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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


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 immature.

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

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

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


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



Date: 2015-02-03; view: 2579

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