Commentary

December 6, 2013

Don’t settle for being effective; be great

“I’m stuck in a rut.” “I have no life.” “I’m burned out, exhausted.” “I’m bored. I’m just putting in my time.” “Most of my satisfactions come off the job.” “I can’t change things.”

These are the voices of people at work and at home. The pain is personal, and it’s deep.

You may relate with many of the statements yourself, but why is it that some individuals, institutions, systems and cultures tend to bounce back from disruptive situations better than others?

Stephan Covey suggests answers to this and others questions in “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness.” Many readers might recognize Covey as the author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” The 8th Habit, a natural follow up, focuses on finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. The voice of the human spirit is full of hope and intelligence, resilient by nature, and boundless in its potential to serve the common good.

The challenges and complexities we all face in our relationships, families, professional lives and communities are of an entirely new magnitude. In order to thrive, innovate, excel and lead in what Covey calls the Knowledge Worker Age, we must build on and move beyond effectiveness to greatness.

Accessing the higher levels of human genius and motivation in today’s new reality requires a new thinking — a new mind-set, skill-set and tool-set — in short, a whole new habit.

In setting the stage, Covey begins his clarification of greatness by examining business practices of the 20th Century or industrial age. In this paradigm, workers are seen as an expense and often times viewed as replaceable. The organizational mentality was and still is, to a large degree, the boss knows best. Things were done from the outside in rather than from inside out. Only part of the untapped talent of the individual was being utilized toward the success of the company. At this point in time neither the worker nor the leader understood that a new paradigm was evolving which engaged the other parts of the whole, the heart and spirit.

The heart represents a person’s vision, passion and desire to become an integral part of the organization and the use of his knowledge, ideas and energy. The person wants to be thought of for more than just physical skills and following directions. The importance of being empowered as opposed to disempowerment was paramount.

The spirit represents a person’s conscience and the desire to make a difference through participation within the organization, to excel in his individual position and as an important part of the team, and one who is listened to.

Together, the whole-body worker concept helps people to find their voices and inspire others to find theirs enforcing resiliency.

Finding your voice is about seeing a need and serving others. It not only involves the whole person in body, mind, heart and spirit, but at a deeper level in what Covey calls our “Birth Gifts” which are choices, principles and the 4 Intelligences.

As I see it, choice is coming to realize our gifts and talents then using those birth gifts as a positive influence in our lives, as opposed to being a slave to the weaknesses of others and a negative life of disempowerment. Choice is not living your life based upon a predetermined course or a disposition to a bad past. It is more about you determining your response to the outside world. Covey talks about the space between stimulus and response with the middle representing our freedom to choose how we are perceived.

Principles based on core values never change. Qualities like honesty, truthfulness, integrity, accountability, service to others and faith are timeless. These attributes speak to one’s character and lend credence to moral authority.

The 4 Intelligences are IQ, PQ, EQ and SQ. IQ is simply intellectual capacity and what he calls vision; PQ is physical capacity or discipline, which if taken care of through proper diet and exercise will serve you well. EQ or emotional intelligence is the capacity to communicate and interact effectively with other humans, passion. Covey maintains that this is the most important of the 4 Intelligences because in the age of the knowledge worker, communication, teamwork, empathy and the ability to understand the whole person are key. And SQ is spiritual passion or what he calls conscience. Simply put, in my judgment, SQ is doing what’s right.

Covey talks about the effective leader having passion, discipline, and vision and then incorporating those qualities into inspiring others to find their voice through modeling (spirit), which is leading by example. Path-finding (mind) is simply setting the direction or destination of the organization with the trust of others. Aligning (body), which is setting goals and structures to stay on the path, and Empowerment (heart), which is understanding leadership is not a position but a choice, and then to stand back and let the whole person flourish.

These elements combined are the essence of your resilient voice. A voice that resonates deep within one’s self and that once fully understood from a personal and organizational level, the age of the knowledge worker will be an unstoppable force — a force that determines how humans serve each other, which is the bottom line of resiliency. Once we find our voice we can then inspire others to find theirs.




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