
they’re value driven, they read reality, and they know what’s needed.

Look at Gandhi. While his accusers were in the legislative chambers criticizing him
because he wouldn’t join in their Circle of Concern rhetoric condemning the British
Empire for their subjugation of the Indian people, Gandhi was out in the rice paddies,
quietly, slowly, imperceptibly expanding his Circle of Influence with the field laborers. A
ground swell of support, of trust, of confidence followed him through the countryside.
Though he held no office or political position, through compassion, courage, fasting, and
moral persuasion he eventually brought England to its knees, breaking political
domination of 300 million people with the power of his greatly expanded Circle of

The “Have’s” and the “Be’s”

One way to determine which circle our concern is in is to distinguish between the have’s
and the be’s. The Circle of Concern is filled with the have’s

“I’ll be happy when I have my house paid off.”

“If only I had a boss who wasn’t such a dictator.”

“If only I had a more patient husband.”

“If I had more obedient kids.”

“If I had my degree.”

“If I could just have more time to myself.”

The Circle of Influence is filled with the be’s — I can be more patient, be wise, be loving.
It’s the character focus. Anytime we think the problem is “out there,” that thought is the
problem. We empower what’s out there to control us. The change paradigm is “outside-
in” — what’s out there has to change before we can change.

The proactive approach is to change from the Inside-Out: to be different, and by being
different, to effect positive change in what’s out there — I can be more resourceful, I can
be more diligent, I can be more creative, I can be more cooperative.


One of my favorite stories is one in the Old Testament, part of the fundamental fabric of
the Judeo-Christian tradition. It’s the story of Joseph, who was sold into slavery in Egypt
by his brothers at the age of 17. Can you imagine how easy it would have been for him to
languish in self-pity as a servant of Potiphar, to focus on the weaknesses of his brothers
and his captors and on all he didn’t have? But Joseph was proactive. He worked on be.
And within a short period of time, he was running Potiphar’s household. He was in
charge of all that Potiphar had because the trust was so high.

Then the day came when Joseph was caught in a difficult situation and refused to
compromise his integrity. As a result, he was unjustly imprisoned for 13 years. But again
he was proactive. He worked on the inner circle, on being instead of having, and soon he
was running the prison and eventually the entire nation of Egypt, second only to the

I know this idea is a dramatic Paradigm Shift for many people. It is so much easier to
blame other people, conditioning, or conditions for our own stagnant situation. But we
are responsible –“response-able” — to control our lives and to powerfully influence our
circumstances by working on be, on what we are.

If I have a problem in my marriage, what do I really gain by continually confessing my
wife’s sins? By saying I’m not responsible, I make myself a powerless victim; I immobilize
myself in a negative situation. I also diminish my ability to influence her — my nagging,
accusing, critical attitude only makes her feel validated in her own weakness. My
criticism is worse than the conduct I want to correct. My ability to positively impact the
situation withers and dies.

If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have
control — myself. I can stop trying to shape up my wife and work on my own
weaknesses. I can focus on being a great marriage partner, a source of unconditional love
and support. Hopefully, my wife will feel the power of proactive example and respond in
kind. But whether she does or doesn’t, the most positive way I can influence my situation
is to work on myself, on my being.

There are so many ways to work in the Circle of Influence — to be a better listener, to be a
more loving marriage partner, to be a better student, to be a more cooperative and
dedicated employee. Sometimes the most proactive thing we can do is to be happy, just to
genuinely smile. Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice. There are things, like
the weather, that our Circle of Influence will never include. But as proactive people, we
can carry our own physical or social weather with us. We can be happy and accept those
things that at present we can’t control, while we focus our efforts on the things that we

The Other End of the Stick

Before we totally shift our life focus to our Circle of Influence, we need to consider two
things in our Circle of Concern that merit deeper thought — consequences and mistakes.

While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of
those actions. Consequences are governed by natural law. They are out in the Circle of
Concern. We can decide to step in front of a fast-moving train, but we cannot decide what
will happen when the train hits us.


We can decide to be dishonest in our business dealings. While the social consequences of
that decision may vary depending on whether or not we are found out, the natural
consequences to our basic character are a fixed result.

Our behavior is governed by principles. Living in harmony with them brings positive
consequences; violating them brings negative consequences. We are free to choose our
response in any situation, but in doing so, we choose the attendant consequence. “When
we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.”

Undoubtedly, there have been times in each of our lives when we have picked up what
we later felt was the wrong stick. Our choices have brought consequences we would
rather have lived without. If we had the choice to make over again, we would make it
differently. We call these choices mistakes, and they are the second thing that merits our
deeper thought.

For those filled with regret, perhaps the most needful exercise of proactivity is to realize
that past mistakes are also out there in the Circle of Concern. We can’t recall them, we
can’t undo them, we can’t control the consequences that came as a result.

As a college quarterback, one of my sons learned to snap his wristband between plays as
a kind of mental checkoff whenever he or anyone made a “setting back” mistake, so the
last mistake wouldn’t affect the resolve and execution of the next play.

The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct it, and learn
from it. This literally turns a failure into a success. “Success,” said IBM founder T. J.
Watson, “is on the far side of failure.”

But not to acknowledge a mistake, not to correct it and learn from it, is a mistake of a
different order. It usually puts a person on a self-deceiving, self-justifying path, often
involving rationalization (rational lies) to self and to others. This second mistake, this
cover-up, empowers the first, giving it disproportionate importance, and causes far
deeper injury to self.

It is not what others do or even our own mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response
to those things. Chasing after the poisonous snake that bites us will only drive the poison
through our entire system. It is far better to take measures immediately to get the poison

Our response to any mistake affects the quality of the next moment. It is important to
immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next
moment and we are empowered again.

Making and Keeping Commitments

At the very heart of our Circle of Influence is our ability to make and keep commitments
and promises. The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to
those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity.

It is also the essence of our growth. Through our human endowments of self-awareness
and conscience, we become conscious of areas of weakness, areas for improvement, areas
of talent that could be developed, areas that need to be changed or eliminated from our
lives. Then, as we recognize and use our imagination and independent will to act on that
awareness — making promises, setting goals, and being true to them — we build the


strength of character, the being, that makes possible every other positive thing in our

It is here that we find two ways to put ourselves in control of our lives immediately. We
can make a promise — and keep it. Or we can set a goal — and work to achieve it. As we
make and keep commitments, even small commitments, we begin to establish an inner
integrity that gives us the awareness of self-control and the courage and strength to
accept more of the responsibility for our own lives. By making and keeping promises to
ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods.

The power to make and keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the
basic habits of effectiveness. Knowledge, skill, and desire are all within our control. We
can work on any one to improve the balance of the three. As the area of intersection
becomes larger, we more deeply internalize the principles upon which the habits are
based and create the strength of character to move us in a balanced way toward
increasing effectiveness in our lives.

Proactivity: The 30-Day Test

We don’t have to go through the death camp experience of Frankl to recognize and
develop our own proactivity. It is in the ordinary events of every day that we develop the
proactive capacity to handle the extraordinary pressures of life. It’s how we make and
keep commitments, how we handle a traffic jam, how we respond to an irate customer or
a disobedient child. It’s how we view our problems and where we focus our energies. It’s
the language we use.

I would challenge you to test the principle of proactivity for 30 days. Simply try it and see
what happens. For 30 days work only in your Circle of Influence. Make small
commitments and keep them. Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic. Be part of
the solution, not part of the problem.

Try it in your marriage, in your family, in your job. Don’t argue for other people’s
weaknesses. Don’t argue for your own. When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it,
and learn from it -immediately. Don’t get into a blaming, accusing mode. Work on things
you have control over. Work on you. On be.

Look at the weaknesses of others with compassion, not accusation. It’s not what they’re
not doing or should be doing that’s the issue. The issue is your own chosen response to
the situation and what you should be doing. If you start to think the problem is “out
there,” stop yourself. That thought is the problem.

People who exercise their embryonic freedom day after day will, little by little, expand
that freedom. People who do not will find that it withers until they are literally “being
lived.” They are acting out the scripts written by parents, associates, and society.

We are responsible for our own effectiveness, for our own happiness, and ultimately, I
would say, for most of our circumstances.

Samuel Johnson observed: “The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he
who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything
but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he
proposes to remove.”


Knowing that we are responsible — “response-able” — is fundamental to effectiveness and
to every other habit of effectiveness we will discuss.

Application Suggestions

1. For a full day, listen to your language and to the language of the people around you.
How often do you use and hear reactive phrases such as “If only,” “I can’t,” or “I have to”

2. Identify an experience you might encounter in the near future where, based on past
experience, you would probably behave reactively. Review the situation in the context of
your Circle of Influence. How could you respond proactively? Take several moments and
create the experience vividly in your mind, picturing yourself responding in a proactive
manner. Remind yourself of the gap between stimulus and response. Make a
commitment to yourself to exercise your freedom to choose.

3. Select a problem from your work or personal life that is frustrating to you. Determine
whether it is a direct, indirect, or no control problem. Identify the first step you can take
in your Circle of Influence to solve it and then take that step.

4. Try the 30-day test of proactivity. Be aware of the change in your Circle of Influence.


Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind TM

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within
— Oliver Wendell Holme

Please find a place to read these next few pages where you can be alone and
uninterrupted. Clear your mind of everything except what you will read and what I will
invite you to do. Don’t worry about your schedule, your business, your family, or your
friends. Just focus with me and really open your mind.

In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and
getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music.
You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared
sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people

As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly
come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these
people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your
hand. There are to be four speakers. The first one is from your family, immediate and also
extended — children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and
grandparents who have come from all over the country to attend. The second speaker is
one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person. The
third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or
some community organization where you’ve been involved in service.

Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and
your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like their words to
reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of
working associate?

What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what
achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around
you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?

Before you read further, take a few minutes to jot down your impressions. It will greatly
increase your personal understanding of Habit 2.

What it Means to “Begin with the End in Mind”

If you participated seriously in this visualization experience, you touched for a moment
some of your deep, fundamental values. You established brief contact with that inner
guidance system at the heart of your Circle of Influence

Consider the words of Joseph Addison:


When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read
the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief
of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of
the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly
follow: when I see kings lying by those who deposed them, I consider rival wits placed
side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I
reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of
mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and
some six hundred years ago, I consider that great Day when we shall all of us be
Contemporaries, and make our appearance together.

Although Habit 2 applies to many different circumstances and levels of life, the most
fundamental application of “Begin with the End in Mind” is to begin today with the
image, picture, or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the
criterion by which everything else is examined. Each part of your life — today’s behavior,
tomorrow’s behavior, next week’s behavior, next month’s behavior — can be examined in
the context of the whole, of what really matters most to you. By keeping that end clearly
in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not
violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important, and that each day of your
life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole.

To Begin with the End in Mind means to start with a clear understanding of your
destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where
you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work
harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against
the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy — very busy — without being very effective.

People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come
at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them. People
from every walk of life — doctors, academicians, actors, politicians, business
professionals, athletes, and plumbers — often struggle to achieve a higher income, more
recognition or a certain degree of professional competence, only to find that their drive to
achieve their goal blinded them to the things that really mattered most and now are gone.

How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and,
keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really
matters most. If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just
gets us to the wrong place faster. We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we
will also be truly effective only when we Begin with the End in Mind.

If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral experience,
you will find your definition of success. It may be very different from the definition you
thought you had in mind., achievement, money, or some of the other things we strive for
are not even part of the right wall. When you Begin with the End in Mind, you gain a
different perspective. One man asked another on the death of a mutual friend, “How
much did he leave?” His friend responded, “He left it all.”

All Things Are Created Twice

“Begin with the End in Mind” is based on the principle that all things are created twice.
There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things


Take the construction of a home, for example. You create it in every detail before you
ever hammer the first nail into place. You try to get a very clear sense of what kind of
house you want. If you want a family-centered home, you plan a family room where it
would be a natural gathering place. You plan sliding doors and a patio for children to
play outside. You work with ideas. You work with your mind until you get a clear image
of what you want to build. Then you reduce it to blueprint and develop construction
plans. All of this is done before the earth is touched. If not, then in the second creation,
the physical creation, you will have to make expensive changes that may double the cost
of your home.

The carpenter’s rule is “measure twice, cut once.” You have to make sure that the
blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you’ve thought everything
through. Then you put it into bricks and mortar. Each day you go to the construction
shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You Begin with the
End in Mind.

For another example, look at a business. If you want to have a successful enterprise, you
clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish. You carefully think through the product
or service you want to provide in terms of your market target, then you organize all the
elements — financial, research and development, operations, marketing, personnel,
physical facilities, and so on — to meet that objective. The extent to which you Begin with
the End in Mind often determines whether or not you are able to create a successful
enterprise. Most business failures begin in the first creation, with problems such as under
capitalization, misunderstanding of the market, or lack of a business plan.

The same is true with parenting. If you want to raise responsible, self-disciplined
children, you have to keep that end clearly in mind as you interact with your children on
a daily basis. You can’t behave toward them in ways that undermine their self-discipline
or self-esteem.

To varying degrees, people use this principle in many different areas of life. Before you
go on a trip, you determine your destination and plan out the best route. Before you plant
a garden, you plan it out in your mind, possibly on paper. You create speeches on paper
before you give them, you envision the landscaping in your yard before you landscape it,
you design the clothes you make before you thread the needle.

To the extent to which we understand the principle of two creations and accept the
responsibility for both, we act within and enlarge the borders of our Circle of Influence.
To the extent to which we do not operate in harmony with this principle and take charge
of the first creation, we diminish it.

By Design or Default

It’s a principle that all things are created twice, but not all first creations are by conscious
design. In our personal lives, if we do not develop our own self-awareness and become
responsible for first creations, we empower other people and circumstances outside our
Circle or Influence to shape much of our lives by default. We reactively live the scripts
handed to us by family, associates, other people’s agendas, the pressures of circumstance
— scripts from our earlier years, from our training, our conditioning.
These scripts come from people, not principles. And they rise out of our deep
vulnerabilities, our deep dependency on others and our need for acceptance and love, for
belonging, for a sense of importance and worth, for a feeling that we matter.


Whether we are aware of it or not, whether we are in control of it or not, there is a first
creation to every part of our lives. We are either the second creation of our own proactive
design, or we are the second creation of other people’s agendas, of circumstances, or of
past habits

The unique human capacities of self-awareness, imagination, and conscience enable us to
examine first creations and make it possible for us to take charge of our own first
creation, to write our own script. Put another way, Habit 1 says, “You are the creator.”
Habit 2 is the first creation.

Leadership and Management — The Two Creations

Habit 2 is based on principles of personal leadership, which means that leadership is the
first creation. Leadership is not management. Management is the second creation, which
we’ll discuss in the chapter on Habit 3. But leadership has to come first.

Management is a bottom-line focus: How can I best accomplish certain things?
Leadership deals with the top line: What are the things I want to accomplish? In the
words of both Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis, “Management is doing things right;
leadership is doing the right things.” Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of
success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

You can quickly grasp the important difference between the two if you envision a group
of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the producers,
the problem solvers. They’re cutting through the undergrowth, clearing it out.

The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure
manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies,
and setting up working schedules and compensation programs for machete wielders.

The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells,
“Wrong jungle!”
But how do the busy, efficient producers and managers often respond? “Shut up! We’re
making progress.”

As individuals, groups, and businesses, we’re often so busy cutting through the
undergrowth we don’t even realize we’re in the wrong jungle. And the rapidly changing
environment in which we live makes effective leadership more critical than it has ever
been — in every aspect of independent and interdependent life.

We are more in need of a vision or designation and a compass (a set of principles or
directions) and less in need of a road map. We often don’t know what the terrain ahead
will be like or what we will need to go through it; much will depend on our judgment at
the time. But an inner compass will always give us direction.

Effectiveness — often even survival — does not depend solely on how much effort we
expend, but on whether or not the effort we expend is in the right jungle. And the
metamorphosis taking place in most every industry and profession demands leadership
first and management second.

In business, the market is changing so rapidly that many products and services that
successfully met consumer tastes and needs a few years ago are obsolete today. Proactive
powerful leadership must constantly monitor environmental change, particularly


customer buying habits and motives, and provide the force necessary to organize
resources in the right direction.

Such changes as deregulation of the airline industry, skyrocketing costs of health care,
and the great quality and quantity of imported cars impact the environment in significant
ways. If industries do not monitor the environment, including their own work teams, and
exercise the creative leadership to keep headed in the right direction, no amount of
management expertise can keep them from failing.

Efficient management without effective leadership is, as one individual phrased it, “like
straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.” No management success can compensate for
failure in leadership. But leadership is hard because we’re often caught in a management

At the final session of a year-long executive development program in Seattle, the
president of an oil company came up to me and said, “Stephen, when you pointed out the
difference between leadership and management in the second month, I looked at my role
as the president of this company and realized that I had never been into leadership. I was
deep into management, buried by pressing challenges and the details of day-to-day
logistics. So I decided to withdraw from management. I could get other people to do that.
I wanted to really lead my organization.

“It was hard. I went through withdrawal pains because I stopped dealing with a lot of the
pressing, urgent matters that were right in front of me and which gave me a sense of
immediate accomplishment. I didn’t receive much satisfaction as I started wrestling with
the direction issues, the culture-building issues, the deep analysis of problems, the seizing
of new opportunities. Others also went through withdrawal pains from their working
style comfort zones. They missed the easy accessibility I had given them before. They still
wanted me to be available to them, to respond, to help solve their problems on a day-to-
day basis.

“But I persisted. I was absolutely convinced that I needed to provide leadership. And I
did. Today our whole business is different. We’re more in line with our environment. We
have doubled our revenues and quadrupled our profits. I’m into leadership.”

I’m convinced that too often parents are also trapped in the management paradigm,
thinking of control, efficiency, and rules instead of direction, purpose, and family feeling.
And leadership is even more lacking in our personal lives. We’re into managing with
efficiency, setting and achieving goals before we have even clarified our values.

Rescripting: Becoming Your Own First Creator

As we previously observed, proactivity is based on the unique human endowment of
self-awareness. The two additional unique human endowments that enable us to expand
our proactivity and to exercise personal leadership in our lives are imagination and
Through imagination, we can visualize the uncreated worlds of potential that lie within
us. Through conscience, we can come in contact with universal laws or principles with
our own singular talents and avenues of contribution, and with the personal guidelines
within which we can most effectively develop them. Combined with self-awareness,
these two endowments empower us to write our own script.


Because we already live with many scripts that have been handed to us, the process of
writing our own script is actually more a process of “rescripting,” or Paradigm Shifting —
of changing some of the basic paradigms that we already have. As we recognize the
ineffective scripts, the incorrect or incomplete paradigms within us, we can proactively
begin to rescript ourselves.

I think one of the most inspiring accounts of the rescripting process comes from the
autobiography of Anwar Sadat, past president of Egypt. Sadat had been reared, nurtured,
and deeply scripted in a hatred for Israel. He would make the statement on national
television, “I will never shake the hand of an Israeli as long as they occupy one inch of
Arab soil. Never, never, never!” And huge crowds all around the country would chant,
“Never, never, never!” He marshaled the energy and unified the will
of the whole country in that script.

The script was very independent and nationalistic, and it aroused deep emotions in the
people. But it was also very foolish, and Sadat knew it. It ignored the perilous, highly
interdependent reality of the situation.
So he rescripted himself. It was a process he had learned when he was a young man
imprisoned in Cell 54, a solitary cell in Cairo Central Prison, as a result of his involvement
in a conspiracy plot against King Farouk. He learned to withdraw from his own mind
and look at it to see if the scripts were appropriate and wise. He learned how to vacate his
own mind and, through a deep personal process of meditation, to work with his own
scriptures, his own form of prayer, and rescript himself.

He records that he was almost loath to leave his prison cell because it was there that he
realized that real success is success with self. It’s not in having things, but in having
mastery, having victory over self.

For a period of time during Nasser’s administration Sadat was relegated to a position of
relative insignificance. Everyone felt that his spirit was broken, but it wasn’t. They were
projecting their own home movies onto him. They didn’t understand him. He was biding
his time.

And when that time came, when he became president of Egypt and confronted the
political realities, he rescripted himself toward Israel. He visited the Knesset in Jerusalem
and opened up one of the most precedent-breaking peace movements in the history of the
world, a bold initiative that eventually brought about the Camp David Accord.

Sadat was able to use his self-awareness, his imagination, and his conscience to exercise
personal leadership, to change an essential paradigm, to change the way he saw the
situation. He worked in the center of his Circle of Influence. And from that rescripting,
that change in paradigm, flowed changes in behavior and attitude that affected millions
of lives in the wider Circle of Concern.

In developing our own self-awareness many of us discover ineffective scripts, deeply
embedded habits that are totally unworthy of us, totally incongruent with the things we
really value in life. Habit 2 says we don’t have to live with those scripts. We are response-
able to use our imagination and creativity to write new ones that are more effective, more
congruent with our deepest values and with the correct principles that give our values

Suppose, for example, that I am highly over reactive to my children. Suppose that
whenever they begin to do something I feel is inappropriate, I sense an immediate


tensing in the pit of my stomach. feel defensive walls go up; I prepare for battle. My focus
is not on the long-term growth and understanding but on the short-term behavior. I’m
trying to win the battle, not the war.

I pull out my ammunition — my superior size, my position of authority — and I yell or
intimidate or I threaten or punish. And I win. I stand there, victorious, in the middle of
the debris of a shattered relationship while my children are outwardly submissive and
inwardly rebellious, suppressing feelings that will come out later in uglier ways.

Now if I were sitting at that funeral we visualized earlier, and one of my children was
about to speak, I would want his life to represent the victory of teaching, training, and
disciplining with love over a period of years rather than the battle scars of quick-fix
skirmishes. I would want his heart and mind to be filled with the pleasant memories of
deep, meaningful times together. I would want him to remember me as a loving father
who shared the fun and the pain of growing up. I would want him to remember the times
he came to me with his problems and concerns. I would want to have listened and loved
and helped. I would want him to know I wasn’t perfect, but that I had tried with
everything I had. And that, perhaps more than anybody in the world, I loved him.

The reason I would want those things is because, deep down, I value my children. I love
them, I want to help them. I value my role as their father. But I don’t always see those
values. I get caught up in the “thick of thin things.” What matters most gets buried under
layers of pressing problems, immediate concerns, and outward behaviors. I become
reactive. And the way I interact with my children every day often bears little resemblance
to the way I deeply feel about them.

Because I am self-aware, because I have imagination and conscience, I can examine my
deepest values. I can realize that the script I’m living is not in harmony with those values,
that my life is not the product of my own proactive design, but the result of the first
creation I have deferred to circumstances and other people. And I can change. I can live
out of my imagination instead of my memory. I can tie myself to my limitless potential
instead of my limiting past. I can become my own first creator.

To Begin with the End in Mind means to approach my role as a parent, as well as my
other roles in life, with my values and directions clear. It means to be responsible for my
own first creation, to descript myself so that the paradigms from which my behavior and
attitude flow are congruent with my deepest values and in harmony with correct

It also means to begin each day with those values firmly in mind. Then as the
vicissitudes, as the challenges come, I can make my decisions based on those values. I can
act with integrity. I don’t have to react to the emotion, the circumstance. I can be truly
proactive, value driven, because my values are clear.

A Personal Mission Statement

The most effective way I know to Begin with the End in Mind is to develop a personal
mission statement or philosophy or creed. It focuses on what you want to be (character)
and to do (contributions and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which
being and doing are based
Because each individual is unique, a personal mission statement will reflect that
uniqueness, both in content and form. My friend, Rolfe Kerr, has expressed his personal
creed in this way:


Succeed at home first.

Seek and merit divine help.

Never compromise with honesty.

Remember the people involved.

Hear both sides before judging.

Obtain counsel of others.

Defend those who are absent.

Be sincere yet decisive.

Develop one new proficiency a year.

Plan tomorrow’s work today.

Hustle while you wait.

Maintain a positive attitude.

Keep a sense of humor.

Be orderly in person and in work.

Do not fear mistakes — fear only the absence of creative, constructive, and corrective
responses to those mistakes.

Facilitate the success of subordinates.

Listen twice as much as you speak.

Concentrate all abilities and efforts on the task at hand, not worrying about the next job
or promotion.

A woman seeking to balance family and work values has expressed her sense of personal
mission differently:

I will seek to balance career and family as best I can since both are important to me.

My home will be a place where I and my family, friends, and guests find joy, comfort,
peace, and happiness. Still I will seek to create a clean and orderly environment, yet
livable and comfortable. I will exercise wisdom in what we choose to eat, read, see, and
do at home. I especially want to teach my children to love, to learn, and to laugh — and to
work and develop their unique talents.

I value the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of our democratic society. I will be a
concerned and informed citizen, involved in the political process to ensure my voice is
heard and my vote is counted.


I will be a self-starting individual who exercises initiative in accomplishing my life’s
goals. I will act on situations and opportunities, rather than to be acted upon.

I will always try to keep myself free from addictive and destructive habits. I will develop
habits that free me from old labels and limits and expand my capabilities and choices.

My money will be my servant, not my master. I will seek financial independence over
time. My wants will be subject to my needs and my means. Except for long-term home
and car loans, I will seek to keep myself free from consumer debt. I will spend less than I
earn and regularly save or invest part of my income.

Moreover, I will use what money and talents I have to make life more enjoyable for
others through service and charitable giving.

You could call a personal mission statement a personal constitution. Like the United
States Constitution, it’s fundamentally changeless. In over 200 years, there have been only
26 amendments, 10 of which were in the original Bill of Rights.

The United States Constitution is the standard by which every law in the country is
evaluated. It is the document the president agrees to defend and support when he takes
the Oath of Allegiance. It is the criterion by which people are admitted into citizenship. It
is the foundation and the center that enables people to ride through such major traumas
as the Civil War, Vietnam, or Watergate. It is the written standard, the key criterion by
which everything else is evaluated and directed.

The Constitution has endured and serves its vital function today because it is based on
correct principles, on the self-evident truths contained in the Declaration of
Independence. These principles empower the Constitution with a timeless strength, even
in the midst of social ambiguity and change. “Our peculiar security,” said Thomas
Jefferson, “is in the possession of a written Constitution.”

A personal mission statement based on correct principles becomes the same kind of
standard for an individual. It becomes a personal constitution, the basis for making
major, life-directing decisions, the basis for making daily decisions in the midst of the
circumstances and emotions that affect our lives. It empowers individuals with the same
timeless strength in the midst of change.

People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the
ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you

With a mission statement, we can flow with changes. We don’t need prejudgments or
prejudices. We don’t need to figure out everything else in life, to stereotype and
categorize everything and everybody in order to accommodate reality

Our personal environment is also changing at an ever-increasing pace. Such rapid change
burns out a large number of people who feel they can hardly handle it, can hardly cope
with life. They become reactive and essentially give up, hoping that the things that
happen to them will be good.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In the Nazi death camps where Viktor Frankl learned
the principle of proactivity, he also learned the importance of purpose, of meaning in life.
The essence of “logotherapy,” the philosophy he later developed and taught, is that many


so-called mental and emotional illnesses are really symptoms of an underlying sense of
meaninglessness or emptiness. Logotherapy eliminates that emptiness by helping the
individual to detect his unique meaning, his mission in life.

Once you have that sense of mission, you have the essence of your own proactivity. You
have the vision and the values which direct your life. You have the basic direction from
which you set your long- and short-term goals. You have the power of a written
constitution based on correct principles, against which every decision concerning the
most effective use of your time, your talents, and your energies can be effectively

At the Center

In order to write a personal mission statement, we must begin at the very center of our
Circle of Influence, that center comprised of our most basic Our paradigms, the lens
through which we see the world.

It is here that we deal with our vision and our values. It is here that we use our
endowment of self-awareness to examine our maps and, if we value correct principles, to
make certain that our maps accurately describe the territory, that our paradigms are
based on principles and reality. It is here that we use our endowment of conscience as a
compass to help us detect our own unique talents and areas of contribution. It is here that
we use our endowment of imagination to mentally create the end we desire, giving
direction and purpose to our beginnings and providing the substance of a written
personal constitution.

It is also here that our focused efforts achieve the greatest results. As we work within the
very center of our Circle of Influence, we expand it. This is highest-leverage PC work,
significantly impacting the effectiveness of every aspect of our lives.

Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom,
and power. Security represents your sense of worth, your identity, your emotional
anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it.

Guidance means your source of direction in life. Encompassed by your map, your
internal frame of reference that interprets for you what is happening out there, are
standards or principles or implicit criteria that govern moment-by-moment decision-
making and doing.

Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how
the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. It embraces judgment,
discernment, comprehension. It is a gestalt or oneness, an integrated wholeness.

Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something.
It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to
overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.

These four factors — security, guidance, wisdom, and power — are interdependent.
Security and clear guidance bring true wisdom, and wisdom becomes the spark or
catalyst to release and direct power. When these four factors are present together,
harmonized and enlivened by each other, they create the great force of a noble
personality, a balanced character, a beautifully integrated individual.


These life-support factors also undergird every other dimension of life. And none of them
is an all-or-nothing matter. The degree to which you have developed each one could be
charted somewhere on a continuum, much like the Maturity Continuum described
earlier. At the bottom end, the four factors are weak. You are basically dependent on
circumstances or other people, things over which you have no direct control. At the top
end you are in control. You have independent strength and the foundation for rich,
interdependent relationships.

Your security lies somewhere on the continuum between extreme insecurity on one end,
wherein your life is buffeted by all the fickle forces that play upon it, and a deep sense of
high intrinsic worth and personal security on the other end. Your guidance ranges on the
continuum from dependence on the social mirror or other unstable, fluctuating sources to
strong inner direction. Your wisdom falls somewhere between a totally inaccurate map
where everything is distorted and nothing seems to fit, and a complete and accurate map
of life wherein all the parts and principles are properly related to each other. Your power
lies somewhere between immobilization or being a puppet pulled by someone else’s
strings to high proactivity, the power to act according to your own values instead of
being acted upon by other people and circumstances.

The location of these factors on the continuum, the resulting degree of their integration,
harmony, and balance, and their positive impact on every aspect of your life is a function
of your center, the basic paradigms at your very core.

Alternative Centers

Each of us has a center, though we usually don’t recognize it as such. Neither do we
recognize the all-encompassing effects of that center on every aspect of our lives.

Let’s briefly examine several centers or core paradigms people typically have for a better
understanding of how they affect these four fundamental dimensions and, ultimately, the
sum of life that flows from them.

Spouse Centeredness. Marriage can be the most intimate, the most satisfying, the most
enduring, growth-producing of human relationships. It might seem natural and proper to
be centered on one’s husband or wife.

But experience and observation tell a different story. Over the years, I have been involved
in working with many troubled marriages, and I have observed a certain thread weaving
itself through almost every spouse-centered relationship I have encountered. That thread
is strong emotional dependence.

If our sense of emotional worth comes primarily from our marriage, then we become
highly dependent upon that relationship. We become vulnerable to the moods and
feelings, the behavior and treatment of our spouse, or to any external event that may
impinge on the relationship — a new child, in-laws, economic setbacks, social successes,
and so forth.

When responsibilities increase and stresses come in the marriage, we tend to revert to the
scripts we were given as we were growing up. But so does our spouse. And those scripts
are usually different. Different ways of handling financial, child-discipline, or in-law
issues come to the surface. When these deep-seated tendencies combine with the
emotional dependency in the marriage, the spouse-centered relationship reveals all its


When we are dependent on the person with whom we are in conflict, both need and
conflict are compounded. Love-hate overreactions, fight-or-flight tendencies, withdrawal,
aggressiveness, bitterness, resentment, and cold competition are some of the usual
results. When these occur, we tend to fall even further back on background tendencies
and habits in an effort to justify and defend our own behavior and we attack our

Inevitably, anytime we are too vulnerable we feel the need to protect ourselves from
further wounds. So we resort to sarcasm, cutting humor, criticism — anything that will
keep from exposing the tenderness within. Each partner tends to wait on the initiative of
the other for love, only to be disappointed but also confirmed as to the rightness of the
accusations made.

There is only phantom security in such a relationship when all appears to be going well.
Guidance is based on the emotion of the moment. Wisdom and power are lost in the
counterdependent negative interactions.

Family Centeredness. Another common center is the family. This, too, may seem to be
natural and proper. As an area of focus and deep investment, it provides great
opportunities for deep relationships, for loving, for sharing, for much that makes life
worthwhile. But as a center, it ironically destroys the very elements necessary to family

People who are family-centered get their sense of security or personal worth from the
family tradition and culture or the family reputation. Thus, they become vulnerable to
any changes in that tradition or culture and to any influences that would affect that

Family-centered parents do not have the emotional freedom, the power, to raise their
children with their ultimate welfare truly in mind. If they derive their own security from
the family, their need to be popular with their children may override the importance of a
long-term investment in their children’s growth and development. Or they may be
focused on the proper and correct behavior of the moment. Any behavior that they
consider improper threatens their security. They become upset, guided by the emotions
of the moment, spontaneously reacting to the immediate concern rather than the long-
term growth and development of the child. They may overreact and punish out of bad
temper. They tend to love their children conditionally, making them emotionally
dependent or counterdependent and rebellious.

Money Centeredness. Another logical and extremely common center to people’s lives is
making money. Economic security is basic to one’s opportunity to do much in any other
dimension. In a hierarchy or continuum of needs, physical survival and financial security
comes first. Other needs are not even activated until that basic need is satisfied, at least

Most of us face economic worries. Many forces in the wider culture can and do act upon
our economic situation, causing or threatening such disruption that we often experience
concern and worry that may not always rise to the conscious surface.

Sometimes there are apparently noble reasons given for making money, such as the
desire to take care of one’s family. And these things are important. But to focus on
money-making as a center will bring about its own undoing.


Consider again the four life-support factors — security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
Suppose I derive much of my security from my employment or from my income or net
worth. Since many factors affect these economic foundations, I become anxious and
uneasy, protective and defensive, about anything that may affect them. When my sense
of personal worth comes from my net worth, I am vulnerable to anything that will affect
that net worth. But work and money, per se, provide no wisdom, no guidance, and only a
limited degree of power and security. All it takes to show the limitations of a money
center is a crisis in my life or in the life of a loved one.

Money-centered people often put aside family or other priorities, assuming everyone will
understand that economic demands come first. I know one father who was leaving with
his children for a promised trip to the circus when a phone call came for him to come to
work instead. He declined. When his wife suggested that perhaps he should have gone to
work, he responded, “The work will come again, but childhood won’t.” For the rest of
their lives his children remembered this little act of priority setting, not only as an object
lesson in their minds but as an expression of love in their hearts.

Work Centeredness. Work-centered people may become “workaholics,” driving
themselves to produce at the sacrifice of health, relationships, and other important areas
of their lives. Their fundamental identity comes from their work — “I’m a doctor,” “I’m a
writer,” “I’m an actor.”

Because their identity and sense of self-worth are wrapped up in their work, their
security is vulnerable to anything that happens to prevent them from continuing in it.
Their guidance is a function of the demands of the work. Their wisdom and power come
in the limited areas of their work, rendering them ineffective in other areas of life.

Possession Centeredness. A driving force of many people is possessions — not only
tangible, material possessions such as fashionable clothes, homes, cars, boats, and
jewelry, but also the intangible possessions of fame, glory, or social prominence. Most of
us are aware, through our own experience, how singularly flawed such a center is, simply
because it can vanish rapidly and it is influenced by so many forces.

If my sense of security lies in my reputation or in the things I have, my life will be in a
constant state of threat and jeopardy that these possessions may be lost or stolen or
devalued. If I’m in the presence of someone of greater net worth or fame or status, I feel
inferior. If I’m in the presence of someone of lesser net worth or fame or status, I feel
superior. My sense of self-worth constantly fluctuates. I don’t have any sense of
constancy or anchorage or persistent selfhood. I am constantly trying to protect and
insure my assets, properties, securities, position, or reputation. We have all heard stories
of people committing suicide after losing their fortunes in a significant stock decline or
their fame in a political reversal.

Pleasure Centeredness. Another common center, closely allied with possessions, is that
of fun and pleasure. We live in a world where instant gratification is available and
encouraged. Television and movies are major influences in increasing people’s
expectations. They graphically portray what other people have and can do in living the
life of ease and “fun.”

But while the glitter of pleasure-centered lifestyles is graphically portrayed, the natural
result of such lifestyles — the impact on the inner person, on productivity, on
relationships — is seldom accurately seen.


Innocent pleasures in moderation can provide relaxation for the body and mind and can
foster family and other relationships. But pleasure, per se, offers no deep, lasting
satisfaction or sense of fulfillment. The pleasure-centered person, too soon bored with
each succeeding level of “fun,” constantly cries for more and more. So the next new
pleasure has to be bigger and better, more exciting, with a bigger “high.” A person in this
state becomes almost entirely narcissistic, interpreting all of life in terms of the pleasure it
provides to the self here and now.

Too many vacations that last too long, too many movies, too much TV, too much video
game playing — too much undisciplined leisure time in which a person continually takes
the course of least resistance — gradually wastes a life. It ensures that a person’s capacities
stay dormant, that talents remain undeveloped, that the mind and spirit become lethargic
and that the heart is unfulfilled. Where is the security, the guidance, the wisdom, and the
power? At the low end of the continuum, in the pleasure of a fleeting moment.

Malcom Muggeridge writes “A Twentieth-Century Testimony”:

When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most
forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems
now most futile and absurd. For instance, success in all of its various guises; being known
and being praised; ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women, or
traveling, going to and fro in the world and up and down in it like Satan, explaining and
experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer.

In retrospect, all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called,
“licking the earth.”

Friend/Enemy Centeredness. Young people are particularly, though certainly not
exclusively, susceptible to becoming friend-centered. Acceptance and belonging to a peer
group can become almost supremely important. The distorted and ever-changing social
mirror becomes the source for the four life-support factors, creating a high degree of
dependence on the fluctuating moods, feelings, attitudes, and behavior of others.

Friend centeredness can also focus exclusively on one person, taking on some of the
dimensions of marriage. The emotional dependence on one individual, the escalating
need/conflict spiral, and the resulting negative interactions can grow out of friend

And what about putting an enemy at the center of one’s life? Most people would never
think of it, and probably no one would ever do it consciously. Nevertheless, enemy
centering is very common, particularly when there is frequent interaction between people
who are in real conflict. When someone feels he has been unjustly dealt with by an
emotionally or socially significant person, it is very easy for him to become preoccupied
with the injustice and make the other person the center of his life. Rather than proactively
leading his own life, the enemy-centered person is counterdependently reacting to the
behavior and attitudes of a perceived enemy.

One friend of mine who taught at a university became very distraught because of the
weaknesses of a particular administrator with whom he had a negative relationship. He
allowed himself to think until eventually it became an obsession. It so preoccupied him
that it affected the quality of his relationships with his family, his church, and his
working associates. He finally came to the conclusion that he had to leave the university
and accept a teaching appointment somewhere else.


“Wouldn’t you really prefer to teach at this university, if the man were not here?” I asked

“Yes, I would,” he responded. “But as long as he is here, then my staying is too disruptive
to everything in life. I have to go.

“Why have you made this administrator the center of your life?” I asked him.

He was shocked by the question. He denied it. But I pointed out to him that he was
allowing one individual and his weaknesses to distort his entire map of life, to undermine
his faith and the quality of his relationships with his loved ones.

He finally admitted that this individual had had such an impact on him, but he denied
that he himself had made all these choices. He attributed the responsibility for the
unhappy situation to the administrator. He, himself, he declared, was not responsible.

As we talked, little by little, he came to realize that he was indeed responsible, but that
because he did not handle this responsibility well, he was being irresponsible.

Many divorced people fall into a similar pattern. They are still consumed with anger and
bitterness and self-justification regarding an ex-spouse. In a negative sense,
psychologically they are still married — they each need the weaknesses of the former
partner to justify their accusations.

Many “older” children go through life either secretly or openly hating their parents. They
blame them for past abuses, neglect, or favoritism and they center their adult life on that
hatred, living out the reactive, justifying script that accompanies it.

The individual who is friend- or enemy-centered has no intrinsic security. Feelings of
self-worth are volatile, a function of the emotional state or behavior of other people.
Guidance comes from the person’s perception of how others will respond, and wisdom is
limited by the social lens or by an enemy-centered paranoia. The individual has no
power. Other people are pulling the strings.

Church Centeredness. I believe that almost anyone who is seriously involved in any
church will recognize that churchgoing is not synonymous with personal spirituality.
There are some people who get so busy in church worship and projects that they become
insensitive to the pressing human needs that surround them, contradicting the very
precepts they profess to believe deeply. There are others who attend church less
frequently or not at all but whose attitudes and behavior reflect a more genuine centering
in the principles of the basic Judeo-Christian ethic.

Having participated throughout my life in organized church and community service
groups, I have found that attending church does not necessarily mean living the
principles taught in those meetings. You can be active in a church but inactive in its

In the church-centered life, image or appearance can become a person’s dominant
consideration, leading to hypocrisy that undermines personal security and intrinsic
worth. Guidance comes from a social conscience, and the church-centered person tends to
label others artificially in terms of “active,” “inactive,” “liberal,” “orthodox,” or


Because the church is a formal organization made up of policies, programs, practices, and
people, it cannot by itself give a person any deep, permanent security or sense of intrinsic
worth. Living the principles taught by the church can do this, but the organization alone

Nor can the church give a person a constant sense of guidance. Church-centered people
often tend to live in compartments, acting and thinking and feeling in certain ways on the
Sabbath and in totally different ways on weekdays. Such a lack of wholeness or unity or
integrity is a further threat to security, creating the need for increased labeling and self-

Seeing the church as an end rather than as a means to an end undermines a person’s
wisdom and sense of balance. Although the church claims to teach people about the
source of power, it does not claim to be that power itself. It claims to be one vehicle
through which divine power can be channeled into man’s nature.

Self-Centeredness. Perhaps the most common center today is the self. The most obvious
form is selfishness, which violates the values of most people. But if we look closely at
many of the popular approaches to growth and self-fulfillment, we often find self-
centering at their core.

There is little security, guidance, wisdom, or power in the limited center of self. Like the
Dead Sea in Palestine, it accepts but never gives. It becomes stagnant.

On the other hand, paying attention to the development of self in the greater perspective
of improving one’s ability to serve, to produce, to contribute in meaningful ways, gives
context for dramatic increase in the four life-support factors

These are some of the more common centers from which people approach life. It is often
much easier to recognize the center in someone else’s life than to see it in your own. You
probably know someone who puts making money ahead of everything else. You
probably know someone whose energy is devoted to justifying his or her position in an
ongoing negative relationship. If you look, you can sometimes see beyond behavior into
the center that creates it.

Identifying Your Center

But where do you stand? What is at the center of your own life? Sometimes that isn’t easy
to see Perhaps the best way to identify your own center is to look closely at your life-
support factors. If you can identify with one or more of the descriptions below, you can
trace it back to the center from which it flows, a center which may be limiting your
personal effectiveness.

If you are Spouse Centered…


Your feelings of security are based on the way your spouse treats you.

You are highly vulnerable to the moods and feelings of your spouse.

There is deep disappointment resulting in withdrawal or conflict when your spouse
disagrees with you or does not meet your expectations.


Anything that may impinge on the relationship is perceived as a threat.


Your direction comes from your own needs and wants and from those of your spouse.

Your decision-making criterion is limited to what you think is best for your marriage or
your mate, or to the preferences and opinions of your spouse.

Your decision-making criterion is limited to what you think is best for your marriage or
your mate, or to the preferences and opinions of your spouse.


Your life perspective surrounds things which may positively or negatively influence your
spouse or your relationship.


Your power to act is limited by weaknesses in your spouse and in yourself.

* * *

If you are Family Centered…


Your security is founded on family acceptance and fulfilling family expectations.

Your sense of personal security is as volatile as the family.

Your feelings of self-worth are based on the family reputation.


Family scripting is your source of correct attitudes and behaviors.

Your decision-making criterion is what is good for the family, or what family members


You interpret all of life in terms of your family, creating a partial understanding and
family narcissism.


Your actions are limited by family models traditions.

* * *


If you are Money Centered…


Your personal worth is determined by your net worth.

You are vulnerable to anything that threatens your economic security.


Profit is your decision-making criterion.


Moneymaking is the lens through which life is seen and understood, creating imbalanced


You are restricted to what you can accomplish with your money and your limited vision.

* * *

If you are Work Centered…


You tend to define yourself by your occupational role.

You are only comfortable when you are working.


You make your decisions based on the needs and expectations of your work.


You tend to be limited to your work role.


Your actions are limited by work role models, organizational constraints, occupational
opportunities, your boss’s perceptions, and your possible inability at some point in your
life to do that particular work.

* * *
If you are Possession Centered…


Your security is based on your reputation, your social status, or the tangible things you
possess. You tend to compare what you have to what others have.



You make your decisions based on what will protect, increase, or better display your


You see the world in terms of comparative economic and social relationships.


You function within the limits of what you can buy or the social prominence you can

* * *

If you are Pleasure Centered…


You feel secure only when you’re on a pleasure “high.

Your security is short-lived, anesthetizing, and dependent on your environment.


You make your decisions based on what will give you the most pleasure.


You see the world in terms of what’s in it for you.


Your power is almost negligible.

* * *

If you are Friend Centered…


Your security is a function of the social mirror.

You are highly dependent on the opinion of others.


Your decision-making criterion is “What will they think?

You are easily embarrassed.



You see the world through a social lens.

Your actions are as fickle as opinion.


You are limited by your social comfort zone.

* * *

If you are Enemy Centered…


Your security is volatile, based on the movements of your enemy.

You are always wondering what he is up to.

You seek self-justification and validation from the like-minded.


You are counter-dependently guided by your enemy’s actions.

You make your decisions based on what will thwart your enemy.


Your judgment is narrow and distorted.

You are defensive, over-reactive, and often paranoid.


The little power you do have comes from anger, envy, resentment, and vengeance —
negative energy that shrivels and destroys, leaving energy for littlle else.

* * *

If you are Church Centered…


Your security is based on church activity and on the esteem in which you are held by
those in authority or influence in the church.

You find identity and security in religious labels and comparisons.

You are guided by how others will evaluate your actions in the context of church
teachings and expectations.



You see the world in terms of “believers” and “non-believers,” “belongers” and “non-


Perceived power comes from your church position or role.

* * *

If you are Self-Centered…


Your security is constantly changing and shifting.


Your judgment criteria are: “If it feels good…” “What I want.” “What I need.” “What’s in it
for me?


You view the world by how decisions, events, or circumstances will affect you.


Your ability to act is limited to your own resources, without the benefits of

More often than not, a person’s center is some combination of these and/or other centers.
Most people are very much a function of a variety of influences that play upon their lives.
Depending on external or internal conditions, one particular center may be activated until
the underlying needs are satisfied. Then another center becomes the compelling force.

As a person fluctuates from one center to another, the resulting relativism is like roller
coasting through life. One moment you’re high, the next moment you’re low, making
efforts to compensate for one weakness by borrowing strength from another weakness.
There is no consistent sense of direction, no persistent wisdom, no steady power supply
or sense of personal, intrinsic worth and identity.

The ideal, of course, is to create one clear center from which you consistently derive a
high degree of security, guidance, wisdom, and power, empowering your proactivity and
giving congruency and harmony to every part of your life.

A Principle Center

By centering our lives on correct principles, we create a solid foundation for development
of the four life-support factors

Our security comes from knowing that, unlike other centers based on people or things
which are subject to frequent and immediate change, correct principles do not change.


We can depend on them Principles don’t react to anything. They won’t divorce us or run
away with our best friend. They aren’t out to get us. They can’t pave our way with
shortcuts and quick fixes. They don’t depend on the behavior of others, the environment,
or the current fad for their validity. Principles don’t die.
They aren’t here one day and gone the next. They can’t be destroyed by fire, earthquake,
or theft. Principles are deep, fundamental truths, classic truths, generic common
denominators. They are tightly interwoven threads running with exactness, consistency,
beauty, and strength through the fabric of life.

Even in the midst of people or circumstances that seem to ignore the principles, we can be
secure in the knowledge that principles are bigger than people or circumstances, and that
thousands of years of history have seen them triumph, time and time again. Even more
important, we can be secure in the knowledge that we can validate them in our own lives,
by our own experience.

Admittedly, we’re not omniscient. Our knowledge and understanding of correct
principles is limited by our own lack of awareness of our true nature and the world
around us and by the flood of trendy philosophies and theories that are not in harmony
with correct principles. These ideas will have their season of acceptance, but, like many
before them, they won’t endure because they’re built on false foundations.

We are limited, but we can push back the borders of our limitations. An understanding of
the principle of our own growth enables us to search out correct principles with the
confidence that the more we learn, the more clearly we can focus the lens through which
we see the world. The principles don’t change; our understanding of them does.

The wisdom and guidance that accompany Principle-Centered Living come from correct
maps, from the way things really are, have been, and will be. Correct maps enable us to
clearly see where we want to go and how to get there. We can make our decisions using
the correct data that will make their implementation possible and meaningful.

The personal power that comes from Principle-Centered Living is the power of a self-
aware, knowledgeable, proactive individual, unrestricted by the attitudes, behaviors, and
actions of others or by many of the circumstances and environmental influences that limit
other people.

The only real limitation of power is the natural consequences of the principles
themselves. We are free to choose our actions, based on our knowledge of correct
principles, but we are not free to choose the consequences of those actions. Remember, “If
you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other.

Principles always have natural consequences attached to them. There are positive
consequences when we live in harmony with the principles. There are negative
consequences when we ignore them. But because these principles apply to everyone,
whether or not they are aware, this limitation is universal. And the more we know of
correct principles, the greater is our personal freedom to act wisely.

By centering our lives on timeless, unchanging principles, we create a fundamental
paradigm of effective living. It is the center that puts all other centers in perspective.


If you are Principle Centered…


Your security is based on correct principles that do not change, regardless of external
conditions or circumstances.

You know that true principles can repeatedly be validated in your own life, through your
own experiences.

As a measurement of self-improvement, correct principles function with exactness,
consistency, beauty and strength.

Correct principles help you understand your own development, endowing you with the
confidence to learn more, thereby increasing your knowledge and understanding.

Your source of security provides you with an immovable, unchanging, unfailing core
enabling you to see change as an exciting adventure and opportunity to make significant


You are guided by a compass which enables you to see where you want to go and how
you will get there.

You use accurate data which makes your decisions both implementable and meaningful.

You stand apart from life’s situations, and circumstances and look at the balanced whole.

Your decisions and actions reflect both short and long-term considerations and

In every situation, you consciously, proactively determine the best alternative, basing
decisions on conscience educated by principles.


Your judgment encompasses a broad spectrum of long-term consequences and reflects a
wise balance and quiet assurance.

You see things differently and thus you think and act differently from the largely reactive

You view the world through a fundamental paradigm for effective, provident living.

You see the world in terms of what you can do for the world and its people.

You adopt a proactive lifestyle, seeking to serve and build others.

You interpret all of life’s experiences in terms of opportunities for learning and


Your power is limited only by your understanding and observance of natural law and
correct principles and by the natural consequences of the principles themselves.

You become a self-aware, knowledgeable, proactive individual, largely unrestricted by
the attitudes, behaviors, or actions of others.

Your ability to act reaches far beyond your own resources and encourages highly
developed levels of interdependency.

Your decisions and actions are not driven by your current financial or circumstantial

You experience an interdependent freedom.

Remember that your paradigm is the source from which your attitudes and behaviors
flow. A paradigm is like a pair of glasses; it affects the way you see everything in your
life. If you look at things through the paradigm of correct principles, what you see in life
is dramatically different from what you see through any other centered paradigm.

I have included in the Appendix section of this book a detailed chart which shows how
each center we’ve discussed might possibly affect the way you see everything else. But
for a quick understanding of the difference your center makes, let’s look at just one
example of a specific problem as seen through the different paradigms. As you read, try
to put on each pair of glasses. Try to feel the response that flows from the different

Suppose tonight you have invited your wife to go to a concert. You have the tickets; she’s
excited about going. It’s four o’clock in the afternoon.

All of a sudden, your boss calls you into his office and says he needs your help through
the evening to get ready for an important meeting at 9 A.M. tomorrow.

If you’re looking through spouse-centered or family-centered glasses, your main concern
will be your wife. You may tell the boss you can’t stay and you take her to the concert in
an effort to please her. You may feel you have to stay to protect your job, but you’ll do so
grudgingly, anxious about her response, trying to justify your decision and protect
yourself from her disappointment or anger.

If you’re looking through a money-centered lens, your main thought will be of the
overtime you’ll get or the influence working late will have on a potential raise. You may
call your wife and simply tell her you have to stay, assuming she’ll understand that
economic demands come first.

If you’re work-centered, you may be thinking of the opportunity. You can learn more
about the job. You can make some points with the boss and further your career. You may
give yourself a pat on the back for putting hours well beyond what is required, evidence
of what a hard worker you are. Your wife should be proud of you!

If you’re possession-centered, you might be thinking of the things the overtime income
could buy. Or you might consider what an asset to your reputation at the office it would
be if you stayed. Everyone would hear tomorrow how noble, how sacrificing and
dedicated you are.


If you’re pleasure-centered, you’ll probably can the work and go to the concert, even if
your wife would be happy for you to work late. You deserve a night out!

If you’re friend-centered, your decision would be influenced by whether or not you had
invited friends to attend the concert with you. Or whether your friends at work were
going to stay late, too.

If you’re enemy-centered, you may stay late because you know it will give you a big edge
over that person in the office who thinks he’s the company’s greatest asset. While he’s off
having fun, you’ll be working and slaving, doing his work and yours, sacrificing your
personal pleasure for the good of the company he can so blithely ignore.

If you’re church-centered, you might be influenced by plans other church members have
to attend the concert, by whether or not any church members work at your office, or by
the nature of the concert — Handel’s Messiah might rate higher in priority than a rock
concert. Your decision might also be affected by what you think a “good church member”
would do and by whether you view the extra work as “service” or “seeking after material

If you’re self-centered, you’ll be focused on what will do you the most good. Would it be
better for you to go out for the evening? Or would it be better for you to make a few
points with the boss? How the different options affect you will be your main concern.

As we consider various ways of looking at a single event, is it any wonder that we have
“young lady/old lady” perception problems in our interactions with each other? Can you
see how fundamentally our centers affect us? Right down to our motivations, our daily
decisions, our actions (or, in too many cases, our reactions), our interpretations of events?
That’s why understanding your own center is so important. And if that center does not
empower you as a proactive person, it becomes fundamental to your effectiveness to
make the necessary Paradigm Shifts to create a center that will.

As a principle-centered person, you try to stand apart from the emotion of the situation
and from other factors that would act on you, and evaluate the option. Looking at the
balanced whole — the work needs, the family needs, other needs that may be involved
and the possible implications of the various alternative decisions — you’ll try to come up
with the best solution, taking all factors into consideration.

Whether you go to the concert or stay and work is really a small part of an effective
decision. You might make the same choice with a number of other centers. But there are
several important differences when you are coming from a principle-centered paradigm.
First, you are not being acted upon by other people or circumstances. You are proactively
choosing what you determine to be the best alternative. You make your decisions
consciously and knowledgeably.

Second, you know your decision is most effective because it is based on principles with
predictable long-term results.

Third, what you choose to do contributes to your ultimate values in life. Staying at work
to get the edge on someone at the office is an entirely different evening in your life from
staying because you value your boss’s effectiveness and you genuinely want to contribute
to the company’s welfare. The experiences you have as you carry out your decisions take
on quality and meaning in the context of your life as a whole.


Fourth, you can communicate to your wife and your boss within strong networks you’ve
created in your interdependent relationships. Because you are independent, you can be
effectively interdependent. You might decide to delegate what is delegable and come in
early the next morning to do the rest.

And finally, you’ll feel comfortable about your decision. Whatever you choose to do, you
can focus on it and enjoy it.

As a principle-centered person, you see things differently. And because you see things
differently, you think differently, you act differently. Because you have a high degree of
security, guidance, wisdom, and power that flows from a solid, unchanging core, you
have the foundation of a highly proactive and highly effective life.

Writing and Using a A Personal Mission Statement

As we go deeply within ourselves, as we understand and realign our basic paradigms to
bring them in harmony with correct principles, we create both an effective, empowering
center and a clear lens through which we can see the world. We can then focus that lens
on how we, as unique individuals, relate to that world

Frankl says we detect rather than invent our missions in life. I like that choice of words. I
think each of us has an internal monitor or sense, a conscience, that gives us an awareness
of our own uniqueness and the singular contributions that we can make. In Frankl’s
words, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life. Therein he cannot be
replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific
opportunity to implement it.

In seeking to give verbal expression to that uniqueness, we are again reminded of the
fundamental importance of proactivity and of working within our Circle of Influence. To
seek some abstract meaning to our lives out in our Circle of Concern is to abdicate our
proactive responsibility, to place our own first creation in the hands of circumstance and
other people.

Our meaning comes from within. Again, in the words of Frankl, “Ultimately, man should
not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is
asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by
answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

Personal responsibility, or proactivity, is fundamental to the first creation. Returning to
the computer metaphor, Habit 1 says “You are the programmer.” Habit 2, then, says,
“Write the program.” Until you accept the idea that you are responsible, that you are the
programmer, you won’t really invest in writing the program.

As proactive people , we can begin to give expression to what we want to be and to do in
our lives. We can write a personal mission statement, a personal constitution.

A mission statement is not something you write overnight. It takes deep introspection,
careful analysis, thoughtful expression, and often many rewrites to produce it in final
form. It may take you several weeks or even months before you feel really comfortable
with it, before you feel it is a complete and concise expression of your innermost values
and directions. Even then, you will want to review it regularly and make minor changes
as the years bring additional insights or changing circumstances.


But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid
expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure
everything else in your life.

I recently finished reviewing my own mission statement, which I do fairly regularly.
Sitting on the edge of a beach, alone, at the end of a bicycle ride, I took out my organizer
and hammered it out. It took several hours, but I felt a sense of clarity, a sense of
organization and commitment, a sense of exhilaration and freedom.

I find the process is as important as the product. Writing or reviewing a mission
statement changes you because it forces you to think through your priorities deeply,
carefully, and to align your behavior with your beliefs. As you do, other people begin to
sense that you’re not being driven by everything that happens to you. You have a sense of
mission about what you’re trying to do and you are excited about it.

Using Your Whole Brain

Our self-awareness empowers us to examine our own thoughts. This is particularly
helpful in creating a personal mission statement because the two unique human
endowments that enable us to practice Habit 2 — imagination and conscience — are
primarily functions of the right side of the brain. Understanding how to tap into that
right brain capacity greatly increases our first-creation ability.

A great deal of research has been conducted for decades on what has come to be called
brain dominance theory. The findings basically indicated that each hemisphere of the
brain — left and right — tends to specialize in and preside over different functions, process
different kinds of information, and deal with different kinds of problems.
Essentially, the left hemisphere is the more logical/verbal one and the right hemisphere
the more intuitive, creative one. The left deals with words, the right with pictures; the left
with parts and specifics, the right with wholes and the relationship between the parts.
The left deals with analysis, which means to break apart; the right with synthesis, which
means to put together. The left deals with sequential thinking; the right with
simultaneous and holistic thinking. The left is time bound; the right is time free.

Although people use both sides of the brain, one side or the other generally tends to be
dominant in each individual. Of course, the ideal would be to cultivate and develop the
ability to have good crossover between both sides of the brain so that a person could first
sense what the situation called for and then use the appropriate tool to deal with it. But
people tend to stay in the “comfort zone” of their dominant hemisphere and process every
situation according to either a right- or left-brain preference.

In the words of Abraham Maslow, “He that is good with a hammer tends to think
everything is a nail.” This is another factor that affects the “young lady/old lady”
perception difference. Right-brain and left-brain people tend to look at things in different

We live in a primarily left-brain-dominant world, where words and measurement and
logic are enthroned, and the more creative, intuitive, sensing, artistic aspect of our nature
is often subordinated. Many of us find it more difficult to tap into our right-brain

Admittedly this description is oversimplified and new studies will undoubtedly throw
more light on brain functioning. But the point here is that we are capable of performing


many different kinds of thought processes and we barely tap our potential. As we
become aware of its different capacities, we can consciously use our minds to meet
specific needs in more effective ways.

Two Ways to Tap the Right Brain

If we use the brain dominance theory as a model, it becomes evident that the quality of
our first creation is significantly impacted by our ability to use our creative right brain.
The more we are able to draw upon our right-brain capacity, the more fully we will be
able to visualize, to synthesize, to transcend time and present circumstances, to project a
holistic picture of what we want to do and to be in life.

Expand Perspective

Sometimes we are knocked out of our left-brain environment and thought patterns and
into the right brain by an unplanned experience. The death of a loved one, a severe
illness, a financial setback, or extreme adversity can cause us to stand back, look at our
lives, and ask ourselves some hard questions:

“What’s really important? Why am I doing what I’m doing?

But if you’re proactive, you don’t have to wait for circumstances or other people to create
perspective-expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own.

There are a number of ways to do this. Through the powers of your imagination, you can
visualize your own funeral, as we did at the beginning of this chapter. Write your own
eulogy. Actually write it out. Be specific.

You can visualize your twenty-fifth and then your fiftieth wedding anniversary. Have
your spouse visualize this with you. Try to capture the essence of the family relationship
you want to have created through your day-by-day investment over a period of that
many years.

You can visualize your retirement from your present occupation. What contributions,
what achievements will you want to have made in your field? What plans will you have
after retirement? Will you enter a second career?

Expand your mind. Visualize in rich detail. Involve as many emotions and feelings as
possible. Involve as many of the senses as you can.

I have done similar visualization exercises with some of my university classes. “Assume
you only have this one semester to live,” I tell my students, “and that during this semester
you are to stay in school as a good student. Visualize how you would spend your

Things are suddenly placed in a different perspective. Values quickly surface that before
weren’t even recognized. I have also asked students to live with that expanded
perspective for a week and keep a diary of their experiences.

The results are very revealing. They start writing to parents to tell them how much they
love and appreciate them. They reconcile with a brother, a sister, a friend where the
relationship has deteriorated.


The dominant, central theme of their activities, the underlying principle, is love. The
futility of bad-mouthing, bad thinking, put-downs, and accusation becomes very evident
when they think in terms of having only a short time to live. Principles and values
become more evident to everybody.

There are a number of techniques using your imagination that can put you in touch with
your values. But the net effect of every one I have ever used is the same. When people
seriously undertake to identify what really matters most to them in their lives, what they
really want to be and to do, they become very reverent. They start to think in larger terms
than today and tomorrow.

Visualization and Affirmation

Personal leadership is not a singular experience. It doesn’t begin and end with the writing
of a personal mission statement. It is, rather, the ongoing process of keeping your vision
and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with those most important
things. And in that effort, your powerful right-brain capacity can be a great help to you
on a daily basis as you work to integrate your personal mission statement into your life.
It’s another application of “Begin with the End in Mind.”

Let’s go back to an example we mentioned before. Suppose I am a parent who really
deeply loves my children. Suppose I identify that as one of my fundamental values in my
personal mission statement. But suppose, on a daily basis, I have trouble overreacting.

I can use my right-brain power of visualization to write an “affirmation” that will help me
become more congruent with my deeper values in my daily life.

A good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, it’s positive, it’s present tense,
it’s visual, and it’s emotional. So I might write something like this: “It is deeply satisfying
(emotional) that I (personal) respond (present tense) with wisdom, love, firmness, and
self-control (positive) when my children misbehave.”

Then I can visualize it. I can spend a few minutes each day and totally relax my mind and
body can think about situations in which my children might misbehave. I can visualize
them in rich detail. I can feel the texture of the chair I might be sitting on, the floor under
my feet, the sweater I’m wearing. I can see the dress my daughter has on, the expression
on her face. The more clearly and vividly I can imagine the detail, the more deeply I will
experience it, the less I will see it as a spectator.

Then I can see her do something very specific which normally makes my heart pound
and my temper start to flare. But instead of seeing my normal response, I can see myself
handle the situation with all the love, the power, the self-control I have captured in my
affirmation. I can write the program, write the script, in harmony with my values, with
my personal mission statement.

And if I do this, day after day my behavior will change. Instead of living out of the scripts
given to me by my own parents or by society or by genetics or my environment, I will be
living out of the script I have written from my own self-selected value system.

I have helped and encouraged my son, Sean, to use this affirmation process extensively
throughout his football career. We started when he played quarterback in high school,
and eventually, I taught him how to do it on his own.


We would try to get him in a very relaxed state of mind through deep breathing and
progressive muscle relaxation technique so that he became very quiet inside. Then I
would help him visualize himself right in the heat of the toughest situations imaginable.

He would imagine a big blitz coming at him fast. He had to read the blitz and respond.
He would imagine giving audibles at the line after reading defenses. He would imagine
quick reads with his first receiver, his second receiver, his third receiver. He would
imagine options that he normally wouldn’t do.

At one point in his football career, he told me he was constantly getting uptight. As we
talked, I realized that he was visualizing uptightness. So we worked on visualizing
relaxation in the middle of the big pressure circumstance. We discovered that the nature
of the visualization is very important. If you visualize the wrong thing, you’ll produce the
wrong thing.

Dr. Charles Garfield has done extensive research on peak performers, both in athletics
and in business. He became fascinated with peak performance in his work with the
NASA program, watching the astronauts rehearse everything on earth again and again in
a simulated environment before they went to space. Although he had a doctorate in
mathematics, he decided to go back and get another Ph.D. in the field of psychology and
study the characteristics of peak performers.

One of the main things his research showed was that almost all of the world-class athletes
and other peak performers are visualizers. They see it; they feel it; they experience it
before they actually do it. They Begin with the End in Mind.

You can do it in every area of your life. Before a performance, a sales presentation, a
difficult confrontation, or the daily challenge of meeting a goal, see it clearly, vividly,
relentlessly, over and over again. Create an internal “comfort zone.” Then, when you get
into the situation, it isn’t foreign. It doesn’t scare you.

Your creative, visual right brain is one of your most important assets, both in creating
your personal mission statement and in integrating it into your life.

There is an entire body of literature and audio and video tapes that deals with this
process of visualization and affirmation. Some of the more recent developments in this
field include such things as subliminal programming, neurolinguistic programming, and
new forms of relaxation and self-talk processes. These all involve explanation,
elaboration, and different packaging of the fundamental principles of the first creation.

My review of the success literature brought me in contact with hundreds of books on this
subject. Although some made extravagant claims and relied on anecdotal rather than
scientific evidence, I think that most of the material is fundamentally sound. The majority
of it appears to have originally come out of the study of the Bible by many individuals.

In effective personal leadership, visualization and affirmation techniques emerge
naturally out of a foundation of well thought through purposes and principles that
become the center of a person’s life. They are extremely powerful in rescripting and
reprogramming, into writing deeply committed-to purposes and principles into one’s
heart and mind. I believe that central to all enduring religions in society are the same
principles and practices clothed in different language — meditation, prayer, covenants,
ordinances, scripture study, empathy, compassion, and many different forms of the use
of both conscience and imagination.


But if these techniques become part of the personality ethic and are severed from a base
of character and principles, they can be misused and abused in serving other centers,
primarily the self center.

Affirmation and visualization are forms of programming, and we must be certain that we
do not submit ourselves to any programming that is not in harmony with our basic center
or that comes from sources centered on money-making, self interest, or anything other
than correct principles.

The imagination can be used to achieve the fleeting success that comes when a person is
focused on material gain or on “what’s in it for me.” But I believe the higher use of
imagination is in harmony with the use of conscience to transcend self and create a life of
contribution based on unique purpose and on the principles that govern interdependent

Identifying Roles and Goals

Of course, the logical/verbal left brain becomes important also as you attempt to capture
your right-brain images, feelings, and pictures in the words of a written mission statement.
Just as breathing exercises help integrate body and mind, writing is a kind of psycho-
neural muscular activity which helps bridge and integrate the conscious and subconscious
minds. Writing distills, crystallizes, and clarifies thought and helps break the whole into

We each have a number of different roles in our lives — different areas or capacities in
which we have responsibility. I may, for example, have a role as an individual, a
husband, a father, a teacher, a church member, and a businessman. And each of these
roles is important.

One of the major problems that arises when people work to become more effective in life
is that they don’t think broadly enough. They lose the sense of proportion, the balance,
the natural ecology necessary to effective living. They may get consumed by work and
neglect personal health. In the name of professional success, they may neglect the most
precious relationships in their lives.

You may find that your mission statement will be much more balanced, much easier to
work with, if you break it down into the specific role areas of your life and the goals you
want to accomplish in each area. Look at your professional role. You might be a
salesperson, or a manager, or a product developer. What are you about in that area?
What are the values that should guide you? Think of your personal roles — husband,
wife, father, mother, neighbor, friend. What are you about in those roles? What’s
important to you? Think of community roles — the political area, public service, volunteer

One executive has used the idea of roles and goals to create the following mission
My mission is to live with integrity and to make a difference in the lives of others.

To fulfill this mission:

I have charity: I seek out and love the one — each one — regardless of his situation.

I sacrifice: I devote my time, talents, and resources to my mission.


I inspire: I teach by example that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father and that
every Goliath can be overcome.

I am impactful: What I do makes a difference in the lives of others.

These roles take priority in achieving my mission:

Husband — my partner is the most important person in my life. Together we contribute
the fruits of harmony, industry, charity, and thrift.

Father — I help my children experience progressively greater joy in their lives.

Son/Brother — I am frequently “there” for support and love.

Christian — God can count on me to keep my covenants and to serve his other children.

Neighbor — The love of Christ is visible through my actions toward others.

Change Agent — I am a catalyst for developing high performance in large organizations.

Scholar — I learn important new things every day.

Writing your mission in terms of the important roles in your life gives you balance and
harmony. It keeps each role clearly before you. You can review your roles frequently to
make sure that you don’t get totally absorbed by one role to the exclusion of others that
are equally or even more important in your life.

After you identify your various roles, then you can think about the Long Term Goals are
plans you make that support the principles described in your Mission Statement. These
goals should represent areas you want to focus on in the near future. Typically, Long
Term Goals take longer than a week to complete, but are most specific than the lifetime
goals of your Mission Statement.long-term goals you want to accomplish in each of those
roles. We’re into the right brain again, using imagination, creativity, conscience, and
inspiration. If these goals are the extension of a mission statement based on correct
principles, they will be vitally different from the goals people normally set. They will be
in harmony with correct principles, with natural laws, which gives you greater power to
achieve them. They are not someone else’s goals you have absorbed. They are your goals.
They reflect your deepest values, your unique talent, your sense of mission. And they
grow out of your chosen roles in life.

An effective goal focuses primarily on results rather than activity. It identifies where you
want to be, and, in the process, helps you determine where you are. It gives you
important information on how to get there, and it tells you when you have arrived. It
unifies your efforts and energy. It gives meaning and purpose to all you do. And it can
finally translate itself into daily activities so that you are proactive, you are in charge of
your life, you are making happen each day the things that will enable you to fulfill your
personal mission statement.

Roles and goals give structure and organized direction to your personal mission. If you
don’t yet have a personal mission statement, it’s a good place to begin. Just identifying the
various areas of your life and the two or three important results you feel you should
accomplish in each area to move ahead gives you an overall perspective of your life and a
sense of direction.


As we move into Habit 3, we’ll go into greater depth in the area of short-term goals. The
important application at this point is to identify roles and long-term goals as they relate
to your personal mission statement. These roles and long-term goals will provide the
foundation for effective goal setting and achieving when we get to the Habit 3 day-to-day
management of life and time.

Family Mission Statements

Because Habit 2 is based on principle, it has broad application. In addition to individuals,
families, service groups, and organizations of all kinds become significantly more
effective as they Begin with the End in Mind.

Many families are managed on the basis of crises, moods, quick fixes, and instant
gratification — not on sound principles. Symptoms surface whenever stress and pressure
mount: people become cynical, critical, or silent or they start yelling and overreacting.
Children who observe these kinds of behavior grow up thinking the only way to solve
problems is flight or fight.

The core of any family is what is changeless, what is always going to be there — shared
vision and values. By writing a family mission statement, you give expression to its true

This mission statement becomes its constitution, the standard, the criterion for evaluation
and decision making. It gives continuity and unity to the family as well as direction.
When individual values are harmonized with those of the family, members work
together for common purposes that are deeply felt.

Again, the process is as important as the product. The very process of writing and
refining a mission statement becomes a key way to improve the family. Working together
to create a mission statement builds the PC capacity to live it.

By getting input from every family member, drafting a statement, getting feedback,
revising it, and using wording from different family members, you get the family talking,
communicating, on things that really matter deeply. The best mission statements are the
result of family members coming together in a spirit of mutual respect, expressing their
different views, and working together to create something greater than any one
individual could do alone. Periodic review to expand perspective, shift emphasis or
direction, amend or give new meaning to time-worn phrases can keep the family united
in common values and purposes.

The mission statement becomes the framework for thinking, for governing the family.
When the problems and crises come, the constitution is there to remind family members
of the things that matter most and to provide direction for problem solving and decision
making based on correct principles.

In our home, we put our mission statement up on a wall in the family room so that we
can look at it and monitor ourselves daily. When we read the phrases about the sounds of
love in our home, order, responsible independence, cooperation, helpfulness, meeting
needs, developing talents, showing interest in each other’s talents, and giving service to
others it gives us some criteria to know how we’re doing in the things that matter most to
us as a family.


When we plan our family goals and activities, we say, “In light of these principles, what
are the goals we’re going to work on? What are our action plans to accomplish our goals
and actualize these values?”

We review the statement frequently and rework goals and jobs twice a year, in September
and June — the beginning of school and the end of school — to reflect the situation as it is,
to improve it, to strengthen it. It renews us, it recommits us to what we believe in, what
we stand for.

Organizational Mission Statements

Mission statements are also vital to successful organizations. One of the most important
thrusts of my work with organizations is to assist them in developing effective mission
statements. And to be effective, that statement has to come from within the bowels of the
organization. Everyone should participate in a meaningful way — not just the top strategy
planners, but everyone. Once again, the involvement process is as important as the
written product and is the key to its use.

I am always intrigued whenever I go to IBM and watch the training process there. Time
and time again, I see the leadership of the organization come into a group and say that
IBM stands for three things: the dignity of the individual, excellence, and service.

These things represent the belief system of IBM. Everything else will change, but these
three things will not change. Almost like osmosis, this belief system has spread
throughout the entire organization, providing a tremendous base of shared values and
personal security for everyone who works there.

Once I was training a group of people for IBM in New York. It was small group, about 20
people, and one of them became ill. He called his wife in California, who expressed
concern because his illness required a special treatment. The IBM people responsible for
the training session arranged to have him taken to an excellent hospital with medical
specialists in the disease. But they could sense that his wife was uncertain and really
wanted him home where their personal physician could handle the problem.

So they decided to get him home. Concerned about the time involved in driving him to
the airport and waiting for a commercial plane, they brought in a helicopter, flew him to
the airport, and hired a special plane just to take this man to California.

I don’t know what costs that involved; my guess would be many thousands of dollars.
But IBM believes in the dignity of the individual. That’s what the company stands for. To
those present, that experience represented its belief system and was no surprise. I was

At another time, I was scheduled to train 175 shopping center managers at a particular
hotel. I was amazed at the level of service there. It wasn’t a cosmetic thing. It was evident
at all levels, spontaneously, without supervision.

I arrived quite late, checked in, and asked if room service were available. The man at the
desk said, “No, Mr. Covey, but if you’re interested, I could go back and get a sandwich or
a salad or whatever you’d like that we have in the kitchen.” His attitude was one of total
concern about my comfort and welfare. “Would you like to see your convention room?”
he continued. “Do you have everything you need? What can I do for you? I’m here to
serve you.”


There was no supervisor there checking up. This man was sincere.

The next day I was in the middle of a presentation when I discovered that I didn’t have
all the colored markers I needed. So I went out into the hall during the brief break and
found a bellboy running to another convention. “I’ve got a problem,” I said. “I’m here
training a group of managers and I only have a short break. I need some more colored

He whipped around and almost came to attention. He glanced at my name tag and said,
“Mr. Covey, I will solve your problem.”

He didn’t say, “I don’t know where to go” or “well, go and check the front desk.” He just
took care of it. And he made me feel like it was his privilege to do so.

Later, I was in the side lobby, looking at some of the art objects. Someone from the hotel
came up to me and said, “Mr. Covey, would you like to see a book that describes the art
objects in this hotel?” How anticipatory! How service-oriented!

I next observed one of the employees high up on a ladder cleaning windows in the lobby.
From his vantage point he saw a woman having a little difficulty in the garden with a
walker. She hadn’t really fallen, and she was with other people. But he climbed down that
ladder, went outside, helped the woman into the lobby and saw that she was properly
taken care of. Then he went back and finished cleaning the windows.

I wanted to find out how this organization had created a culture where people bought so
deeply into the value of customer service. I interviewed housekeepers, waitresses,
bellboys in that hotel and found that this attitude had impregnated the minds, hearts, and
attitudes of every employee there.

I went through the back door into the kitchen, where I saw the central value:
“Uncompromising personalized service.” I finally went to the manager and said, “My
business is helping organizations develop a powerful team character, a team culture. I am
amazed at what you have here.”

“Do you want to know the real key?” he inquired. He pulled out the mission statement for
the hotel chain.

After reading it, I acknowledged, “That’s an impressive statement. But I know many
companies that have impressive mission statements.”

“Do you want to see the one for this hotel?” he asked.

“Do you mean you developed one just for this hotel?”


“Different from the one for the hotel chain?”

“Yes. It’s in harmony with that statement, but this one pertains to our situation, our
environment, our time.” He handed me another paper.

“Who developed this mission statement?” I asked.


“Everybody,” he replied.

“Everybody? Really, everybody?”






“Desk clerks?”

“Yes. Do you want to see the mission statement written by the people who greeted you
last night?”
He pulled out a mission statement that they, themselves, had written that was
interwoven with all the other mission statements. Everyone, at every level, was involved.

The mission statement for that hotel was the hub of a great wheel. It spawned the
thoughtful, more specialized mission statements of particular groups of employees. It
was used as the criterion for every decision that was made. It clarified what those people
stood for — how they related to the customer, how they related to each other. It affected
the style of the managers and the leaders. It affected the compensation system. It affected
the kind of people they recruited and how they trained and developed them. Every
aspect of that organization, essentially, was a function of that hub, that mission statement.

I later visited another hotel in the same chain, and the first thing I did when I checked in
was to ask to see their mission statement, which they promptly gave me. At this hotel, I
came to understand the motto “Uncompromising personalized service” a little more.

For a three-day period, I watched every conceivable situation where service was called
for. I always found that service was delivered in a very impressive, excellent way. But it
was always also very personalized. For instance, in the swimming area I asked the
attendant where the drinking fountain was. He walked me to it.

But the thing that impressed me the very most was to see an employee, on his own, admit
a mistake to his boss. We ordered room service, and were told when it would be
delivered to the room. On the way to our room, the room service person spilled the hot
chocolate, and it took a few extra minutes to go back and change the linen on the tray and
replace the drink. So the room service was about fifteen minutes late, which was really
not that important to us.

Nevertheless, the next morning the room service manager phoned us to apologize and
invited us to have either the buffet breakfast or a room service breakfast, compliments of
the hotel, to in some way compensate for the inconvenience.

What does it say about the culture of an organization when an employee admits his own
mistake, unknown to anyone else, to the manager so that customer or guest is better
taken care of!


As I told the manager of the first hotel I visited, I know a lot of companies with
impressive mission statements. But there is a real difference, all the difference in the
world, in the effectiveness of a mission statement created by everyone involved in the
organization and one written by a few top executives behind a mahogany wall.

One of the fundamental problems in organizations, including families, is that people are
not committed to the determinations of other people for their lives. They simply don’t
buy into them.

Many times as I work with organizations, I find people whose goals are totally different
from the goals of the enterprise. I commonly find reward systems completely out of
alignment with stated value systems.

When I begin work with companies that have already developed some kind of mission
statement, I ask them, “How many of the people here know that you have a mission
statement? How many of you know what it contains? How many were involved in
creating it? How many really buy into it and use it as your frame of reference in making

Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it,
underline it. No involvement, no commitment.

Now, in the early stages — when a person is new to an organization or when a child in the
family is young — you can pretty well give them a goal and they’ll buy it, particularly if
the relationship, orientation, and training are good.

But when people become more mature and their own lives take on a separate meaning,
they want involvement, significant involvement. And if they don’t have that
involvement, they don’t buy it. Then you have a significant motivational problem which
cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created it.

That’s why creating an organizational mission statement takes time, patience,
involvement, skill, and empathy. Again, it’s not a quick fix. It takes time and sincerity,
correct principles, and the courage and integrity to align systems, structure, and
management style to the shared vision and values. But it’s based on correct principles and
it works.

An organizational mission statement — one that truly reflects the deep shared vision and
values of everyone within that organization — creates a great unity and tremendous
commitment. It creates in people’s hearts and minds a frame of reference, a set of criteria
or guidelines, by which they will govern themselves. They don’t need someone else
directing, controlling, criticizing, or taking cheap shots. They have bought into the
changeless core of what the organization is about.


Application Suggestions

1. Take the time to record the impressions you had in the funeral visualization at the
beginning of this chapter. You may want to use the chart below to organize your

2. Take a few moments and write down your roles as you now see them. Are you
satisfied with that mirror image of your life.

3. Set up time to completely separate yourself from daily activities and to begin work on
your personal mission statement.

4. Go through the chart in Appendix A showing different centers and circle all those you
can identify with. Do they form a pattern for the behavior in your life? Are you
comfortable with the implications of your analysis.

5. Start a collection of notes, quotes, and ideas you may want to use as resource material
in writing your .personal mission statement.

6. Identify a project you will be facing in the near future and apply the principles of
mental creation. Write down the results you desire and what steps will lead to those

7. Share the principles of Habit 2 with your family or work group and suggest that
together you begin the process of developing a family or group mission statement.


Habit 3:

Put First Things First TM — Principles of Personal

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least


* *
Will you take just a moment and write down a short answer to the following two
questions? Your answers will be important to you as you begin work on Habit 3.

Question 1: What one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that if you did on a
regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?

Question 2: What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar

We’ll come back to these answers later. But first, let’s put Habit 3 in perspective

Habit 3 is the personal fruit, the practical fulfillment of Habits 1 and 2.

Habit 1 says, “You’re the creator. You are in charge.” It’s based on the four unique human
endowments of imagination, conscience, independent will, and particularly, self-
awareness. It empowers you to say, “That’s an unhealthy program I’ve been given from
my childhood, from my social mirror. I don’t like that ineffective script. I can change.”

Habit 2 is the first or mental creation. It’s based on imagination — the ability to envision,
to see the potential, to create with our minds what we cannot at present see without eyes;
and conscience — the ability to detect our own uniqueness and the personal, moral, and
ethical guidelines within which we can most happily fulfill it. It’s the deep contact with
our basic paradigms and values and the vision of what we can become.

Habit 3, then, is the second creation — the physical creation. It’s the fulfillment, the
actualization, the natural emergence of Habits 1 and 2. It’s the exercise of independent
will toward becoming principle-centered. It’s the day-in, day-out, moment-by-moment
doing it.

Habits 1 and 2 are absolutely essential and prerequisite to Habit 3. You can’t become
principle-centered without first being aware of and developing your own proactive
nature. You can’t become principle-centered without first being aware of your paradigms
and understanding how to shift them and align them with principles. You can’t become
principle-centered without a vision of and a focus on the unique contribution that is
yours to make.

But with that foundation, you can become principle-centered, day-in and day-out,
moment-by-moment, by living Habit 3 — by practicing effective self-management.


Management, remember, is clearly different from leadership. Leadership is primarily a
high-powered, right-brain activity. It’s more of an art; it’s based on a philosophy. You
have to ask the ultimate questions of life when you’re dealing with personal leadership

But once you have dealt with those issues, once you have resolved them, you then have
to manage yourself effectively to create a life congruent with your answers. The ability to
manage well doesn’t make much difference if you’re not even in the “right jungle.” But if
you are in the right jungle, it makes all the difference. In fact, the ability to manage well
determines the quality and even the existence of the second creation. Management is the
breaking down, the analysis, the sequencing, the specific application, the time-bound left-
brain aspect of effective self-government. My own maxim of personal effectiveness is this:
Manage from the left; lead from the right.

The Power of Independent Will

In addition to self-awareness, imagination, and conscience, it is the fourth human
endowment — independent will — that really makes effective self-management possible. It
is the ability to make decisions and choices and to act in accordance with them. It is the
ability to act rather than to be acted upon, to proactively carry out the program we have
developed through the other three endowments.

The human will is an amazing thing. Time after time, it has triumphed against
unbelievable odds. The Helen Kellers of this world give dramatic evidence to the value,
the power of the independent will.

But as we examine this endowment in the context of effective self-management, we
realize it’s usually not the dramatic, the visible, the once-in-a-lifetime, up-by-the-
bootstraps effort that brings enduring success. Empowerment comes from the learning
how to use this great endowment in the decisions we make every day.

The degree to which we have developed our independent will in our everyday lives is
measured by our personal integrity. Integrity is, fundamentally, the value we place on
ourselves. It’s our ability to make and keep commitments to ourselves, to “walk our talk.”
It’s honor with self, a fundamental part of the character ethic, the essence of proactive

Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what “first
things” are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment.
Management is discipline, carrying it out.

Discipline derives from disciple — disciple to a philosophy, disciple to a set of principles,
disciple to a set of values, disciple to an overriding purpose, to a superordinate goal or a
person who represents that goal.

In other words, if you are an effective manager of your self, your discipline comes from
within; it is a function of your independent will. You are a disciple, a follower, of your
own deep values and their source. And you have the will, the integrity, to subordinate
your feelings, your impulses, your moods to those values.

One of my favorite essays is “The Common Denominator of Success,” written by E. M.
Gray. He spent his life searching for the one denominator that all successful people share.
He found it wasn’t hard work, good luck, or astute human relations, though those were


all important. The one factor that seemed to transcend all the rest embodies the essence of
Habit 3: Putting First Things First.

“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do,” he
“They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the
strength of their purpose.”

That subordination requires a purpose, a mission, a Habit 2 clear sense of direction and
value, a burning “Yes!” inside that makes it possible to say “no” to other things. It also
requires independent will, the power to do something when you don’t want to do it, to be
a function of your values rather than a function of the impulse or desire of any given
moment. It’s the power to act with integrity to your proactive first creation.

Four Generations of Time Management

In Habit 3 we are dealing with many of the questions addressed in the field of life and
time management. As a longtime student of this fascinating field, I am personally
persuaded that the essence of the best thinking in the area of time management can be
captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities. That phrase
represents the evolution of three generations of time-management theory, and how to
best do it is the focus of a wide variety of approaches and materials.

Personal management has evolved in a pattern similar to many other areas of human
endeavor. Major developmental thrusts, or “waves” as Alvin Toffler calls them, follow
each other in succession, each adding a vital new dimension. For example, in social
development, the agricultural revolution was followed by the industrial revolution,
which was followed by the informational revolution. Each succeeding wave created a
surge of social and personal progress.

Likewise, in the area of time management, each generation builds on the one before it —
each one moves us toward greater control of our lives. The first wave or generation could
be characterized by notes and checklists, an effort to give some semblance of recognition
and inclusiveness to the many demands placed on our time and energy.

The second generation could be characterized by calendars and appointment books. This
wave reflects an attempt to look ahead, to schedule events and activities in the future.

The third generation reflects the current time-management field. It adds to those
preceding generations the important idea of prioritization, of clarifying values, and of
comparing the relative worth of activities based on their relationship to those values. In
addition, it focuses on setting goals — specific long-, intermediate-, and short-term targets
toward which time and energy would be directed in harmony with values. It also
includes the concept of daily planning, of making a specific plan to accomplish those
goals and activities determined to be of greatest worth.

While the third generation has made a significant contribution, people have begun to
realize that “efficient” scheduling and control of time are often counterproductive. The
efficiency focus creates expectations that clash with the opportunities to develop rich
relationships, to meet human needs, and to enjoy spontaneous moments on a daily basis.

As a result, many people have become turned off by time management programs and
planners that make them feel too scheduled, too restricted, and they “throw the baby out


with the bath water,” reverting to first- or second-generation techniques to preserve
relationships, to meet human needs, and to enjoy spontaneous moments on a daily basis.

But there is an emerging fourth generation that is different in kind. It recognizes that
“time management” is really a misnomer — the challenge is not to manage time, but to
manage ourselves. Satisfaction is a function of expectation as well as realization. And
expectation (and satisfaction) lie in our Circle of Influence.

Rather than focusing on things and time, fourth-generation expectations focus on
preserving and enhancing relationships and accomplishing results — in short, on
maintaining the P/PC Balance.

Quadrant II

The essential focus of the fourth generation of management can be captured in the Time
Management Matrix diagrammed on the next page. Basically, we spend time in one of
four ways.

As you see, the two factors that define an activity are urgent and important. Urgent
means it requires immediate attention. It’s “Now!” Urgent things act on us. A ringing
phone is urgent. Most people can’t stand the thought of just allowing the phone to ring.
You could spend hours preparing materials, you could get all dressed up and travel to a
person’s office to discuss a particular issue, but if the phone were to ring while you were
there, it would generally take precedence over your personal visit.

If you were to phone someone, there aren’t many people who would say, “I’ll get to you
in 15 minutes; just hold.” But those same people would probably let you wait in an office
for at least that long while they completed a telephone conversation with someone else.

Urgent matters are usually visible. They press on us; they insist on action. They’re often
popular with others. They’re usually right in front of us. And often they are pleasant,
easy, fun to do. But so often they are unimportant!

Importance, on the other hand, has to do with results. If something is important, it
contributes to your mission, your values, your high priority goals.

We react to urgent matters. Important matters that are not urgent require more initiative,
more proactivity. We must act to seize opportunity, to make things happen. If we don’t
practice Habit 2, if we don’t have a clear idea of what is important, of the results we
desire in our lives, we are easily diverted into responding to the urgent.

Look for a moment at the four quadrants in the Time Management Matrix. Quadrant I is
both urgent and important. It deals with significant results that require immediate
attention. We usually call the activities in Quadrant I “crises” or “problems.” We all have
some Quadrant I activities in our lives. But Quadrant I consumes many people. They are
crisis managers, problem-minded people, the deadline-driven producers.

As long as you focus on Quadrant I, it keeps getting bigger and bigger until it dominates
you. It’s like the pounding surf. A huge problem comes and knocks you down and you’re
wiped out. You struggle back up only to face another one that knocks you down and
slams you to the ground.


Some people are literally beaten up by the problems all day every day. The only relief
they have is in escaping to the not important, not urgent activities of Quadrant IV. So
when you look at their total matrix, 90 percent of their time is in Quadrant I and most of
the remaining 10 percent is in Quadrant IV with only negligible attention paid to
Quadrants II and III. That’s how people who manage their lives by crisis live.

There are other people who spend a great deal of time in “urgent, but not important”
Quadrant III, thinking they’re in Quadrant I. They spend most of their time reacting to
things that are urgent, assuming they are also important. But the reality is that the
urgency of these matters is often based on the priorities and expectations of others.

People who spend time almost exclusively in Quadrants III and IV basically lead
irresponsible lives. Effective people stay out of Quadrants III and IV because, urgent or
not, they aren’t important. They also shrink Quadrant I down to size by spending more
time in Quadrant II. Quadrant II is the heart of effective personal management. It deals
with things that are not urgent, but are important. It deals with things like building
relationships, writing a personal mission statement, long-range planning, exercising,
preventive maintenance, preparation — all those things we know we need to do, but
somehow seldom get around to doing, because they aren’t urgent.

To paraphrase Peter Drucker, effective people are not problem-minded; they’re
opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems. They think
preventively. They have genuine Quadrant I crises and emergencies that require their
immediate attention, but the number is comparatively small. They keep P and PC in
balance by focusing on the important, but not the urgent, high-leverage capacity-building
activities of Quadrant II.

With the Time Management Matrix in mind, take a moment now and consider how you
answered the questions at the beginning of this chapter. What quadrant do they fit in?
Are they important? Are they urgent?

My guess is that they probably fit into Quadrant II. They are obviously important, deeply
important, but not urgent. And because they aren’t urgent, you don’t do them.

Now look again at the nature of those questions: What one thing could you do in your
personal and professional life that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a
tremendous positive difference in your life? Quadrant II activities have that kind of
impact. Our effectiveness takes the quantum leaps when we do them.

I asked a similar question to a group of shopping center managers. “If you were to do one
thing in your professional work that you know would have enormously positive effects
on the results, what would it be?” Their unanimous response was to build helpful
personal relationships with the tenants, the owners of the stores inside the shopping
center, which is a Quadrant II activity.

We did an analysis of the time they were spending on that activity. It was less than 5
percent. They had good reasons — problems, one right after another. They had reports to
make out, meetings to go to, correspondence to answer, phone calls to make, constant
interruptions. Quadrant I had consumed them.

They were spending very little time with the store managers, and the time they did spend
was filled with negative energy. The only reason they visited the store managers at all


was to enforce the contract — to collect the money or discuss advertising or other
practices that were out of harmony with center guidelines, or some similar thing.

The store owners were struggling for survival, let alone prosperity. They had
employment problems, cost problems, inventory problems, and a host of other problems.
Most of them had no training in management at all. Some were fairly good
merchandisers, but they needed help. The tenants didn’t even want to see the shopping
center owners; they were just one more problem to contend with.

So the owners decided to be proactive. They determined their purpose, their values, their
priorities. In harmony with those priorities, they decided to spend about one-third of
their time in helping relationships with the tenants.

In working with that organization for about a year and a half, I saw them climb to around
20 percent, which represented more than a fourfold increase. In addition, they changed
their role. They became listeners, trainers, consultants to the tenants. Their interchanges
were filled with positive energy.

The effect was dramatic, profound. By focusing on relationships and results rather than
time and methods, the numbers went up, the tenants were thrilled with the results
created by new ideas and skills, and the shopping center managers were more effective
and satisfied and increased their list of potential tenants and lease revenue based on
increased sales by the tenant stores. They were no longer policemen or hovering
supervisors. They were problem solvers, helpers.

Whether you are a student at the university, a worker in an assembly line, a homemaker,
fashion designer, or president of a company, I believe that if you were to ask what lies in
Quadrant II and cultivate the proactivity to go after it, you would find the same results.
Your effectiveness would increase dramatically. Your crises and problems would shrink
to manageable proportions because you would be thinking ahead, working on the roots,
doing the preventive things that keep situations from developing into crises in the first
place. In the time management jargon, this is called the Pareto Principle — 80 percent of
the results flow out of 20 percent of the activities.

What it Takes to Say “No”

The only place to get time for Quadrant II in the beginning is from Quadrants III and IV.
You can’t ignore the urgent and important activities of Quadrant I, although it will shrink
in size as you spend more time with prevention and preparation in Quadrant II. But the
initial time for Quadrant II has come out of III and IV.

You have to be proactive to work on Quadrant II because Quadrant I and III work on
you. To say “yes” to important Quadrant II priorities, you have to learn to say “no” to
other activities, sometimes apparently urgent things.

Some time ago, my wife was invited to serve as chairman of a committee in a community
endeavor. She had a number of truly important things she was trying to work on, and she
really didn’t want to do it. But she felt pressured into it and finally agreed.

Then she called one of her dear friends to ask if she would serve on her committee. Her
friend listened for a long time and then said, “Sandra, that sounds like a wonderful
project, a really worthy undertaking. I appreciate so much your inviting me to be a part


of it. I feel honored by it. For a number of reasons, I won’t be participating myself, but I
want you to know how much I appreciate your invitation.”

Sandra was ready for anything but a pleasant “no.” She turned to me and sighed, “I wish
I’d said that.”

I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t be involved in significant service projects. Those
things are important. But you have to decide what your highest priorities are and have
the courage –pleasantly, smiling, no apologetically — to say “no” to other things. And the
way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is
often the “good.”

Keep in mind that you are always saying “no” to something. If it isn’t to the apparent,
urgent things in your life, it is probably to the more fundamental, highly important
things. Even when the urgent is good, the good can keep you from your best, keep you
from your unique contributions, if you let it.

When I was Director of University Relations at a large university, I hired a very talented,
proactive, creative writer. One day, after he had been on the job for a few months, I went
into his office and asked him to work on some urgent matters that were pressing on me.

He said, “Stephen, I’ll do whatever you want me to do. Just let me share with you my

Then he took me over to his wall board, where he had listed over two dozen projects he
was working on, together with performance criteria and deadline dates that had been
clearly negotiated before. He was highly disciplined, which is why I went to see him in
the first place. “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy man.”

Then he said, “Stephen, to do the jobs that you want done right would take several days.
Which of these projects would you like me to delay or cancel to satisfy your request?”

Well, I didn’t want to take the responsibility for that. I didn’t want to put a cog in the
wheel of one of the most productive people on the staff just because I happened to be
managing by crisis at the time. The jobs I wanted done were urgent, but not important. So
I went and found another crisis manager and gave the job to him.

We say “yes” or “no” to things daily, usually many times a day. A center of correct
principles and a focus on our personal mission empowers us with wisdom to make those
judgments effectively.
As I work with different groups, I tell them that the essence of effective time and life
management is to organize and execute around balanced priorities. Then I ask this
question: if you were to fault yourself in one of three areas, which would it be:

(1) the inability to prioritize;
(2) the inability or desire to organize around those priorities; or
(3) the lack of discipline to execute around them, to stay with your priorities and

Most people say their main fault is a lack of discipline. On deeper thought, I believe that
is not the case. The basic problem is that their priorities have not become deeply planted
in their hearts and minds. They haven’t really internalized Habit 2.


There are many people who recognize the value of Quadrant II activities in their lives,
whether they identify them as such or not. And they attempt to give priority to those
activities and integrate them into their lives through self-discipline alone. But without a
principle center and a personal mission statement, they don’t have the necessary
foundation to sustain their efforts. They’re working on the leaves, on the attitudes and the
behaviors of discipline, without even thinking to examine the roots, the basic paradigms
from which their natural attitudes and behaviors flow.

A Quadrant II focus is a paradigm that grows out of a principle center. If you are centered
on your spouse, your money, your friends, your pleasure, or any extrinsic factor, you will
keep getting thrown back into Quadrants I and III, reacting to the outside forces your life
is centered on. Even if you’re centered on yourself, you’ll end up in I and II reacting to the
impulse of the moment. Your independent will alone cannot effectively discipline you
against your center.

In the words of the architectural maxim, form follows function. Likewise, management
follows leadership. The way you spend your time is a result of the way you see your time
and the way you really see your priorities. If your priorities grow out of a principle center
and a personal mission, if they are deeply planted in your heart and in your mind, you
will see Quadrant II as a natural, exciting place to invest your time.

It’s almost impossible to say, “no” to the popularity of Quadrant III or to the pleasure of
escape to Quadrant IV if you don’t have a bigger “yes” burning inside. Only when you
have the self-awareness to examine your program — and the imagination and conscience
to create a new, unique, principle-centered program to which you can say “yes” — only
then will you have sufficient independent will power to say “no,” with a genuine smile, to
the unimportant.

Moving Into Quadrant II

If Quadrant II activities are clearly the heart of effective personal management — the “first
things” we need to put first — then how do we organize and execute around those things

The first generation of time management does not even recognize the concept of priority.
It gives us notes and “to do” lists that we can cross off, and we feel a temporary sense of
accomplishment every time we check something off, but no priority is attached to items
on the list. In addition, there is no correlation between what’s on the list and our ultimate
values and purposes in life. We simply respond to whatever penetrates our awareness
and apparently needs to be done.

Many people manage from this first-generation paradigm. It’s the course of least
resistance. There’s no pain or strain; it’s fun to “go with the flow.” Externally imposed
disciplines and schedules give people the feeling that they aren’t responsible for results.

But first-generation managers, by definition, are not effective people. They produce very
little, and their life-style does nothing to build their Production Capability. Buffeted by
outside forces, they are often seen as undependable and irresponsible, and they have very
little sense of control and self-esteem.

Second-generation managers assume a little more control. They plan and schedule in
advance and generally are seen as more responsible because they “show up” when they’re
supposed to.


But again, the activities they schedule have no priority or recognized correlation to
deeper values and goals. They have few significant achievements and tend to be

Third-generation managers take a significant step forward. They clarify their values and
set goals. They plan each day and prioritize their activities.

As I have said, this is where most of the time-management field is today. But this third
generation has some critical limitations. First, it limits vision — daily planning often
misses important things that can only be seen from a larger perspective. The very
language “daily planning” focuses on the urgent — the “now.” While third generation
prioritization provides order to activity, it doesn’t question the essential importance of
the activity in the first place — it doesn’t place the activity in the context of principles,
personal mission, roles, and goals. The third-generation value-driven daily planning
approach basically prioritizes the Quadrant I and III problems and crises of the day.

In addition, the third generation makes no provision for managing roles in a balanced
way. It lacks realism, creating the tendency to over-schedule the day, resulting in
frustration and the desire to occasionally throw away the plan and escape to Quadrant
IV. And its efficiency, time-management focus tends to strain relationships rather than
build them.

While each of the three generations has recognized the value of some kind of
management tool, none has produced a tool that empowers a person to live a principle-
centered, Quadrant II life-style. The first-generation note pads and “to do” lists give us no
more than a place to capture those things that penetrate our awareness so we won’t forget
them. The second-generation appointment books and calendars merely provide a place to
record our future commitments so that we can be where we have agreed to be at the
appropriate time.

Even the third generation, with its vast array of planners and materials, focuses primarily
on helping people prioritize and plan their Quadrant I and III activities. Though many
trainers and consultants recognize the value of Quadrant II activities, the actual planning
tools of the third generation do not facilitate organizing and executing around them.

As each generation builds on those that have preceded it, the strengths and some of the
tools of each of the first three generations provide elemental material for the fourth. But
there is an added need for a new dimension, for the paradigm and the implementation
that will empower us to move into Quadrant II, to become principle-centered and to
manage ourselves to do what is truly most important.

The Quadrant II Tool

The objective of Quadrant II management is to manage our lives effectively — from a
center of sound principles, for a knowledge of our personal mission, with a focus on the
important as well as the urgent, and within the framework of maintaining a balance
between increasing our Production and increasing our Production Capability

This is, admittedly, an ambitious objective for people caught in the thick of thin things in
Quadrants III and IV. But striving to achieve it will have a phenomenal impact on
personal effectiveness.

A Quadrant II organizer will need to meet six important criteria.


Coherence: Coherence suggests that there is harmony, unity, and integrity between your
vision and mission, your roles and goals, your priorities and plans, and your desires and
discipline. In your planner, there should be a place for your personal mission statement
so that you can constantly refer to it. There also needs to be a place for your roles and for
both short- and long-term goals.

Balance: Your tool should help you to keep balance in your life, to identify your various
roles and keep them right in front of you, so that you don’t neglect important areas such
as your health, your family, professional preparation, or personal development.

Many people seem to think that success in one area can compensate for failure in other
areas of life. But can it really? Perhaps it can for a limited time in some areas. But can
success in your profession compensate for a broken marriage, ruined health, or weakness
in personal character? True effectiveness requires balance, and your tool needs to help
you create and maintain it.

Quadrant II Focus:. You need a tool that encourages you, motivates you, actually helps
you spend the time you need in Quadrant II, so that you’re dealing with prevention
rather than prioritizing crises. In my opinion, the best way to do this is to organize your
life on a weekly basis. You can still adapt and prioritize on a daily basis, but the
fundamental thrust is organizing the week.

Organizing on a weekly basis provides much greater balance and context than daily
planning. There seems to be implicit cultural recognition of the week as a single,
complete unit of time. Business, education, and many other facets of society operate
within the framework of the week, designating certain days for focused investment and
others for relaxation or inspiration. The basic Judeo-Christian ethic honors the Sabbath,
the one day out of every seven set aside for uplifting purposes.

Most people think in terms of weeks. But most third-generation planning tools focus on
daily planning. While they may help you prioritize your activities, they basically only
help you organize crises and busywork. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your
schedule, but to schedule your priorities. And this can best be done in the context of the

A “People” Dimension: You also need a tool that deals with people, not just schedules.
While you can think in terms of efficiency in dealing with time, a principle-centered
person thinks in terms of effectiveness in dealing with people. There are times when
principle-centered Quadrant II living requires the subordination of schedules to people.
Your tool needs to reflect that value, to facilitate implementation rather than create guilt
when a schedule is not followed.

Flexibility: Your planning tool should be your servant, never your master. Since it has to
work for you, it should be tailored to your style, your needs, your particular ways.

Portability: Your tool should also be portable, so that you can carry it with you most of
the time. You may want to review your personal mission statement while riding the bus.
You may want to measure the value of a new opportunity against something you already
have planned. If your organizer is portable, you will keep it with you so that important
data is always within reach.

Since Quadrant II is the heart of effective self-management, you need a tool that moves
you into Quadrant II. My work with the fourth-generation concept has led to the creation


of a tool specifically designed according to the criteria listed above. But many good third-
generation tools can easily be adapted. Because the principles are sound, the practices or
specific applications can vary from one individual to the next.

Becoming a Quadrant II Self-Manager

Although my effort here is to teach principles, not practices, of effectiveness, I believe you
can better understand the principles and the empowering nature of the fourth generation
if you actually experience organizing a week from a principle-centered, Quadrant II base.

Quadrant II organizing involves four key activities.

Identifying Roles: The first task is to write down your key roles. If you haven’t really
given serious thought to the roles in your life, you can write down what immediately
comes to mind. You have a role as an individual. You may want to list one or more roles
as a family member — a husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter, a member of
the extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. You may want to list a
few roles in your work, indicating different areas in which you wish to invest time and
energy on a regular basis. You may have roles in church or community affairs.

You don’t need to worry about defining the roles in a way that you will live with for the
rest of your life — just consider the week and write down the areas you see yourself
spending time in during the next seven days.

Here are two examples of the way people might see their various roles.

1. Individual
2. Husband/Father
3. Manager New Products
4. Manager Research
5. Manager Staff Dev.
6. Manager Administration
7. Chairman United Way

1. Personal Development
2. Wife
3. Mother
4. Real Estate Salesperson
5. Sunday School Teacher
6. Symphony Board Member

Selecting Goals: The next step is to think of two or three important results you feel you
should accomplish in each role during the next seven days. These would be recorded as

At least some of these goals should reflect Quadrant II activities. Ideally, these short-term
goals would be tied to the longer-term goals you have identified in conjunction with your
personal mission statement. But even if you haven’t written your mission statement, you
can get a feeling, a sense, of what is important as you consider each of your roles and two
or three goals for each role.

Scheduling: Now you look at the week ahead with your goals in mind and schedule time
to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to produce the first draft of your personal


mission statement, you may want to set aside a two-hour block of time on Sunday to
work on it. Sunday (or some other day of the week that is special to you, your faith, or
your circumstances) is often the ideal time to plan your more personally uplifting
activities, including weekly organizing. It’s a good time to draw back, to see inspiration,
to look at your life in the context of principles and values.

If you set a goal to become physically fit through exercise, you may want to set aside an
hour three or four days during the week, or possibly every day during the week, to
accomplish that goal. There are some goals that you may only be able to accomplish
during business hours, or some that you can only do on Saturday when your children are
home. Can you begin to see some of the advantages of organizing the week instead of the

Having identified roles and set goals, you can translate each goal to a specific day of the
week, either as a priority item or, even better, as a specific appointment. You can also
check your annual or monthly calendar for any appointments you may have previously
made and evaluate their importance in the context of your goals, transferring those you
decide to keep to your schedule and making plans to reschedule or cancel others.

As you study the following weekly worksheet, observe how each of the 19 most
important, often Quadrant II, goals has been scheduled or translated into a specific action
plan. In addition, notice the box labeled “Sharpen the Saw TM” that provides a place to
plan vital renewing Quadrant II activities in each of the four human dimensions that will
be explained in Habit 7.

Even with time set aside to accomplish 19 important goals during the week, look at the
amount of remaining unscheduled space on the worksheet! As well as empowering you
to Put First Things First, Quadrant II weekly organizing gives you the freedom and the
flexibility to handle unanticipated events, to shift appointments if you need to, to savor
relationships and interactions with others, to deeply enjoy spontaneous experiences,
knowing that you have proactively organized your week to accomplish key goals in
every area of your life.

Daily Adapting: With Quadrant II weekly organizing, daily planning becomes more a
function of daily adapting, or prioritizing activities and responding to unanticipated
events, relationships, and experiences in a meaningful way.

Taking a few minutes each morning to review your schedule can put you in touch with
the value-based decisions you made as you organized the week as well as unanticipated
factors that may have come up. As you overview the day, you can see that your roles and
goals provide a natural prioritization that grows out of your innate sense of balance. It is
a softer, more right-brain prioritization that ultimately comes out of your sense of
personal mission.

You may still find that the third-generation A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 prioritization gives needed
order to daily activities. It would be a false dichotomy to say that activities are either
important or they aren’t. They are obviously on a continuum, and some important
activities are more important than others. In the context of weekly organizing, third-
generation prioritization gives order to daily focus.
But trying to prioritize activities before you even know how they relate to your sense of
personal mission and how they fit into the balance of your life is not effective. You may
be prioritizing and accomplishing things you don’t want or need to be doing at all.


Can you begin to see the difference between organizing your week as a principle-
centered, Quadrant II manager and planning your days as an individual centered on
something else? Can you begin to sense the tremendous difference the Quadrant II focus
would make in your current level of effectiveness?

Having experienced the power of principle-centered Quadrant II organizing in my own
life and having seen it transform the lives of hundreds of other people, I am persuaded it
makes a difference — a quantum positive difference. And the more completely weekly
goals are tied into a wider framework of correct principles and into a personal mission
statement, the greater the increase in effectiveness will be.

Living It

Returning once more to the computer metaphor, if Habit 1 says “You’re the programmer”
and Habit 2 says “Write the program,” then Habit 3 says “Run the program,” “Live the
program.” And living it is primarily a function of our independent will, our self-
discipline, our integrity, and commitment — not to short-term goals and schedules or to
the impulse of the moment, but to the correct principles and our own deepest values,
which give meaning and context to our goals, our schedules, and our lives.

As you go through your week, there will undoubtedly be times when your integrity will
be placed on the line. The popularity of reacting to the urgent but unimportant priorities
of other people in Quadrant III or the pleasure of escaping to Quadrant IV will threaten to
overpower the important Quadrant II activities you have planned. Your principle center,
your self-awareness, and your conscience can provide a high degree of intrinsic security,
guidance, and wisdom to empower you to use your independent will and maintain
integrity to the truly important.

But because you aren’t omniscient, you can’t always know in advance what is truly
important. As carefully as you organize the week, these will be times when, as a
principle-centered person, you will need to subordinate your schedule to a higher value.
Because you are principle-centered, you can do that with an inner sense of peace.

At one point, one of my sons was deeply into scheduling and efficiency. One day he had
a very tight schedule, which included down-to-the-minute time allocations for every
activity, including picking up some books, washing his car, and “dropping” Carol, his
girlfriend, among other things. Everything went according to schedule until it came to
Carol. They had been dating for a long period of time, and he had finally come to the
conclusion that a continued relationship would not work out. So, congruent with his
efficiency mode, he had scheduled a 10- to 15-minute telephone call to tell her.

But the news was very traumatic to her. One-and-a-half hours later, he was still deeply
involved in a very intense conversation with her. Even then, the one visit was not
enough. The situation was a very frustrating experience for them both.

Again, you simply can’t think efficiency with people. You think effectiveness with people
and efficiency with things. I’ve tried to be “efficient” with a disagreeing or disagreeable
person and it simply doesn’t work. I’ve tried to give 10 minutes of “quality time” to a
child or an employee to solve a problem, only to discover such “efficiency” creates new
problems and seldom resolves the deepest concern.

I see many parents, particularly mothers with small children, often frustrated in their
desire to accomplish a lot because all they seem to do is meet the needs of little children


all day. Remember, frustration is a function of our expectations, and our expectations are
often a reflection of the social mirror rather than our own values and priorities.
But if you have Habit 2 deep inside your heart and mind, you have those higher values
driving you. You can subordinate your schedule to those values with integrity. You can
adapt; you can be flexible. You don’t feel guilty when you don’t meet your schedule or
when you have to change it.

Advances of the Fourth Generation

One of the reasons why people resist using third-generation time management tools is
because they lose spontaneity; they become rigid and inflexible. They subordinate people
to schedules because the efficiency paradigm of the third generation of management is
out of harmony with the principle that people are more important than things.

The fourth-generation tool recognizes that principle. It also recognizes that the first
person you need to consider in terms of effectiveness rather than efficiency is yourself. It
encourages you to spend time in Quadrant II, to understand and center your life on
principles, to give clear expression to the purposes and values you want to direct your
daily decisions. It helps you create balance in your life. It helps you rise above the
limitations of daily planning and organize and schedule in the context of the week. And
when a higher value conflicts with what you have planned, it empowers you to use your
self-awareness and your conscience to maintain integrity to the principles and purposes
you have determined are most important. Instead of using a road map, you’re using a

The fourth generation of self-management is more advanced than the third in five
important ways.

First, it’s principle-centered. More than giving lip service to Quadrant II, it creates the
central paradigm that empowers you to see your time in the context of what is really
important and effective

Second, it’s conscience-directed. It gives you the opportunity to organize your life to the
best of your ability in harmony with your deepest values. But it also gives you the
freedom to peacefully subordinate your schedule to higher values.

Third, it defines your unique mission, including values and long-term goals. This gives
direction and purpose to the way you spend each day.

Fourth, it helps you balance your life by identifying roles, and by setting goals and
scheduling activities in each key role every week.

And fifth, it gives greater context through weekly organizing (with daily adaptation as
needed), rising above the limiting perspective of a single day and putting you in touch
with your deepest values through review of your key roles.

The practical thread running through all five of these advances is a primary focus on
relationships and results and a secondary focus on time.

Delegation: Increasing P and PC

We accomplish all that we do through delegation — either to time or to other people. If we


delegate to time, we think efficiency. If we delegate to other people, we think
effectiveness. Many people refuse to delegate to other people because they feel it takes
too much time and effort and they could do the job better themselves. But effectively
delegating to others is perhaps the single most powerful high-leverage activity there is.

Transferring responsibility to other skilled and trained people enables you to give your
energies to other high-leverage activities. Delegation means growth, both for individuals
and for organizations. The late J. C. Penney was quoted as saying that the wisest decision
he ever made was to “let go” after realizing that he couldn’t do it all by himself any
longer. That decision, made long ago, enabled the development and growth of hundreds
of stores and thousands of people.

Because delegation involves other people, it is a Public Victory and could well be
included in Habit 4. But because we are focusing here on principles of personal
management, and the ability to delegate to others is the main difference between the role
of manager and independent producer, I am approaching delegation from the standpoint
of your personal managerial skills. A producer does whatever is necessary to accomplish
desired results, to get the golden eggs. A parent who washes the dishes, an architect who
draws up blueprints, or a secretary who types correspondence is a producer. But when a
person sets up and works with and through people and systems to produce golden eggs,
that person becomes a manager in the interdependent sense. A parent who delegates
washing the dishes to a child is a manager. An architect who heads a team of other
architects is a manager. A secretary who supervises other secretaries and office personnel
is an office manager.

A producer can invest one hour of effort and produce one unit of results, assuming no
loss of efficiency. A manager, on the other hand, can invest one hour of effort and
produce 10 or 50 or 100 units through effective delegation. Management is essentially
moving the fulcrum over, and the key to effective management is delegation.

Gofer Delegation

There are basically two kinds of delegation: “gofer delegation” and “stewardship
delegation.” Gofer delegation means “Go for this, go for that, do this, do that, and tell me
when it’s done.” Most people who are producers have a gofer delegation paradigm.
Remember the machete wielders in the jungle? They are the producers. They roll up their
sleeves and get the job done. If they are given a position of supervision or management,
they still think like producers. They don’t know how to set up a full delegation so that
another person is committed to achieve results. Because they are focused on methods,
they become responsible for the results.

I was involved in a gofer delegation once when our family went water skiing. My son,
who is an excellent skier, was in the water being pulled and I was driving the boat. I
handed the camera to Sandra and asked her to take some pictures.

At first, I told her to be selective in her picture taking because we didn’t have much film
left. Then I realized she was unfamiliar with the camera, so I became a little more specific.
I told her to be sure to wait until the sun was ahead of the boat and until our son was
jumping the wake or making a turn and touching his elbow.

But the more I thought about our limited footage and her inexperience with the camera,
the more concerned I became. I finally said, “Look, Sandra, just push the button when I
tell you. Okay? And I spent the next few minutes yelling, “Take it! — Take it! — Don’t take


it! — Don’t take it!” I was afraid that if I didn’t direct her every move every second, it
wouldn’t be done right.
That was true gofer delegation, one-on-one supervision of methods. Many people
consistently delegate that way. But how much does it really accomplish? And how many
people is it possible to supervise or manage when you have to be involved in every move
they make?

There’s a much better way, a more effective way to delegate to other people. And it’s
based on a paradigm of appreciation of the self-awareness, the imagination, the
conscience, and the free will of other people.

Stewardship Delegation

Stewardship delegation is focused on results instead of methods. It gives people a choice
of method and makes them responsible for results. It takes more time in the beginning,
but it’s time well invested. You can move the fulcrum over, you can increase your
leverage, through stewardship delegation.

Stewardship delegation involves clear, up-front mutual understanding and commitment
regarding expectations in five areas.

Desired Results: Create a clear, mutual understanding of what needs to be accomplished,
focusing on what, not how; results, not methods. Spend time. Be patient. Visualize the
desired result. Have the person see it, describe it, make out a quality statement of what
the results will look like, and by when they will be accomplished.

Guidelines: Identify the parameters within which the individual should operate. These
should be as few as possible to avoid methods delegation, but should include any
formidable restrictions. You won’t want a person to think he had considerable latitude as
long as he accomplished the objectives, only to violate some long-standing traditional
practice or value. That kills initiative and sends people back to the gofer’s creed: “Just tell
me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it.”

If you know the failure paths of the job, identify them. Be honest and open — tell a person
where the quicksand is and where the wild animals are. You don’t want to have to
reinvent the wheel every day. Let people learn from your mistakes or the mistakes of
others. Point out the potential failure paths, what not to do, but don’t tell them what to
do. Keep the responsibility for results with them — to do whatever is necessary within the

Resources: Identify the human, financial, technical, or organizational resources the
person can draw on to accomplish the desired results.

Accountability: Set up the standards of performance that will be used in evaluating the
results and the specific times when reporting and evaluation will take place.

Consequences: Specify what will happen, both good and bad, as a result of the
evaluation. This could include such things as financial rewards, psychic rewards,
different job assignments, and natural consequences tied into the overall mission of an


Some years ago, I had an interesting experience in delegation with one of my sons. We
were having a family meeting, and we had our mission statement up on the wall to make
sure our plans were in harmony with our values. Everybody was there.

I set up a big blackboard and we wrote down our goals — the key things we wanted to do
— and the jobs that flowed out of those goals. Then I asked for volunteers to do the job.

“Who wants to pay the mortgage?” I asked. I noticed I was the only one with my hand up.

“Who wants to pay for the insurance? The food? The cars?” I seemed to have a real
monopoly on the opportunities.

“Who wants to feed the new baby?” There was more interest here, but my wife was the
only one with the right qualifications for the job.

As we went down the list, job by job, it was soon evident that Mom and Dad had more
than sixty-hour work weeks. With that paradigm in mind, some of the other jobs took on
a more proper perspective.

My seven-year-old son, Stephen, volunteered to take care of the yard. Before I actually
gave him a job, I began a thorough training process. I wanted him to have a clear picture
in his mind of what a well-cared-for yard was like, so I took him next door to our

“Look, son,” I said. “See how our neighbor’s yard is green and clean? That’s what we’re
after: green and clean. Now come look at our yard. See the mixed colors? That’s not it;
that’s not green. Green and clean is what we want. Now how you get it green is up to
you. You’re free to do it any way you want, except paint it. But I’ll tell you how I’d do it if
it were up to me.”

“How would you do it, Dad?”

“I’d turn on the sprinklers. But you may want to use buckets or a hose. It makes no
difference to me. All we care about is that the color is green. Okay?”


“Now let’s talk about ‘clean,’ Son. Clean means no messes around — no paper, strings,
bones, sticks, or anything that messes up the place. I’ll tell you what let’s do. Let’s just
clean up half of the yard right now and look at the difference.”

So we got out two paper sacks and picked up one side of the yard. “Now look at this side.
Look at the other side. See the difference? That’s called clean.”

“Wait!” he called. “I see some paper behind that bush!”

“Oh, good! I didn’t notice that newspaper back there. You have good eyes, Son.”

“Now before you decide whether or not you’re going to take the job, let me tell you a few
more things. Because when you take the job, I don’t do it anymore. It’s your job. It’s called
a stewardship. Stewardship means ‘a job with a trust.’ I trust you to do the job, to get it
done. Now who’s going to be your boss?”


“You, Dad?”

“No, not me. You’re the boss. You boss yourself. How do you like Mom and Dad nagging
you all the time?”
“I don’t.”

“We don’t like doing it either. It sometimes causes a bad feeling doesn’t it? So you boss
yourself. Now, guess who your helper is.”


“I am,” I said. “You boss me.”

“I do?”

“That’s right. But my time to help is limited. Sometimes I’m away. But when I’m here, you
tell me how I can help. I’ll do anything you want me to do.”


“Now guess who judges you.”


“You judge yourself.”

“I do?”

“That’s right. Twice a week the two of us will walk around the yard and you can show me
how it’s coming. How are you going to judge?”

“Green and clean.”


I trained him with those two words for two weeks before I felt he was ready to take the
job. Finally, the big day came.

“Is it a deal, Son?”

“It’s a deal.”

“What’s the job?”

“Green and clean.”

“What’s green?”

He looked at our yard, which was beginning to look better. Then he pointed next door.
“That’s the color of his yard.”

“What’s clean?”


“No messes.”

“Who’s the boss?”

“I am.”

“Who’s your helper?”

“You are, when you have time.”

“Who’s the judge?”

“I am. We’ll walk around two times a week and I can show you how it’s coming.”

“And what will we look for?”

“Green and clean.”

At that time I didn’t mention an allowance. But I wouldn’t hesitate to attach an allowance
to such a stewardship.

Two weeks and two words. I thought he was ready.

It was Saturday. And he did nothing. Sunday…nothing. Monday…nothing. As I pulled
out of the driveway on my way to work on Tuesday, I looked at the yellow, cluttered
yard and the hot July sun on its way up. “Surely he’ll do it today,” I thought. I could
rationalize Saturday because that was the day we made the agreement. I could rationalize
Sunday; Sunday was for other things. But I couldn’t rationalize Monday. And now it was
Tuesday. Certainly he’d do it today. It was summertime. What else did he have to do?

All day I could hardly wait to return home to see what happened. As I rounded the
corner, I was met with the same picture I left that morning. And there was my son at the
park across the street playing. This was not acceptable. I was upset and disillusioned by
his performance after two weeks of training and all those commitments. We had a lot of
effort, pride, and money invested in the yard and I could see it going down the drain.
Besides, my neighbor’s yard was manicured and beautiful, and the situation was
beginning to get embarrassing.

I was ready to go back to gofer delegation. Son, you get over here and pick up this
garbage right now or else! I knew I could get the golden egg that way. But what about the
goose? What would happen to his internal commitment?

So I faked a smile and yelled across the street, “Hi, Son. How’s it going?”

“Fine!” he returned.

“How’s the yard coming?” I knew the minute I said it I had broken our agreement. That’s
not the way we had set up an accounting. That’s not what we had agreed.

“How’s the yard coming?” I knew the minute I said it I had broken our agreement. That’s
not the way we had set up an accounting. That’s not what we had agreed.

So he felt justified in breaking it, too. “Fine, Dad.”


I bit my tongue and waited until after dinner. Then I said, “Son, let’s do as we agreed.
Let’s walk around the yard together and you can show me how it’s going in your
As we started out the door, his chin began to quiver. Tears welled up in his eyes and, by
the time we got out to the middle of the yard, he was whimpering.

“It’s so hard, Dad!”

What’s so hard? I thought to myself. You haven’t done a single thing! But I knew what
was hard — self management, self-supervision. So I said, “Is there anything I can do to

“Would you, Dad?” he sniffed

“What was our agreement?”

“You said you’d help me if you had time.”

“I have time.”

So he ran into the house and came back with two sacks. He handed me one. “Will you
pick that stuff up?” He pointed to the garbage from Saturday night’s barbecue. “It makes
me sick!”

So I did. I did exactly what he asked me to do. And that was when he signed the
agreement in his heart. It became his yard, his stewardship.

He only asked for help two or three more times that entire summer. He took care of that
yard. He kept it greener and cleaner than it had ever been under my stewardship. He
even reprimanded his brothers and sisters if they left so much as a gum wrapper on the

Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people. But it
takes time and patience, and it doesn’t preclude the necessity to train and develop people
so that their competency can rise to the level of that trust.

I am convinced that if stewardship delegation is done correctly, both parties will benefit
and ultimately much more work will get done in much less time. I believe that a family
that is well organized, whose time has been spent effectively delegating on a one-to-one
basis, can organize the work so that everyone can do everything in about an hour a day.
But that takes the internal capacity to want to manage, not just produce. The focus is on
effectiveness, not efficiency.

Certainly you can pick up that room better than a child, but the key is that you want to
empower the child to do it. It takes time. You have to get involved in the training and
development. It takes time, but how valuable that time is downstream! It saves you so
much in the long run.

This approach involves an entirely new paradigm of delegation. In effect, it changes the
nature of the relationship: The steward becomes his own boss, governed by a conscience
that contains the commitment to agreed upon desired results. But it also releases his
creative energies toward doing whatever is necessary in harmony with correct principles
to achieve those desired results.


The principles involved in stewardship delegation are correct and applicable to any kind
of person or situation. With immature people, you specify fewer desired results and more
guidelines, identify more resources, conduct more frequent accountability interviews,
and apply more immediate consequences. With more mature people, you have more
challenging desired results, fewer guidelines, less frequent accountability, and less
measurable but more discernible criteria.

Effective delegation is perhaps the best indicator of effective management simply because
it is so basic to both personal and organizational growth.

The Quadrant II Paradigm

The key to effective management of self, or of others through delegation, is not in any
technique or tool or extrinsic factor. It is intrinsic — in the Quadrant II paradigm that
empowers you to see through the lens of importance rather than urgency.

I have included in the Appendix an exercise called “A Quadrant II Day at the Office”
which will enable you to see in a business setting how powerfully this paradigm can
impact your effectiveness. As you work to develop a Quadrant II paradigm, you will
increase your ability to organize and execute every week of your life around your deepest
priorities, to walk your talk. You will not be dependent on any other person or thing for
the effective management of your life.

Interestingly, every one of the Seven Habits is in Quadrant II. Every one deals with
fundamentally important things that, if done on a regular basis, would make a
tremendous positive difference in our lives.


Application Suggestions:

1. Identify a Quadrant II activity you know has been neglected in your life — one that, if
done well, would have a significant impact in your life, either personally or
professionally. Write it down and commit to implement it.

2. Draw a Time Management Matrix and try to estimate what percentage of your time
you spend in each quadrant. Then log your time for three days in 15-minute intervals.
How accurate was your estimate? Are you satisfied with the way you spend your time?
What do you need to change.

3. Make a list of responsibilities you could delegate and the people you could delegate to
or train to be responsible in these areas. Determine what is needed to start the process of
delegation or training.

4. Organize your next week. Start by writing down your roles and goals for the week,
then transfer the goals to a specific action plan. At the end of the week, evaluate how well
your plan translated your deep values and purposes into your daily life and the degree of
integrity you were able to maintain to those values and purposes.

5. Commit yourself to start organizing on a weekly basis and set up a regular time to do

6. Either convert your current planning tool into a fourth generation tool or secure such a

7. Go through “A Quadrant II Day at the Office” (Appendix B) for a more in-depth
understanding of the impact of a Quadrant II paradigm.


Part Three

Public Victory

Paradigms of Interdependence

There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity

— Samuel Johnso

* *

Before moving into the area of Public Victory, we should remember that effective
interdependence can only be built on a foundation of true independence. Private Victory
precedes Public Victory. Algebra comes before calculus.

As we look back and survey the terrain to determine where we’ve been and where we are
in relationship to where we’re going, we clearly see that we could not have gotten where
we are without coming the way we came. There aren’t any other roads; there aren’t any
shortcuts. There’s no way to parachute into this terrain. The landscape ahead is covered
with the fragments of broken relationships of people who have tried. They’ve tried to
jump into effective relationships without the maturity, the strength of character, to
maintain them. But you just can’t do it; you simply have to travel the road. You can’t be
successful with other people if you haven’t paid the price of success with yourself.

A few years ago when I was giving a seminar on the Oregon coast, a man came up to me
and said, “You know, Stephen, I really don’t enjoy coming to these seminars.” He had my

“Look at everyone else here,” he continued. “Look at this beautiful coastline and the sea
out there and all that’s happening. All I can do is sit and worry about the grilling I’m
going to get from my wife tonight on the phone.

“She gives me the third degree every time I’m away. Where did I eat breakfast? Who else
was there? Was I in meetings all morning? When did we stop for lunch? What did I do
during lunch? How did I spend the afternoon? What did I do for entertainment in the
evening? Who was with me? What did we talk about?

“And what she really wants to know, but never quite asks, is who she can call to verify
everything I tell her. She just nags me and questions everything I do whenever I’m away.
It’s taken the bloom out of this whole experience. I really don’t enjoy it at all.”

He did look pretty miserable. We talked for a while, and then he made a very interesting
comment. “I guess she knows all the questions to ask,” he said a little sheepishly. “It was
at a seminar like this that I met her when I was married to someone else!”

I considered the implications of his comment and then said, “You’re kind of into ‘quick
fix,’ aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?” he replied.


“Well, you’d like to take a screwdriver and just open up your wife’s head and rewire that
attitude of hers really fast, wouldn’t you?”

“Sure, I’d like her to change,” he exclaimed. “I don’t think it’s right for her to constantly
grill me like she does.”

“My friend,” I said, “you can’t talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into.”

We’re dealing with a very dramatic and very fundamental Paradigm Shift here. You may
try to lubricate your social interactions with personality techniques and skills, but in the
process, you may truncate the vital character base. You can’t have the fruits without the
roots. It’s the principle of sequencing: Private Victory precedes Public Victory. Self-
mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.

Some people say that you have to like yourself before you can like others. I think that
idea has merit, but if you don’t know yourself, if you don’t control yourself, if you don’t
have mastery over yourself, it’s very hard to like yourself, except in some short-term,
psych-up, superficial way. Real self-respect comes from dominion over self, from true
independence. And that’s the focus of Habits 1, 2, and 3. Independence is an achievement.
Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. Unless we are willing to
achieve real independence, it’s foolish to try to develop human-relations skills. We might
try. We might even have some degree of success when the sun is shining. But when the
difficult times come — and they will — we won’t have the foundation to keep things

The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what
we do, but what we are. And if our words and our actions come from superficial human-
relations techniques (the personality ethic) rather than from our own inner core (the
character ethic), others will sense that duplicity. We simply won’t be able to create and
sustain the foundation necessary for effective interdependence.

The techniques and skills that really make a difference in human interaction are the ones
that almost naturally flow from a truly independent character. So the place to begin
building any relationship is inside ourselves, inside our Circle of Influence, our own
character. As we become independent — proactive, centered in correct principles, value
driven and able to organize and execute around the priorities in our life with integrity —
we then can choose to become interdependent — capable of building rich, enduring,
highly productive relationships with other people.

As we look at the terrain ahead, we see that we’re entering a whole new dimension.
Interdependence opens up worlds of possibilities for deep, rich, meaningful associations,
for geometrically increased productivity, for serving, for contributing, for learning, for
growing. But it is also where we feel the greatest pain, the greatest frustration, the
greatest roadblocks to happiness and success. And we’re very aware of that pain because
it is acute.

We can often live for years with the chronic pain of our lack of vision, leadership or
management in our personal lives. We feel vaguely uneasy and uncomfortable and
occasionally take steps to ease the pain, at least for a time. But the pain is chronic, we get
used to it, we learn to live with it.

But when we have problems in our interactions with other people, we’re very aware of
acute pain — it’s often intense, and we want it to go away.


That’s when we try to treat the symptoms with quick fixes and techniques — the band-
aids of the personality ethic. We don’t understand that the acute pain is an outgrowth of
the deeper, chronic problem. And until we stop treating the symptoms and start treating
the problem, our efforts will only bring counterproductive results. We will only be
successful at obscuring the chronic pain even more.

Now, as we think of effective interaction with others, let’s go back to our earlier definition
of effectiveness. We’ve said it’s the P/PC Balance, the fundamental concept in the story of
the Goose and the Golden Egg.

In an interdependent situation, the golden eggs are the effectiveness, the wonderful
synergy, the results created by open communication and positive interaction with others.
And to get those eggs on a regular basis, we need to take care of the goose. We need to
create and care for the relationships that make those results realities.

So before we descend from our point of reconnaissance and get into Habits 4, 5, and 6, I
would like to introduce what I believe to be a very powerful metaphor in describing
relationships and in defining the P/PC Balance in an interdependent reality.

The Emotional Bank Account TM

We all know what a financial bank account is. We make deposits into it and build up a
reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. An Emotional Bank
Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a
relationship. It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.

If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness,
honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward
me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even
make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My
communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me
“an offender for a word.” When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant,
and effective.

But if I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting,
ignoring you, becoming arbitrary, betraying your trust, threatening you, or playing little
tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn. The trust level
gets very low. Then what flexibility do I have?

None. I’m walking on mine fields. I have to be very careful of everything I say. I measure
every word. It’s tension city, memo heaven. It’s protecting my backside, politicking. And
many organizations are filled with it. Many families are filled with it. Many marriages are
filled with it. If a large reserve of trust is not sustained by continuing deposits, a marriage
will deteriorate. Instead of rich, spontaneous understanding and communication, the
situation becomes one of accommodation, where two people simply attempt to live
independent life-styles in a fairly respectful and tolerant way. The relationship may
further deteriorate to one of hostility and defensiveness. The “fight or flight” response
creates verbal battles, slammed doors, refusal to talk, emotional withdrawal and self-pity.
It may end up in a cold war at home, sustained only by children, sex, and social pressure,
or image protection. Or it may end up in open warfare in the courts, where bitter ego-
decimating legal battles can be carried on for years as people endlessly confess the sins of
a former spouse.


And this is in the most intimate, the most potentially rich, joyful, satisfying and
productive relationship possible between two people on this earth. The P/PC lighthouse
is there; we can either break ourselves against it or we can use it as a guiding light.

Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits. With
continuing expectations, old deposits evaporate. If you suddenly run into an old high
school friend you haven’t seen for years, you can pick up right where you left off because
the earlier deposits are still there. But your accounts with the people you interact with on
a regular basis require more constant investment. There are sometimes automatic
withdrawals in your daily interactions or in their perception of you that you don’t even
know about. This is especially true with teenagers in the home.

Suppose you have a teenage son and your normal conversation is something like, “Clean
your room. Button your shirt. Turn down the radio. Go get a haircut. And don’t forget to
take out the garbage!” Over a period of time, the withdrawals far exceed the deposits.

Now, suppose this son is in the process of making some important decisions that will
affect the rest of his life. But the trust level is so low and the communication process so
closed, mechanical, and unsatisfying that he simply will not be open to your counsel. You
may have the wisdom and the knowledge to help him, but because your account is so
overdrawn, he will end up making his decisions from a short-range emotional
perspective, which may well result in many negative long-range consequences.

You need a positive balance to communicate on these tender issues. What do you do?
What would happen if you started making deposits into the relationship? Maybe the
opportunity comes up to do him a little kindness — to bring home a magazine on
skateboarding, if that’s his interest, or just to walk up to him when he’s working on a
project and offer help. Perhaps you could invite him to go to a movie with you or take
him out for some ice cream. Probably the most important deposit you could make would
be just to listen, without judging or preaching or reading your own autobiography into
what he says. Just listen and seek to understand. Let him feel your concern for him, your
acceptance of him as a person.

He may not respond at first. He may even be suspicious. “What’s Dad up to now? What
technique is Mom trying on me this time?” But as those genuine deposits keep coming,
they begin to add up. That overdrawn balance is shrinking.

Remember that quick fix is a mirage. Building and repairing relationships takes time. If
you become impatient with this apparent lack of response of his seeming ingratitude, you
may make huge withdrawals and undo all the good you’ve done. “After all we’ve done
for you, the sacrifices we’ve made, how can you be so ungrateful? We try to be nice and
you act like this. I can’t believe it!

It’s hard not to get impatient. It takes character to be proactive, to focus on your Circle of
Influence, to nurture growing things, and not to “pull up the flowers to see how the roots
are coming.” But there really is no quick fix. Building and repairing relationships are
long-term investments.


Six Major Deposits

Let me suggest six major deposits that build the Emotional Bank Account

Understanding the Individual

Really seeking to understand another person is probably one of the most important
deposits you can make, and it is the key to every other deposit. You simply don’t know
what constitutes a deposit to another person until you understand that individual. What
might be a deposit for you — going for a walk to talk things over, going out for ice cream
together, working on a common project — might not be perceived by someone else as a
deposit at all. It might even be perceived as a withdrawal, if it doesn’t touch the person’s
deep interests or needs.

One person’s mission is another person’s minutia. To make a deposit, what is important
to another person must be as important to you as the other person is to you. You may be
working on a high priority project when your six-year-old child interrupts with
something that seems trivial to you, but it may be very important from his point of view.
It takes Habit 2 to recognize and recommit yourself to the value of that person and Habit
3 to subordinate your schedule to that human priority. By accepting the value he places
on what he has to say, you show an understanding of him that makes a great deposit.

I have a friend whose son developed an avid interest in baseball. My friend wasn’t
interested in baseball at all. But one summer, he took his son to see every major league
team play one game. The trip took over six weeks and cost a great deal of money, but it
became a powerful bonding experience in their relationship.

My friend was asked on his return, “Do you like baseball that much?”

“No,” he replied, “but I like my son that much.”

I have another friend, a college professor, who had a terrible relationship with his teenage
son. This man’s entire life was essentially academic, and he felt his son was totally
wasting his life by working with this hands instead of working to develop his mind. As a
result, he was almost constantly on the boy’s back, and, in moments of regret, he would
try to make deposits that just didn’t work. The boy perceived the gestures as new forms
of rejection, comparison, and judgment, and they precipitated huge withdrawals. The
relationship was turning sour, and it was breaking the father’s heart.

One day I shared with him this principle of making what is important to the other person
as important to you as the other person is to you. He took it deeply to heart. He engaged
his son in a project to build a miniature Wall of China around their home. It was a
consuming project, and they worked side by side on it for over a year and a half.

Through that bonding experience, the son moved through that phase in his life and into
an increased desire to develop his mind. But the real benefit was what happened to the
relationship. Instead of a sore spot, it became a source of joy and strength to both father
and son.


Our tendency is to project out of our own autobiographies what we think other people
want or need. We project our intentions on the behavior of others. We interpret what
constitutes a deposit based on our own needs and desires, either now or when we were at
a similar age or stage in life. If they don’t interpret our effort as a deposit, our tendency is
to take it as a rejection of our well-intentioned effort and give up.

The Golden Rule says to “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” While
on the surface that could mean to do for them what you would like to have done for you,
I think the more essential meaning is to understand them deeply as individuals, the way
you would want to be understood, and then to treat them in terms of that understanding.
As one successful parent said about raising children, “Treat them all the same by treating
them differently.”

Attending to the Little Things

The little kindnesses and courtesies are so important. Small discourtesies, little
unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals. In relationships, the
little things are the big things. I remember an evening I spent with two of my sons some
years ago. It was an organized father-and-son outing, complete with gymnastics,
wrestling matches, hot dogs, orangeade, and a movie — the works.

In the middle of the movie, Sean, who was then four years old, fell asleep in his seat. His
older brother, Stephen, who was six, stayed awake, and we watched the rest of the movie
together. When it was over, I picked Sean up in my arms, carried him out to the car and
laid him in the back seat. It was very cold that night, so I took off my coat and gently
arranged it over and around him.

When we arrived home, I quickly carried Sean in and tucked him into bed. After Stephen
put on his “jammies” and brushed his teeth, I lay down next to him to talk about the night
out together.

“How’d you like it, Stephen?”

“Fine,” he answere”

“Did you have fun?”


“What did you like most?”

“I don’t know. The trampoline, I guess.”

“That was quite a thing, wasn’t it — doing those somersaults and tricks in the air like

There wasn’t much response on his part. I found myself making conversation. I
wondered why Stephen wouldn’t open up more. He usually did when exciting things
happened. I was a little disappointed. I sensed something was wrong; he had been so
quiet on the way home and getting ready for bed.

Suddenly Stephen turned over on his side, facing the wall. I wondered why and lifted
myself up just enough to see his eyes welling up with tears.


“What’s wrong, honey? What is it?”

He turned back, and I could sense he was feeling some embarrassment for the tears and
his quivering lips and chin

“Daddy, if I were cold, would you put your coat around me too?”

Of all the events of that special night out together, the most important was a little act of
kindness — a momentary, unconscious showing of love to his little brother.

What a powerful, personal lesson that experience was to me then and is even now. People
are very tender, very sensitive inside. I don’t believe age or experience makes much
difference. Inside, even within the most toughened and calloused exteriors, are the tender
feelings and emotions of the heart.

Keeping Commitments

Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major
withdrawal. In fact, there’s probably not a more massive withdrawal than to make a
promise that’s important to someone and then not to come through. The next time a
promise is made, they won’t believe it. People tend to build their hopes around promises,
particularly promises about their basic livelihood.

I’ve tried to adopt a philosophy as a parent never to make a promise I don’t keep. I
therefore try to make them very carefully, very sparingly, and to be aware of as many
variables and contingencies as possible so that something doesn’t suddenly come up to
keep me from fulfilling it.
Occasionally, despite all my effort, the unexpected does come up, creating a situation
where it would be unwise or impossible to keep a promise I’ve made. But I value that
promise. I either keep it anyway, or explain the situation thoroughly to the person
involved and ask to be released from the promise.

I believe that if you cultivate the habit of always keeping the promises you make, you
build bridges of trust that span the gaps of understanding between you and your child.
Then, when your child wants to do something you don’t want him to do, and out of your
maturity you can see consequences that the child cannot see, you can say, “Son, if you do
this, I promise you that this will be the result.” If that child has cultivated trust in your
word, in your promises, he will act on your counsel.

Clarifying Expectations

Imagine the difficulty you might encounter if you and your boss had different
assumptions regarding whose role it was to create your job description.

“When am I going to get my job description?” you might ask.

“I’ve been waiting for you to bring one to me so that we could discuss it,” your boss might

“I thought defining my job was your role.”

“That’s not my role at all. Don’t you remember? Right from the first, I said that how you
do in the job largely depends on you.”


“I thought you meant that the quality of my job depended on me. But I don’t even know
what my job really is.”

“I did exactly what you asked me to do and here is the report.”

“I don’t want a report. The goals was to solve the problem — not to analyze it and report
on it.”

“I thought the goal was to get a handle on the problem so we could delegate it to
someone else.”

How many times have we had these kinds of conversations?

“You said…”

“No, you’re wrong! I said…”

“You did not! You never said I was supposed to…”

“Oh, yes I did! I clearly said…”

“You never even mentioned…”

“But that was our agreement…”

The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous
expectations around roles and goals. Whether we are dealing with the question of who
does what at work, how you communicate with your daughter when you tell her to clean
her room, or who feeds the fish and takes out the garbage, we can be certain that unclear
expectations will lead to misunderstanding, disappointment, and withdrawals of trust.

Many expectations are implicit. They haven’t been explicitly stated or announced, but
people nevertheless bring them to a particular situation. In marriage, for example, a man
and a woman have implicit expectations of each other in their marriage roles. Although
these expectations have not been discussed, or sometimes even recognized by the person
who has them, fulfilling them makes great deposits in the relationship and violating them
makes withdrawals.

That’s why it’s so important whenever you come into a new situation to get all the
expectations out on the table. People will begin to judge each other through those
expectations. And if they feel like their basic expectations have been violated, the reserve
of trust is diminished. We create many negative situations by simply assuming that our
expectations are self-evident and that they are clearly understood and shared by other

The deposit is to make the expectations clear and explicit in the beginning. This takes a
real investment of time and effort up front, but it saves great amounts of time and effort
down the road. When expectations are not clear and shared, people begin to become
emotionally involved and simple misunderstandings become compounded, turning into
personality clashes and communication breakdowns.


Clarifying expectations sometimes takes a great deal of courage. It seems easier to act as
though differences don’t exist and to hope things will work out than it is to face the
differences and work together to arrive at a mutually agreeable set of expectations.

Showing Personal Integrity

Personal integrity generates trust and is the basis of many different kinds of deposits.

Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create high trust accounts.
People can seek to understand, remember the little things, keep their promises, clarify
and fulfill expectations, and still fail to build reserves of trust if they are inwardly

Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty. Honesty is telling the truth — in other words,
conforming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words — in other
words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. This requires an integrated
character, a oneness, primarily with self but also with life.

One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not
present. In doing so, we build the trust of those who are present. When you defend those
who are absent, you retain the trust of those present.

Suppose you and I were talking alone, and we were criticizing our supervisor in a way
that we would not dare to if he were present. Now what will happen when you and I
have a falling out? You know I’m going to be discussing your weaknesses with someone
else. That’s what you and I did behind our supervisor’s back. You know my nature. I’ll
sweet-talk you to your face and bad-mouth you behind your back. You’ve seen me do it.

That’s the essence of duplicity. Does that build a reserve of trust in my account with you.

On the other hand, suppose you were to start criticizing our supervisor and I basically
told you I agree with the content of some of the criticism and suggest that the two of us
go directly to him and make an effective presentation of how things might be improved.
Then what would you know I would do if someone were to criticize you to me behind
your back?

For another example, suppose in my effort to build a relationship with you, I told you
something someone else had shared with me in confidence. “I really shouldn’t tell you
this,” I might say, “but since you’re my friend…” Would my betraying another person
build my trust account with you? Or would you wonder if the things you had told me in
confidence were being shared with others?
Such duplicity might appear to be making a deposit with the person you’re with, but it is
actually a withdrawal because you communicate your own lack of integrity. You may get
the golden egg of temporary pleasure from putting someone down or sharing privileged
information, but you’re strangling the goose, weakening the relationship that provides
enduring pleasure in association.

Integrity in an interdependent reality is simply this: you treat everyone by the same set of
principles. As you do, people will come to trust you. They may not at first appreciate the
honest confrontational experiences such integrity might generate. Confrontation takes
considerable courage, and many people would prefer to take the course of least
resistance, belittling and criticizing, betraying confidences, or participating in gossip
about others behind their backs. But in the long run, people will trust and respect you if


you are honest and open and kind with them. You care enough to confront. And to be
trusted, it is said, is greater than to be loved. In the long run, I am convinced, to be
trusted will be also mean to be loved.

When my son Joshua was quite young, he would frequently ask me a soul-searching
question. Whenever I overreacted to someone else or was the least bit impatient or
unkind, he was so vulnerable and so honest and our relationship was so good that he
would simply look me in the eye and say, “Dad, do you love me?” If he thought I was
breaking a basic principle of life toward someone else, he wondered if I wouldn’t break it
with him.

As a teacher, as well as a parent, I have found that the key to the ninety-nine is the one —
particularly the one that is testing the patience and the good humor of the many. It is the
love and the discipline of the one student, the one child, that communicates love for the
others. It’s how you treat the one that reveals how you regard the ninety-nine, because
everyone is ultimately a one.
Integrity also means avoiding any communication that is deceptive, full of guile, or
beneath the dignity of people. “A lie is any communication with intent to deceive,”
according to one definition of the word. Whether we communicate with words or
behavior, if we have integrity, our intent cannot be to deceive.

Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal

When we make withdrawals from the Emotional Bank Account, we need to apologize
and we need to do it sincerely. Great deposits come in the sincere words

“I was wrong.”

“That was unkind of me.”

“I showed you no respect.”

“I gave you no dignity, and I’m deeply sorry.”

“I embarrassed you in front of your friends and I had no call to do that. Even though I
wanted to make a point, I never should have done it. I apologize.”

It takes a great deal of character strength to apologize quickly out of one’s heart rather
than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in
fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologize.

People with little internal security can’t do it. It makes them too vulnerable. They feel it
makes them appear soft and weak, and they fear that others will take advantage of their
weakness. Their security is based on the opinions of other people, and they worry about
what others might think. In addition, they usually feel justified in what they did. They
rationalize their own wrong in the name of the other person’s wrong, and if they
apologize at all, it’s superficial.

“If you’re going to bow, bow low,” say Eastern wisdom. “Pay the uttermost farthing,” says
the Christian ethic. To be a deposit, an apology must be sincere. And it must be perceived
as sincere.


Leo Roskin taught, “It is the weak who are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from
the strong. I was in my office at home one afternoon writing, of all things, on the subject
of patience. I could hear the boys running up and down the hall making loud banging
noises, and I could feel my own patience beginning to wane.

Suddenly, my son David started pounding on the bathroom door, yelling at the top of his
lungs, “Let me in! Let me in!”

I rushed out of the office and spoke to him with great intensity. “David, do you have any
idea how disturbing that is to me? Do you know how hard it is to try to concentrate and
write creatively? Now you go into your room and stay in there until you can behave
yourself.” So in he went, dejected, and shut the door.

As I turned around, I became aware of another problem. The boys had been playing
tackle football in the four-foot-wide hallway, and one of them had been elbowed in the
mouth. He was lying there in the hall, bleeding from the mouth. David, I discovered, had
gone to the bathroom to get a wet towel for him. But his sister, Maria, who was taking a
shower, wouldn’t open the door.

When I realized that I had completely misinterpreted the situation and had overreacted, I
immediately went in to apologize to David.

As I opened the door, the first thing he said to me was, “I won’t forgive you.”

“Well, why not, honey?” I replied. “Honestly, I didn’t realize you were trying to help
your brother. Why won’t you forgive me?”

“Because you did the same thing last week,” he replied. In other words, he was saying.
“Dad, you’re overdrawn, and you’re not going to talk your way out of a problem you
behaved yourself into.”

Sincere apologies make deposits; repeated apologies interpreted as insincere make
withdrawals. And the quality of the relationship reflects it.

It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it. People will
forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But
people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives,
the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.

The Laws of Love and the Laws of Life

When we make deposits of unconditional love, when we live the primary laws of love,
we encourage others to live the primary laws of life. In other words, when we truly love
others without condition, without strings, we help them feel secure and safe and
validated and affirmed in their essential worth, identity, and integrity. Their natural
growth process is encouraged. We make it easier for them to live the laws of life —
cooperation, contribution, self-discipline, integrity — and to discover and live true to the
highest and best within them. We give them the freedom to act on their own inner
imperatives rather than react to our conditions and limitations. This does not mean we
become permissive or soft. That itself is a massive withdrawal. We counsel, we plead, we
set limits and consequences. But we love, regardless.


When we violate the primary laws of love — when we attach strings and conditions to
that gift — we actually encourage others to violate the primary laws of life. We put them
in a reactive, defensive position where they feel they have to prove “I matter as a person,
independent of you.”

In reality, they aren’t independent. They are counter-dependent, which is another form of
dependency and is at the lowest end of the Maturity Continuum. They become reactive,
almost enemy-centered, more concerned about defending their “rights” and producing
evidence of their individuality than they are about proactively listening to and honoring
their own inner imperatives.

Rebellion is a knot of the heart, not of the mind. The key is to make deposits — constant
deposits of unconditional love. I once had a friend who was dean of a very prestigious
school. He planned and saved for years to provide his son the opportunity to attend that
institution, but when the time came, the boy refused to go.

This deeply concerned his father. Graduating from that particular school would have
been a great asset to the boy. Besides, it was a family tradition. Three generations of
attendance preceded the boy. The father pleaded and urged and talked. He also tried to
listen to the boy to understand him, all the while hoping that the son would change his

The subtle message being communicated was one of conditional love. The son felt that in
a sense the father’s desire for him to attend the school outweighed the value he placed on
him as a person and as a son, which was terribly threatening. Consequently, he fought for
and with his own identity and integrity, and he increased his resolve and his efforts to
rationalize his decision not to go.

After some intense soul-searching, the father decided to make a sacrifice — to renounce
conditional love. He knew that his son might choose differently than he had wished;
nevertheless, he and his wife resolved to love their son unconditionally, regardless of his
choice. It was an extremely difficult thing to do because the value of his educational
experience was so close to their hearts and because it was something they had planned
and worked for since his birth.

The father and mother went through a very difficult rescripting process, struggling to
really understand the nature of unconditional love. They communicated to the boy what
they were doing and why, and told him that they had come to the point at which they
could say in all honesty that his decision would not affect their complete feeling of
unconditional love toward him. They didn’t do this to manipulate him, to try to get him
to “shape up.” They did it as the logical extension of their growth and character.

The boy didn’t give much of a response at the time, but his parents had such a paradigm
of unconditional love at that point that it would have made no difference in their feelings
for him. About a week later, he told his parents that he had decided not to go. They were
perfectly prepared for his response and continued to show unconditional love for him.
Everything was settled and life went along normally.

A short time later, an interesting thing happened. Now that the boy no longer felt he had
to defend his position, he searched within himself more deeply and found that he really
did want to have this educational experience. He applied for admission, and then he told
his father, who again showed unconditional love by fully accepting his son’s decision. My


friend was happy, but not excessively so, because he had truly learned to love without

Dag Hammarskjold, past Secretary-General of the United Nations, once made a
profound, far-reaching statement: “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one
individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.”

I take that to mean that I could devote eight, ten, or twelve hours a day, five, six, or seven
days a week to the thousands of people and projects “out there” and still not have a deep,
meaningful relationship with my own spouse, with my own teenage son, with my closest
working associate. And it would take more nobility of character — more humility,
courage, and strength — to rebuild that one relationship than it would to continue putting
in all those hours for all those people and causes.

In 25 years of consulting with organizations, I have been impressed over and over again
by the power of that statement. Many of the problems in organizations stem from
relationship difficulties at the very top — between two partners in a company, between
the president and an executive vice-president. It truly takes more nobility of character to
confront and resolve those issues than it does to continue to diligently work for the many
projects and people “out there.”

When I first came across Hammarskjold’s statement, I was working in an organization
where there were unclear expectations between the individual who was my right-hand
man and myself. I simply did not have the courage to confront our differences regarding
role and goal expectations and values, particularly in our methods of administration. So I
worked for a number of months in a compromise mode to avoid what might turn out to
be an ugly confrontation. All the while, bad feelings were developing inside both of us.

After reading that it is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to
labor diligently for the salvation of the masses, I was deeply affected by the idea of
rebuilding that relationship.

I had to steel myself for what lay ahead, because I knew it would be hard to really get the
issues out and to achieve a deep, common understanding and commitment. I remember
actually shaking in anticipation of the visit. He seemed like such a hard man, so set in his
own ways and so right in his own eyes; yet I needed his strengths and abilities. I was
afraid a confrontation might jeopardize the relationship and result in my losing those

I went through a mental dress rehearsal of the anticipated visit, and I finally became
settled within myself around the principles rather than the practices of what I was going
to do and say. At last I felt peace of mind and the courage to have the communication.

When we met together, to my total surprise, I discovered that this man had been going
through the very same process and had been longing for such a conversation. He was
anything but hard and defensive.

Nevertheless, our administrative styles were considerably different, and the entire
organization was responding to these differences. We both acknowledged the problems
that our disunity had created. Over several visits, we were able to confront the deeper
issues, to get them all out on the table, and to resolve them, one by one, with a spirit of
high mutual respect. We were able to develop a powerful complementary team and a


deep personal affection which added tremendously to our ability to work effectively

Creating the unity necessary to run an effective business or a family or a marriage
requires great personal strength and courage. No amount of technical administrative skill
in laboring for the masses can make up for lack of nobility of personal character in
developing relationships. It is at a very essential, one-on-one level, that we live the
primary laws of love and life.

P Problems are PC Opportunities

This experience also taught me another powerful paradigm of interdependence. It deals
with the way in which we see problems. I had lived for months trying to avoid the
problem, seeing it as a source of irritation, a stumbling block, and wishing it would
somehow go away. But, as it turned out, the very problem created the opportunity to
build a deep relationship that empowered us to work together as a strong
complementary team.

I suggest that in an interdependent situation, every P problem is a PC opportunity — a
chance to build the Emotional Bank Accounts that significantly affect interdependent

When parents see their children’s problems as opportunities to build the relationship
instead of as negative, burdensome irritations, it totally changes the nature of parent-
child interaction. Parents become more willing, even excited, about deeply understanding
and helping their children. When a child comes to them with a problem, instead of
thinking, “Oh, no! Not another problem!” their paradigm is, “Here is a great opportunity
for me to really help my child and to invest in our relationship.” Many interactions
change from transactional to transformational, and strong bonds of love and trust are
created as children sense the value parents give to their problems and to them as

This paradigm is powerful in business as well. One department store chain that operates
from this paradigm has created a great loyalty among its customers. Any time a customer
comes into the store with a problem, not matter how small, the clerks immediately see it
as an opportunity to build the relationship with the customer. They respond with a
cheerful, positive desire to solve the problem in a way that will make the customer
happy. They treat the customer with such grace and respect, giving such second-mile
service, that many of the customers don’t even think of going anywhere else.

By recognizing that the P/PC Balance is necessary to effectiveness in an interdependent
reality, we can value our problems as opportunities to increase PC.

The Habits of Interdependence

With the paradigm of the Emotional Bank Account in mind, we’re ready to move into the
habits of Public Victory, or success in working with other people. As we do, we can see
how these habits work together to create effective interdependence. We can also see how
powerfully scripted we are in other patterns of thought and behavior.

In addition, we can see on an even deeper level that effective interdependence can only
be achieved by truly independent people. It is impossible to achieve Public Victory with
popular “Win-Win negotiation” techniques of “reflective listening” techniques or “creative


problem-solving” techniques that focus on personality and truncate the vital character

Let’s now focus on each of the Public Victory habits in depth.


Habit 4:

Think Win-Win TM — Principles of Interpersonal Leadership

We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.

— Edwin Markha

* *
One time I was asked to work with a company whose president was very concerned
about the lack of cooperation among his people.

“Our basic problem, Stephen, is that they’re selfish,” he said. “They just won’t cooperate. I
know if they would cooperate, we could produce so much more. Can you help us
develop a human-relations program that will solve the problem?”

“Is your problem the people or the paradigm?” I asked.

“Look for yourself,” he replied.

So I did. And I found that there was a real selfishness, and unwillingness to cooperate, a
resistance to authority, defensive communication. I could see that overdrawn Emotional
Bank Accounts had created a culture of low trust. But I pressed the question.

“Let’s look at it deeper,” I suggested. “Why don’t your people cooperate? What is the
reward for not cooperating?”

“There’s no reward for not cooperating,” he assured me. “The rewards are much greater if
they do cooperate.

“Are they?” I asked. Behind a curtain on one wall of this man’s office was a chart. On the
chart were a number of racehorses all lined up on a track. Superimposed on the face of
each horse was the face of one of his managers. At the end of the track was a beautiful
travel poster of Bermuda, an idyllic picture of blue skies and fleecy clouds and a romantic
couple walking hand in hand down a white sandy beach.

Once a week, this man would bring all his people into this office and talk cooperation.
“Let’s all work together. We’ll all make more money if we do.” Then he would pull the
curtain and show them the chart. “Now which of you is going to win the trip to

It was like telling one flower to grow and watering another, like saying “firings will
continue until morale improves.” He wanted cooperation. He wanted his people to work
together, to share ideas, to all benefit from the effort. But he was setting them up in
competition with each other. One manager’s success meant failure for the other managers

As with many, many problems between people in business, family, and other
relationships, the problem in this company was the result of a flawed paradigm. The
president was trying to get the fruits of cooperation from a paradigm of competition. And
when it didn’t work, he wanted a technique, a program, a quick-fix antidote to make his
people cooperate.


But you can’t change the fruit without changing the root. Working on the attitudes and
behaviors would have been hacking at the leaves. So we focused instead on producing
personal and organizational excellence in an entirely different way by developing
information and reward systems which reinforced the value of cooperation.

Whether you are the president of a company or the janitor, the moment you step from
independence into interdependence in any capacity, you step into a leadership role. You
are in a position of influencing other people. And the habit of effective interpersonal
leadership is Think Win-Win.

Six Paradigms of Human Interaction

Win-win is not a technique; it’s a total philosophy of human interaction. In fact, it is one
of six paradigms of interaction. The alternative paradigms are win-lose, lose-win, lose-
lose, win, and Win-Win or No Deal TM


Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human
interactions. Win-win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial,
mutually satisfying. With a win-win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and
feel committed to the action plan. Win-win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive
arena. Most people tend to think in terms of dichotomies: strong or weak, hardball or
softball, win or lose. But that kind of thinking if fundamentally flawed. It’s based on
power and position rather than on principle. Win-win is based on the paradigm that there
is plenty for everybody, that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense or
exclusion of the success of others.

Win-win is a belief in the Third Alternative. It’s not your way or my way; it’s a better
way, a higher way.


One alternative to win-win is win-lose, the paradigm of the race to Bermuda. It says “If I
win, you lose. In leadership style, win-lose is the authoritarian approach: “I get my way;
you don’t get yours.”

Win-lose people are prone to use position, power, credentials, possessions, or personality
to get their way. Most people have been deeply scripted in the win-lose mentality since
birth. First and most important of the powerful forces at work is the family. When one
child is compared with another — when patience, understanding or love is given or
withdrawn on the basis of such comparisons — people are into win-lose thinking.
Whenever love is given on a conditional basis, when someone has to earn love, what’s
being communicated to them is that they are not intrinsically valuable or lovable. Value
does not lie inside them, it lies outside. It’s in comparison with somebody else or against
some expectation.

And what happens to a young mind and heart, highly vulnerable, highly dependent
upon the support and emotional affirmation of the parents, in the face of conditional
love? The child is molded, shaped, and programmed in the win-lose mentality.

“If I’m better than my brother, my parents will love me more.”


“My parents don’t love me as much as they love my sister. I must not be as valuable.”

Another powerful scripting agency is the peer group. A child first wants acceptance from
his parents and then from his peers, whether they be siblings or friends. And we all know
how cruel peers sometimes can be. They often accept or reject totally on the basis of
conformity to their expectations and norms, providing additional scripting toward win-

The academic world reinforces win-lose scripting. The “normal distribution curve”
basically says that you got an “A” because someone else got a “C.” It interprets an
individual’s value by comparing him or her to everyone else. No recognition is given to
intrinsic value; everyone is extrinsically defined.

“Oh, how nice to see you here at our PTA meeting. You ought to be really proud of your
daughter, Caroline. She’s in the upper 10 percent.”

“That makes me feel good.”

“But your son, Johnny, is in trouble. He’s in the lower quartile.”

“Really? Oh, that’s terrible! What can we do about it?”

What this kind of comparative information doesn’t tell you is that perhaps Johnny is
going on all eight cylinders while Caroline is coasting on four of her eight. But people are
not graded against their potential or against the full use of their present capacity. They
are graded in relation to other people. And grades are carriers of social value; they open
doors of opportunity or they close them. Competition, not cooperation, lies at the core of
the educational process. Cooperation, in fact, is usually associated with cheating.

Another powerful programming agent is athletics, particularly for young men in their
high school or college years. Often they develop the basic paradigm that life is a big
game, a zero sum game where some win and some lose. “Winning” is “beating” in the
athletic arena.

Another agent is law. We live in a litigious society. The first thing many people think
about when they get into trouble is suing someone, taking him to court, “winning” at
someone else’s expense. But defensive minds are neither creative nor cooperative.

Certainly we need law or else society will deteriorate. It provides survival, but it doesn’t
create synergy. At best it results in compromise. Law is based on an adversarial concept.
The recent trend of encouraging lawyers and law schools to focus on peaceable
negotiation, the techniques of win-win, and the use of private courts, may not provide the
ultimate solution, but it does reflect a growing awareness of the problem.

Certainly there is a place for win-lose thinking in truly competitive and low-trust
situations. But most of life is not a competition. We don’t have to live each day competing
with our spouse, our children, our co-workers, our neighbors, and our friends. “Who’s
winning in your marriage?” is a ridiculous question. If both people aren’t winning, both
are losing.

Most of life is an interdependent, not an independent, reality. Most results you want
depend on cooperation between you and others. And the win-lose mentality is
dysfunctional to that cooperation.



Some people are programmed the other way — lose-win.

“I lose, you win.”

“Go ahead. Have your way with me.”

“Step on me again. Everyone does.”

“I’m a loser. I’ve always been a loser.”

“I’m a peacemaker. I’ll do anything to keep peace.”

Lose-win is worse than win-lose because it has no standards — no demands, no
expectations, no vision. People who think lose-win are usually quick to please or appease.
They seek strength from popularity or acceptance. They have little courage to express
their own feelings and convictions and are easily intimidated by the ego strength of

In negotiation, lose-win is seen as capitulation — giving in or giving up. In leadership
style, it’s permissiveness or indulgence. Lose-win means being a nice guy, even if “nice
guys finish last.

Win-lose people love lose-win people because they can feed on them. They love their
weaknesses — they take advantage of them. Such weaknesses complement their strengths.

But the problem is that lose-win people bury a lot of feelings. And unexpressed feelings
never die; they’re buried alive and come forth in uglier ways. Psychosomatic illnesses,
particularly of the respiratory, nervous, and circulatory systems often are the
reincarnation of cumulative resentment, deep disappointment, and disillusionment
repressed by the lose-win mentality. Disproportionate rage or anger, overreaction to
minor provocation, and cynicism are other embodiments of suppressed emotion.

People who are constantly repressing, not transcending, feelings towards a higher
meaning find that it affects the quality of their self-esteem and eventually the quality of
their relationships with others. Both win-lose and lose-win are weak positions, based in
personal insecurities. In the short run, win-lose will produce more results because it
draws on the often considerable strengths and talents of the people at the top. Lose-win is
weak and chaotic from the outset.

Many executives, managers, and parents swing back and forth, as if on a pendulum, from
win-lose inconsideration to lose-win indulgence. When they can’t stand confusion and
lack of structure, direction, expectation, and discipline any longer, they swing back to
win-lose — until guilt undermines their resolve and drives them back to lose-win — until
anger and frustration drive them back to win-lose again.


When two win-lose people get together — that is, when two determined, stubborn, ego-
invested individuals interact — the result will be lose-lose. Both will lose. Both will
become vindictive and want to “get back” or “get even,” blind to the fact that murder is
suicide, that revenge is a two-edged sword.


I know of a divorce in which the husband was directed by the judge to sell the assets and
turn over half the proceeds to his ex-wife. In compliance, he sold a car worth over $10,000
for $50 and gave $25 to the wife. When the wife protested, the court clerk checked on the
situation and discovered that the husband was proceeding in the same manner
systematically through all of the assets.

Some people become so centered on an enemy, so totally obsessed with the behavior of
another person that they become blind to everything except their desire for that person to
lose, even if it means losing themselves. Lose-lose is the philosophy of adversarial
conflict, the philosophy of war. Lose-lose is also the philosophy of the highly dependent
person without inner direction who is miserable and thinks everyone else should be, too.
“If nobody ever wins, perhaps being a loser isn’t so bad.


Another common alternative is simply to think win. People with the win mentality don’t
necessarily want someone else to lose. That’s irrelevant. What matters is that they get
what they want.

When there is no sense of contest or competition, win is probably the most common
approach in everyday negotiation. A person with the win mentality thinks in terms of
securing his own ends — and leaving it to others to secure theirs.

Which Option Is Best?

Of these five philosophies discussed so far — win-win, win-lose, lose-win, lose-lose, and
win -which is the most effective? The answer is, “It depends.” If you win a football game,
that means the other team loses. If you work in a regional office that is miles away from
another regional office, and you don’t have any functional relationship between the
offices, you may want to compete in a win-lose situation to stimulate business. However,
you would not want to set up a win-lose situation like the “Race to Bermuda” contest
within a company or in a situation where you need cooperation among people or groups
of people to achieve maximum success.

If you value a relationship and the issue isn’t really that important, you may want to go
for lose-win in some circumstances to genuinely affirm the other person. “What I want
isn’t as important to me as my relationship with you. Let’s do it your way this time.” You
might also go for lose-win if you feel the expense of time and effort to achieve a win of
any kind would violate other higher values. Maybe it just isn’t worth it.

There are circumstances in which you would want to win, and you wouldn’t be highly
concerned with the relationship of that win to others. If your child’s life were in danger,
for example, you might be peripherally concerned about other people and circumstances.
But saving that life would be supremely important.

The best choice, then, depends on reality. The challenge is to read that reality accurately
and not to translate win-lose or other scripting into every situation.

Most situations, in fact, are part of an interdependent reality, and then win-win is really
the only viable alternative of the five.

Win-lose is not viable because, although I appear to win in a confrontation with you, your
feelings, your attitudes toward me and our relationship have been affected. If I am a


supplier to your company, for example, and I win on my terms in a particular
negotiation, I may get what I want now. But will you come to me again? My short-term
win will really be a long-term lose if I don’t get your repeat business. So an
interdependent win-lose is really lose-lose in the long run.

If we come up with a lose-win, you may appear to get what you want for the moment.
But how will that affect my attitude about working with you, about fulfilling the
contract? I may not feel as anxious to please you. I may carry battle scars with me into
any future negotiations. My attitude about you and your company may be spread as I
associate with others in the industry. So we’re into lose-lose again. Lose-lose obviously
isn’t viable in any context. And if I focus on my own win and don’t even consider your
point of view, there’s no basis for any kind of productive relationship.

In the long run, if it isn’t a win for both of us, we both lose. That’s why win-win is the
only real alternative in interdependent realities.

I worked with a client once, the president of a large chain of retail stores, who said,
“Stephen, this win-win idea sounds good, but it is so idealistic. The tough, realistic
business world isn’t like that. There’s win-lose everywhere, and if you’re not out there
playing the game, you just can’t make it.”

“All right,” I said, “try going for win-lose with your customers. Is that realistic?”

“Well, no,” he replied.

“Why not?”

“I’d lose my customers.”

“Then, go for lose-win — give the store away. Is that realistic?”

“No. No margin, no mission.”

As we considered the various alternatives, win-win appeared to be the only truly realistic

“I guess that’s true with customers,” he admitted, “but not with suppliers.”

“You are the customer of the supplier,” I said. “Why doesn’t the same principle apply?”

“Well, we recently renegotiated our lease agreements with the mall operators and
owners,” he said.

“We went in with a win-win attitude. We were open, reasonable, conciliatory. But they
saw that position as being soft and weak, and they took us to the cleaners.”

“Well, why did you go for lose-win?” I asked.

“We didn’t. We went for win-win.”

“I thought you said they took you to the cleaners.”

“They did.”


“In other words, you lost.”

“That’s right.”

“And they won.”

“That’s right.”

“So what’s that called?”

When he realized that what he had called win-win was really lose-win, he was shocked.
And as we examined the long-term impact of that lose-win, the suppressed feelings, the
trampled values, the resentment that seethed under the surface of the relationship, we
agreed that it was really a loss for both parties in the end.

If this man had had a real win-win attitude, he would have stayed longer in the
communication process, listened to the mall owner more, then expressed his point of
view with more courage. He would have continued in the win-win spirit until a solution
was reached and they both felt good about it. And that solution, that Third Alternative,
would have been synergistic — probably something neither of them had thought of on his

Win-Win or No Deal TM

If these individuals had not come up with a synergistic solution — one that was agreeable
to both — they could have gone for an even higher expression of win-win, Win-Win or No

No deal basically means that if we can’t find a solution that would benefit us both, we
agree to disagree agreeably — no deal. No expectations have been created, no
performance contracts established. I don’t hire you or we don’t take on a particular
assignment together because it’s obvious that our values or our goals are going in
opposite directions. It is so much better to realize this up front instead of downstream
when expectations have been created and both parties have been disillusioned.

When you have no deal as an option in your mind, you feel liberated because you have
no need to manipulate people, to push your own agenda, to drive for what you want.
You can be open. You can really try to understand the deeper issues underlying the

With no deal as an option, you can honestly say, “I only want to go for win-win. I want to
win, and I want you to win. I wouldn’t want to get my way and have you not feel good
about it, because downstream it would eventually surface and create a withdrawal. On
the other hand, I don’t think you would feel good if you got your way and I gave in. So
let’s work for a win-win. Let’s really hammer it out. And if we can’t find it, then let’s agree
that we won’t make a deal at all. It would be better not to deal than to live with a decision
that wasn’t right for us both. Then maybe another time we might be able to get together.”

Some time after learning the concept of Win-Win or No Deal, the president of a small
computer software company shared with me the following experience:


“We had developed new software which we sold on a five-year contract to a particular
bank. The bank president was excited about it, but his people weren’t really behind the

“About a month later, that bank changed presidents. The new president came to me and
said, ‘I am uncomfortable with these software conversions. I have a mess on my hands.
My people are all saying that they can’t go through this and I really feel I just can’t push it
at this point in time.’

“My own company was in deep financial trouble. I knew I had every legal right to enforce
the contract. But I had become convinced of the value of the principle of win-win.

“So I told him ‘We have a contract. Your bank has secured our products and our services
to convert you to this program. But we understand that you’re not happy about it. So
what we’d like to do is give you back the contract, give you back your deposit, and if you
are ever looking for a software solution in the future, come back and see us.’

“I literally walked away from an $84,000 contract. It was close to financial suicide. But I
felt that, in the long run, if the principle were true, it would come back and pay

“Three months later, the new president called me. ‘I’m now going to make changes in my
date processing,’ he said, ‘and I want to do business with you.’ He signed a contract for

Anything less than win-win in an interdependent reality is a poor second best that will
have impact in the long-term relationship. The cost of the impact needs to be carefully
considered. If you can’t reach a true win-win, you’re very often better off to go for no

Win-Win or No Deal provides tremendous emotional freedom in the family relationship.
If family members can’t agree on a video that everyone will enjoy, they can simply decide
to do something else — no deal — rather than having some enjoy the evening at the
expense of others.

I have a friend whose family has been involved in singing together for several years.
When they were young, she arranged the music, made the costumes, accompanied them
on the piano, and directed the performances.

As the children grew older, their taste in music began to change and they wanted to have
more say in what they performed and what they wore. They became less responsive to

Because she had years of experience in performing herself and felt closer to the needs of
the older people at the rest homes where they planned to perform, she didn’t feel that
many of the ideas they were suggesting would be appropriate. At the same time,
however, she recognized their need to express themselves and to be part of the decision-
making process.

So she set up a Win-Win or No Deal. She told them she wanted to arrive at an agreement
that everyone felt good about — or they would simply find other ways to enjoy their
talents. As a result, everyone felt free to express his or her feelings and ideas as they


worked to set up a Win-Win Agreement, knowing that whether or not they could agree,
there would be no emotional strings.

The Win-Win or No Deal approach is most realistic at the beginning of a business
relationship or enterprise. In a continuing business relationship, no deal may not be a
viable option, which can create serious problems, especially for family businesses or
businesses that are begun initially on the basis of friendship.

In an effort to preserve the relationship, people sometimes go on for years making one
compromise after another, thinking win-lose or lose-win even while talking win-win.
This creates serious problems for the people and for the business, particularly if the
competition operates on win-win and synergy.

Without no deal, many such businesses simply deteriorate and either fail or have to be
turned over to professional managers. Experience shows that it is often better in setting
up a family business or a business between friends to acknowledge the possibility of no
deal downstream and to establish some kind of buy/sell agreement so that the business
can prosper without permanently damaging the relationship.

Of course there are some relationships where no deal is not viable. I wouldn’t abandon
my child or my spouse and go for no deal (it would be better, if necessary, to go for
compromise — a low form of win-win). But in many cases, it is possible to go into
negotiation with a full Win-Win or No Deal attitude. And the freedom in the attitude is

Five Dimensions of Win-Win

Think Win-Win is the habit of interpersonal leadership. It involves the exercise of each of
the unique human endowments — self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and
independent will — in our relationships with others. It involves mutual learning, mutual
influence, mutual benefits.

It takes great courage as well as consideration to create these mutual benefits, particularly
if we’re interacting with others who are deeply scripted in win-los.

That is why this habit involves principles of interpersonal leadership. Effective
interpersonal leadership requires the vision, the proactive initiative, and the security,
guidance, wisdom, and power that come from principle-centered personal leadership.

The principle of win-win is fundamental to success in all our interactions, and it embraces
five interdependent dimensions of life. It begins with character and moves toward
relationships, out of which flow agreements. It is nurtured in an environment where
structure and systems are based on win-win. And it involves process; we cannot achieve
win-win ends with win-lose or lose-win means.

The following diagram shows how these five dimensions relate to each other.

Now let’s consider each of the five dimensions in turn.


Character is the foundation of win-win, and everything else builds on that foundation.
There are three character traits essential to the win-win paradigm.



We’ve already defined integrity as the value we place on ourselves. Habits 1, 2, and 3
help us develop and maintain integrity. As we clearly identify our values and proactively
organize and execute around those values on a daily basis, we develop self-awareness
and independent will by making and keeping meaningful promises and commitments.

There’s no way to go for a win in our own lives if we don’t even know, in a deep sense,
what constitutes a win — what is, in fact, harmonious with our innermost values. And if
we can’t make and keep commitments to ourselves as well as to others, our commitments
become meaningless. We know it; others know it. They sense duplicity and become
guarded. There’s no foundation of trust and win-win becomes an ineffective superficial
technique. Integrity is the cornerstone in the foundation.


Maturity is the balance between courage and consideration. If a person can express his
feelings and convictions with courage balanced with consideration for the feelings and
convictions of another person, he is mature, particularly if the issue is very important to
both parties.
If you examine many of the psychological tests used for hiring, promoting, and training
purposes, you will find that they are designed to evaluate this kind of maturity. Whether
it’s called the ego strength/empathy balance, the self confidence/respect for others
balance, the concern for people/concern for tasks balance, “I’m okay, you’re okay” in
transactional analysis language, or 9.1, 1.9, 5.5, 9.9, in management grid language — the
quality sought for is the balance of what I call courage and consideration.

Respect for this quality is deeply ingrained in the theory of human interaction,
management, and leadership. It is a deep embodiment of the P/PC Balance. While
courage may focus on getting the golden egg, consideration deals with the long-term
welfare of the other stakeholders. The basic task of leadership is to increase the standard
of living and the quality of life for all stakeholders.

Many people think in dichotomies, in either/or terms. They think if you’re nice, you’re
not tough. But win-win is nice…and tough. It’s twice as tough as win-lose. To go for win-
win, you not only have to be nice, you have to be courageous. You not only have to be
empathic, you have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive,
you have to be brave. To do that, to achieve that balance between courage and
consideration, is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.

If I’m high on courage and low on consideration, how will I think? Win-lose. I’ll be strong
and ego bound. I’ll have the courage of my convictions, but I won’t be very considerate of

To compensate for my lack of internal maturity and emotional strength, I might borrow
strength from my position and power, or from my credentials, my seniority, my

If I’m high on consideration and low on courage, I’ll think lose-win. I’ll be so considerate
of your convictions and desires that I won’t have the courage to express and actualize my


High courage and consideration are both essential to win-win. It is the balance that is the
mark of real maturity. If I have it, I can listen, I can empathically understand, but I can
also courageously confront.


The third character trait essential to win-win is the Abundance Mentality, the paradigm
that there is plenty out there for everybody.

Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as
having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were
to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. The Scarcity Mentality
is the zero-sum paradigm of life.

People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit,
power or profit — even with those who help in the production. They also have a very
hard time being genuinely happy for the successes of other people — even, and
sometimes especially, members of their own family or close friends and associates. It’s
almost as if something is being taken from them when someone else receives special
recognition or windfall gain or has remarkable success or achievement.

Although they might verbally express happiness for others’ success, inwardly they are
eating their hearts out. Their sense of worth comes from being compared, and someone
else’s success, to some degree, means their failure. Only so many people can be “A”
students; only one person can be “number one.” To “win” simply means to “beat.”

Often, people with a Scarcity Mentality harbor secret hopes that others might suffer
misfortune — not terrible misfortune, but acceptable misfortune that would keep them “in
their place.” They’re always comparing, always competing. They give their energies to
possessing things or other people in order to increase their sense of worth.

They want other people to be the way they want them to be. They often want to clone
them, and they surround themselves with “yes” people — people who won’t challenge
them, people who are weaker than they.

It’s difficult for people with a Scarcity Mentality to be members of a complementary team.
They look on differences as signs of insubordination and disloyalty.

The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal
worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare
for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision
making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

The Abundance Mentality takes the personal joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment of Habits 1,
2, and 3 and turns it outward, appreciating the uniqueness, the inner direction, the
proactive nature of others. It recognizes the unlimited possibilities for positive interactive
growth and development, creating new Third Alternatives.

Public Victory does not mean victory over other people. It means success in effective
interaction that brings mutually beneficial results to everyone involved. Public Victory
means working together, communicating together, making things happen together that
even the same people couldn’t make happen by working independently. And Public
Victory is an outgrowth of the Abundance Mentality paradigm.


A character rich in integrity, maturity, and the Abundance Mentality has a genuineness
that goes far beyond technique, or lack of it, in human interaction.

One thing I have found particularly helpful to win-lose people in developing a win-win
character is to associate with some model or mentor who really thinks win-win. When
people are deeply scripted in win-lose or other philosophies and regularly associate with
others who are likewise scripted, they don’t have much opportunity to see and experience
the win-win philosophy in action. So I recommend reading literature, such as the
inspiring biography of Anwar Sadat, In Search of Identity, and seeing movies like
Chariots of Fire or plays like Les Miserables that expose you to models of win-win.

But remember: If we search deeply enough within ourselves — beyond the scripting,
beyond the learned attitudes and behaviors — the real validation of win-win, as well as
every other correct principle, is in our own lives.


From the foundation of character, we build and maintain win-win relationships. The
trust, the Emotional Bank Account, is the essence of win-win. Without trust, the best we
can do is compromise; without trust, we lack the credibility for open, mutual learning
and communication and real creativity.

But if our Emotional Bank Account is high, credibility is no longer an issue. Enough
deposits have been made so that you know and I know that we deeply respect each other.
We’re focused on the issues, not on personalities or positions.

Because we trust each other, we’re open. We put our cards on the table. Even though we
see things differently, I know that you’re willing to listen with respect while I describe the
young woman to you, and you know that I’ll treat your description of the old woman
with the same respect. We’re both committed to try to understand each other’s point of
view deeply and to work together for the Third Alternative, the synergistic solution, that
will be a better answer for both of us.

A relationship where bank accounts are high and both parties are deeply committed to
win-win is the ideal springboard for tremendous synergy (Habit 6). That relationship
neither makes the issues any less real or important, nor eliminates the differences in
perspective. But it does eliminate the negative energy normally focused on differences in
personality and position and creates a positive, cooperative energy focused on
thoroughly understanding the issue and resolving them in a mutually beneficial way.

But what if that kind of relationship isn’t there? What if you have to work out an
agreement with someone who hasn’t even heard of win-win and is deeply scripted in
win-lose or some other philosophy?

Dealing with win-lose is the real test of win-win. Rarely is win-win easily achieved in any
circumstance. Deep issues and fundamental differences have to be dealt with. But it is
much easier when both parties are aware of and committed to it and where there is a high
Emotional Bank Account in the relationship.

When you’re dealing with a person who is coming from a paradigm of win-lose, the
relationship is still the key. The place to focus is on your Circle of Influence. You make
deposits into the Emotional Bank Account through genuine courtesy, respect, and
appreciation for that person and for the other point of view. You stay longer in the


communication process. You listen more, you listen in greater depth. You express
yourself with greater courage. You aren’t reactive. You go deeper inside yourself for
strength of character to be proactive. You keep hammering it out until the other person
begins to realize that you genuinely want the resolution to be a real win for both of you.
That very process is a tremendous deposit in the Emotional Bank Account.

And the stronger you are — the more genuine your character, the higher your level of
proactivity, the more committed you really are to win-win — the more powerful your
influence will be with that other person. This is the real test of interpersonal leadership. It
goes beyond transactional leadership into transformational leadership, transforming the
individuals involved as well as the relationship.

Because win-win is a principle people can validate in their own lives, you will be able to
bring most people to a realization that they will win more of what they want by going for
what you both want. But there will be a few who are so deeply embedded in the win-lose
mentality that they just won’t Think Win-Win. So remember that no deal is always an
option. Or you may occasionally choose to go for the low form of win-win — compromise.

It’s important to realize that not all decisions need to be win-win, even when the
Emotional Bank Account is high. Again, the key is the relationship. If you and I worked
together, for example, and you were to come to me and say, “Stephen, I know you won’t
like this decision. I don’t have time to explain it to you, let alone get you involved. There’s
a good possibility you’ll think it’s wrong. But will you support it?”

If you had a positive Emotional Bank Account with me, of course I’d support it. I’d hope
you were right and I was wrong. I’d work to make your decision work.

But if the Emotional Bank Account weren’t there, and if I were reactive, I wouldn’t really
support it. I might say I would to your face, but behind your back I wouldn’t be very
enthusiastic. I wouldn’t make the investment necessary to make it succeed. “It didn’t
work,” I’d say. “So what do you want me to do now?”

If I were overreactive, I might even torpedo your decision and do what I could to make
sure others did too. Or I might become “maliciously obedient” and do exactly and only
what you tell me to do, accepting no responsibility for results.

During the five years I lived in Great Britain, I saw that country brought twice to its knees
because the train conductors were maliciously obedient in following all the rules and
procedures written on paper.

An agreement means very little in letter without the character and relationship base to
sustain it in spirit. So we need to approach win-win from a genuine desire to invest in the
relationships that make it possible.


From relationships flow the agreements that give definition and direction to win-win.
They are sometimes called performance agreements or partnership agreements, or
shifting the paradigm of productive interaction from vertical to horizontal, from hovering
supervision to self-supervision, from positioning to being partners in success.

Win-Win Agreements cover a wide scope of interdependent interaction. We discussed
one important application when we talked about delegation in the “Green and Clean”


story in Habit 3. The same five elements we listed there provide the structure for Win-
Win Agreements between employers and employees, between independent people
working together on projects, between groups of people cooperatively focused on a
common objective, between companies and suppliers — between any people who need to
interact to accomplish. They create an effective way to clarify and manage expectations
between people involved in any .interdependent endeavor.

Desired results (not methods) identify what is to be done and when.

Guidelines specify the parameters (principles, policies, etc.) within which results are to be

Resources identify the human, financial, technical, or organizational support available to
help accomplish the results.

Accountability sets up the standards of performance and the time of evaluation.

Consequences specify — good and bad, natural and logical — what does and will happen
as a result of the evaluation.

These five elements give Win-Win Agreements a life of their own. A clear mutual
understanding and agreement up front in these areas creates a standard against which
people can measure their own success.

Traditional authoritarian supervision is a win-lose paradigm. It’s also the result of an
overdrawn Emotional Bank Account. If you don’t have trust or common vision of desired
results, you tend to hover over, check up on, and direct. Trust isn’t there, so you feel as
though you have to control people.

But if the trust account is high, what is your method? Get out of their way. As long as you
have an up-front Win-Win Agreement and they know exactly what is expected, your role
is to be a source of help and to receive their accountability reports.

It is much more ennobling to the human spirit to let people judge themselves than to
judge them. And in a high-trust culture, it’s much more accurate. In many cases people
know in their hearts how things are going much better than the records show.
Discernment is often far more accurate than either observation or measurement.

Win-Win Management Training

Several years ago, I was indirectly involved in a consulting project with a very large
banking institution that had scores of branches. They wanted us to evaluate and improve
their management training program, which was supported by an annual budget of
$750,000. The program involved selecting college graduates and putting them through
twelve two-week assignments in various departments over a six-month period of time so
that they could get a general sense of the industry. They spent two week in commercial
loans, two weeks in industrial loans, two weeks in marketing, two week in operations,
and so forth. At the end of the six-month period, they were assigned as assistant
managers in the various branch banks.

Our assignment was to evaluate the six-month formal training period. As we began, we
discovered that the most difficult part of the assignment was to get a clear picture of the
desired results. We asked the top executives the key hard question: “What should these


people be able to do when they finish the program?” And the answers we got were vague
and often contradictory.

The training program dealt with methods, not results; so we suggested that they set up a
pilot training program based on a different paradigm called “learner-controlled
instruction.” This was a Win-Win Agreement that involved identifying specific objectives
and criteria that would demonstrate their accomplishment and identifying the guidelines,
resources, accountability, and consequences that would result when the objectives were
met. The consequences in this case were promotion to assistant manager, where they
would receive the on-the-job part of their training, and a significant increase in salary.

We had to really press to get the objectives hammered out. “What is it you want them to
understand about accounting? What about marketing? What about real estate loans?”
And we went down the list. They finally came up with over 100 objectives, which we
simplified, reduced, and consolidated until we came down to 39 specific behavioral
objectives with criteria attached to them.

The trainees were highly motivated by both the opportunity and the increased salary to
meet the criteria as soon as possible. There was a big win in it for them, and there was
also a big win for the company because they would have assistant branch managers who
met results-oriented criteria instead of just showing up for 12 different activity traps.

So we explained the difference between learner-controlled instruction and system-
controlled instruction to the trainees. We basically said, “Here are the objectives and the
criteria. Here are the resources, including learning from each other. So go to it. As soon as
you meet the criteria, you will be promoted to assistant managers.

They were finished in three and a half weeks. Shifting the training paradigm had released
unbelievable motivation and creativity

As with many Paradigm Shifts, there was resistance. Almost all of the top executives
simply wouldn’t believe it. When they were shown the evidence that the criteria had been
met, they basically said, “These trainees don’t have the experience. They lack the
seasoning necessary to give them the kind of judgment we want them to have as assistant
branch managers.”

In talking with them later, we found that what many of them were really saying was, “We
went through goat week; how come these guys don’t have to?” But of course they
couldn’t put it that way. “They lack seasoning” was a much more acceptable expression.

In addition, for obvious reasons (including the $750,000 budget for a six-month
program), the personnel department was upset.

So we responded, “Fair enough. Let’s develop some more objectives and attach criteria to
them. But let’s stay with the paradigm of learner-controlled instruction.” We hammered
out eight more objectives with very tough criteria in order to give the executives the
assurance that the people were adequately prepared to be assistant branch managers and
continue the on-the-job part of the training program. After participating in some of the
sessions where these criteria were developed, several of the executives remarked that if
the trainees could meet these tough criteria, they would be better prepared than almost
any who had gone through the six-month program.


We had prepared the trainees to expect resistance. We took the additional objectives and
criteria back to them and said, “Just as we expected, management wants you to
accomplish some additional objectives with even tougher criteria than before. They have
assured us this time that if you meet these criteria, they will make you assistant

They went to work in unbelievable ways. They went to the executives in departments
such as accounting and basically said, “Sir, I am a member of this new pilot program
called learner-controlled instruction, and it is my understanding that you participated in
developing the objectives and the criteria.”

“I have six criteria to meet in this particular department. I was able to pass three of them
off with skills I gained in college; I was able to get another one out of a book; I learned the
fifth one from Tom, the fellow you trained last week. I only have one criterion left to
meet, and I wonder if you or someone else in the department might be able to spend a
few hours with me to show me how.” So they spent a half a day in a department instead
of two weeks.

These trainees cooperated with each other, brainstormed with each other, and they
accomplished the additional objectives in a week and a half. The six-month program was
reduced to five weeks, and the results were significantly increased.

This kind of thinking can similarly affect every area of organizational life if people have
the courage to explore their paradigms and to concentrate on win-win. I am always
amazed at the results that happen, both to individuals and to organizations, when
responsible, proactive, self-directing individuals are turned loose on a task.

Win-Win Performance Agreements

Creating Win-Win Performance Agreements requires vital Paradigm Shifts. The focus is
on results; not methods. Most of us tend to supervise methods. We use the gofer
delegation discussed in Habit 3, the methods management I used with Sandra when I
asked her to take pictures of our son as he was waterskiing. But Win-Win Agreements
focus on results, releasing tremendous individual human potential and creating greater
synergy, building PC in the process instead of focusing exclusively on P

With win-win accountability, people evaluate themselves. The traditional evaluation
games people play are awkward and emotionally exhausting. In win-win, people
evaluate themselves, using the criteria that they themselves helped to create up front.
And if you set it up correctly, people can do that. With a Win-Win Delegation Agreement,
even a seven-year-old boy can tell for himself how well he’s keeping the yard “green and

My best experiences in teaching university classes have come when I have created a win-
win shared understanding of the goal up front. “This is what we’re trying to accomplish.
Here are the basic requirements for an A, B, or C grade. My goal is to help every one of
you get an A. Now you take what we’ve talked about and analyze it and come up with
your own understanding of what you want to accomplish that is unique to you. Then let’s
get together and agree on the grade you want and what you plan to do to get it.”

Management philosopher and consultant Peter Drucker recommends the use of a
“manager’s letter” to capture the essence of performance agreements between managers
and their employees. Following a deep and thorough discussion of expectations,


guidelines, and resources to make sure they are in harmony with organizational goals,
the employee writes a letter to the manager that summarizes the discussion and indicates
when the next performance plan or review discussion will take place.

Developing such a Win-Win Agreement is the central activity of management. With an
agreement in place, employees can manage themselves within the framework of that
agreement. The manager then can serve like a pace car in a race. He can get things going
and then get out of the way. His job from then on is to remove the oil spills.

When a boss becomes the first assistant to each of his subordinates, he can greatly
increase his span of control. Entire levels of administrations and overhead are eliminated.
Instead of supervising six or eight, such a manager can supervise twenty, thirty, fifty, or

In Win-Win Agreements, consequences become the natural or logical results of
performance rather than a reward or punishment arbitrarily handed out by the person in

There are basically four kinds of consequences (rewards and penalties) that management
or parents can control — financial, psychic, opportunity, and responsibility. Financial
consequences include such things as income, stock options, allowances, or penalties.
Psychic or psychological consequences include recognition, approval, respect, credibility,
or the loss of them. Unless people are in a survival mode, psychic compensation is often
more motivating than financial compensation. Opportunity includes training,
development, perks, and other benefits. Responsibility has to do with scope and
authority, either of which can be enlarged or diminished. Win-Win Agreements specify
consequences in one or more of those areas and the people involved know it up front. So
you don’t play games. Everything is clear from the beginning.

In addition to these logical, personal consequences, it is also important to clearly identify
what the natural organizational consequences are. For example, what will happen if I’m
late to work, if I refuse to cooperate with others, if I don’t develop good Win-Win
Agreements with my subordinates, if I don’t hold them accountable for desired results, or
if I don’t promote their professional growth and career development.

When my daughter turned 16, we set up a Win-Win Agreement regarding use of the
family car.
We agreed that she would obey the laws of the land and that she would keep the car
clean and properly maintained. We agreed that she would use the car only for
responsible purposes and would serve as a cab driver for her mother and me within
reason. And we also agreed that she would do all her other jobs cheerfully without being
reminded. These were our wins.

We also agreed that I would provide some resources — the car, gas, and insurance. And
we agreed that she would meet weekly with me, usually on Sunday afternoon, to
evaluate how she was doing based on our agreement. The consequences were clear. As
long as she kept her part of the agreement, she could use the car. If she didn’t keep it, she
would lose the privilege until she decided to.

This Win-Win Agreement set up clear expectations from the beginning on both our parts.
It was a win for her — she got to use the car — and it was certainly a win for Sandra and
me. Now she could handle her own transportation needs and even some of ours. We
didn’t have to worry about maintaining the car or keeping it clean. And we had a built-in


accountability, which meant I didn’t have to hover over her to manage her methods. Her
integrity, her conscience, her power of discernment and our high Emotional Bank
Account managed her infinitely better. We didn’t have to get emotionally strung out,
trying to supervise her every move and coming up with punishments or rewards on the
spot if she didn’t do things the way we thought she should. We had a Win-Win
Agreement, and it liberated us all.

Win-Win Agreements are tremendously liberating. But as the product of isolated
techniques, they won’t hold up. Even if you set them up in the beginning, there is no way
to maintain them without personal integrity and relationship of trust.

A true Win-Win Agreement is the product of the paradigm, the character, and the
relationships out of which it grows. In this context, it defines and directs the
interdependent interaction of which it was created.

Win-win can only survive in an organization when the systems support it. If you talk
win-win but reward win-lose, you’ve got a losing program on your hands.

You basically get what you reward. If you want to achieve the goals and reflect the values
in your mission statement, then you need to align the reward system with these goals and
values. If it isn’t aligned systematically, you won’t be walking your talk. You’ll be in the
situation of the manager I mentioned earlier who talked cooperation but practiced
competition by creating a “Race to Bermuda” contest.

I worked for several years with a very large real estate organization in the Middle West.
My first experience with this organization was at a large sales rally where over 800 sales
associates gathered for the annual reward program. It was a psych-up cheerleading
session, complete with high school bands and a great deal of frenzied screaming.

Out of the 800 people there, around 40 received awards for top performance, such as
“Most Sales,” “Greatest Volume,” “Highest Earned Commissions,” and “Most Listings.”
There was a lot of hoopla -excitement, cheering, applause — around the presentation of
these awards. There was no doubt that those 40 people had won; but there was also the
underlying awareness that 760 people had lost.

We immediately began educational and organizational development work to align the
systems and structures of the organization toward the win-win paradigm. We involved
people at a grass-roots level to develop the kinds of systems that would motivate them.
We also encouraged them to cooperate and synergize with each other so that as many as
possible could achieve the desired results of their individually tailored performance

At the next rally one year later, there were over 1,000 sales associates present, and about
800 of them received awards. There were a few individual winners based on
comparisons, but the program primarily focused on people achieving self-selected
performance objectives and on groups achieving team objectives. There was no need to
bring in the high school bands to artificially contrive the fanfare, the cheerleading, and
the psych up. There was tremendous natural interest and excitement because people
could share in each others’ happiness, and teams of sales associates could experience
rewards together, including a vacation trip for the entire office.

The remarkable thing was that almost all of the 800 who received the awards that year
had produced as much per person in terms of volume and profit as the previous year’s


40. The spirit of win-win had significantly increased the number of golden eggs and had
fed the goose as well, releasing enormous human energy and talent. The resulting
synergy was astounding to almost everyone involved.

Competition has its place in the marketplace or against last year’s performance —
perhaps even against another office or individual where there is no particular
interdependence, no need to cooperate. But cooperation in the workplace is as important
to free enterprise as competition in the marketplace. The spirit of win-win cannot survive
in an environment of competition and contests.

For win-win to work, the systems have to support it. The training system, the planning
system, the communication system, the budgeting system, the information system, the
compensation system — all have to be based on the principle of win-win.

I did some consulting for another company that wanted training for their people in
human relations. The underlying assumption was that the problem was the people.

The president said, “Go into any store you want and see how they treat you. They’re just
order takers. They don’t understand how to get close to the customers. They don’t know
the product and they don’t have the knowledge and the skill in the sales process
necessary to create a marriage between the product and the need.”

So I went to the various stores. And he was right. But that still didn’t answer the question
in my mind: What caused the attitude?

“Look, we’re on top of the problem,” the president said. “We have department heads out
there setting a great example. We’ve told them their job is two-thirds selling and one-
third management, and they’re outselling everybody. We just want you to provide some
training for the salespeople.

Those words raised a red flag. “Let’s get some more data,” I said.

He didn’t like that. He “knew” what the problem was, and he wanted to get on with
training. But I persisted, and within two days we uncovered the real problem. Because of
the job definition and the compensation system, the managers were “creaming.” They’d
stand behind the cash register and cream all the business during the slow times. Half the
time in retail is slow and the other half is frantic. So the managers would give all the dirty
jobs — inventory control, stock work, and cleaning — to the salespeople. And they would
stand behind the registers and cream. That’s why the department heads were top in sales.

So we changed one system — the compensation system — and the problem was corrected
overnight. We set up a system whereby the managers only made money when their
salespeople made money. We overlapped the needs and goals of the managers with the
needs and goals of the salespeople. And the need for human-relations training suddenly
disappeared. The key was developing a true win-win reward system.

In another instance, I worked with a manager in a company that required formal
performance evaluation. He was frustrated over the evaluation rating he had given a
particular manager. “He deserved a three,” he said, “but I had to give him a one” (which
meant superior, promotable).

“What did you give him a one for?” I asked.


“He gets the numbers,” was his reply.

“So why do you think he deserves a three?”

“It’s the way he gets them. He neglects people; he runs over them. He’s a troublemaker.”

“It sounds like he’s totally focused on P — on production. And that’s what he’s being
rewarded for. But what would happen if you talked with him about the problem, if you
helped him understand the importance of PC?”

He said he had done so, with no effect.

“Then what if you set up a win-win contract with him where you both agreed that two-
thirds of his compensation would come from P — from numbers — and the other one-third
would come from PC — how other people perceive him, what kind of leader, people
builder, team builder he is?”

“Now that would get his attention,” he replied.

So often the problem is in the system, not in the people. If you put good people in bad
systems, you get bad results. You have to water the flowers you want to grow.

As people really learn to Think Win-Win, they can set up the systems to create and
reinforce it. They can transform unnecessarily competitive situations to cooperative ones
and can powerfully impact their effectiveness by building both P and PC.

In business, executives can align their systems to create teams of highly productive
people working together to compete against external standards of performance. In
education, teachers can set up grading systems based on an individual’s performance in
the context of agreed-upon criteria and can encourage students to cooperate in
productive ways to help each other learn and achieve. In families, parents can shift the
focus from competition with each other to cooperation. In activities such as bowling, for
example, they can keep a family score and try to beat a previous one. They can set up
home responsibilities with Win-Win Agreements that eliminate constant nagging and
enable parents to do the things only they can do.

A friend once shared with me a cartoon he’d seen of two children talking to each other. “If
mommy doesn’t get us up soon,” one was saying, “we’re going to be late for school.”
These words brought forcibly to his attention the nature of the problems created when
families are not organized on a responsible win-win basis.

Win-win puts the responsibility on the individual for accomplishing specified results
within clear guidelines and available resources. It makes a person accountable to perform
and evaluate the results and provides consequences as a natural result of performance.
And win-win systems create the environment, which supports and reinforces the Win-
Win Agreements.


There’s no way to achieve win-win ends with win-lose or lose-win means. You can’t say,
“You’re going to Think Win-Win, whether you like it or not.” So the question becomes
how to arrive at a win-win solution.


Roger Fisher and William Ury, two Harvard law professors, have done some outstanding
work in what they call the “principled” approach versus the “positional” approach to
bargaining in their tremendously useful and insightful book, Getting to Yes. Although
the words win-win are not used, the spirit and underlying philosophy of the book are in
harmony with the win-win approach.

They suggest that the essence of principled negotiation is to separate the person from the
problem, to focus on interests and not on positions, to invent options for mutual gain,
and to insist on objective criteria — some external standard or principle that both parties
can buy into.

In my own work with various people and organizations seeking win-win solutions, I
suggest that they become involved in the following four-step process: First, see the
problem from the other point of view. Really seek to understand and give expression to
the needs and concerns of the other party as well as or better than they can themselves.
Second, identify the key issues and concerns (not positions) involved. Third, determine
what results would constitute a fully acceptable solution. And fourth, identify possible
new options to achieve those results.

Habits 5 and 6 deal directly with two of the elements of this process, and we will go into
those in depth in the next two chapters.

But at this juncture, let me point out the highly interrelated nature of the process of win-
win with the essence of win-win itself. You can only achieve win-win solutions with win-
win processes — the end and the means are the same.

Win-win is not a personality technique. It’s a total paradigm of human interaction. It
comes from a character of integrity, maturity, and the Abundance Mentality. It grows out
of high-trust relationships. It is embodied in agreements that effectively clarify and
manage expectations as well as accomplishments. It thrives in supportive systems. And it
is achieved through the process we are now prepared to more fully examine in Habits 5
and 6.


Application Suggestions:

1. Think about an upcoming interaction wherein you will be attempting to reach an
agreement or negotiate a solution. Commit to maintain a balance between courage and

2. Make a list of obstacles that keep you from applying the win-win paradigm more
frequently. Determine what could be done within your Circle of Influence to eliminate
some of those obstacles.

3. Select a specific relationship where you would like to develop a Win-Win Agreement.
Try to put yourself in the other person’s place, and write down explicitly how you think
that person sees the solution. Then list, from your own perspective, what results would
constitute a win for you. Approach the other person and ask if he or she would be willing
to communicate until you reach a point of agreement and mutually beneficial solution.

4. Identify three key relationships in your life. Give some indication of what you feel the
balance is in each of the Emotional Bank Accounts. Write down some specific ways you
could make deposits in each account.

5. Deeply consider your own scripting. Is it win-lose? How does that scripting affect your
interactions with other people? Can you identify the main source of that script?
Determine whether or not those scripts serve well in your current reality.

6. Try to identify a model of win-win thinking who, even in hard situations, really seeks
mutual benefit. Determine now to more closely watch and learn from this person’s


Habit 5:

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood TM

Principles of Empathic Communication

The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of.


Suppose you’ve been having trouble with your eyes and you decide to go to an
optometrist for help. After briefly listening to your complaint, he takes off his glasses and
hands them to you.

“Put these on,” he says. “I’ve worn this pair of glasses for 10 years now and they’ve really
helped me. I have an extra pair at home; you can wear these.”

So you put them on, but it only makes the problem worse

“This is terrible!” you exclaim. “I can’t see a thing!”

“Well, what’s wrong?” he asks. “They work great for me. Try harder.”

“I am trying,” you insist. “Everything is a blur.”

“Well, what’s the matter with you? Think positively.”

“Okay. I positively can’t see a thing.”

“Boy, you are ungrateful!” he chides. “And after all I’ve done to help you!”

What are the chances you’d go back to that optometrist the next time you need help? Not
very good, I would imagine. You don’t have much confidence in someone who doesn’t
diagnose before he or she prescribes.

But how often do we diagnose before we prescribe in communication?

“Come on, honey, tell me how you feel. I know it’s hard, but I’ll try to understand.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Mom. You’d think it was stupid.”

“Of course I wouldn’t! You can tell me. Honey, no one cares for you as much as I do. I’m
only interested in your welfare. What’s making you so unhappy?”

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“Come on, honey. What is it?”

“Well, to tell you the truth, I just don’t like school anymore.”


“What?” you respond incredulously. “What do you mean you don’t like school? And after
all the sacrifices we’ve made for your education! Education is the foundation of your
future. If you’d apply yourself like your older sister does, you’d do better and then you’d
like school. Time and time again, we’ve told you to settle down. You’ve got the ability,
but you just don’t apply yourself. Try harder. Get a positive attitude about it.”


“Now go ahead. Tell me how you feel.”

We have such a tendency to rush in, to fix things up with good advice. But we often fail
to take the time to diagnose, to really, deeply understand the problem first.

If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned
in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek First to Understand, Then to
Be Understood. This principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication.

Character and Communication

Right now, you’re reading a book I’ve written. Reading and writing are both forms of
communication. So are speaking and listening. In fact, those are the four basic types of
communication. And think of all the hours you spend doing at least one of those four
things. The ability to do them well is absolutely critical to your effectiveness.

Communication is the most important skill in life. We spend most of our waking hours
communicating. But consider this: You’ve spent years learning how to read and write,
years learning how to speak. But what about listening? What training or education have
you had that enables you to listen so that you really, deeply understand another human
being from that individual’s own frame of reference?

Comparatively few people have had any training in listening at all. And, for the most
part, their training has been in the personality ethic of technique, truncated from the
character base and the relationship base absolutely vital to authentic understanding of
another person.

If you want to interact effectively with me, to influence me — your spouse, your child,
your neighbor, your boss, your coworker, your friend — you first need to understand me.
And you can’t do that with technique alone. If I sense you’re using some technique, I
sense duplicity, manipulation. I wonder why you’re doing it, what your motives are. And
I don’t feel safe enough to open myself up to you.

The real key to your influence with me is your example, your actual conduct. Your
example flows naturally out of your character, of the kind of person you truly are — not
what others say you are or what you may want me to think you are. It is evident in how I
actually experience you.

Your character is constantly radiating, communicating. From it, in the long run, I come to
instinctively trust or distrust you and your efforts with me.

If your life runs hot and cold, if you’re both caustic and kind, and, above all, if your
private performance doesn’t square with your public performance, it’s very hard for me
to open up with you. Then, as much as I may want and even need to receive your love


and influence, I don’t feel safe enough to expose my opinions and experiences and my
tender feelings. Who knows what will happen?

But unless I open up with you, unless you understand me and my unique situation and
feelings, you won’t know how to advise or counsel me. What you say is good and fine,
but it doesn’t quite pertain to me.
You may say you care about and appreciate me. I desperately want to believe that. But
how can you appreciate me when you don’t even understand me? All I have are your
words, and I can’t trust words.

I’m too angry and defensive — perhaps too guilty and afraid — to be influenced, even
though inside I know I need what you could tell me.

Unless you’re influenced by my uniqueness, I’m not going to be influenced by your
advice. So if you want to be really effective in the habit of interpersonal communication,
you cannot do it with technique alone. You have to build the skills of empathic listening
on a base of character that inspires openness and trust. And you have to build the
Emotional Bank Accounts that create a commerce between hearts.

Empathic Listening

“Seek first to understand” involves a very deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first
to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen
with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering
everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s

“Oh, I know exactly how you feel!”

“I went through the very same thing. Let me tell you about my experience.”

They’re constantly projecting their own home movies onto other people’s behavior. They
prescribe their own glasses for everyone with whom they interact.

If they have a problem with someone — a son, a daughter, a spouse, an employee — their
attitude is, “That person just doesn’t understand.”

A father once told me, “I can’t understand my kid. He just won’t listen to me at all.”

“Let me restate what you just said,” I replied. “You don’t understand your son because he
won’t listen to you?”

“That’s right,” he replied.

“Let me try again,” I said. “You don’t understand your son because he won’t listen to

“That’s what I said,” he impatiently replied.

“I thought that to understand another person, you needed to listen to him,” I suggested.


“OH!” he said. There was a long pause. “Oh!” he said again, as the light began to dawn.
“Oh, yeah! But I do understand him. I know what he’s going through. I went through the
same thing myself. I guess what I don’t understand is why he won’t listen to me.”

This man didn’t have the vaguest idea of what was really going on inside his boy’s head.
He looked into his own head and thought he saw the world, including his boy.

That’s the case with so many of us. We’re filled with our own rightness, our own
autobiography. We want to be understood. Our conversations become collective
monologues, and we never really understand what’s going on inside another human

When another person speaks, we’re usually “listening” at one of four levels. We may be
ignoring another person, not really listening at all. We may practice pretending. “Yeah.
Uh-huh. Right.”

We may practice selective listening, hearing only certain parts of the constant chatter of a
preschool child. Or we may even practice attentive listening, paying attention and
focusing energy on the words that are being said. But very few of us ever practice the
fifth level, the highest form of listening, empathic listening.

When I say empathic listening, I am not referring to the techniques of “active” listening or
“reflective” listening, which basically involve mimicking what another person says. That
kind of listening is skill-based, truncated from character and relationship, and often
insults those “listened” to in such a way. It is also essentially autobiographical. If you
practice those techniques, you may not project your autobiography in the actual
interaction, but your motive in listening is autobiographical. You listen with reflective
skills, but you listen with intent to reply, to control, to manipulate.

When I say empathic listening, I mean listening with intent to understand. I mean
seeking first to understand, to really understand. It’s an entirely different paradigm.

Empathic (from empathy) listening gets inside another person’s frame of reference. You
look out through it, you see the world the way they see the world, you understand their
paradigm, you understand how they feel.

Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is a form of agreement, a form of judgment. And it
is sometimes the more appropriate emotion and response. But people often feed on
sympathy. It makes them dependent. The essence of empathic listening is not that you
agree with someone; it’s that you fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as
well as intellectually.

Empathic listening involves much more than registering, reflecting, or even
understanding the words that are said. Communications experts estimate, in fact, that
only 10 percent of our communication is represented by the words we say. Another 30
percent is represented by our sounds, and 60 percent by our body language. In empathic
listening, you listen with your ears, but you also, and more importantly, listen with your
eyes and with your heart. You listen for feeling, for meaning. You listen for behavior. You
use your right brain as well as your left. You sense, you intuit, you feel.

Empathic listening is so powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with.
Instead of projecting your own autobiography and assuming thought, feelings, motives,
and interpretation, you’re dealing with the reality inside another person’s head and heart.


You’re listening to understand. You’re focused on receiving the deep communication of
another human soul.

In addition, empathic listening is the key to making deposits in Emotional Bank
Accounts, because nothing you do is a deposit unless the other person perceives it as
such. You can work your fingers to the bone to make a deposit, only to have it turn into a
withdrawal when a person regards your efforts as manipulative, self-serving,
intimidating, or condescending because you don’t understand what really matters to him.

Empathic listening is, in and of itself, a tremendous deposit in the Emotional Bank
Account. It’s deeply therapeutic and healing because it gives a person “psychological air.

If all the air were suddenly sucked out of the room you’re in right now, what would
happen to your interest in this book? You wouldn’t care about the book; you wouldn’t
care about anything except getting air. Survival would be your only motivation.

But now that you have air, it doesn’t motivate you. This is one of the greatest insights in
the field of human motivations: Satisfied needs do not motivate. It’s only the unsatisfied
need that motivates. Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is
psychological survival — to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be

When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air.
And after that vital need is met, you can then focus on influencing or problem solving.

This need for psychological air impacts communication in every area of life.

I taught this concept at a seminar in Chicago one time, and I instructed the participants to
practice empathic listening during the evening. The next morning, a man came up to me
almost bursting with news.

“Let me tell you what happened last night,” he said. “I was trying to close a big
commercial real estate deal while I was here in Chicago. I met with the principals, their
attorneys, and another real estate agent who had just been brought in with an alternative

“It looked as if I were going to lose the deal. I had been working on this deal for over six
months and, in a very real sense, all my eggs were in this one basket. All of them. I
panicked. I did everything I could — I pulled out all the stops — I used every sales
technique I could. The final stop was to say, ‘Could we delay this decision just a little
longer?’ But the momentum was so strong and they were so disgusted by having this
thing go on so long, it was obvious they were going to close.

“So I said to myself, ‘Well, why not try it? Why not practice what I learned today and seek
first to understand, then to be understood? I’ve got nothing to lose.’

“I just said to the man, ‘Let me see if I really understand what your position is and what
your concerns about my recommendations really are. When you feel I understand them,
then we’ll see whether my proposal has any relevance or not.’

“I really tried to put myself in his shoes. I tried to verbalize his needs and concerns, and
he began to open up.


“The more I sensed and expressed the things he was worried about, the results he
anticipated, the more he opened up.

“Finally, in the middle of our conversation, he stood up, walked over to the phone, and
dialed his wife. Putting his hand over the mouthpiece, he said, ‘You’ve got the deal.’

“I was totally dumbfounded,” he told me. “I still am this morning.

He had made a huge deposit in the Emotional Bank Account by giving the man
psychological air. When it comes right down to it, other things being relatively equal, the
human dynamic is more important than the technical dimensions of the deal.

Seeking first to understand, diagnosing before you prescribe, is hard. It’s so much easier
in the short run to hand someone a pair of glasses that have fit you so well these many

But in the long run, it severely depletes both P and PC. You can’t achieve maximum
interdependent production from an inaccurate understanding of where other people are
coming from. And you can’t have interpersonal PC — high Emotional Bank Accounts — if
the people you relate with don’t really feel understood.

Empathic listening is also risky. It takes a great deal of security to go into a deep listening
experience because you open yourself up to be influenced. You become vulnerable. It’s a
paradox, in a sense, because in order to have influence, you have to be influenced. That
means you have to really understand.

That’s why Habits 1, 2, and 3 are so foundational. They give you the changeless inner
core, the principle center, from which you can handle the more outward vulnerability
with peace and strength.

Diagnose Before You Prescribe

Although it’s risky and hard, seek first to understand, or diagnose before you prescribe, is
a correct principle manifesting many areas of life. It’s the mark of all true professionals.
It’s critical for the optometrist, it’s critical for the physician. You wouldn’t have any
confidence in a doctor’s prescription unless you had confidence in the diagnosis

When our daughter Jenny was only two months old, she was sick on Saturday, the day of
a football game in our community that dominated the consciousness of almost everyone.
It was an important game — some 60,000 people were there. Sandra and I would like to
have gone, but we didn’t want to leave little Jenny. Her vomiting and diarrhea had us

The doctor was at that game. He wasn’t our personal physician, but he was the one on
call. When Jenny’s situation got worse, we decided we needed some medical advice

Sandra dialed the stadium and had him paged. It was right at a critical time in the game,
and she could sense on officious tone in his voice. “Yes?” he said briskly. “What is it?”

“This is Mrs. Covey, Doctor, and we’re concerned about our daughter, Jenny.”

“What’s the situation?” he asked.


Sandra described the symptoms and he said, “Okay. I’ll call in a prescription. Which is
your pharmacy?”

When she hung up, Sandra felt that in her rush she hadn’t really given him full data, but
that what she had told him was adequate.

“Do you think he realizes that Jenny is just a newborn?” I asked her

“I’m sure he does,” Sandra replied.

“But he’s not our doctor. He’s never even treated her.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure he knows.”

“Are you willing to give her the medicine unless you’re absolutely sure he knows?”

Sandra was silent. “What are we going to do?” she finally said.

“Call him back,” I said.

“You call him back,” Sandra replied.

So I did. He was paged out of the game once again. “Doctor,” I said, “when you called in
that prescription, did your realize that Jenny is just two months old?”

“No!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t realize that. It’s good you called me back. I’ll change the
prescription immediately.”

If you don’t have confidence in the diagnosis, you won’t have confidence in the

This principle is also true in sales. An effective salesperson first seeks to understand the
needs, the concerns, the situation of the customer. The amateur salesman sells products;
the professional sells solutions to needs and problems. It’s a totally different approach.
The professional learns how to diagnose, how to understand. He also learns how to relate
people’s needs to his products and services. And, he has to have the integrity to say, “My
product or service will not meet that need” if it will not.

Diagnosing before you prescribe is also fundamental to law. The professional lawyer first
gathers the facts to understand the situation, to understand the laws and precedents,
before preparing a case.A good lawyer almost writes the opposing attorney’s case before
he writes his own.
It’s also true in product design. Can you imagine someone in a company saying, “This
consumer research stuff is for the birds. Let’s design products.” In other words, forget
understanding the consumer’s buying habits and motives — just design products. It
would never work.

A good engineer will understand the forces, the stresses at work, before designing the
bridge. A good teacher will assess the class before teaching. A good student will
understand before he applies. A good parent will understand before evaluation or
judging. The key to good judgment is understanding. By judging first, a person will never
fully understand.


Seek first to understand is a correct principle evident in all areas of life. It’s a generic,
common-denominator principle, but it has its greatest power in the area of interpersonal

Four Autobiographical Responses

Because we listen autobiographically, we tend to respond in one of four ways. We
evaluate — we either agree or disagree; we probe — we ask questions from our own frame
of reference; we advise — we give counsel based on our own experience; or we interpret —
we try to figure people out, to explain their motives, their behavior, based on our own
motives and behavior.

These responses come naturally to us. We are deeply scripted in them; we live around
models of them all the time. But how do they affect our ability to really understand?

If I’m trying to communicate with my son, can he feel free to open himself up to me when
I evaluate everything he says before he really explains it? Am I giving him psychological

And how does he feel when I probe? Probing is playing 20 questions. It’s
autobiographical, it controls, and it invades. It’s also logical, and the language of logic is
different from the language of sentiment and emotion. You can play 20 questions all day
and not find out what’s important to someone. Constant probing is one of the main
reasons parents do not get close to their children.

“How’s it going, son?”


“Well, what’s been happening lately?”


“So what’s exciting at school?”

“Not much.”

“And what are your plans for the weekend?”

“I don’t know.”

You can’t get him off the phone talking with his friends, but all he gives you is one- and
two-word answers. Your house is a motel where he eats and sleeps, but he never shares,
never opens up.

And when you think about it, honestly, why should he, if every time he does open up his
soft underbelly, you elephant stomp it with autobiographical advice and “I told you so’s.”

We are so deeply scripted in these responses that we don’t even realize when we use
them. I have taught this concept to thousands of people in seminars across the country,
and it never fails to shock them deeply as we role-play empathic listening situations and
they finally begin to listen to their own typical responses. But as they begin to see how
they normally respond and learn how to listen with empathy, they can see the dramatic


results in communication. To many, seek first to understand becomes the most exciting,
the most immediately applicable, of all the Seven Habits.

Let’s take a look at what well might be a typical communication between a father and his
teenage son. Look at the father’s words in terms of the four different responses we have
just described.

“Boy, Dad, I’ve had it! School is for the birds!”

“What’s the matter, Son?” (probing).

“It’s totally impractical. I don’t get a thing out of it.”

“Well, you just can’t see the benefits yet, Son. I felt the same way when I was your age.” I
remember thinking what a waste some of the classes were. But those classes turned out to
be the most helpful to me later on. Just hang in there. Give it some time” (advising).

“I’ve given it 10 years of my life! Can you tell me what good ‘x plus y’ is going to be to me
as an auto mechanic?”

“An auto mechanic? You’ve got to be kidding” (evaluating).

“No, I’m not. Look at Joe. He’s quit school. He’s working on cars. And he’s making lots of
money. Now that’s practical.”

“It may look that way now. But several years down the road, Joe’s going to wish he’d
stayed in school. You don’t want to be an auto mechanic. You need an education to
prepare you for something better than that” (advising).

“I don’t know. Joe’s got a pretty good set-up.”

“Look, Son, have you really tried?” (probing, evaluating).

“I’ve been in high school two years now. Sure I’ve tried. It’s just a waste.”

“That’s a highly respected school, Son. Give them a little credit” (advising, evaluating).

“Well, the other guys feel the same way I do.”

“Do you realize how many sacrifices your mother and I have made to get you to where
you are?

You can’t quit when you’ve come this far” (evaluating).

“I know you’ve sacrificed, Dad. But it’s just not worth it.” “Look, maybe if you spent more
time doing your homework and less time in front of TV.” (advising, evaluating).

“Look, Dad. It’s just no good. Oh, never mind! I don’t want to talk about this anyway.”

Obviously, his father was well intended. Obviously, he wanted to help. But did he even
begin toreally understand?


Let’s look more carefully at the son — not just his words, but his thoughts and feelings
(expressed parenthetically below) and the possible effect of some of his dad’s
autobiographical responses.

“Boy, Dad, I’ve had it! School is for the birds!” (I want to talk with you, to get your

“What’s the matter, Son?” (You’re interested! Good!)

“It’s totally impractical. I don’t get a thing out of it.” (I’ve got a problem with school, and I
feel just terrible.

“Well, you just can’t see the benefits yet, son. I felt the same way when I was your age.”
(Oh, no! Here comes Chapter three of Dad’s autobiography. This isn’t what I want to talk
about. I don’t really care how many miles he had to trudge through the snow to school
without any boots. I want to get to the problem.) “I remember thinking what a waste
some of the classes were. But those classes turned out to be the most helpful to me later
on. Just hang in there. Give it some time.” (Time won’t solve my problem. I wish I could
tell you. I wish I could just spit it out.)

“I’ve given it 10 years of my life! Can you tell me what good ‘x plus y’ is going to do me as
an auto mechanic?”

“An auto mechanic? You’ve got to be kidding.” ( He wouldn’t like me if I were an auto
mechanic. He wouldn’t like me if I didn’t finish school. I have to justify what I said.)

“No, I’m not. Look at Joe. He’s quit school. He’s working on cars. And he’s making lots of
money. Now that’s practical.”

“It may look that way now. But several years down the road, Joe’s going to wish he’d
stayed in school.” (Oh, Boy! here comes lecture number 16 on the value of an education.)
“You don’t want to be an auto mechanic.” (How do you know that, Dad? Do you really
have any idea what I want?) “You need an education to prepare you for something better
than that.”

“I don’t know. Joe’s got a pretty good set-up.” (He’s not a failure. He didn’t finish school
and he’s not a failure.)

“Look, Son, have you really tried?” (We’re beating around the bush, Dad. If you’d just
listen, I really need to talk to you about something important.)

“I’ve been in high school two years now. Sure I’ve tried. It’s just a waste.”

“That’s a highly respected school, Son. Give them a little credit.” (Oh, great. Now we’re
talking credibility. I wish I could talk about what I want to talk about.)

“Well, the other guys feel the same way I do.” (I have some credibility, too. I’m not a

“Do you realize how many sacrifices your mother and I have made to get you where you
(Uh-oh, here comes the guilt trip. Maybe I am a moron. The school’s great, Mom and Dad
are great, and I’m a moron.) “You can’t quit when you’ve come this far.”


“I know you’ve sacrificed, Dad. But it’s just not worth it.” (You just don’t understand.)

“Look, maybe if you spent more time doing your homework and less time in front of
TV…” (That’s not the problem, Dad! That’s not it at all! I’ll never be able to tell you. I was
dumb to try.)

“Look, Dad. It’s just no good. Oh, never mind! I don’t want to talk about this anyway.”

Can you see how limited we are when we try to understand another person on the basis
of words alone, especially when we’re looking at that person through our own glasses?
Can you see how limiting our autobiographical responses are to a person who is
genuinely trying to get us to understand his autobiography?

You will never be able to truly step inside another person, to see the world as he sees it,
until you develop the pure desire, the strength of personal character, and the positive
Emotional Bank Account, as well as the empathic listening skills to do it.

The skills, the tip of the iceberg of empathic listening, involve four developmental stages
The first and least effective is to mimic content. This is the skill taught in “active” or
“reflective” listening. Without the character and relationship base, it is often insulting to
people and causes them to close up. It is, however, a first-stage skill because it at least
causes you to listen to what’s being said Mimicking content is easy. You just listen to the
words that come out of someone’s mouth and you repeat them. You’re hardly even using
your brain at all

“Boy, Dad, I’ve had it! School is for the birds!”

“You’ve had it. You think school is for the birds.”

You have essentially repeated back the content of what was being said. You haven’t
evaluated or probed or advised or interpreted. You’ve at least showed you’re paying
attention to his words. But to understand, you want to do more.

The second stage of empathic listening is to rephrase the content. It’s a little more
effective, but it’s still limited to the verbal communication

“Boy, Dad, I’ve had it! School is for the birds!”

“You don’t want to go to school anymore.”

This time, you’ve put his meaning into your own words. Now you’re thinking about what
he said, mostly with the left side, the reasoning, logical side of the brain.

The third stage brings your right brain into operation. You reflect feeling.

“Boy, Dad, I’ve had it! School is for the birds!”

“You’re feeling really frustrated.”

Now you’re not paying as much attention to what he’s saying as you are to the way he
feels about what he’s saying. The fourth stage includes both the second and the third. You
rephrase the content and reflect the feeling.


“Boy, Dad, I’ve had it! School is for the birds!”

“You’re really frustrated about school.”

Frustration is the feeling; school is the content. You’re using both sides of your brain to
understand both sides of his communication.

Now, what happens when you use fourth stage empathic listening skills is really
incredible. As you authentically seek to understand, as you rephrase content and reflect
feeling, you give him psychological air. You also help him work through his own
thoughts and feelings. As he grows in his confidence of your sincere desire to really listen
and understand, the barrier between what’s going on inside him and what’s actually
being communicated to you disappears. It opens a soul-to-soul flow. He’s not thinking
and feeling one thing and communicating another. He begins to trust you with his
innermost tender feelings and thoughts.

“Boy, Dad, I’ve had it! School is for the birds!” (I want to talk with you to get your

“You’re really frustrated about school.” (That’s right! That’s how I feel.)

“I sure am. It’s totally impractical. I’m not getting a thing out of it.”

“You feel like school’s not doing you any good.” (Let me think — is that what I mean?)

“Well, yeah. I’m just not learning anything that’s going to help me. I mean, look at Joe.
He’s dropped out of school and he’s working on cars. He’s making money. Now that’s

“You feel that Joe really has the right idea.” (Well…)

“Well, I guess he does in a way. He’s really making money now. But in a few years I bet
he’ll probably be ticked off at himself.”

“You think Joe’s going to feel he made the wrong decision.”

“He’s got to. Just look at what he’s giving up. I mean, if you don’t have an education, you
just can’t make it in this world.”

“Education is really important.”

“Oh, yeah! I mean, if you don’t have a diploma, if you can’t get jobs or go to college, what
are you going to do? You’ve just got to get an education.”

“It’s important to your future.”

“It is. And, you know what? I’m really worried. Listen, you won’t tell Mom, will you?”

“You don’t want your mother to find out.”

“Well, not really. Oh, I guess you can tell her. She’ll probably find out anyway. Look, I
took this test today, this reading test. And, Dad, they said I’m reading on a fourth-grade
level. Fourth grade! And I’m in junior high school!”


What a difference real understanding can make! All the well-meaning advice in the world
won’t amount to a hill of beans if we’re not even addressing the real problem. And we’ll
never get to the problem if we’re so caught up in our own autobiography, our own
paradigms, that we don’t take off our glasses long enough to see the world from another
point of view.

“I’m going to flunk, Dad. I guess I figure if I’m going to flunk, I might as well quit. But I
don’t want to quit.”

“You feel torn. You’re in the middle of a dilemma.”

“What do you think I should do, Dad?”

By seeking first to understand, this father has just turned a transactional opportunity into
a transformational opportunity. Instead of interacting on a surface, get-the-job-done level
of communication, he has created a situation in which he can now have transforming
impact, not only on his son but also on the relationship. By setting aside his own
autobiography and really seeking to understand, he has made a tremendous deposit in
the Emotional Bank Account and has empowered his son to open, layer upon layer, and
to get to the real issue.

Now father and son are on the same side of the table looking at the problem, instead of
on opposite sides looking across at each other. The son is opening his father’s
autobiography and asking for advice.

Even as the father begins to counsel, however, he needs to be sensitive to his son’s
communication. As long as the response is logical, the father can effectively ask questions
and give counsel. But the moment the response becomes emotional, he needs to go back
to empathic listening.

“Well, I can see some things you might want to consider.”

“Like what, Dad?”

“Like getting some special help with your reading. Maybe they have some kind of
tutoring program over at the tech school.”

“I’ve already checked into that. It takes two nights and all day Saturday. That would take
so much time!”

Sensing emotion in that reply, the father moves back to empathy.

“That’s too much of a price to pay.”

“Besides, Dad, I told the sixth graders I’d be their coach.”

“You don’t want to let them down.”

“But I’ll tell you this, Dad. If I really thought that tutoring course would help, I’d be down
there every night. I’d get someone else to coach those kids.”

“You really want the help, but you doubt if the course will make a difference.”


“Do you think it would, Dad?”

The son is once more open and logical. He’s opening his father’s autobiography again.
Now the father has another opportunity to influence and transform.

There are times when transformation requires no outside counsel. Often when people are
really given the chance to open up, they unravel their own problems and the solutions
become clear to them in the process.

At other times, they really need additional perspective and help. The key is to genuinely
seek the welfare of the individual, to listen with empathy, to let the person get to the
problem and the solution at his own pace and time. Layer upon layer — it’s like peeling an
onion until you get to the soft inner core.

When people are really hurting and you really listen with a pure desire to understand,
you’ll be amazed how fast they will open up. They want to open up. Children desperately
want to open up, even more to their parents than to their peers. And they will, if they feel
their parents will love them unconditionally and will be faithful to them afterwards and
not judge or ridicule them.

If you really seek to understand, without hypocrisy and without guile, there will be times
when you will be literally stunned with the pure knowledge and understanding that will
flow to you from another human being. It isn’t even always necessary to talk in order to
empathize. In fact, sometimes words may just get in your way. That’s one very important
reason why technique alone will not work. That kind of understanding transcends
technique. Isolated technique only gets in the way.

I have gone through the skills of empathic listening because skill is an important part of
any habit. We need to have the skills. But let me reiterate that the skills will not be
effective unless they come from a sincere desire to understand. People resent any attempt
to manipulate them. In fact, if you’re dealing with people you’re close to, it’s helpful to
tell them what you’re doing.

“I read this book about listening and empathy and I thought about my relationship with
you. I realized I haven’t listened to you like I should. But I want to. It’s hard for me. I may
blow it at times, but I’m going to work at it. I really care about you and I want to
understand. I hope you’ll help me.”

Affirming your motive is a huge deposit.

But if you’re not sincere, I wouldn’t even try it. It may create an openness and a
vulnerability that will later turn to your harm when a person discovers that you really
didn’t care, you really didn’t want to listen, and he’s left open, exposed, and hurt. The
technique, the tip of the iceberg, has to come out of the massive base of character

Now there are people who protest that empathic listening takes too much time. It may
take a little more time initially but it saves so much time downstream. The most efficient
thing you can do if you’re a doctor and want to prescribe a wise treatment is to make an
accurate diagnosis. You can’t say, “I’m in too much of a hurry. I don’t have time to make a
diagnosis. Just take this treatment.”


I remember writing one time in a room on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. There was a
soft breeze blowing, and so I had opened two windows — one at the front and one at the
side — to keep the room cool. I had a number of papers laid out, chapter by chapter, on a
large table.

Suddenly, the breeze started picking up and blowing my papers about. I remember the
frantic sense of loss I felt because things were no longer in order, including unnumbered
pages, and I began rushing around the room trying desperately to put them back. Finally,
I realized it would be better to take 10 seconds and close one of the windows.

Empathic listening takes time, but it doesn’t take anywhere near as much time as it takes
to back up and correct misunderstandings when you’re already miles down the road, to
redo, to live with unexpressed and unsolved problems, to deal with the results of not
giving people psychological air.

A discerning empathic listener can read what’s happening down deep fast, and can show
such acceptance, such understanding, that other people feel safe to open up layer after
layer until they get to that soft inner core where the problem really lies.

People want to be understood. And whatever investment of time it takes to do that will
bring much greater returns of time as you work from an accurate understanding of the
problems and issues and from the high Emotional Bank Account that results when a
person feels deeply understood.

Understanding and Perception

As you learn to listen deeply to other people, you will discover tremendous differences in
perception. You will also begin to appreciate the impact that these differences can have as
people try to work together in interdependent situations.

You see the young woman; I see the old lady. And both of us can be right.

You may look at the world through spouse-centered glasses; I may see it through the
money-centered lens of economic concern.

You may be scripted in the Abundance Mentality; I may be scripted in the Scarcity

You may approach problems from a highly visual, intuitive, holistic right-brain
paradigm; I may be very left brain, very sequential, analytical, and verbal in my

Our perceptions can be vastly different. And yet we both have lived with our paradigms
for years, thinking they are “facts,” and questioning the character or the mental
competence of anyone who can’t “see the facts.”

Now, with all our differences, we’re trying to work together — in a marriage, in a job, in a
community service project — to manage resources and accomplish results. So how do we
do it? How do we transcend the limits of our individual perceptions so that we can
deeply communicate, so that we can cooperatively deal with the issues and come up with
win-win solutions?


The answer is Habit 5. It’s the first step in the process of win-win. Even if (and especially
when) the other person is not coming from that paradigm, seek first to understand.

This principle worked powerfully for one executive who shared with me the following

“I was working with a small company that was in the process of negotiating a contract
with a large national banking institution. This institution flew in their lawyers from San
Francisco, their negotiator from Ohio, and presidents of two of their large banks to create
an eight-person negotiating team. The company I worked with had decided to go for
Win-Win or No Deal. They wanted to significantly increase the level of service and the
cost, but they had been almost overwhelmed with the demands of this large financial

“The president of our company sat across the negotiating table and told them, ‘We would
like for you to write the contract the way you want it so that we can make sure we
understand your needs and your concerns. We will respond to those needs and concerns.
Then we can talk about pricing.’

“The members of the negotiating team were overwhelmed. They were astounded that
they were going to have the opportunity to write the contract. They took three days to
come up with the idea.

“When they presented it, the president said, ‘Now let’s make sure we understand what
you want.’
And he went down the contract, rephrasing the content, reflecting the feeling, until he
was sure and they were sure he understood what was important to them. ‘Yes. That’s
right. No, that’s not exactly what we meant here…yes, you’ve got it now.’

“When he thoroughly understood their perspective, he proceeded to explain some
concerns from his perspective. . .and they listened. They were ready to listen. They
weren’t fighting for air. What had started out as a very formal, low-trust, almost hostile
atmosphere had turned into a fertile environment for synergy.

“At the conclusion of the discussions, the members of the negotiating team basically said,
‘We want to work with you. We want to do this deal. Just let us know what the price is
and we’ll sign.'” Then Seek to Be Understood

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Knowing how to be understood is the
other half of Habit 5, and is equally critical in reaching win-win solutions.

Earlier we defined maturity as the balance between courage and consideration. Seeking
to understand requires consideration; seeking to be understood takes courage. Win-win
requires a high degree of both. So it becomes important in interdependent situations for
us to be understood.

The early Greeks had a magnificent philosophy which is embodied in three sequentially
arranged words: ethos, pathos, and logos. I suggest these three words contain the essence
of seeking first to understand and making effective presentations.

Ethos is your personal credibility, the faith people have in your integrity and
competency. It’s the trust that you inspire, your Emotional Bank Account. Pathos is the
empathic side — it’s the feeling. It means that you are in alignment with the emotional


trust of another person’s communication. Logos is the logic, the reasoning part of the

Notice the sequence: ethos, pathos, logos — your character, and your relationships, and
then the logic of your presentation. This represents another major Paradigm Shift. Most
people, in making presentations, go straight to the logos, the left-brain logic, of their
ideas. They try to convince other people of the validity of that logic without first taking
ethos and pathos into consideration.

I had an acquaintance who was very frustrated because his boss was locked into what he
felt was an unproductive leadership style.

“Why doesn’t he do anything?” he asked me. “I’ve talked to him about it, he’s aware of it,
but he does nothing.”

“Well, why don’t you make an effective presentation?” I asked.

“I did,” was the reply.

“How do you define ‘effective’? Who do they send back to school when the salesman
doesn’t sell — the buyer? Effective means it works; it means P/PC. Did you create the
change you wanted? Did you build the relationship in the process? What were the results
of your presentation?”

“I told you, he didn’t do anything. He wouldn’t listen.”

“Then make an effective presentation. You’ve got to empathize with his head. You’ve got
to get into his frame of mind. You’re got to make your point simply and visually and
describe the alternative he is in favor of better than he can himself. That will take some
homework. Are you willing to do that?”

“Why do I have to go through all that?” he asked

“In other words, you want him to change his whole leadership style and you’re not
willing to change your method of presentation?”

“I guess so,” he replied.

“Well, then,” I said, “just smile about it and learn to live with it.”

“I can’t live with it,” he said. “It compromises my integrity.”

“Okay, then get to work on an effective presentation. That’s in your Circle of Influence.”

In the end, he wouldn’t do it. The investment seemed too great.

Another acquaintance, a university professor, was willing to pay the price. He
approached me one day and said, “Stephen, I can’t get to first base in getting the funding
I need for my research because my research is really not in the mainstream of this
department’s interests.”

After discussing his situation at some length, I suggested that he develop an effective
presentation using ethos, pathos, and logos. “I know you’re sincere and the research you


want to do would bring great benefits. Describe the alternative they are in favor of better
than they can themselves. Show that you understand them in depth. Then carefully
explain the logic behind your request.”

“Well, I’ll try,” he said.

“Do you want to practice with me?” I asked. He was willing, and so we dress rehearsed
his approach. When he went in to make his presentation, he started by saying, “Now let
me see if I first understand what your objectives are, and what your concerns are about
this presentation and my recommendation.”

He took the time to do it slowly, gradually. In the middle of his presentation,
demonstrating his depth of understanding and respect for their point of view, a senior
professor turned to another professor, nodded, turned back to him and said, “You’ve got
your money.”

When you can present your own ideas clearly, specifically, visually, and most important,
contextually — in the context of a deep understanding of their paradigms and concerns —
you significantly increase the credibility of your ideas.

You’re not wrapped up in your “own thing,” delivering grandiose rhetoric from a
soapbox. You really understand. What you’re presenting may even be different from
what you had originally thought because in your effort to understand, you learned.

Habit 5 lifts you to greater accuracy, greater integrity, in your presentations. And people
know that. They know you’re presenting the ideas which you genuinely believe, taking
all known facts and perceptions into consideration, that will benefit everyone.


Habit 5 is powerful because it is right in the middle of your Circle of Influence. Many
factors in interdependent situations are in your Circle of Concern — problems,
disagreements, circumstances, other people’s behavior. And if you focus your energies
out there, you deplete them with little positive results.

But you can always seek first to understand. That’s something that’s within your control.
And as you do that, as you focus on your Circle of Influence, you really, deeply
understand other people. You have accurate information to work with, you get to the
heart of matters quickly, you build Emotional Bank Accounts, and you give people the
psychological air they need so you can work together effectively.

It’s the Inside-Out approach. And as you do it, watch what happens to your Circle of
Influence. Because you really listen, you become influenceable. And being influenceable
is the key to influencing others. Your circle begins to expand. You increase your ability to
influence many of the things in your Circle of Concern.

And watch what happens to you. The more deeply you understand other people, the
more you will appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them. To touch the
soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.


Habit 5 is something you can practice right now. The next time you communicate with
anyone, you can put aside your own autobiography and genuinely seek to understand.
Even when people don’t want to open up about their problems, you can be empathic. You
can sense their hearts, you can sense the hurt, and you can respond, “You seem down
today.” They may say nothing. That’s all right. You’ve shown understanding and respect.

Don’t push; be patient; be respectful. People don’t have to open up verbally before you
can empathize. You can empathize all the time with their behavior. You can be
discerning, sensitive, and aware and you can live outside your autobiography when that
is needed.

And if you’re highly proactive, you can create opportunities to do preventive work. You
don’t have to wait until your son or daughter has a problem with school or you have your
next business negotiation to seek first to understand.

Spend time with your children now, one-on-one. Listen to them; understand them. Look
at your home, at school life, at the challenges and the problems they’re facing, through
their eyes. Build the Emotional Bank Account. Give them air.

Go out with your spouse on a regular basis. Have dinner or do something together you
both enjoy. Listen to each other; seek to understand. See life through each other’s eyes.

My daily time with Sandra is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. As well as seeking
to understand each other, we often take time to actually practice empathic listening skills
to help us in communicating with our children.

We often share our different perceptions of the situation, and we role-play more effective
approaches to difficult interpersonal family problems.

I may act as if I am a son or daughter requesting a special privilege even though I haven’t
fulfilled a basic family responsibility, and Sandra plays herself
We interact back and forth and try to visualize the situation in a very real way so that we
can train ourselves to be consistent in modeling and teaching correct principles to our
children. Some of our most helpful role-plays come from redoing a past difficult or
stressful scene in which one of us “blew it.”

The time you invest to deeply understand the people you love brings tremendous
dividends in open communication. Many of the problems that plague families and
marriages simply don’t have time to fester and develop. The communication becomes so
open that potential problems can be nipped in the bud. And there are great reserves of
trust in the Emotional Bank Account to handle the problems that do arise.

In business, you can set up one-on-one time with your employees. Listen to them,
understand them. Set up human resource accounting or Stakeholder Information Systems
in your business to get honest, accurate feedback at every level: from customers,
suppliers, and employees. Make the human element as important as the financial or the
technical element. You save tremendous amounts of time, energy, and money when you
tap into the human resources of a business at every level. When you listen, you learn.
And you also give the people who work for you and with you psychological air. You
inspire loyalty that goes well beyond the eight-to-five physical demands of the job.


Seek first to understand. Before the problems come up, before you try to evaluate and
prescribe, before you try to present your own ideas — seek to understand. It’s a powerful
habit of effective interdependence.

When we really, deeply understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions
and Third Alternatives. Our differences are no longer stumbling blocks to communication
and progress. Instead, they become the stepping stones to synergy.

Application Suggestions

1. Select a relationship in which you sense the Emotional Bank Account is in the red. Try
to understand and write down the situation from the other person’s point of view. In
your next interaction, listen for understanding, comparing what you are hearing with
what you wrote down. How valid were your assumptions? Did you really understand
that individual’s perspective.

2. Share the concept of empathy with someone close to you. Tell him or her you want to
work on really listening to others and ask for feedback in a week. How did you do? How
did it make that person feel.

3. The next time you have an opportunity to watch people communicate, cover your ears
for a few minutes and just watch. What emotions are being communicated that may not
come across in words alone.

4. Next time you catch yourself inappropriately using one of the autobiographical
responses -probing, evaluating, advising, or interpreting — try to turn the situation into a
deposit by acknowledgment and apology. (“I’m sorry, I just realized I’m not really trying
to understand. Could we start again?”)

5. Base your next presentation on empathy. Describe the other point of view as well as or
better than its proponents; then seek to have your point understood from their frame of


Habit 6:

Synergize TM

Principles of Creative Cooperation

I take as my guide the hope of a saint in crucial things, unity –in important things,
diversity — in all things, generosity
— Inaugural Address of President George Bus

* *

When Sir Winston Churchill was called to head up the war effort for Great Britain, he
remarked that all his life had prepared him for this hour. In a similar sense, the exercise
of all of the other habits prepares us for the habit of synergy.

When properly understood, synergy is the highest activity in all life — the true test and
manifestation of all the other habits put together.

The highest forms of synergy focus the four unique human endowments, the motive of
win-win, and the skills of empathic communication on the toughest challenges we face in
life. What results is almost miraculous. We create new alternatives — something that
wasn’t there before.

Synergy is the essence of Principle-Centered Leadership. It is the essence of principle-
centered parenting. It catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest powers within people.
All the habits we have covered prepare us to create the miracle of synergy.

What is synergy? Simply defined, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its
parts. It means that the relationship which the parts have to each other is a part in and of
itself. It is not only a part, but the most catalytic, the most empowering, the most
unifying, and the most exciting part.

The creative process is also the most terrifying part because you don’t know exactly
what’s going to happen or where it is going to lead. You don’t know what new dangers
and challenges you’ll find. It takes an enormous amount of internal security to begin with
the spirit of adventure, the spirit of discovery, the spirit of creativity. Without doubt, you
have to leave the comfort zone of base camp and confront an entirely new and unknown
wilderness. You become a trailblazer, a pathfinder. You open new possibilities, new
territories, new continents, so that others can follow.

Synergy is everywhere in nature. If you plant two plants close together, the roots
commingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if
they were separated. If you put two pieces of wood together, they will hold much more
than the total of the weight held by each separately. The whole is greater than the sum of
its parts. One plus one equals three or more.

The challenge is to apply the principles of creative cooperation, which we learn from
nature, in our social interactions. Family life provides many opportunities to observe
synergy and to practice it.


The very way that man and a woman bring a child into the world is synergistic. The
essence of synergy is to value differences — to respect them, to build on strengths, to
compensate for weaknesses.

We obviously value the physical differences between men and women, husbands and
wives. But what about the social, mental, and emotional differences? Could these
differences not also be sources of creating new exciting forms of life — creating an
environment that is truly fulfilling for each person, that nurtures the self-esteem and self-
worth to each, that creates opportunities for each to mature into independence and then
gradually into interdependence? Could synergy not create a new script for the next
generation — one that is more geared to service and contribution, and is less protective,
less adversarial, less selfish; one that is more open, more giving, and is less defensive,
protective, and political; one that is more loving, more caring, and is less possessive and

Synergistic Communication

When you communicate synergistically, you are simply opening your mind and heart
and expressions to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options. It may seem as if you
are casting aside Habit 2 (to Begin with the End in Mind); but, in fact, you’re doing the
opposite — you’re fulfilling it.

You’re not sure when you engage in synergistic communication how things will work out
or what the end will look like, but you do have an inward sense of excitement and
security and adventure, believing that it will be significantly better than it was before.
And that is the end that you have in mind.

You begin with the belief that parties involved will gain more insight, and that the
excitement of that mutual learning and insight will create a momentum toward more and
more insights, learning, and growth.

Many people have not really experienced even a moderate degree of synergy in their
family life or in other interactions. They’ve been trained and scripted into defensive and
protective communications or into believing that life or other people can’t be trusted. As a
result, they are never really open to Habit 6 and to these principles.

This represents one of the great tragedies and wastes in life, because so much potential
remains untapped — completely undeveloped and unused. Ineffective people live day
after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways
in their lives.

They may have memories of some unusual creative experiences, perhaps in athletics,
where they were involved in a real team spirit for a period of time. Or perhaps they were
in an emergency situation where people cooperated to an unusually high degree and
submerged ego and pride in an effort to save someone’s life or to produce a solution to a

To many, such events may seem unusual, almost out of character with life, even
miraculous. But this is not so. These things can be produced regularly, consistently,
almost daily in people’s lives. But it requires enormous personal security and openness
and a spirit of adventure.

Almost all creative endeavors are somewhat unpredictable. They often seem ambiguous,


hit-or-miss, trial and error. And unless people have a high tolerance for ambiguity and
get their security from integrity to principles and inner values they find it unnerving and
unpleasant to be involved in highly creative enterprises. Their need for structure,
certainty, and predictability is too high.

Synergy in the Classroom

As a teacher, I have come to believe that many truly great classes teeter on the very edge
of chaos. Synergy tests whether teachers and students are really open to the principle of
the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

There are times when neither the teacher nor the student know for sure what’s going to
happen. In the beginning, there’s a safe environment that enables people to be really open
and to learn and to listen to each other’s ideas. Then comes brainstorming where the
spirit of evaluation is subordinated to the spirit of creativity, imagining, and intellectual
networking. Then an absolutely unusual phenomenon begins to take place. The entire
class is transformed with the excitement of a new thrust, a new idea, a new direction
that’s hard to define, yet it’s almost palpable to the people involved.

Synergy is almost as if a group collectively agrees to subordinate old scripts and to write
a new one. I’ll never forget a university class I taught in leadership philosophy and style.
We were about three weeks into a semester when, in the middle of a presentation, one
person started to relate some very powerful personal experiences which were both
emotional and insightful. A spirit of humility and reverence fell upon the class —
reverence toward this individual and appreciation for his courage.

This spirit became fertile soil for a synergistic and creative endeavor. Others began to
pick up on it, sharing some of their experiences and insights and even some of their self-
doubts. The spirit of trust and safety prompted many to become extremely open. Rather
than present what they prepared, they fed on each other’s insights and ideas and started
to create a whole new scenario as to what that class could mean.

I was deeply involved in the process. In fact, I was almost mesmerized by it because it
seemed so magical and creative. And I found myself gradually loosening up my
commitment to the structure of the class and sensing entirely new possibilities. It wasn’t
just a flight of fancy; there was a sense of maturity and stability and substance which
transcended by far the old structure and plan.

We abandoned the old syllabus, the purchased textbooks, and all the presentation plans,
and we set up new purposes and projects and assignments. We became so excited about
what was happening that in about three more weeks, we all sensed an overwhelming
desire to share what was happening with others

We decided to write a book containing our learnings and insights on the subject of our
study — principles of leadership. Assignments were changed, new projects undertaken,
new teams formed. People worked much harder than they ever would have in the
original class structure, and for an entirely different set of reasons

Out of this experience emerged an extremely unique, cohesive, and synergistic culture
that did not end with the semester. For years, alumni meetings were held among
members of that class. Even today, many years later, when we see each other, we talk
about it and often attempt to describe what happened and why.


One of the interesting things to me was how little time had transpired before there was
sufficient trust to create such synergy. I think it was largely because the people were
relatively mature. They were in the final semester of their senior year, and I think they
wanted more than just another good classroom experience. They were hungry for
something new and exciting, something that they could create that was truly meaningful.
It was “an idea whose time had come” for them. In addition, the chemistry was right. I felt
that experiencing synergy was more powerful than talking about it, that producing
something new was more meaningful than simply reading something old.

I’ve also experienced, as I believe most people have, times that were almost synergistic,
times that hung on the edge of chaos and for some reason descended into it. Sadly,
people who are burned by such experiences often begin their next new experience with
that failure in mind. They defend themselves against it and cut themselves off from

It’s like administrators who set up new rules and regulations based on the abuses of a few
people inside an organization, thus limiting the freedom and creative possibilities for
many — or business partners who imagine the worst scenarios possible and write them
up in legal language, killing the whole spirit of creativity, enterprise, and synergistic

As I think back on many consulting and executive education experiences, I can say that
the highlights were almost always synergistic. There was usually an early moment that
required considerable courage, perhaps in becoming extremely authentic, in confronting
some inside truth about the individual or the organization or the family which really
needed to be said, but took a combination of considerable courage and genuine love to
say it. Then others became more authentic, open, and honest, and the synergistic
communication process began. It usually became more and more creative, and ended up
in insights and plans that no one had anticipated initially.

As Carl Rogers taught, “That which is most personal is most general.” The more authentic
you become, the more genuine in your expression, particularly regarding personal
experiences and even self-doubts, the more people can relate to your expression and the
safer it makes them feel to express themselves. That expression in turn feeds back on the
other person’s spirit, and genuine creative empathy takes place, producing new insights
and learnings and a sense of excitement and adventure that keeps the process going.

People then begin to interact with each other almost in half sentences, sometimes
incoherently, but they get each other’s meanings very rapidly. Then whole new worlds of
insights, new perspectives, new paradigms that insure options, new alternatives are
opened up and thought about. Though occasionally these new ideas are left up in the air,
they usually come to some kind of closure that is practical and useful.

Synergy in Business

I enjoyed one particularly meaningful synergistic experience as I worked with my
associates to create the corporate mission statement for our business. Almost all members
of the company went high up into the mountains where, surrounded by the magnificence
of nature, we began with a first draft of what some of us considered to be an excellent
mission statement.

At first the communication was respectful, careful and predictable. But as we began to
talk about the various alternatives, possibilities, and opportunities ahead, people became


very open and authentic and simply started to think out loud. The mission statement
agenda gave way to a collective free association, a spontaneous piggybacking of ideas.
People were genuinely empathic as well as courageous, and we moved from mutual
respect and understanding to creative synergistic communication.

Everyone could sense it. It was exciting. As it matured, we returned to the task of putting
the evolved collective vision into words, each of which contains specific and committed-
to meaning for each participant.

The resulting corporate mission statement reads:

Our Mission is to empower people and organizations to significantly increase their
performance capability in order to achieve worthwhile purposes through understanding
and living Principle-Centered Leadership.

The synergistic process that led to the creation of our mission statement engraved it in all
the hearts and minds of everyone there, and it has served us well as a frame of reference
of what we are about, as well as what we are not about.

Another high-level synergy experience took place when I accepted an invitation to serve
as the resource and discussion catalyst at the annual planning meeting of a large
insurance company. Several months ahead, I met with the committee responsible to
prepare for and stage the two-day meeting which was to involve all the top executives.
They informed me that the traditional pattern was to identify four or five major issues
through questionnaires and interviews, and to have alternative proposals presented by
the executives. Past meetings had been generally respectful exchanges, occasionally
deteriorating into defensive win-lose ego battles. They were usually predictable,
uncreative, and boring.

As I talked with the committee members about the power of synergy, they could sense its
potential. With considerable trepidation, they agreed to change the pattern. They
requested various executives to prepare anonymous “white papers” on each of the high
priority issues, and then asked all the executives to immerse themselves in these papers
ahead of time in order to understand the issues and the differing points of view. They
were to come to the meeting prepared to listen rather than to present, prepared to create
and synergize rather than to defend and protect.

We spent the first half-day in the meeting teaching the principles and practicing the skills
of Habits 4, 5, and 6. The rest of the time was spent in creative synergy.

The release of creative energy was incredible. Excitement replaced boredom. People
became very open to each other’s influence and generated new insights and options. By
the end of the meeting an entirely new understanding of the nature of the central
company challenge evolved. The white paper proposals became obsolete. Differences
were valued and transcended. A new common vision began to form.

Once people have experienced real synergy, they are never quite the same again. They
know the possibility of having other such mind-expanding adventures in the future.

Often attempts are made to recreate a particular synergistic experience, but this seldom
can be done. However, the essential purpose behind creative work can be recaptured.
Like the Far Eastern philosophy, “We seek not to imitate the masters, rather we seek what


they sought,” we seek not to imitate past creative synergistic experiences, rather we seek
new ones around new and different and sometimes higher purposes.

Snergy and Communication

Synergy is exciting. Creativity is exciting. It’s phenomenal what openness and
communication can produce. The possibilities of truly significant gain, of significant
improvement are so real that it’s worth the risk such openness entails.

After World War II, the United States commissioned David Lilienthal to head the new
Atomic Energy Commission. Lilienthal brought together a group of people who were
highly influential -celebrities in their own right — disciples, as it were, of their own frames
of reference.

This very diverse group of individuals had an extremely heavy agenda, and they were
impatient to get at it. In addition, the press was pushing them.

But Lilienthal took several weeks to create a high Emotional Bank Account. He had these
people get to know each other — their interests, their hopes, their goals, their concerns,
their backgrounds, their frames of reference, their paradigms. He facilitated the kind of
human interaction that creates a great bonding between people, and he was heavily
criticized for taking the time to do it because it wasn’t “efficient.”

But the net result was that this group became closely knit together, very open with each
other, very creative, and synergistic. The respect among the members of the commission
was so high that if there was disagreement, instead of opposition and defense, there was
a genuine effort to understand. The attitude was “If a person of your intelligence and
competence and commitment disagrees with me, then there must be something to your
disagreement that I don’t understand, and I need to understand it. You have a
perspective, a frame of reference I need to look at.” Nonprotective interaction developed,
and an unusual culture was born.

The following diagram illustrates how closely trust is related to different levels of
communication. The lowest level of communication coming out of low-trust situations
would be characterized by defensiveness, protectiveness, and often legalistic language,
which covers all the bases and spells out qualifiers and the escape clauses in the event
things go sour. Such communication produces only win-lose or lose-lose. It isn’t effective
— there’s no P/PC Balance — and it creates further reasons to defend and protect.

The middle position is respectful communication. This is the level where fairly mature
people interact. They have respect for each other, but they want to avoid the possibility of
ugly confrontations, so they communicate politely but not empathically. They might
understand each other intellectually, but they really don’t deeply look at the paradigms
and assumptions underlying their own opinions and become open to new possibilities.

Respectful communication works in independent situations and even in interdependent
situations, but the creative possibilities are not opened up. In interdependent situations
compromise is the position usually taken. Compromise means that 1 + 1 + 1 = 1/2. Both
give and take. The communication isn’t defensive or protective or angry or manipulative;
it is honest and genuine and respectful. But it isn’t creative or synergistic. It produces a
low form of win-win.


Synergy means that 1 + 1 may equal 8, 16, or even 1,600. The synergistic position of high
trust produces solutions better than any originally proposed, and all parties know it.
Furthermore, they genuinely enjoy the creative enterprise. A miniculture is formed to
satisfy in and of itself. Even if it is short-lived, the P/PC Balance is there.

There are some circumstances in which synergy may not be achievable and no deal isn’t
viable. But even in these circumstances, the spirit of sincere trying will usually result in a
more effective compromise.

Fishing for the A Third Alternative

To get a better idea of how our level of communication affects our interdependent
effectiveness, envision the following scenario.

It’s vacation time, and a husband wants to take his family out to the lake country to enjoy
camping and fishing. This is important to him; he’s been planning it all year. He’s made
reservations at a cottage on the lake and arranged to rent a boat, and his sons are really
excited about going.

His wife, however, wants to use the vacation time to visit her ailing mother some 250
miles away. She doesn’t have the opportunity to see her very often, and this is important
to her Their differences could be the cause of a major negative experience.

“The plans are set. The boys are excited. We should go on the fishing trip,” he says.

“But we don’t know how much longer my mother will be around, and I want to be by
her,” she replies. “This is our only opportunity to have enough time to do that.”

“All year long we’ve looked forward to this one-week vacation. The boys would be
miserable sitting around grandmother’s house for a week. They’d drive everybody crazy.
Besides, your mother’s not that sick. And she has your sister less than a mile away to take
care of her.”

“She’s my mother, too. I want to be with her.”

“You could phone her every night. And we’re planning to spend time with her at the
Christmas family reunion. Remember?”

“That’s not for five more months. We don’t even know if she’ll still be here by then.
Besides, she needs me, and she wants me.”

“She’s being well taken care of. Besides, the boys and I need you, too.”

“My mother is more important than fishing.”

“Your husband and sons are more important than your mother.”

As they disagree, back and forth, they finally may come up with some kind of
compromise. They may decide to split up — he takes the boys fishing at the lake while she
visits her mother. And they both feel guilty and unhappy. The boys sense it, and it affects
their enjoyment of the vacation.


The husband may give in to his wife, but he does it grudgingly. And consciously or
unconsciously, he produces evidence to fulfill his prophecy of how miserable the week
will be for everyone.

The wife may give in to her husband, but she’s withdrawn and over reactive to any new
developments in her mother’s health situation. If her mother were to become seriously ill
and die, the husband could never forgive himself, and she couldn’t forgive him either.

Whatever compromise they finally agree on, it could be rehearsed over the years as
evidence of insensitivity, neglect, or a bad priority decision on either part. It could be a
source of contention for years and could even polarize the family. Many marriages that
once were beautiful and soft and spontaneous and loving have deteriorated to the level of
a hostility through a series of incidents just like this.

The husband and wife see the situation differently. And that difference can polarize
them, separate them, create wedges in the relationship. Or it can bring them closer
together on a higher level. If they have cultivated the habits of effective interdependence,
they approach their differences from an entirely different paradigm. Their
communication is on a higher level.

Because they have a high Emotional Bank Account, they have trust and open
communication in their marriage. Because they Think Win-Win, they believe in a Third
Alternative, a solution that is mutually beneficial and is better than what either of them
originally proposed. Because they listen empathically and seek first to understand, they
create within themselves and between them a comprehensive picture of the values and
the concerns that need to be taken into account in making a decision.

And the combination of those ingredients — the high Emotional Bank Account, thinking
win-win, and seeking first to understand — creates the ideal environment for synergy.

Buddhism calls this “the middle way.” Middle in this sense does not mean compromise; it
means higher, like the apex of the triangle.

In searching for the “middle” or higher way, this husband and wife realize that their love,
their relationship, is part of their synergy

As they communicate, the husband really, deeply feels his wife’s desire, her need to be
with her mother. He understands how she wants to relieve her sister, who has had the
primary responsibility for their mother’s care. He understands that they really don’t
know how long she will be with them, and that she certainly is more important than

And the wife deeply understands her husband’s desire to have the family together and to
provide a great experience for the boys. She realizes the investment that has been made in
lessons and equipment to prepare for this fishing vacation, and she feels the importance
of creating good memories with them.

So they pool those desires. And they’re not on opposite sides of the problem. They’re
together on one side, looking at the problem, understanding the needs, and working to
create a Third Alternative that will meet them.

“Maybe we could arrange another time within the month for you to visit with your
mother,” he suggests. “I could take over the home responsibilities for the weekend and


arrange for some help at the first of the week so that you could go. I know it’s important
to you to have that time.

“Or maybe we could locate a place to camp and fish that would be close to your mother.
The area wouldn’t be as nice, but we could still be outdoors and meet other needs as well.
And the boys wouldn’t be climbing the walls. We could even plan some recreational
activities with the cousins, aunts, and uncles, which would be an added benefit.”

They synergize. They communicate back and forth until they come up with a solution
they both feel good about. It’s better than the solutions either of them originally
proposed. It’s better than compromise. It’s a synergistic solution that builds P and PC.

Instead of a transaction, it’s a transformation. They get what they both really want and
build their relationship in the process.

Negative Synergy

Seeking the Third Alternative is a major Paradigm Shift from the dichotomous, either/or
mentality. But look at the difference in results.

How much negative energy is typically expended when people try to solve problems or
make decisions in an interdependent reality? How much time is spent in confessing other
people’s sins, politicking, rivalry, interpersonal conflict, protecting one’s backside,
masterminding, and second guessing? It’s like trying to drive down the road with one
foot on the gas and the other foot on the brake.

And instead of getting a foot off the brake, most people give it more gas. They try to
apply more pressure, more eloquence, more logical information to strengthen their

The problem is that highly dependent people are trying to succeed in an interdependent
reality. They’re either dependent on borrowing strength from position power and they go
for win-lose or they’re dependent on being popular with others and they go for lose-win.
They may talk win-win technique, but they don’t really want to listen; they want to
manipulate. And synergy can’t thrive in that environment.

Insecure people think that all reality should be amenable to their paradigms. They have a
high need to clone others, to mold them over into their own thinking. They don’t realize
that the very strength of the relationship is in having another point of view. Sameness is
not oneness; uniformity is not unity. Unity, or oneness, is complementariness, not
sameness. Sameness is uncreative…and boring. The essence of synergy is to value the

I’ve come to believe that the key to interpersonal synergy is intrapersonal synergy, that is
synergy within ourselves. The heart of interpersonal synergy is embodied in the
principles in the first three habits, which give the internal security sufficient to handle the
risks of being open and vulnerable. By internalizing those principles, we develop the
Abundance Mentality of win-win and the authenticity of Habit 5.

One of the very practical results of being principle-centered is that it makes us whole —
truly integrated. People who are scripted deeply in logical, verbal, left-brain thinking will
discover how totally inadequate that thinking is in solving problems which require a
great deal of creativity. They become aware and begin to open up a new script inside


their right brain. It’s not that the right brain wasn’t there; it just lay dormant. The muscles
had not been developed, or perhaps they had atrophied after early childhood because of
the heavy left-brain emphasis of formal education or social scripting.

When a person has access to both the intuitive, creative, and visual right brain, and the
analytical, logical, verbal left brain, then the whole brain is working. In other words, there
is psychic synergy taking place in our own head. And this tool is best suited to the reality
of what life is, because life is not just logical — it is also emotional.

One day I was presenting a seminar which I titled, “Manage from the Left, Lead from the
Right” to a company in Orlando, Florida. During the break, the president of the company
came up to me and said, “Stephen, this is intriguing. But I have been thinking about this
material more in terms of its application to my marriage than to my business. My wife
and I have a real communication problem. I wonder if you would have lunch with the
two of us and just kind of watch how we talk to each other?

“Let’s do it,” I replied.

As we sat down together, we exchanged a few pleasantries. Then this man turned to his
wife and said, “Now, honey, I’ve invited Stephen to have lunch with us to see if he could
help us in our communication with each other. I know you feel I should be a more
sensitive, considerate husband. Could you give me something specific you think I ought
to do?” His dominant left brain wanted facts, figures, specifics, parts.

“Well, as I’ve told you before, it’s nothing specific. It’s more of a general sense I have
about priorities.” Her dominant right brain was dealing with sensing and with the gestalt,
the whole, the relationship between the parts.

“What do you mean, ‘a general feeling about priorities’? What is it you want me to do?
Give me something specific I can get a handle on.”

“Well, it’s just a feeling.” Her right brain was dealing in images, intuitive feelings. “I just
don’t think our marriage is as important to you as you tell me it is.”

“Well, what can I do to make it more important? Give me something concrete and specific
to go on.”

“It’s hard to put into words.”

At that point, he just rolled his eyes and looked at me as if to say, “Stephen, could you
endure this kind of dumbness in your marriage?”

“It’s just a feeling,” she said, “a very strong feeling.”

“Honey,” he said to her, “that’s your problem. And that’s the problem with your mother.
In fact, it’s the problem with every woman I know.”

Then he began to interrogate her as though it were some kind of legal deposition.

“Do you live where you want to live?”

“That’s not it,” she sighed. “That’s not it at all.”


“I know,” he replied with a forced patience. “But since you won’t tell me exactly what it is,
I figure the best way to find out what it is is to find out what it is not. Do you live where
you want to live?”

“I guess.”

“Honey, Stephen’s here for just a few minutes to try to help us. Just give me a quick ‘yes’
or ‘no’ answer. Do you live where you want to live?”


“Okay. That’s settled. Do you have the things you want to have?”


“All right. Do you do the things you want to do?”

This went on for a little while, and I could see I wasn’t helping at all. So I intervened and
said, “Is this kind of how it goes in your relationship?”

“Every day, Stephen,” he replied.

“It’s the story of our marriage,” she sighed.

I looked at the two of them and the thought crossed my mind that they were two half-
brained people living together. “Do you have any children?” I asked.

“Yes, two.”

“Really?” I asked incredulously. “How did you do it?”

“What do you mean how did we do it?”

“You were synergistic!” I said. “One plus one usually equals two. But you made one plus
one equal four. Now that’s synergy. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. So
how did you do it?”

“You know how we did it,” he replied.

“You must have valued the differences!” I exclaimed.

Valuing the Differences

Valuing the differences is the essence of synergy — the mental, the emotional, the
psychological differences between people. And the key to valuing those differences is to
realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.

If I think I see the world as it is, why would I want to value the differences? Why would I
even want to bother with someone who’s “off track”? My paradigm is that I am objective;
I see the world as it is. Everyone else is buried by the minutia, but I see the larger picture.
That’s why they call me a supervisor — I have super vision.

If that’s my paradigm, then I will never be effectively interdependent, or even effectively


independent, for that matter. I will be limited by the paradigms of my own conditioning.

The person who is truly effective has the humility and reverence to recognize his own
perceptual limitations and to appreciate the rich resources available through interaction
with the hearts and minds of other human beings. That person values the differences
because those differences add to his knowledge, to his understanding of reality. When
we’re left to our own experiences, we constantly suffer from a shortage of data.

Is it logical that two people can disagree and that both can be right? It’s not logical: it’s
psychological. And it’s very real. You see the young lady; I see the old woman. We’re
both looking at the same picture, and both of us are right. We see the same black lines, the
same white spaces. But we interpret them differently because we’ve been conditioned to
interpret them differently.

And unless we value the differences in our perceptions, unless we value each other and
give credence to the possibility that we’re both right, that life is not always a dichotomous
either/or, that there are almost always Third Alternatives, we will never be able to
transcend the limits of that conditioning.

All I may see is the old woman. But I realize that you see something else. And I value
you. value your perception. I want to understand.

So when I become aware of the difference in our perceptions, I say, “Good! You see it
differently! Help me see what you see.”

If two people have the same opinion, one is unnecessary. It’s not going to do me any good
at all to communicate with someone else who sees only the old woman also. I don’t want
to talk, to communicate, with someone who agrees with me; I want to communicate with
you because you see it differently. I value that difference.

By doing that, I not only increase my own awareness; I also affirm you. I give you
psychological air. I take my foot off the brake and release the negative energy you may
have invested in defending a particular position. I create an environment for synergy.

The importance of valuing the difference is captured in an often-quoted fable called “The
Animal School,” written by educator Dr. R. H. Reeves.

Once upon a time, the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the
problems of a “New World,” so they organized a school. They adopted an activity
curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming, and flying. To make it easier to
administer, all animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming, better in fact than his instructor, and made
excellent grades in flying, but he was very poor in running. Since he was low in running
he had to stay after school and also drop swimming to practice running. This was kept up
until his web feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average
was acceptable in school, so nobody worried about that except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running, but had a nervous breakdown
because of so much makeup in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustrations in the flying class
where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the tree-top down.


He also developed charley horses from over-exertion and he got a C in climbing and a D
in running.

The eagle was a problem child and had to be disciplined severely. In climbing class he
beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his own way of getting

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly well and also could
run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.

The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration
would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their children
to the badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private

Force Field Analysis

In an interdependent situation, synergy is particularly powerful in dealing with negative
forces that work against growth and change.

Sociologist Kurt Lewin developed a “Force Field Analysis” model in which he described
any current level of performance or being as a state of equilibrium between the driving
forces that encourage upward movement and the restraining forces that discourage it.

Driving forces generally are positive, reasonable, logical, conscious, and economic. In
juxtaposition, restraining forces are often negative, emotional, illogical, unconscious, and
social/psychological. Both sets of forces are very real and must be taken into account in
dealing with change.

In a family, for example, you have a certain “climate” in the home — a certain level of
positive or negative interaction, of feeling safe or unsafe in expressing feelings or talking
about concerns, of respect or disrespect in communication among family members.

You may really want to change that level. You may want to create a climate that is more
positive, more respectful, more open and trusting. Your logical reasons for doing that are
the driving forces that act to raise the level..

But increasing those driving forces is not enough. Your efforts are opposed by restraining
forces –by the competitive spirit between children in the family, by the different scripting
of home life you and your spouse have brought to the relationship, by habits that have
developed in the family, by work or other demands on your time and energies.

Increasing the driving forces may bring results — for a while. But as long as the
restraining forces are there, it becomes increasingly harder. It’s like pushing against a
spring: the harder you push, the harder it is to push until the force of the spring suddenly
thrusts the level back down.

The resulting up and down, yo-yo effect causes you to feel, after several attempts, that
people are “just the way they are” and that “it’s too difficult to change.”

But when you introduce synergy, you use the motive of Habit 4, the skill of Habit 5, and
the interaction of Habit 6 to work directly on the restraining forces. You unfreeze them,
loosen them up, and create new insights that actually transform those restraining forces


into driving ones. You involve people in the problem, immerse them in it, so that they
soak it in and feel it is their problem and they tend to become an important part of the

As a result, new goals, shared goals, are created, and the whole enterprise moves
upward, often in ways that no one could have anticipated. And the excitement contained
within that movement creates a new culture. The people involved in it are enmeshed in
each other’s humanity and empowered by new, fresh thinking, by new creative
alternatives and opportunities.

I’ve been involved several times in negotiations between people who were angry at each
other and hired lawyers to defend their positions. And all that did was to exacerbate the
problem because the interpersonal communication deteriorated as it went through the
legal process. But the trust level was so low that the parties felt they had no other
alternative than to take the issues to court.

“Would you be interested in going for a win-win solution that both parties feel really
good about?” I would ask.

The response was usually affirmative, but most people didn’t really think it was possible.

“If I can get the other party to agree, would you be willing to start the process of really
communicating with each other?”

Again, the answer was usually “yes.”

The results in almost every case have been astounding. Problems that had been legally
and psychologically wrangled about for months have been settled in a matter of a few
hours or days. Most of the solutions weren’t the courthouse compromise solutions either;
they were synergistic, better than the solutions proposed independently by either party.
And, in most cases, the relationships continued even though it had appeared in the
beginning that the trust level was so low and the rupture in the relationship so large as to
be almost irreparable.

At one of our development programs, an executive reported a situation where a
manufacturer was being sued by a longtime industrial customer for lack of performance.
Both parties felt totally justified in the rightness of their position and perceived each other
as unethical and completely untrustworthy.

As they began to practice Habit 5, two things became clear. First, early communication
problems resulted in a misunderstanding which was later exacerbated by accusations and
counteraccusations. Second, both were initially acting in good faith and didn’t like the
cost and hassle of a legal fight, but saw no other way out.

Once these two things became clear, the spirit of Habits 4, 5, and 6 took over, the problem
was rapidly resolved, and the relationship continues to prosper.

In another circumstance, I received an early morning phone call from a land developer
desperately searching for help. The bank wanted to foreclose because he was not
complying with the principal and interest payment schedule, and he was suing the bank
to avoid the foreclosure. He needed additional funding to finish and market the land so
that he could repay the bank, but the bank refused to provide additional funds until


scheduled payments were met. It was a chicken-and-egg problem with

In the meantime, the project was languishing. The streets were beginning to look like
weed fields, and the owners of the few homes that had been built were up in arms as they
saw their property values drop. The city was also upset over the “prime land” project
falling behind schedule and becoming an eyesore. Tens of thousands of dollars in legal
costs had already been spent by the bank and the developer and the case wasn’t
scheduled to come to court for several months.

In desperation, this developer reluctantly agreed to try the principles of Habits 4, 5, and 6.
He arranged a meeting with even more reluctant bank officials.

The meeting started at 8 A.M. in one of the bank conference rooms. The tension and
mistrust were palpable. The attorney for the bank had committed the bank officials to say
nothing. They were only to listen and he alone would speak. He wanted nothing to
happen that would compromise the bank’s position in court.

For the first hour and a half, I taught Habits 4, 5, and 6. At 9:30 I went to the blackboard
and wrote down the bank’s concerns based on our prior understanding. Initially the bank
officials said nothing, but the more we communicated win-win intentions and sought
first to understand, the more they opened up to explain and clarify.

As they began to feel understood, the whole atmosphere changed and a sense of
momentum, of excitement over the prospect of peacefully settling the problem was
clearly evident. Over the attorney’s objections the bank officials opened up even more,
even about personal concerns. “When we walk out of here the first thing the bank
president will say is, ‘Did we get our money?’ What are we going to say?”

By 11:00, the bank officers were still convinced of their rightness, but they felt understood
and were no longer defensive and officious. At that point, they were sufficiently open to
listen to the developer’s concerns, which we wrote down on the other side of the
blackboard. This resulted in deeper mutual understanding and a collective awareness of
how poor early communication had resulted in misunderstanding and unrealistic
expectations, and how continuous communication in a win-win spirit could have
prevented the subsequent major problems from developing.

The shared sense of both chronic and acute pain combined with a sense of genuine
progress kept everyone communicating. By noon, when the meeting was scheduled to
end, the people were positive, creative, and synergistic and wanted to keep talking.

The very first recommendation made by the developer was seen as a beginning win-win
approach by all. It was synergized on and improved, and at 12:45 P.M. the developer and
the two bank officers left with a plan to present together to the Home Owners’
Association and the city. Despite subsequent complicating developments, the legal fight
was aborted and the building project continued to a successful conclusion.

I am not suggesting that people should not use legal processes. Some situations
absolutely require it. But I see it as a court of last, not first, resort. If it is used too early,
even in a preventive sense, sometimes fear and the legal paradigm create subsequent
thought and action processes that are not synergistic.


All Nature is Synergistic

Ecology is a word which basically describes the synergism in nature — everything is
related to everything else. It’s in the relationship that creative powers are maximized, just
as the real power in these Seven Habits is in their relationship to each other, not just in
the individual habits themselves.

The relationship of the parts is also the power in creating a synergistic culture inside a
family or an organization. The more genuine the involvement, the more sincere and
sustained the participation in analyzing and solving problems, the greater the release of
everyone’s creativity, and of their commitment to what they create. This, I’m convinced, is
the essence of the power in the Japanese approach to business, which has changed the
world marketplace.

Synergy works; it’s a correct principle. It is the crowning achievement of all the previous
habits. It is effectiveness in an interdependent reality — it is teamwork, team building, the
development of unity and creativity with other human beings.

Although you cannot control the paradigms of others in an interdependent interaction or
the synergistic process itself, a great deal of synergy is within your Circle of Influence.

Your own internal synergy is completely within the circle. You can respect both sides of
your own nature — the analytical side and the creative side. You can value the difference
between them and use that difference to catalyze creativity.

You can be synergistic within yourself even in the midst of a very adversarial
environment. You don’t have to take insults personally. You can sidestep negative
energy; you can look for the good in others and utilize that good, as different as it may
be, to improve you point of view and to enlarge your perspective.

You can exercise the courage in interdependent situations to be open, to express your
ideas, your feelings, and your experiences in a way that will encourage other people to be
open also.

You can value the difference in other people. When someone disagrees with you, you can
say, “Good! You see it differently.” You don’t have to agree with them; you can simply
affirm them. And you can seek to understand.

When you see only two alternatives — yours and the “wrong” one — you can look for a
synergistic Third Alternative. There’s almost always a Third Alternative, and if you work
with a win-win philosophy and really seek to understand, you usually can find a solution
that will be better for everyone concerned.


Application Suggestions

1. Think about a person who typically sees things differently than you do. Consider ways
in which those differences might be used as stepping-stones to Third Alternative
solutions. Perhaps you could seek out his or her views on a current project or problem,
valuing the different views you are likely to hear.

2. Make a list of people who irritate you. Do they represent different views that could
lead to synergy if you had greater intrinsic security and valued the differences.

3. Identify a situation in which you desire greater teamwork and synergy. What
conditions would need to exist to support synergy? What can you do to create those

4. The next time you have a disagreement or confrontation with someone, attempt to
understand the concerns underlying that person’s position. Address those concerns in a
creative and mutually beneficial way.


Part Four — RENEWAL

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw TM

Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things…. I
am tempted to think…there are no little things.

— Bruce Barton

* *

Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down
a tree.

“What are you doing?” you ask.

“Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.”

“You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?”

“Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.”

“Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen the saw?” you inquire.
“I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”

“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”

Habit 7 is taking time to Sharpen the Saw. It surrounds the other habits on the Seven
Habits paradigm because it is the habit that makes all the others possible.

Four Dimensions of Renewal

Habit 7 is personal PC. It’s preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have — you.
It’s renewing the four dimensions of your nature — physical, spiritual, mental, and

Although different words are used, most philosophies of life deal either explicitly or
implicitly with these four dimensions. Philosopher Herb Shepherd describes the healthy
balanced life around four values: perspective (spiritual), autonomy (mental),
connectedness (social), and tone (physical). George Sheehan, the running guru, describes
four roles: being a good animal (physical), a good craftsman (mental), a good friend
(social), and a saint (spiritual). Sound motivation and organization theory embrace these
four dimensions or motivations — the economic (physical); how people are treated
(social); how people are developed and used (mental); and the service, the job, the
contribution the organization gives (spiritual).


“Sharpen the Saw” basically means expressing all four motivations. It means exercising
all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently, in wise and balanced ways.

To do this, we must be proactive. Taking time to sharpen the saw is a definite Quadrant II
activity, and Quadrant II must be acted on. Quadrant I, because of its urgency, acts on us;
it presses upon us constantly. Personal PC must be pressed upon until it becomes second
nature, until it becomes a kind of healthy addiction. Because it’s at the center of our Circle
of Influence, no one else can do it for us. We must do it for ourselves.

This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life — investment in
ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute.
We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to
recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw in all four ways.

The Physical Dimension

The physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body — eating the
right kinds of foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular

Exercise is one of those Quadrant II, high-leverage activities that most of us don’t do
consistently because it isn’t urgent. And because we don’t do it, sooner or later we find
ourselves in Quadrant I, dealing with the health problems and crises that come as a
natural result of our neglect.

Most of us think we don’t have enough time to exercise. What a distorted paradigm! We
don’t have time not to. We’re talking about three to six hours a week — or a minimum of
thirty minutes a day, every other day. That hardly seems an inordinate amount of time
considering the tremendous benefits in terms of the impact on the other 162-165 hours of
the week.

And you don’t need any special equipment to do it. If you want to go to a gym or a spa to
use the equipment or enjoy some skill sports such as tennis or racquetball, that’s an
added opportunity. But it isn’t necessary to sharpen the saw.

A good exercise program is one that you can do in your own home and one that will
build your body in three areas: endurance, flexibility, and strength.

Endurance comes from aerobic exercise, from cardiovascular efficiency — the ability of
your heart to pump blood through your body.

Although the heart is a muscle, it cannot be exercised directly. It can only be exercised
through the large muscle groups, particularly the leg muscles. That’s why exercises like
rapid walking, running, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, and jogging are so

You are considered minimally fit if you can increase your heart rate to at least 100 beats
per minute and keep it at that level for 30 minutes.

Ideally you should try to raise your heart rate to at least 60 percent of your maximum
pulse rate, the top speed your heart can beat and still pump blood through your body.
Your maximum heart rate is generally accepted to be 220 less your age. So, if you are 40,
you should aim for an exercise heart rate of 108 (220 – 40 = 180 x .6 = 108). The “training


effect” is generally considered to be between 72 and 87 percent of your personal
maximum rate.

Flexibility comes through stretching. Most experts recommend warming up before and
cooling down/stretching after aerobic exercise. Before, it helps loosen and warm the
muscles to prepare for more vigorous exercise. After, it helps to dissipate the lactic acid
so that you don’t feel sore and stiff.

Strength comes from muscle resistance exercises — like simple calisthenics, push-ups, and
sit-ups, and from working with weights. How much emphasis you put on developing
strength depends on your situation. If you’re involved in physical labor or athletic
activities, increased strength will improve your skill. If you have a basically sedentary job
and success in your life-style does not require a lot of strength, a little toning through
calisthenics in addition to your aerobic and stretching exercises might be sufficient.

I was in a gym one time with a friend of mine who has a Ph. D. in exercise physiology. He
was focusing on building strength. He asked me to “spot” him while he did some bench
presses and told me at a certain point he’d ask me to take the weight. “But don’t take it
until I tell you,” he said firmly.

So I watched and waited and prepared to take the weight. The weight went up and
down, up and down. And I could see it begin to get harder. But he kept going. He would
start to push it up and I’d think, “There’s no way he’s going to make it.” But he’d make it.
Then he’d slowly bring it back down and start back up again. Up and down, up and

Finally, as I looked at his face, straining with the effort, his blood vessels practically
jumping out of his skin, I thought, “This is going to fall and collapse his chest. Maybe I
should take the weight. Maybe he’s lost control and he doesn’t even know what he’s
doing.” But he’d get it safely down. Then he’d start back up again. I couldn’t believe it”

“Almost all the benefit of the exercise comes at the very end, Stephen,” he replied. “I’m
trying to build strength. And that doesn’t happen until the muscle fiber ruptures and the
nerve fiber registers the pain. Then nature overcompensates and within 48 hours, the
fiber is made stronger.”

I could see his point. It’s the same principle that works with emotional muscles as well,
such as patience. When you exercise your patience beyond your past limits, the emotional
fiber is broken, nature overcompensates, and next time the fiber is stronger.

Now my friend wanted to build muscular strength. And he knew how to do it. But not all
of us need to develop that kind of strength to be effective. “No pain, no gain” has validity
in some circumstances, but it is not the essence of an effective exercise program.

The essence of renewing the physical dimension is to sharpen the saw, to exercise our
bodies on a regular basis in a way that will preserve and enhance our capacity to work
and adapt and enjoy.
And we need to be wise in developing an exercise program. There’s a tendency,
especially if you haven’t been exercising at all, to overdo. And that can create unnecessary
pain, injury, and even permanent damage. It’s best to start slowly. Any exercise program
should be in harmony with the latest research findings, with your doctor’s
recommendations and with your own self-awareness.


If you haven’t been exercising, your body will undoubtedly protest this change in its
comfortable downhill direction. You won’t like it at first. You may even hate it. But be
proactive. Do it anyway. Even if it’s raining on the morning you’ve scheduled to jog, do it
anyway. “Oh good! It’s raining! I get to develop my willpower as well as my body!”

You’re not dealing with quick fix; you’re dealing with a Quadrant II activity that will
bring phenomenal long-term results. Ask anyone who has done it consistently. Little by
little, your resting pulse rate will go down as your heart and oxygen processing system
becomes more efficient. As you increase your body’s ability to do more demanding
things, you’ll find your normal activities much more comfortable and pleasant. You’ll
have more afternoon energy, and the fatigue you’ve felt that’s made you “too tired” to
exercise in the past will be replaced by an energy that will invigorate everything you do.

Probably the greatest benefit you will experience from exercising will be the development
of your Habit 1 muscles of proactivity. As you act based on the value of physical well-
being instead of reacting to all the forces that keep you from exercising, your paradigm of
yourself, your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and your integrity will be profoundly

The Spiritual Dimension

Renewing the spiritual dimension provides leadership to your life. It’s highly related to
Habit 2.

The spiritual dimension is your core, your center, your commitment to your value
system. It’s a very private area of life and a supremely important one. It draws upon the
sources that inspire and uplift you and tie you to the timeless truths of all humanity. And
people do it very, very differently.

I find renewal in daily prayerful meditation on the scriptures because they represent my
value system. As I read and meditate, I feel renewed, strengthened, centered, and
recommitted to serve.

Immersion in great literature or great music can provide a similar renewal of the spirit for
some. There are others who find it in the way they communicate with nature. Nature
bequeaths its own blessing on those who immerse themselves in it. When you’re able to
leave the noise and the discord of the city and give yourself up to the harmony and
rhythm of nature, you come back renewed. For a time, you’re undisturbable, almost
unflappable, until gradually the noise and the discord from outside start to invade that
sense of inner peace.

Arthur Gordon shares a wonderful, intimate story of his own spiritual renewal in a little
story called “The Turn of the Tide.” It tells of a time in his life when he began to feel that
everything was stale and flat. His enthusiasm waned; his writing efforts were fruitless.
And the situation was growing worse day by day.

Finally, he determined to get help from a medical doctor. Observing nothing physically
wrong, the doctor asked him if he would be able to follow his instructions for one day.

When Gordon replied that he could, the doctor told him to spend the following day in the
place where he was happiest as a child. He could take food, but he was not to talk to
anyone or to read or write or listen to the radio. He then wrote out four prescriptions and
told him to open one at nine, twelve, three, and six o’clock.


“Are you serious?” Gordon asked him.

“You won’t think I’m joking when you get my bill!” was the reply.

So the next morning, Gordon went to the beach. As he opened the first prescription, he
read “Listen carefully.” He thought the doctor was insane. How could he listen for three
hours? But he had agreed to follow the doctor’s orders, so he listened. He heard the usual
sounds of the sea and the birds. After a while, he could hear the other sounds that weren’t
so apparent at first. As he listened, he began to think of lessons the sea had taught him as
a child — patience, respect, an awareness of the interdependence of things. He began to
listen to the sounds — and the silence — and to feel a growing peace.

At noon, he opened the second slip of paper and read “Try reaching back.” “Reaching
back to what?” he wondered. Perhaps to childhood, perhaps to memories of happy times.
He thought about his past, about the many little moments of joy. He tried to remember
them with exactness. And in remembering, he found a growing warmth inside.

At three o’clock, he opened the third piece of paper. Until now, the prescriptions had
been easy to take. But this one was different; it said “Examine your motives.” At first he
was defensive. He thought about what he wanted — success, recognition, security, and he
justified them all. But then the thought occurred to him that those motives weren’t good
enough, and that perhaps therein was the answer to his stagnant situation.

He considered his motives deeply. He thought about past happiness. And at last, the
answer came to him.

“In a flash of certainty,” he wrote, “I saw that if one’s motives are wrong, nothing can be
right. It makes no difference whether you are a mailman, a hairdresser, an insurance
salesman, a housewife — whatever. As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the
job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do it less well — a law
as inexorable as gravity.”

When six o’clock came, the final prescription didn’t take long to fill. “Write your worries
on the sand,” it said. He knelt and wrote several words with a piece of broken shell; then
he turned and walked away. He didn’t look back; he knew the tide would come in.

Spiritual renewal takes an investment of time. But it’s a Quadrant II activity we don’t
really have time to neglect.

The great reformer Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “I have so much to do today, I’ll
need to spend another hour on my knees.” To him, prayer was not a mechanical duty but
rather a source of power in releasing and multiplying his energies.

Someone once inquired of a Far Eastern Zen master, who had a great serenity and peace
about him no matter what pressures he faced, “How do you maintain that serenity and
peace?” He replied, “I never leave my place of meditation.” He meditated early in the
morning and for the rest of the day, he carried the peace of those moments with him in
his mind and heart.

The idea is that when we take time to draw on the leadership center of our lives, what life
is ultimately all about, it spreads like an umbrella over everything else. It renews us, it
refreshes us, particularly if we recommit to it.


This is why I believe a personal mission statement is so important. If we have a deep
understanding of our center and our purpose, we can review and recommit to it
frequently. In our daily spiritual renewal, we can visualize and “live out” the events of the
day in harmony with those values.

Religious leader David O. McKay taught, “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily
in the silent chambers of the soul.” If you win the battles there, if you settle the issues that
inwardly conflict, you feel a sense of peace, a sense of knowing what you’re about. And
you’ll find that the Public Victories — where you tend to think cooperatively, to promote
the welfare and good of other people, and to be genuinely happy for other people’s
successes — will follow naturally.

The Mental Dimension

Most of our mental development and study discipline comes through formal education.
But as soon as we leave the external discipline of school, many of us let our minds
atrophy. We don’t do any more serious reading, we don’t explore new subjects in any real
depth outside our action fields, we don’t think analytically, we don’t write — at least not
critically or in a way that tests our ability to express ourselves in distilled, clear, and
concise language. Instead, we spend our time watching TV.

Continuing surveys indicate that television is on in most homes some 35 to 45 hours a
week. That’s as much time as many people put into their jobs, more than most put into
school. It’s the most powerful socializing influence there is. And when we watch, we’re
subject to all the values that are being taught through it. That can powerfully influence us
in very subtle and imperceptible ways.

Wisdom in watching television requires the effective self-management of Habit 3, which
enables you to discriminate and to select the informing, inspiring, and entertaining
programs which best serve and express your purpose and values.

In our family, we limit television watching to around seven hours a week, an average of
about an hour a day. We had a family council at which we talked about it and looked at
some of the data regarding what’s happening in homes because of television. We found
that by discussing it as a family when no one was defensive or argumentative, people
started to realize the dependent sickness of becoming addicted to soap operas or to a
steady diet of a particular program.

I’m grateful for television and for the many high-quality educational and entertainment
programs. They can enrich our lives and contribute meaningfully to our purposes and
goals. But there are many programs that simply waste our time and minds and many that
influence us in negative ways if we let them. Like the body, television is a good servant
but a poor master. We need to practice Habit 3 and manage ourselves effectively to
maximize the use of any resource in accomplishing our missions.

Education — continuing education, continually honing and expanding the mind — is vital
mental renewal. Sometimes that involves the external discipline of the classroom or
systematized study programs; more often it does not. Proactive people can figure out
many, many ways to educate themselves.

It is extremely valuable to train the mind to stand apart and examine its own program.
That, to me, is the definition of a liberal education — the ability to examine the programs
of life against larger questions and purposes and other paradigms. Training, without such


education, narrows and closes the mind so that the assumptions underlying the training
are never examined. That’s why it is so valuable to read broadly and to expose yourself to
great minds.

There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into
the habit of reading good literature. That’s another high-leverage Quadrant II activity.
You can get into the best minds that are now or that have ever been in the world. I highly
recommend starting with a goal of a book a month then a book every two weeks, then a
book a week. “The person who doesn’t read is no better off than the person who can’t

Quality literature, such as the Great Books, the Harvard Classics, autobiographies,
National Geographic and other publications that expand our cultural awareness, and
current literature in various fields can expand our paradigms and sharpen our mental
saw, particularly if we practice Habit 5 as we read and seek first to understand. If we use
our own autobiography to make early judgments before we really understand what an
author has to say, we limit the benefits of the reading experience.

Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our
thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings promotes mental clarity, exactness, and
context. Writing good letters — communicating on the deeper level of thoughts, feelings,
and ideas rather than on the shallow, superficial level of events — also affects our ability
to think clearly, to reason accurately, and to be understood effectively.

Organizing and planning represent other forms of mental renewal associated with Habits
2 and 3. It’s beginning with the end in mind and being able mentally to organize to
accomplish that end. It’s exercising the visualizing, imagining power of your mind to see
the end from the beginning and to see the entire journey, at least in principles, if not in

It is said that wars are won in the general’s tent. Sharpening the saw in the first three
dimensions — the physical, the spiritual, and the mental — is a practice I call the “Daily
Private Victory.” And I commend to you the simple practice of spending one hour a day
every day doing it — one hour a day for the rest of your life.

There’s no other way you could spend an hour that would begin to compare with the
Daily Private Victory in terms of value and results. It will affect every decision, every
relationship. It will greatly improve the quality, the effectiveness, of every other hour of
the day, including the depth and restfulness of your sleep. It will build the long-term
physical, spiritual, and mental strength to enable you to handle difficult challenges in life.

In the words of Phillips Brooks:

Some day, in the years to come, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or
trembling under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is here, now. Now it is
being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall
miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long
continued process.

The Social/Emotional Dimension

While the physical, spiritual, and mental dimensions are closely related to Habits 1, 2,
and 3 —


centered on the principles of personal vision, leadership, and management — the
social/emotional dimension focuses on Habits 4, 5, and 6 — centered on the principles of
interpersonal leadership, empathic communication, and creative cooperation.

The social and the emotional dimensions of our lives are tied together because our
emotional life is primarily, but not exclusively, developed out of and manifested in our
relationships with others.

Renewing our social/emotional dimension does not take time in the same sense that
renewing the other dimensions does. We can do it in our normal everyday interactions
with other people. But it definitely requires exercise. We may have to push ourselves
because many of us have not achieved the level of Private Victory and the skills of Public
Victory necessary for Habits 4, 5, and 6 to come naturally to us in all our interactions.

Suppose that you are a key person in my life. You might be my boss, my subordinate, my
co-worker, my friend, my neighbor, my spouse, my child, a member of my extended
family — anyone with whom I want or need to interact. Suppose we need to communicate
together, to work together, to discuss a jugular issue, to accomplish a purpose or solve a
problem. But we see things differently; we’re looking through different glasses. You see
the young lady, and I see the old woman.

So I practice Habit 4. I come to you and I say, “I can see that we’re approaching this
situation differently. Why don’t we agree to communicate until we can find a solution we
both feel good about. Would you be willing to do that?” Most people would be willing to
say “yes” to that.

Then I move to Habit 5. “Let me listen to you first.” Instead of listening with intent to
reply, I listen empathically in order to deeply, thoroughly understand your paradigm.
When I can explain your point of view as well as you can, then I focus on communicating
my point of view to you so that you can understand it as well.

Based on the commitment to search for a solution that we both feel good about and a
deep understanding of each other’s points of view, we move to Habit 6. We work
together to produce Third Alternative solutions to our differences that we both recognize
are better than the ones either you or I proposed initially.

Success in Habits 4, 5, and 6 is not primarily a matter of intellect; it’s primarily a matter of
emotion. It’s highly related to our sense of personal security.

If our personal security comes from sources within ourselves, then we have the strength
to practice the habits of Public Victory. If we are emotionally insecure, even though we
may be intellectually very advanced, practicing Habits 4, 5, and 6 with people who think
differently on jugular issues of life can be terribly threatening.

Where does intrinsic security come from? It doesn’t come from the scripts they’ve handed
us. It doesn’t come from our circumstances or our position.

It comes from within. It comes from accurate paradigms and correct principles deep in
our own mind and heart. It comes from Inside-Out congruence, from living a life of
integrity in which our daily habits reflect our deepest values.


I believe that a life of integrity is the most fundamental source of personal worth. I do not
agree with the popular success literature that says that self-esteem is primarily a matter of
mindset, of attitude — that you can psyche yourself into peace of mind.

Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in
no other way.

There is also the intrinsic security that comes as a result of effective interdependent
living. There is security in knowing that win-win solutions do exist, that life is not always
“either/or,” that there are almost always mutually beneficial Third Alternatives. There is
security in knowing that you can step out of your own frame of reference without giving
it up, that you can really, deeply understand another human being. There is security that
comes when you authentically, creatively, and cooperatively interact with other people
and really experience these interdependent habits.

There is intrinsic security that comes from service, from helping other people in a
meaningful way. One important source is your work, when you see yourself in a
contributive and creative mode, really making a difference. Another source is anonymous
service — no one knows it and no one necessarily ever will. And that’s not the concern;
the concern is blessing the lives of other people. Influence, not recognition, becomes the

Viktor Frankl focused on the need for meaning and purpose in our lives, something that
transcends our own lives and taps the best energies within us. The late Dr. Hans Selye, in
his monumental research on stress, basically says that a long, healthy, and happy life is
the result of making contributions, of having meaningful projects that are personally
exciting and contribute to and bless the lives of others. His ethic was “earn thy neighbor’s

This is the true joy in life — that being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a
mighty one. That being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of
ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you
happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I
live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I
die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief
candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I
want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

N. Eldon Tanner has said, “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this
earth.” And there are so many ways to serve. Whether or not we belong to a church or
service organization or have a job that provides meaningful service opportunities, not a
day goes by that we can’t at least serve one other human being by making deposits of
unconditional love.
Scripting Others

Most people are a function of the social mirror, scripted by the opinions, the perceptions,
the paradigms of the people around them. As interdependent people, you and I come
from a paradigm which includes the realization that we are a part of that social mirror.

We can choose to reflect back to others a clear, undistorted vision of themselves. We can
affirm their proactive nature and treat them as responsible people. We can help script
them as principle-centered, value-based, independent, worthwhile individuals. And, with
the Abundance Mentality, we realize that giving a positive reflection to others in no way


diminishes us. It increases us because it increases the opportunities for effective
interaction with other proactive people. At some time in your life, you probably had
someone believe in you when you didn’t believe in yourself. He or she scripted you. Did
that make a difference in your life.

What if you were a positive scripter, an affirmer, of other people? When they’re being
directed by the social mirror to take the lower path, you inspire them toward a higher
path because you believe in them. You listen to them and empathize with them. You
don’t absolve them of responsibility; you encourage them to be proactive.

Perhaps you are familiar with the musical, Man of La Mancha. It’s a beautiful story about
a medieval knight who meets a woman of the street, a prostitute. She’s being validated in
her life-style by all of the people in her life.

But this poet knight sees something else in her, something beautiful and lovely. He also
sees her virtue, and he affirms it, over and over again. He gives her a new name —
Dulcinea — a new name associated with a new paradigm.

At first, she utterly denies it; her old scripts are overpowering. She writes him off as a
wild-eyed fantasizer. But he is persistent. He makes continual deposits of unconditional
love and gradually it penetrates her scripting. It goes down into her true nature, her
potential, and she starts to respond. Little by little, she begins to change her life-style. She
believes it and she acts from her new paradigm, to the initial dismay of everyone else in
her life.

Later, when she begins to revert to her old paradigm, he calls her to his deathbed and
sings that beautiful song, “The Impossible Dream,” looks her in the eyes, and whispers,
“Never forget, you’re Dulcinea.”

One of the classic stories in the field of self-fulfilling prophecies is of a computer in
England that was accidentally programmed incorrectly. In academic terms, it labeled a
class of “bright” kids “dumb” and a class of supposedly “dumb” kids “bright.” And that
computer report was the primary criterion that created the teachers’ paradigms about
their students at the beginning of the year.

When the administration finally discovered the mistake five-and-a-half months later, they
decided to test the kids again without telling anyone what had happened. And the results
were amazing. The “bright” kids had gone down significantly in IQ test points. They had
been seen and treated as mentally limited, uncooperative, and difficult to teach. The
teachers’ paradigms had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But the scores in the supposedly “dumb” group had gone up. The teachers had treated
them as though they were bright, and their energy, their hope, their optimism, their
excitement had reflected high individual expectations and worth for those kids.

These teachers were asked what it was like during the first few weeks of the term. “For
some reason, our methods weren’t working,” they replied. “So we had to change our
methods.” The information showed that the kids were bright. If things weren’t working
well, they figured it had to be the teaching methods. So they worked on methods. They
were proactive; they worked in their Circle of Influence. Apparent learner disability was
nothing more or less than teacher inflexibility.

What do we reflect to others about themselves? And how much does that reflection
influence their lives? We have so much we can invest in the Emotional Bank Accounts of


other people. The more we can see people in terms of their unseen potential, the more we
can use our imagination rather than our memory, with our spouse, our children, our co-
workers or employees. We can refuse to label them –we can “see” them in new fresh ways
each time we’re with them. We can help them become independent, fulfilled people
capable of deeply satisfying, enriching, and productive relationships with others.

Goethe taught, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can
and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

Balance in Renewal

The self-renewal process must include balanced renewal in all four dimensions of our
nature: the physical, the spiritual, the mental, and the social/emotional.

Although renewal in each dimension is important, it only becomes optimally effective as
we deal with all four dimensions in a wise and balanced way. To neglect any one area
negatively impacts the rest. I have found this to be true in organizations as well as in
individual lives. In an organization, the physical dimension is expressed in economic
terms. The mental or psychological dimension deals with the recognition, development,
and use of talent. The social/emotional dimension has to do with human relations, with
finding meaning through purpose or contribution and through organizational integrity.

When an organization neglects any one or more of these areas, it negatively impacts the
entire organization. The creative energies that could result in tremendous, positive
synergy are instead used to fight against the organization and become restraining forces
to growth and productivity.

I have found organizations whose only thrust is economic — to make money. They
usually don’t publicize that purpose. They sometimes even publicize something else. But
in their hearts, their only desire is to make money.

Whenever I find this, I also find a great deal of negative synergy in the culture,
generating such things as interdepartmental rivalries, defensive and protective
communication, politicking, and masterminding. We can’t effectively thrive without
making money, but that’s not sufficient reason for organizational existence. We can’t live
without eating, but we don’t live to eat.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve seen organizations that focused almost exclusively
on the social/emotional dimension. They are, in a sense, some kind of social experiment
and they have no economic criteria to their value system. They have no measure or gauge
of their effectiveness, and as a result, they lose all kinds of efficiencies and eventually
their viability in the marketplace.

I have found many organizations that develop as many as three of the dimensions — they
may have good service criteria, good economic criteria, and good human-relations
criteria, but they are not really committed to identifying, developing, utilizing, and
recognizing the talent of people. And if these psychological forces are missing, the style
will be a benevolent autocracy and the resulting culture will reflect different forms of
collective resistance, adversarialism, excessive turnover, and other deep, chronic, cultural

Organizational as well as individual effectiveness requires development and renewal of
all four dimensions in a wise and balanced way. Any dimension that is neglected will


create negative force field resistance that pushes against effectiveness and growth.
Organizations and individuals that give recognition to each of these four dimensions in
their mission statement provide a powerful framework for balanced renewal.

This process of continuous improvement is the hallmark of the Total Quality movement
and a key to Japan’s economic ascendancy.

Synergy in Renewal

Balanced renewal is optimally synergetic. The things you do to sharpen the saw in any
one dimension have positive impact in other dimensions because they are so highly
interrelated. Your physical health affects your mental health; your spiritual strength
affects your social/emotional strength. As you improve in one dimension, you increase
your ability in other dimensions as well.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People create optimum synergy among these
dimensions. Renewal in any dimension increases your ability to live at least one of the
Seven Habits. And although the habits are sequential, improvement in one habit
synergetically increases your ability to live the rest.

The more proactive you are (Habit 1), the more effectively you can exercise personal
leadership (Habit 2) and management (Habit 3) in your life. The more effectively you
manage your life (Habit 3), the more Quadrant II renewing activities you can do (Habit
7). The more you seek first to understand (Habit 5), the more effectively you can go for
synergetic win-win solutions (Habits 4 and 6). The more you improve in any of the habits
that lead to independence (Habits 1, 2, and 3), the more effective you will be in
interdependent situations (Habits 4, 5, and 6). And renewal (Habit 7) is the process of
renewing all the habits.

As you renew your physical dimension, you reinforce your personal vision (Habit 1), the
paradigm of your own self-awareness and free will, of proactivity, of knowing that you
are free to act instead of being acted upon, to choose your own response to any stimulus.
This is probably the greatest benefit of physical exercise. Each Daily Private Victory
makes a deposit in your personal intrinsic security account.

As you renew your spiritual dimension, you reinforce your personal leadership (Habit 2).
You increase your ability to live out of your imagination and conscience instead of only
your memory, to deeply understand your innermost paradigms and values, to create
within yourself a center of correct principles, to define your own unique mission in life, to
rescript yourself to live your life in harmony with correct principles and to draw upon
your personal sources of strength. The rich private life you create in spiritual renewal
makes tremendous deposits in your personal security account.

As you renew your mental dimension, you reinforce your personal management (Habit
3). As you plan, you force your mind to recognize high-leverage Quadrant II activities,
priority goals, and activities to maximize the use of your time and energy, and you
organize and execute your activities around your priorities. As you become involved in
continuing education, you increase your knowledge base and you increase your options.
Your economic security does not lie in your job; it lies in your own power to produce — to
think, to learn, to create, to adapt. That’s true financial independence. It’s not having
wealth; it’s having the power to produce wealth. It’s intrinsic.


The Daily Private Victory — a minimum of one hour a day in renewal of the physical,
spiritual, and mental dimensions — is the key to the development of the Seven Habits and
it’s completely within your Circle of Influence. It is the Quadrant II focus time necessary
to integrate these habits into your life, to become principle-centered.

It’s also the foundation for the Daily Public Victory. It’s the source of intrinsic security
you need to sharpen the saw in the social/emotional dimension. It gives you the personal
strength to focus on your Circle of Influence in interdependent situations — to look at
others through the Abundance Mentality paradigm, to genuinely value their differences
and to be happy for their success. It gives you the foundation to work for genuine
understanding and for synergetic win-win solutions, to practice Habits 4, 5, and 6 in an
interdependent reality.

The Upward Spiral

Renewal is the principle — and the process — that empowers us to move on an upward
spiral of growth and change, of continuous improvement.

To make meaningful and consistent progress along that spiral, we need to consider one
other aspect of renewal as it applies to the unique human endowment that directs this
upward movement — our conscience. In the words of Madame de Sta’l, “The voice of
conscience is so delicate that it is easy to stifle it: but it is also so clear that it is impossible
to mistake it.”

Conscience is the endowment that senses our congruence or disparity with correct
principles and lifts us toward them — when it’s in shape Just as the education of nerve
and sinew is vital to the excellent athlete and education of the mind is vital to the scholar,
education of the conscience is vital to the truly proactive, highly effective person.
Training and educating the conscience, however, requires even greater concentration,
more balanced discipline, more consistently honest living. It requires regular feasting on
inspiring literature, thinking noble thoughts and, above all, living in harmony with its
still small voice

Just as junk food and lack of exercise can ruin an athlete’s condition, those things that are
obscene, crude, or pornographic can breed an inner darkness that numbs our higher
sensibilities and substitutes the social conscience of “Will I be found out?” for the natural
or divine conscience of “What is right and wrong?”

In the words of Dag Hammarskjold,

You cannot play with the animal in you without becoming wholly animal, play with
falsehood without forfeiting your right to truth, play with cruelty without losing your
sensitivity of mind. He who wants to keep his garden tidy doesn’t reserve a plot for

Once we are self-aware, we must choose purposes and principles to live by; otherwise the
vacuum will be filled, and we will lose our self-awareness and become like groveling
animals who live primarily for survival and propagation. People who exist on that level
aren’t living; they are “being lived.” They are reacting, unaware of the unique
endowments that lie dormant and undeveloped within.

And there is no shortcut in developing them. The Law of the Harvest governs; we will
always reap what we sow — no more, no less. The law of justice is immutable, and the


closer we align ourselves with correct principles, the better our judgment will be about
how the world operates and the more accurate our paradigms — our maps of the territory
— will be.

I believe that as we grow and develop on this upward spiral, we must show diligence in
the process of renewal by educating and obeying our conscience. An increasingly
educated conscience will propel us along the path of personal freedom, security, wisdom,
and power.

Moving along the upward spiral requires us to learn, commit, and do on increasingly
higher planes. We deceive ourselves if we think that any one of these is sufficient. To
keep progressing, we must learn, commit, and do — learn, commit, and do — and learn,
commit, and do again.

Application Suggestions:

1. Make a list of activities that would help you keep in good physical shape, that would
fit your life-style and that you could enjoy over time.

2. Select one of the activities and list it as a goal in your personal role area for the coming
week. At the end of the week evaluate your performance. If you didn’t make your goal,
was it because you subordinated it to a genuinely higher value? Or did you fail to act
with integrity to your values.

3. Make a similar list of renewing activities in your spiritual and mental dimensions. In
your social-emotional area, list relationships you would like to improve or specific
circumstances in which Public Victory would bring greater effectiveness. Select one item
in each area to list as a goal for the week. Implement and evaluate.

4. Commit to write down specific “sharpen the saw” activities in all four dimensions
every week, to do them, and to evaluate your performance and results.


Inside-Out Again

The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world
would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they
take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their
environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would
shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.

— Ezra Taft Benson

* *

I would like to share with you a personal story which I feel contains the essence of this
book. In doing so, it is my hope that you will relate to the underlying principles it

Some years ago, our family took a sabbatical leave from the university where I taught so
that I could write. We lived for a full year in Laie on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

Shortly after getting settled, we developed a living and working routine which was not
only very productive but extremely pleasant.

After an early morning run on the beach, we would send two of our children, barefoot
and in shorts, to school. I went to an isolated building next to the cane fields where I had
an office to do my writing. It was very quiet, very beautiful, very serene — no phone, no
meetings, no pressing engagements.
My office was on the outside edge of the college, and one day as I was wandering
between stacks of books in the back of the college library, I came across a book that drew
my interest. As I opened it, my eyes fell upon a single paragraph that powerfully
influenced the rest of my life.

I read the paragraph over and over again. It basically contained the simple idea that there
is a gap or a space between stimulus and response, and that the key to both our growth
and happiness is how we use that space.

I can hardly describe the effect that idea had on my mind. Though I had been nurtured in
the philosophy of self-determinism, the way the idea was phrased — “a gap between
stimulus and response” — hit me with fresh, almost unbelievable force. It was almost like
“knowing it for the first time,” like an inward revolution, “an idea whose time had come.”

I reflected on it again and again, and it began to have a powerful effect on my paradigm
of life. It was as if I had become an observer of my own participation. I began to stand in
that gap and to look outside at the stimuli. I reveled in the inward sense of freedom to
choose my response — even to become the stimulus, or at least to influence it — even to
reverse it.

Shortly thereafter, and partly as a result of this “revolutionary” idea, Sandra and I began
a practice of deep communication. I would pick her up a little before noon on an old red
Honda 90 trail cycle, and we would take our two preschool children with us — one
between us and the other on my left knee — as we rode out in the canefields by my office.
We rode slowly along for about an hour, just talking.


The children looked forward to the ride and hardly ever made any noise. We seldom saw
another vehicle, and the cycle was so quiet we could easily hear each other. We usually
ended up on an isolated beach where we parked the Honda and walked about 200 yards
to a secluded spot where we ate a picnic lunch.

The sandy beach and a freshwater river coming off the island totally absorbed the interest
of the children, so Sandra and I were able to continue our talks uninterrupted. Perhaps it
doesn’t take too much imagination to envision the level of understanding and trust we
were able to reach by spending at least two hours a day, every day, for a full year in deep

At the very first of the year, we talked about all kinds of interesting topics — people,
ideas, events, the children, my writing, our family at home, future plans, and so forth. But
little by little, our communication deepened and we began to talk more and more about
our internal worlds — about our upbringing, our scripting, our feelings, and self-doubts.
As we were deeply immersed in these communications, we also observed them and
observed ourselves in them. We began to use that space between stimulus and response
in some new and interesting ways which caused us to think about how we were
programmed and how those programs shaped how we saw the world.

We began an exciting adventure into our interior worlds and found it to be more exciting,
more fascinating, more absorbing, more compelling, more filled with discovery and
insight than anything we’d even known in the outside world.

It wasn’t all “sweetness and light.” We occasionally hit some raw nerves and had some
painful experiences, embarrassing experiences, self-revealing experiences — experiences
that made us extremely open and vulnerable to each other. And yet we found we had
been wanting to go into those things for years. When we did go into the deeper, more
tender issues and then came out of them, we felt in some way healed.

We were so initially supportive and helpful, so encouraging and empathic to each other,
that we nurtured and facilitated these internal discoveries in each other.

We gradually evolved two unspoken ground rules. The first was “no probing.” As soon as
we unfolded the inner layers of vulnerability, we were not to question each other, only to

Probing was simply too invasive. It was also too controlling and too logical. We were
covering new, difficult terrain that was scary and uncertain, and it stirred up fears and
doubts. We wanted to cover more and more of it, but we grew to respect the need to let
each other open up in our own time.

The second ground rule was that when it hurt too much, when it was painful, we would
simply quit for the day. Then we would either begin the next day where we left off or
wait until the person who was sharing felt ready to continue. We carried around the loose
ends, knowing that we wanted to deal with them. But because we had the time and the
environment conducive to it, and because we were so excited to observe our own
involvement and to grow within our marriage, we simply knew that sooner or later we
would deal with all those loose ends and bring them to some kind of closure.

The most difficult, and eventually the most fruitful part of this kind of communication
came when my vulnerability and Sandra’s vulnerability touched. Then, because of our
subjective involvement, we found that the space between stimulus and response was no


longer there. A few bad feelings surfaced. But our deep desire and our implicit agreement
was to prepare ourselves to start where we left off and deal with those feelings until we
resolved them.

One of those difficult times had to do with a basic tendency in my personality. My father
was a very private individual — very controlled and very careful. My mother was and is
very public, very open, very spontaneous. I find both sets of tendencies in me, and when I
feel insecure, I tend to become private, like my father. I live inside myself and safely

Sandra is more like my mother — social, authentic, and spontaneous. We had gone
through many experiences over the years in which I felt her openness was inappropriate,
and she felt my constraint was dysfunctional, both socially and to me as an individual
because I would become insensitive to the feelings of others. All of this and much more
came out during those deep visits. I came to value Sandra’s insight and wisdom and the
way she helped me to be a more open, giving, sensitive, social person.

Another of those difficult times had to do with what I perceived to be a “hang up” Sandra
had which had bothered me for years. She seemed to have an obsession about Frigidaire
appliances which I was at an absolute loss to understand. She would not even consider
buying another brand of appliance. Even when we were just starting out and on a very
tight budget, she insisted that we drive the fifty miles to the “big city” where Frigidaire
appliances were sold, simply because no dealer in our small university town carried them
at that time.

This was a matter of considerable agitation to me. Fortunately, the situation came up only
when we purchased an appliance. But when it did come up, it was like a stimulus that
triggered off a hot button response. This single issue seemed to be symbolic of all
irrational thinking, and it generated a whole range of negative feelings within me.

I usually resorted to my dysfunctional private behavior. I suppose I figured that the only
way I could deal with it was not to deal with it; otherwise, I felt I would lose control and
say things I shouldn’t say. There were times when I did slip and say something negative,
and I had to go back and apologize.

What bothered me the most was not that she liked Frigidaire, but that she persisted in
making what I considered utterly illogical and indefensible statements to defend
Frigidaire which had no basis in fact whatsoever. If she had only agreed that her response
was irrational and purely emotional, I think I could have handled it. But her justification
was upsetting.

It was sometime in early spring when the Frigidaire issue came up. All our prior
communication had prepared us. The ground rules had been deeply established — not to
probe and to leave it alone if it got to be too painful for either or both.

I will never forget the day we talked it through. We didn’t end up on the beach that day;
we just continued to ride through the canefields, perhaps because we didn’t want to look
each other in the eye. There had been so much psychic history and so many bad feelings
associated with the issue, and it had been submerged for so long. It had never been so
critical as to rupture the relationship, but when you’re trying to cultivate a beautiful
unified relationship, any divisive issue is important.


Sandra and I were amazed at what we learned through the interaction. It was truly
synergistic. It was as if Sandra were learning, almost for the first time herself, the reason
for her so-called hang-up. She started to talk about her father, about how he had worked
as a high school history teacher and coach for years, and how, to help make ends meet, he
had gone into the appliance business. During an economic downturn, he had experienced
serious financial difficulties, and the only thing that enabled him to stay in business
during that time was the fact that Frigidaire would finance his inventory.

Sandra had an unusually deep and sweet relationship with her father. When he returned
home at the end of a very tiring day, he would lie on the couch, and Sandra would rub
his feet and sing to him. It was a beautiful time they enjoyed together almost daily for
years. He would also open up and talk through his worries and concerns about the
business, and he shared with Sandra his deep appreciation for Frigidaire financing his
inventory so that he could make it through the difficult times.
This communication between father and daughter had taken place in a spontaneous way
during very natural time, when the most powerful kind of scripting takes place. During
those relaxed times guards are down and all kinds of images and thoughts are planted
deep in the subconscious mind. Perhaps Sandra had forgotten about all of this until the
safety of that year of communication when it could come out also in very natural and
spontaneous ways.

Sandra gained tremendous insight into herself and into the emotional root of her feelings
about Frigidaire. I also gained insight and a whole new level of respect. I came to realize
that Sandra wasn’t talking about appliances; she was talking about her father, and about
loyalty — about loyalty to his needs.

I remember both of us becoming tearful on that day, not so much because of the insights,
but because of the increased sense of reverence we had for each other. We discovered that
even seemingly trivial things often have roots in deep emotional experiences. To deal
only with the superficial trivia without seeing the deeper, more tender issues is to
trample on the sacred ground of another’s heart.

There were many rich fruits of those months. Our communication became so powerful
that we could almost instantly connect with each other’s thoughts. When we left Hawaii,
we resolved to continue the practice. During the many years since, we have continued to
go regularly on our Honda trail cycle, or in the car if the weather’s bad, just to talk. We
feel the key to staying in love is to talk, particularly about feelings. We try to
communicate with each other several times every day, even when I’m traveling. It’s like
touching in to home base, which accesses all the happiness, security, and values it

Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again — if your home is a treasured
relationship, a precious companionship.

Intergenerational Living

As Sandra and I discovered that wonderful year, the ability to use wisely the gap
between stimulus and response, to exercise the four unique endowments of our human
nature, empowered us from the Inside-Out.

We had tried the outside-in approach. We loved each other, and we had attempted to
work through our differences by controlling our attitudes and our behaviors, by
practicing useful techniques of human interaction. But our band-aids and aspirin only


lasted so long. Until we worked and communicated on the level of our essential
paradigms, the chronic underlying problems were still there.

When we began to work from the Inside-Out, we were able to build a relationship of trust
and openness and to resolve dysfunctional differences in a deep and lasting way that
never could have come by working from the outside in. The delicious fruits — a rich win-
win relationship, a deep understanding of each other, and a marvelous synergy — grew
out of the roots we nurtured as we examined our programs, rescripted ourselves, and
managed our lives so that we could create time for the important Quadrant II activity of
communicating deeply with each other.

And there were other fruits. We were able to see on a much deeper level that, just as
powerfully as our own lives had been affected by our parents, the lives of our children
were being influenced and shaped by us, often in ways we didn’t even begin to realize.
Understanding the power of scripting in our own lives, we felt a renewed desire to do
everything we could to make certain that what we passed on to future generations, by
both precept and example, was based on correct principles.
I have drawn particular attention in this book to those scripts we have been given which
we proactively want to change. But as we examine our scripting carefully, many of us
will also begin to see beautiful scripts, positive scripts that have been passed down to us
which we have blindly taken for granted. Real self-awareness helps us to appreciate those
scripts and to appreciate those who have gone before us and nurtured us in principle-
based living, mirroring back to us not only what we are, but what we can become.

There is transcendent power in a strong intergenerational family. An effectively
interdependent family of children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can
be a powerful force in helping people have a sense of who they are and where they came
from and what they stand for.

It’s great for children to be able to identify themselves with the “tribe,” to feel that many
people know them and care about them, even though they’re spread all over the country.
And that can be a tremendous benefit as you nurture your family. If one of your children
is having difficulty and doesn’t really relate with you at a particular time in his life,
maybe he can relate to your brother or sister who can become a surrogate father or
mother, a mentor, or a hero for a period of time.

Grandparents who show a great interest in their grandchildren are among the most
precious people on this earth. What a marvelous positive social mirror they can be! My
mother is like that. Even now, in her late 80s, she takes a deep personal interest in every
one of her descendants. She writes us love letters. I was reading one the other day on a
plane with tears streaming down my cheeks. could call her up tonight and I know she’d
say, “Stephen, I want you to know how much I love you and how wonderful I think you
are.” She’s constantly reaffirming.

A strong intergenerational family is potentially one of the most fruitful, rewarding, and
satisfying interdependent relationships. And many people feel the importance of that
relationship. Look at the fascination we all had with Roots some years ago. Each of us has
roots and the ability to trace those roots, to identify our ancestors.

The highest and most powerful motivation in doing that is not for ourselves only, but for
our posterity, for the posterity of all mankind. As someone once observed, “There are
only two lasting bequests we can give our children — one is roots, the other wings.”


Becoming a Transition Person

Among other things, I believe that giving “wings” to our children and to others means
empowering them with the freedom to rise above negative scripting that had been passed
down to us. I believe it means becoming what my friend and associate, Dr. Terry Warner,
calls a “transition” person. Instead of transferring those scripts to the next generation, we
can change them. And we can do it in a way that will build relationships in the process

If your parents abused you as a child, that does not mean that you have to abuse your
own children. Yet there’s plenty of evidence to indicate that you will tend to live out that
script. But because you’re proactive, you can rewrite the script. You can choose not only
not to abuse your children, but to affirm them, to script them in positive ways.

You can write it in your personal mission statement and into your mind and heart. You
can visualize yourself living in harmony with that mission statement in your Daily
Private Victory. You can take steps to love and forgive your own parents, and if they are
still living, to build a positive relationship with them by seeking to understand.

A tendency that’s run through your family for generations can stop with you. You’re a
transition person — a link between the past and the future. And your own change can
affect many, many lives downstream.

One powerful transition person of the twentieth century, Anwar Sadat, left us as part of
his legacy a profound understanding of the nature of change. Sadat stood between a past
that had created a “huge wall of suspicion, fear, hate and misunderstanding” between
Arabs and Israelis, and a future in which increased conflict and isolation seemed
inevitable. Efforts at negotiation had been met with objections on every scale — even to
formalities and procedural points, to an insignificant comma or period in the text of
proposed agreements.

While others attempted to resolve the tense situation by hacking at the leaves, Sadat drew
upon his earlier centering experience in a lonely prison cell and went to work on the root.
And in doing so, he changed the course of history for millions of people.

He records in his autobiography:

It was then that I drew, almost unconsciously, on the inner strength I had developed in
Cell 54 of Cairo Central Prison — a strength, call it a talent or capacity, for change. I found
that I faced a highly complex situation, and that I couldn’t hope to change it until I had
armed myself with the necessary psychological and intellectual capacity. My
contemplation of life and human nature in that secluded place had taught me that he who
cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality, and will
never, therefore, make any progress.

Change — real change — comes from the Inside-Out. It doesn’t come from hacking at the
leaves of attitude and behavior with quick-fix personality ethic techniques. It comes from
striking at the root -the fabric of our thought, the fundamental, essential paradigms,
which give definition to our character and create the lens through which we see the
world. In the words of Amiel:

Moral truth can be conceived in thought. One can have feelings about it. One can will to
live it. But moral truth may have been penetrated and possessed in all these ways, and
escape us still. Deeper even than consciousness there is our being itself — our very


substance, our nature. Only those truths which have entered into this last region, which
have become ourselves, become spontaneous and involuntary as well as voluntary,
unconscious as well as conscious, are really our life — that is to say, something more than
property. So long as we are able to distinguish any space whatever between Truth and us
we remain outside it. The thought, the feeling, the desire or the consciousness of life may
not be quite life. To become divine is then the aim of life. Then only can truth be said to
be ours beyond the possibility of loss. It is no longer outside us, nor in a sense even in us,
but we are it, and it is we.

Achieving unity — oneness — with ourselves, with our loved ones, with our friends and
working associates, is the highest and best and most delicious fruit of the Seven Habits.
Most of us have tasted this fruit of true unity from time to time in the past, as we have
also tasted the bitter, lonely fruit of disunity — and we know how precious and fragile
unity is.

Obviously building character of total integrity and living the life of love and service that
creates such unity isn’t easy. It isn’t quick fix.

But it’s possible. It begins with the desire to center our lives on correct principles, to break
out of the paradigms created by other centers and the comfort zones of unworthy habits.

Sometimes we make mistakes, we feel awkward. But if we start with the Daily Private
Victory and work from the Inside-Out, the results will surely come. As we plant the seed
and patiently weed and nourish it, we begin to feel the excitement of real growth and
eventually taste the incomparably delicious fruits of a congruent, effective life.

Again, I quote Emerson: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier — not that the
nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.”
By centering our lives on correct principles and creating a balanced focus between doing
and increasing our ability to do, we become empowered in the task of creating effective,
useful, and peaceful lives…for ourselves, and for our posterity.

A Personal Note

As I conclude this book, I would like to share my own personal conviction concerning
what I believe to be the source of correct principles. I believe that correct principles are
natural laws, and that God, the Creator and Father of us all, is the source of them, and
also the source of our conscience. I believe that to the degree people live by this inspired
conscience, they will grow to fulfill their natures; to the degree that they do not, they will
not rise above the animal plane.

I believe that there are parts to human nature that cannot be reached by either legislation
or education, but require the power of God to deal with. I believe that as human beings,
we cannot perfect ourselves. To the degree to which we align ourselves with correct
principles, divine endowments will be released within our nature in enabling us to fulfill
the measure of our creation. In the words of Teilhard de Chardin, “We are not human
beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

I personally struggle with much of what I have shared in this book. But the struggle is
worthwhile and fulfilling. It gives meaning to my life and enables me to love, to serve,
and to try again.


Again, T. S. Eliot expresses so beautifully my own personal discovery and conviction:
“We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive
where we began and to know the place for the first time.”



Appendix A

Possible Perceptions Flowing out of Various Center
These are alternative ways you may tend to perceive other areas of your lif

* *
If your center is Spouse…
SPOUSE: The main source of need satisfaction.
FAMILY: Good in its place. Less important. A common project.
MONEY: Necessary to properly take care of spouse.
WORK: Necessary to earn money to care for spouse.
POSSESSIONS: Means to bless, impress, or manipulate.

* *
If your center is Family…
SPOUSE: Part of the family.
FAMILY: The highest priority.
MONEY: Family economic support.
WORK: A means to an end.
POSSESSIONS: Family comfort and opportunities.

* *
If your center is Money…
SPOUSE: Asset or liability in acquiring money.
FAMILY: Economic drain.
MONEY: Source of security and fulfillment.
WORK: Necessary to the acquisition of money.
POSSESSIONS: Evidence of economic success.

* *
If your center is Work…
SPOUSE: Help or hindrance in work.
FAMILY: Help or interruption to work. People to instruct in work ethic.
MONEY: Of secondary importance. Evidence of hard work.
WORK: Main source of fulfillment and satisfaction. Highest ethic.
POSSESSIONS: Tools to increase work effectiveness. Fruits, badge of work.

* *
If your center is Possessions…
SPOUSE: Main possession. Assistant in acquiring possessions.
FAMILY: Possession to use, exploit, dominate, smother, control. Showcase.
MONEY: Key to increasing possessions. Another possession to control.
WORK: Opportunity to possess status, authority, recognition.
POSSESSIONS: Status symbols.


* *
If your center is Pleasure…
SPOUSE: Companion in fun and pleasure or obstacle to it.
FAMILY: Vehicle or interference.
MONEY: Means to increase opportunities for pleasure.
WORK: Means to an end. “Fun” work OK.
POSSESSIONS: Objects of fun. Means to more fun.

* *

If your center is A Friend or Friends…
SPOUSE: Possible friend or possible competitor. Social status symbol.
FAMILY: Friends or obstacle to developing friendships.
MONEY: Source of economic and social good.
WORK: Social opportunity.
POSSESSIONS: Means of buying friendship. Means of entertaining or providing social

These are alternative ways you may tend you perceive other areas of your life

* *

If your center is Spouse…
PLEASURE: Mutual, unifying activity or unimportant.
FRIENDS: Spouse is best or only friend. Only friends are “our” friends.
ENEMIES: Spouse is my defender, or common enemy provides source of marriage
CHURCH: Activity to enjoy together. Subordinate to relationship.
SELF: Self-worth is spouse based. Highly vulnerable to spouse attitudes and behaviors.
PRINCIPLES: ideas which create and maintain relationship with spouse.
* *

If your center is Family…
PLEASURE: Family activities or relatively unimportant.
FRIENDS: Friends of the family, or competition. Threat to strong family life.
ENEMIES: Defined by family. Source of family strength and unity. Possible threat to
family strength.
CHURCH: Source of help.
SELF: Vital part of but subordinate to family. Subordinate to family.
PRINCIPLES: Rules which keep family unified and strong.

* *
If your center is Money…

PLEASURE: Economic drain or evidence of economic stress.
FRIENDS: Chosen because of economic status or influence.
ENEMIES: Economic competitors. Threat to economic security.
CHURCH: Tax write-off. Hand in your pocket.
SELF: Self-worth is determined by net worth.
PRINCIPLES: Ways that work in making and managing money.

* *


If your center is Work…

PLEASURE: Waste of time. Interferes with work.
FRIENDS: Developed from work setting or shared interest. Basically unnecessary.
ENEMIES: Obstacles to work productivity.
CHURCH: Important to corporate image. Imposition on your time. Opportunity to
network in
SELF: Defined by job role.
PRINCIPLES: Ideas that make you successful in your work. Need to adapt to work

* *

If your center is Possessions…

PLEASURE: Buying, shopping, joining clubs.
FRIENDS: Personal objects. Usable.
ENEMIES: Takers, thieves. Others with more possessions or recognition.
CHURCH: “My” church, a status symbol. Source of unfair criticism or good things in life.
SELF: Defined by the things I own. Defined by social status, recognition.
PRINCIPLES: concepts which enable you to acquire and enhance possessions.

* *

If your center is Pleasure…

PLEASURE: Supreme end in life.
FRIENDS: Companions in fun.
ENEMIES: Take life too seriously. Guilt trippers, destroyers.
CHURCH: Inconvenient, obstacle to recreation. Guilt trip.
SELF: Instrument for pleasure.
PRINCIPLES: Natural drives and instincts which need to be satisfied.

* *

If your center is Friends…

PLEASURE: Enjoyed always with friends. Primarily social events.
FRIENDS: Critical to personal happiness. Belonging, acceptance, popularily is crucial.
ENEMIES: Outside the social circle. Common enemies provide unity or definition for
CHURCH: Place for social gathering.
SELF: Socially defined. Afraid of embarrassment or rejection.
PRINCIPLES: Basic laws which enable you to get along with others.

* *


This is the way you may tend to perceive other areas of your life.

* *

If your center is Enemies…

FRIEND OR PLEASURE: Rest and relaxation time before the next battle.
ENEMY OR FRIENDS: Emotional supporters and sympathizers. Possibly defined by
ENEMIES: Objects of hate. Source of personal problems. Stimuli to self-protection and
CHURCH: Source of self-justification.
SELF: Victimized. Immobilized by enemy.
PRINCIPLES: Justification for labeling enemies. Source of your enemy’s wrongness.

* *

If your center is Church…

FRIEND OR PLEASURE: “Innocent” pleasures as an opportunity to gather with other
church members. Others as sinful or time wasters, to be self-righteously denied.
ENEMY OR FRIENDS: Other members of the church.
ENEMIES: Nonbelievers; those who disagree with church teachings or whose lives are in
blatant opposition to them.
CHURCH: Highest priority. Source of guidance.
SELF: Self-worth is determined by activity in the church, contributions to the church, or
performance of deeds that reflect the church ethic.
PRINCIPLES: Doctrines taught by the church. Subordinate to the church.

* *

If your center is Self…

FRIEND OR PLEASURE: Deserved sensate satisfactions. “My rights.” “My needs.
ENEMY OR FRIENDS: Supporter, provider for “me”.
ENEMIES: Source of self-definition, self-justification.
CHURCH: Vehicle to serve self-interests.
SELF: Better, smarter, more right. Justified in focusing all resources on personal
PRINCIPLES: Source of justification. Those ideas that serve my best interests; can be
adapted to need.

* *

If your center is Principles…

FRIEND OR PLEASURE: Joy that comes from almost any activity in a focused life. True
re-creation as an important part of a balanced integrated life-style.
ENEMY OR FRIENDS: Companions in interdependent living. Confidants — those to
share with, serve, and support.


ENEMIES: No real perceived “enemies”; just people with different paradigms and
agendas to be understood and cared about.
CHURCH: Vehicle for true principles. Opportunity for service and contribution.
SELF: One unique, talented, creative individual in the midst of many unique, talented,
creative individuals who, working independently and interdependently, can accomplish
great things.
PRINCIPLES: Immutable natural laws which cannot be violated with impunity. When
honored, preserve integrity and thus lead to true growth and happiness.

Appendix B

A Quadrant II Day at the Office

The following exercise and analysis is designed to help you see the impact of a Quadrant
II paradigm in a business setting on a very practical level.

Suppose that you are the director of marketing for a major pharmaceutical firm. You are
about to begin an average day at the office, and as you look over the items to attend to
that day, you estimate the amount of time each one will take.

Your unprioritized list includes the following:

1. You’d like to have lunch with the general manager (1-1 1/2 hours).
2. You were instructed the day before to prepare your media budget for the following
year (2 or 3 days).
3. Your “IN” basket is overflowing into your “OUT” basket (1-1 1/2 hours).
4. You need to talk to the sales manager about last month’s sales; his office is down the
hall (4 hours).
5. You have several items of correspondence that your secretary says are urgent (1 hour).
6. You’d like to catch up on the medical journals piled upon your desk (1/2 hour).
7. You need to prepare a presentation for a sales meeting slated for next month (2 hours).
8. There’s a rumor that the last batch of product X didn’t pass quality control.
9. Someone from the FDA wants you to return his call about product X (1/2 hour).
10. There is a meeting at 2 P.M. for the executive board, but you don’t know what it is
about (1 hour).

Take a few minutes now and use what you have learned from Habits 1, 2, and 3 that
might help you to effectively schedule your day. By asking you to plan only one day, I
have automatically eliminated the wider context of the week so fundamental to fourth
generation time management. But you will be able to see the power of Quadrant II,
principle-centered paradigm even in the context of one nine-hour period of time

It is fairly obvious that most of the items on the list are Quadrant I activities. With the
exception of item number six — catching up on medical journals — everything else is
seemingly both important and urgent.

If you were a third-generation time manager, using prioritized values and goals, you
would have a framework for making such scheduling decisions and would perhaps
assign a letter such as A, B, or C next to each item and then number 1, 2, 3 under each A,
B, and C. You would also consider the circumstances, such as the availability of other
people involved, and the logical amount of time required to eat lunch. Finally, based on
all of these factors, you would schedule the day.


Many third-generation time managers who have done this exercise do exactly what I
have described. They schedule when they will do what, and based on various
assumptions which are made and explicitly identified, they would accomplish or at least
begin most of the items in that day and push the remainder onto the next day or to some
other time.

For instance, most people indicate that they would use the time between 8 and 9 A.M. to
find out exactly what was on the agenda for the executive board meeting so that they
could prepare for it, to set up lunch with the general manager around noon, and to return
the call from the FDA. They usually plan to spend the next hour or two talking to the
sales manager, handling those correspondence items which are most important and
urgent, and checking out the rumor regarding the last batch of product X which
apparently didn’t pass quality control. The rest of that morning is spent in preparing for
the luncheon visit with the general manager and/or for the 2 P.M. executive board
meeting, or dealing with whatever problems were uncovered regarding product X and
last month’s sales.

After lunch, the afternoon is usually spent attending to the unfinished matters just
mentioned and/or attempting to finish the other most important and urgent
correspondence, making some headway into the overflowing “IN” basket, and handling
other important and urgent items that may have come up during the course of the day.

Most people feel the media budget preparations for the following year and the
preparation for the next month’s sales meeting could probably be put off until another
day, which may not have as many Quadrant I items in it. Both of those are obviously
more Quadrant II activities, having to do with long-term thinking and planning. The
medical journals continue to be set aside because they are clearly Quadrant II and are
probably less important than the other two Quadrant II matters just mentioned.

What approach did you take as you scheduled those items? Was it similar to the third-
generation approach? Or did you take a Quadrant II, fourth-generation approach? (refer
to the Time Management Matrix on page 151).

The Quadrant II Approach

Let’s go through the items on the list using a Quadrant II approach. This is only one
possible scenario; others could be created, which may also be consistent with the
Quadrant II paradigm, but this is illustrative of the kind of thinking it embodies.

As a Quadrant II manager, you would recognize that most P activities are in Quadrant I
and most PC activities are in Quadrant II. You would know that the only way to make
Quadrant I manageable is to give considerable attention to Quadrant II, primarily by
working on prevention and opportunity and by having the courage to say “no” to
Quadrants III and IV.

The 2:00 P.M. board meeting. We will assume the 2 P.M. executive board meeting did not
have an agenda for the attending executives, or perhaps you would not see the agenda
until you arrived at the meeting. This is not uncommon. As a result, people tend to come
unprepared and to “shoot from the hip.” Such meetings are usually disorganized and
focus primarily on Quadrant I issues which are both important and urgent, and around
which there is often a great deal of sharing of ignorance. These meetings generally result
in wasted time and inferior results and are often little more than an ego trip for the
executive in charge.


In most meetings, Quadrant II items are usually categorized as “other business.” Because
“work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion” in accordance with Parkinson’s
Law, there usually isn’t time to discuss them. If there is, people have been so beaten and
smashed by Quadrant I, they have little or no energy left to address them.

So you might move into Quadrant II by first attempting to get yourself on the agenda so
that you can make a presentation regarding how to optimize the value of executive board
meetings. You might also spend an hour or two in the morning preparing for that
presentation, even if you are only allowed a few minutes to stimulate everyone’s interest
in hearing a more extended preparation at the next board meeting. This presentation
would focus on the importance of always having a clearly specified purpose for each
meeting and a well-thought-out agenda to which each person at the meeting has had the
opportunity to contribute. The final agenda would be developed by the chairman of the
executive board and would focus first in Quadrant II issues that usually require more
creative thinking rather than Quadrant I issues that generally involve more mechanical

The presentation would also stress the importance of having minutes sent out
immediately following the meeting, specifying assignments given and dates of
accountability. These items would then be placed on appropriate future agendas which
would be sent out in plenty of time for others to prepare to discuss them.

Now this is what might be done by looking at one item on the schedule — the 2 P.M.
executive board meeting — through a Quadrant II frame of reference. This requires a high
level of proactivity, including the courage to challenge the assumption that you even
need to schedule the items in the first place. It also requires consideration in order to
avoid the kind of crisis atmosphere that often surrounds a board meeting.

Almost every other item on the list can be approached with the same Quadrant II
thinking, with perhaps the exception of the FDA call.

Returning the FDA call. Based on the background of the quality of the relationship with
the FDA, you make that call in the morning so that whatever it reveals can be dealt with
appropriately. This might be difficult to delegate, since another organization is involved
that may have a Quadrant I culture and an individual who wants you, and not some
delegatee, to respond.

While you may attempt to directly influence the culture of your own organization as a
member of the executive board, your Circle of Influence is probably not large enough to
really influence the culture of the FDA, so you simply comply with the request. If you
find the nature of the problem uncovered in the phone call is persistent or chronic, then
you may approach it from a Quadrant II mentality in an effort to prevent such problems
in the future. This again would require considerable proactivity to seize the opportunity
to transform the quality of the relationship with the FDA or to work on the problems in a
preventive way.

Lunch with the general manager. You might see having lunch with the general manager
as a rare opportunity to discuss some longer-range, Quadrant II matters in a fairly
informal atmosphere. This may also take 30 to 60 minutes in the morning to adequately
prepare for, or you may simply decide to have a good social interaction and listen
carefully, perhaps without any plan at all. Either possibility may present a good
opportunity to build your relationship with the general manager.


Preparing the media budget. Regarding item number two, you might call in two or three
of your associates most directly connected to media budget preparation and ask them to
bring their recommendations in the form of “completed staff work” (which may only
require your initials to finally approve) or perhaps to outline two or three well-thought-
out options you can choose from and identify the consequences of each option. This may
take a full hour sometime during the day — to go over desired results, guidelines,
resources, accountability, and consequences. But by investing the one hour, you tap the
best thinking of concerned people who may have different points of view. If you haven’t
taken this approach before, you may need to spend more time to train them in what this
approach involves, what “completed staff work” means, how to synergize around
differences and what identifying alternative options and consequences involves.

The “In” basket and correspondence. Instead of diving into the “IN” basket, you would
spend some time, perhaps 30 to 60 minutes, beginning a training process with your
secretary so that he or she could gradually become empowered to handle the “IN” basket
as well as the correspondence under item number five. This training program might go
on for several weeks, even months, until your secretary or assistant is really capable of
being results-minded rather than methods-minded.

Your secretary could be trained to go through all correspondence items and all “IN”
basket items, to analyze them and to handle as many as possible. Items that could not be
handled with confidence could be carefully organized, prioritized, and brought to you
with a recommendation or a note for your own action. In this way, within a few months
your secretary or executive assistant could hand 80 to 90 percent of all the “IN” basket
items and correspondence, often much better than you could handle them yourself,
simply because your mind is so focused on Quadrant II opportunities instead of buried in
Quadrant I problems.

The sales manager and last month’s sales. A possible Quadrant II approach to item
number four would be to think through the entire relationship and performance
agreement with that sales manager to see if the Quadrant II approach is being used. The
exercise doesn’t indicate what you need to talk to the sales manager about, but assuming
it’s a Quadrant I item, you could take the Quadrant II approach and work on the chronic
nature of the problem as well as the Quadrant I approach to solve the immediate need.

Possibly you could train your secretary to handle the matter without your involvement
and bring to your attention only that which you need to be aware of. This may involve
some Quadrant II activity with your sales manager and others reporting to you so they
understand that your primary function is leadership rather than management. They can
begin to understand that they can actually solve the problem better with your secretary
than with you, and free you for Quadrant II leadership activity.

If you feel that the sales manager might be offended by having your secretary make the
contact, then you could begin the process of building that relationship so that you can
eventually win the confidence of the sales manager toward your both taking a more
beneficial Quadrant II approach.

Catching up on medical journals. Reading medical journals is a Quadrant II item you may
want to procrastinate. But your own long-term professional competence and confidence
may largely be a function of staying abreast of this literature. So, you may decide to put
the subject on the agenda for your own staff meeting, where you could suggest that a
systematic approach to reading the medical journals be set up among your staff.
Members of the staff could study different journals and teach the rest the essence of what


they learn at future staff meetings. In addition, they could supply others with key articles
or excerpts which everyone really needs to read and understand.

Preparing for next month’s sales meeting. Regarding item number seven, a possible
Quadrant II approach might be to call together a small group of the people who report to
you and charge them to make a thorough analysis of the needs of the salespeople. You
could assign them to bring a completed staff work recommendation to you be a specified
date within a week or 10 days, giving you enough time to adapt it and have it
implemented. This may involve their interviewing each of the salespeople to discover
their real concerns and needs, or it might involve sampling the sales group so that the
sales meeting agenda is relevant and is sent out in plenty of time so that the salespeople
can prepare and get involved in it in appropriate ways.

Rather than prepare the sales meeting yourself, you could delegate that task to a small
group of people who represent different points of view and different kinds of sales
problems. Let them interact constructively and creatively and bring to you a finished
recommendation. If they are not used to this kind of assignment, you may spend some of
that meeting challenging and training them, teaching them why you are using this
approach and how it will benefit them as well. In doing so, you are beginning to train
your people to think long-term, to be responsible for completing staff work or other
desired results, to creatively interact with each other in interdependent ways, and to do a
quality job within specified deadlines.

Product “X” and quality control. Now let’s look at item number eight regarding product
“X,” which didn’t pass quality control. The Quadrant II approach would be to study that
problem to see if it has a chronic or persistent dimension to it. If so, you could delegate to
others the careful analysis of that chronic problem with instructions to bring to you a
recommendation, or perhaps simply to implement what they come up with and inform
you of the results.

The net effect of this Quadrant II day at the office is that you are spending most of your
time delegating, training, preparing a board presentation, making one phone call, and
having a productive lunch. By taking a long-term PC approach, hopefully in a matter of a
few weeks, perhaps months, you won’t face such a Quadrant I scheduling problem again.

As you go through this analysis, you may be thinking this approach seems idealistic. You
may be wondering if Quadrant II managers ever work in Quadrant I. I admit it is
idealistic. This book is not about the habits of highly ineffective people; it’s about habits
of highly effective people. And to be highly effective is an ideal to work toward.

Of course you’ll need to spend time in Quadrant I. Even the best-laid plans in Quadrant II
sometimes aren’t realized. But Quadrant I can be significantly reduced into more
manageable proportions so that you’re not always into the stressful crisis atmosphere that
negatively affects your judgment as well as your health.

Undoubtedly it will take considerable patience and persistence, and you may not be able
to take a Quadrant II approach to all or even most of these items at this time. But if you
can begin to make some headway on a few of them and help create more of a Quadrant II
mind-set in other people as well as yourself, then downstream there will be quantum
improvements in performance.

Again, I acknowledge that in a family setting or a small business setting, such delegation
may not be possible. But this does not preclude a Quadrant II mind-set which would


produce interesting and creative ways within your Circle of Influence to reduce the size
of Quadrant I crises through the exercise of Quadrant II initiative.

Sky, Land, River.


  • Stephen R. Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Eff People
  • Stephen R. Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Eff People
    • Part One
      • INSIDE OUT
        • Primary and Secondary Greatness
        • The Power of a Paradigm
          • The Power of a Paradigm Shift
        • Seeing and Being
          • The Principle-Centered Paradigm
        • Principles of Growth and Change
          • The Way We See the Problem is the Problem
        • A New Level of Thinking
        • The Seven Habits — An Overview
          • “Habits” Defined
          • The Maturity Continuum TM
      • Effectiveness Defined
      • Organizational PC
      • How to Use This Book
      • What You Can Expect
      • Habit 1: Be Proactive –Principles of Personal Visio
        • The Social Mirror
        • “Proactivity” Defined
        • Taking the Initiative
        • Act or be Acted Upon
        • Listening to our Language
        • Expanding the Circle of Influence
        • The “Have’s” and the “Be’s”
        • The Other End of the Stick
        • Making and Keeping Commitments
        • Proactivity: The 30-Day Test
        • Application Suggestions
        • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind TM
      • What it Means to “Begin with the End in Mind”
      • All Things Are Created Twice
      • By Design or Default
      • Leadership and Management — The Two Creations
      • Rescripting: Becoming Your Own First Creator
      • A Personal Mission Statement
      • Alternative Centers
      • Identifying Your Center
      • GUIDANCE
      • WISDOM
      • SECURITY
      • GUIDANCE
      • POWER
      • GUIDANCE
      • WISDOM
      • POWER
      • SECURITY
      • WISDOM
      • POWER
      • GUIDANCE
      • POWER
      • SECURITY
      • GUIDANCE
      • POWER
      • A Principle Center
      • GUIDANCE
      • WISDOM
      • POWER
      • Writing and Using a A Personal Mission Statement
      • Using Your Whole Brain
      • Two Ways to Tap the Right Brain
      • Expand Perspective
      • Visualization and Affirmation
      • Family Mission Statements
      • Organizational Mission Statements
      • Application Suggestions
        • Habit 3:
        • Put First Things First TM — Principles of Personal Management
      • The Power of Independent Will
      • Four Generations of Time Management
      • What it Takes to Say “No”
      • Moving Into Quadrant II
      • The Quadrant II Tool
      • Becoming a Quadrant II Self-Manager
      • Living It
      • Advances of the Fourth Generation
      • Delegation: Increasing P and PC
      • Gofer Delegation
      • Stewardship Delegation
      • The Quadrant II Paradigm
      • The Emotional Bank Account TM
      • Six Major Deposits
        • Understanding the Individual
      • Attending to the Little Things
      • Keeping Commitments
      • Clarifying Expectations
      • Showing Personal Integrity
      • Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal
      • The Habits of Interdependence
      • Six Paradigms of Human Interaction
      • Win-Win
      • Win-Lose
      • Lose-Win
      • Lose-Lose
      • Win
      • Which Option Is Best?
      • Win-Win or No Deal TM
      • Five Dimensions of Win-Win
      • Character
      • Relationships
      • Agreements
      • Win-Win Performance Agreements
      • Processes
        • Principles of Empathic Communication
      • Character and Communication
      • Empathic Listening
      • Diagnose Before You Prescribe
      • Four Autobiographical Responses
      • Understanding and Perception
      • One-on-One
      • Application Suggestions
      • Synergistic Communication
      • Synergy in the Classroom
      • Synergy in Business
      • Snergy and Communication
      • Fishing for the A Third Alternative
      • Negative Synergy
      • Valuing the Differences
      • Force Field Analysis
      • All Nature is Synergistic
      • Application Suggestions
        • Part Four — RENEWAL
      • Four Dimensions of Renewal
      • The Physical Dimension
      • The Spiritual Dimension
      • The Mental Dimension
      • The Social/Emotional Dimension
      • Balance in Renewal
      • Synergy in Renewal
      • The Upward Spiral
        • Inside-Out Again
      • Intergenerational Living
      • Becoming a Transition Person
      • A Personal Note
        • Appendix
          • Appendix B
      • A Quadrant II Day at the Office
      • The Quadrant II Approach

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