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


Author: maxbinkley

Creator of Leadership to the Max My experience in the military helped set the career path for me in human resources. After the military I worked for The Dow Chemical Company and left there in 1993 to venture out on my own. I purchased a small business, then a franchise then started another business in semi-retirement.

1 thought on “Habit 3, Put First Things First , Principles Of Personal Management, The Power Of Independent Will”

  1. Enjoying your blog! I have really learned to say no over the past few years, it’s not easy, but when I put the mission in focus the priorities become clearer. This is a great reminder!

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