Habit 3, Put First Things First , Principles Of Personal Management, The Power Of Independent Will

My apologies for the delay. My web host site was down this morning.

Author’s quotes:

“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 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 growth.

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.

Disciple 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 super ordinate 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 ‘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 observed. ‘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.”

Personal comments:

Common sense is also an incredible advantage, as is experience, and timing. Opportunities will present themselves and we will intuitively know whether or not to proceed with them. As Kenny Rogers sang about timing, “Know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run”.

Next: Habit 3
Put First Things First,
Principles Of Personal Management
Four Generations Of Time Management


Habit 3, Put First Things First, Principles Of Personal Management

Author’s quotes:

“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 with our 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 issues.

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.”

Personal comments:

Unfortunately, many left-brain dominant people managers apply management principles (paragraph 7 above) when instead they should be applying principles of leadership (paragraph 6). Leadership IS an art, a philosophy. Few master it, but it is easy to spot. Leadership is sometimes “by-passed”, by those who could/should lead, just to stay in “good favor” with “higher ups” (also known as unprincipled behavior).

Next: Habit 3
Put First Things First,
Principles Of Personal Management
The Power Of Independent Will

Habit 2, Begin With The End In Mind, Principles Of Personal Leadership, Using Your Whole Brain

Author’s quotes;

“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 increase 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 indicate 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 relation 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 their ‘comfort zone’ of their dominant hemisphere and process every situation according to either a right or left brain preference.

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 capacity.

As we become aware of its different capacities (our brain), we can consciously use our minds to meet specific needs in more effective ways.

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.”

Personal quotes:

Covey goes into more detail on how to develop personal, family, and organizational mission statements, but this will be my last posting on the subject. We’ve already discussed this topic in two previous posts of August 6 and 13.

On the subject of left/right brain dominance; being right-brain dominant I find the world of left-brain dominant managers to be too logical, too wordy, too much sequential thinking, and not enough creativity, intuition, and sensing. Unless they can develop both left/right thinking it will be difficult for them to become leaders, as I define them.

“Leaders are like eagles; they don’t flock; you find them one at a time”

Next: Habit 3 Put First Things First,
Principles Of Personal Management,
Four Generations Of Time Management

Habit 2, Begin With The End In Mind, Principles Of Personal Leadership, Writing And Using A Personal Mission Statement

Author’s quotes:

“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.

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, thought 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 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.
Personal comments:

My mission in life was detected, not invented. I know because when I talk about it I feel the emotion/passion in my chest. It is an exhilarating experience, and one I treasure.

As Covey said, focus on your Circle of Influence, and dismiss the Circle of Concern. Stay PROACTIVE, and don’t abdicate your responsibility.

Echoing Frankl’s words, recognize that it is us who are asked the meaning of life. We must be responsible for answering for our own lives.

Next: Habit 2 Begin With The End In Mind, Principles Of Personal Leadership, Using Your Whole Brain

Habit 2, Begin With The End In Mind, Principles Of Personal Leadership, A Principle Center (two of two parts)

Author’s quotes:

“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.

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.”

Personal comments:

The behavior at the meeting I discussed in my last post prompted me to write members of these two boards, including the county administrator. Un-principled behavior needs some “light shown on it”. Here is part of what I wrote:

‘The meeting can also be described as petty. Petty because of the political posturing (i.e., berating of a county commissioner over the use of a swear word, and berating previous Parks Directors for their “errors”). Pointing fingers doesn’t help, and explains why the county has so many problems. Instead of discussing important issues, and solving problems, some commissioners seem more interested in getting their “kicks” out of picking on others.

Petty because there was only one mention of county employees in that they are experiencing low morale, and frustration. The comment was quickly ignored so more pettiness could continue. County employees work hard for the citizens, and instead of praise and support they are overlooked, ignored, and sometimes verbally abused. That is a travesty!

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Next: Habit 2 Begin With The End In Mind,
Principles Of Personal Leadership
Writing And Using A Personal Mission Statement