Sunday, August 5, 2007

Review of Chapter 4 from Stephen R Covey's book The 8th Habit : From Effectiveness to Greatness

The essence of The 8th Habit is to find your inner voice and inspire others to find theirs. So many people have not yet found their voice, lost their voice or yet not have had the conviction to sound their voice. And hence, the 8th Habit is all about finding your inner voice & express your inner feelings, your burning desires, what is it that you want to be, but cannot be & it tells to us as to how to go about achieving it. We are a product of neither nature nor nurture; we are a product of choice, because there is always a space between stimulus and response. As we wisely exercise our power to choose based on principles, that space will become larger. Little children and people who are mentally handicapped may not have the space, but the overwhelming majority of adults do. Determinism is deeply imbedded into present – day culture and is reinforced by the terrifying sense that if I do have a choice, then I am also responsible for my present situation. Until a person can honestly say “I am what I am” and “I am where I am because I so choose to be there”, that person cannot say with conviction, “I choose otherwise”. Examples of typical voices are “I am not appreciated or valued, I am bored, No matter how hard I work, I feel something is missing.”

The above are typical voices that people express openly or are in their heart. All of us possess more intelligence, more talent, more capability, more creativity, more resources than what our present jobs allow us to do and we are always under tremendous pressure to produce more for less in our jobs. These two things represent loss of voice. Also, add to the fact, that 50% of our time we spend doing things that are urgent but not really important. We do things that are pressing, popular, they are approximate, they are pleasant, but they are not really important. Most of the times people do not have a clear sense of what importance is because they are not really on the same page. And then finally, urgency will replace the important like reports, emails, meetings, etc…And this is typical in most organizations.

Half of the time is spent on things that are urgent but not important and voices are being lost. Offices are full of politics hissing up the hierarchy. Due to this, the capacity to produce is being straight jacketed out of people.The 8th Habit is based on a very simple paradigm – A Whole Person. The Whole Person consists of Body, Mind, Heart & Spirit. When there is unity, harmony & understanding between them, you have voice.

Examples of the application of the idea of Voice to One’s self: - Mind - What is it that you are good at, what are your talents, what are your competencies, what are your gifts? Heart - Passion, What is it that excites you, what do you love doing, what will get your engine up & running so that you will not have other people psyche you up or motivate you ? Body - Needs, Physical needs to survive in this world, goods & services to meet these needs, economic needs. Spirit - Conscience what do you think you should do, what is it that your conscience drives you to do?

Summarizing the examples, we are relating TALENT for the MIND, PASSION for the HEART, NEED for the BODY that you are trying to serve, CONSCIENCE for the SPIRIT. Voice is applying this simple map to one’s self.

If one were to apply the concept of Voice to an Organization; What is its Core Competency or What is the Collective Mind, What about the Collective Heart of the Organization, is the Passion there, what Need is being served, what Services or Products are being given to meet Human Needs: Spirit is the High – Trust Culture; do they live with Principles & Integrity so that it merits the commitment of the people in their life. Does it have a Sense of Meaning that turns People on that they are really adding value?

If one were to apply the concept of voice to Family; Even a family has its own economic needs, hopefully everyone is on the same page, they have one mind, one heart – they are excited about it and also they will try to live by Principle’s so that there is high trust and open authentic communication.

Because these 4 dimensions of life obviously overlap, you really can’t work exclusively on any one without touching directly or indirectly on the others. Developing and using these 4 capacities or intelligences will instill within one’s self quiet confidence, internal strength and security, the ability to be simultaneously courageous and considerate, and personal moral authority. One must develop and work on all these 4 capacities or intelligences in order to take any one of them to its mature & sustainable level. This is what integrity means. It means the whole of our life in integrated around principles. Our capacity for production and enjoyment is a function, in the last analysis, of our character, our integrity. This takes constant effort to develop the physical muscle fiber, the emotional / social muscle fiber by getting us out of our comfort zones and doing those exercises that cause the fiber to break (pain); then it is repaired and enlarged and strengthened after a proper period of rest and relaxation.

In many ways, one’s efforts to develop these intelligences will profoundly impact the ability to influence others and inspire them to find their inner voice.

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