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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


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.


THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE Brought to you by FlyHeart 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


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 THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE Brought to you by FlyHeart 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."


THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE Brought to you by FlyHeart 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

THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE Brought to you by FlyHeart 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.


Date: 2015-02-03; view: 975

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