Posts Tagged ‘Covey’

In his 1989 book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey made an important distinction about our culture. After studying over 200 years of success literature dating back to 1776, he determined that around 1920 a significant shift occurred in the United States. Covey observed that we went from a culture founded on a character ethic, to one based on a personality ethic.

Covey defined the character ethic as one focused on “integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty and the Golden Rule.” He then noted that the personality ethic was more about “personality, public image, attitudes, behaviors, skills and techniques that lubricate and manipulate the process of human interaction.”

It is easy to see the effect this shift had on society when we consider the rise to prominence of our movie stars, athletes and political leaders. These big personalities now dominate our culture. We all strive to be famous, act like they do, and make our mark on the world.

Our culture has continued to evolve . . . or perhaps devolve . . . since Covey made this distinction 30 years ago.

In 2004, I believe another dramatic shift occurred that has set us further adrift in America. We have become untethered from the character ethic and knowing who we are at our core and are perhaps one step closer to losing our way.

This latest shift ushered in a new era – the persona ethic, a culture based mainly on an image we try to portray and maintain on our social media sites as well as in real life. Sadly, we are no longer grounded in ourselves. Instead we strive to live our lives based on how we want to be perceived by others.

This new era was likely triggered by two key events – the start of Facebook in 2004, and the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. With those two inventions, selfie madness was born and being self-absorbed became an art form. Suddenly, life became about living from the outside in, rather than the inside out. We became more concerned about how the world perceives and judges us, than about who we are or want to be.

This is most evident in the meteoric rise of reality TV, YouTube stars, Instagram likes, our desire to go viral, our addiction to Facebook and our never-ending primping and posing for the next selfie.

It used to be that cameras always faced outward, taking a picture of the world or something we appreciated “out there.” Now all the cameras face inward, the world relegated to little more than a backdrop, with the camera lens centered upon us as we star of our own movie.

It is very hard to stop the advance of technology . . . or evolution . . . so there is little sense in trying or fighting against the current. But here is what I would advise – be ever more conscious and vigilant about your use of, and interaction with, technology. Technology is an amazing thing, and is very likely to be the thing that saves our species from extinction. Yet, I also believe it is the very thing that will ultimately steal from us the essence that makes us human. The more conscious we are about that, the more likely we are to maintain our humanness.

“Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end.”

– Henry David Thoreau

We will never see or experience the true beauty of the world around us by looking down at our smartphone or plugging our head with earbuds. That only leads to isolation, the very thing everyone is trying to escape as they seek a “like” on their chosen social media platform.

We are all starved for connection and intimacy, and rather than picking our heads up, making eye contact and saying hello, we go on an endless search for recognition and validation on the Internet. And regardless of how many “likes” we garner, they will never fill that hole in our soul. The chase will only leave us feeling hollow and wanting more, hungry to take another hit on the “like” crack pipe.

So here is a truly radical idea about how to obtain what we all truly seek.

Try having a conversation. You know, actually stop and talk to someone. As in face to face with words coming out of your mouth. I have read that vocalization is the new, hottest technology. In fact, scientists aren’t yet sure how our voice is actually produced. They say it is a very complicated process involving no less than 25 major parts of our body. Some are even calling it a miracle. 🙂

Why not give it a try and see what happens.



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I’ve been a big fan of Stephen Covey for quite some time now – just over 10 years.  Mission statements, goals that serve that mission statement, putting first things first, 7 habits, and more.  I religiously set and reviewed my goals every year to ensure that I was heading in the direction of my dreams.  Career goals, number of clients, how much money I wanted to make, how often I wanted to exercise, how many dates to go on to find the right relationship . . . blah, blah, blah.  They all appeared to serve my life and support my desires phenomenally well.


That is until I realized that my life wasn’t working.  Something was drastically missing.


It all sounded and looked good, but the reality was 8 years ago when I once again embarked on the robotic misadventure to set my annual goals, my soul screamed at me.  “This isn’t working! Why do you keep doing this!  You are not happy and this is not giving you what your soul truly craves.”  I was a bit shocked at the truth of this revelation, but the tears running down my face, and the frustration I felt throughout my body told me that my soul was right.


So I took a deep breath, sat quietly, and just listened.  What happened next was truly magical. 


Intention showed up.


The Power of Flow

There is a subtle, yet dramatic distinction between goals and intentions.  It is a distinction so powerful that it gave me my life, yet in that moment it seemed as though all that was, suddenly vanished.  Career, number of clients, financial goals.  Gone.   Exercising 3 times a week, yoga, number of dates.  Gone.  It was all gone with the exception of one simple statement.  A theme.  “Fun, Faith, & Surrender.  Feel rather than think.  Believe rather than question.”   


My goals no longer fell under the typical categories of career, financial, lifestyle, and relationships, but rather the more esoteric, indefinable intentions titled spiritual, play, and connection.  I felt as though my life was truly turned on its head.  Structure disappeared, and in its place magic showed up.  The next two years for me were nothing short of amazing.  In some ways, I would even say unbelievable.  I began to fulfill all my desires and a destiny I felt since I was a child. 


None of this is that surprising when one considers this simple formula:


Intention + Attention = Miracles


Hold an intention in your heart, give it some focus and attention, then watch the miracles appear.  And that is what started showing up in my life.  Miracle after amazing miracle – each more powerful than the one before it.


As I distinguish it, a key difference between a goal and an intention is attachment.   With goals, there is a basic belief that there is a logical path to follow, perhaps even a path that must be followed, if you are to get from point A to point B.  In order to achieve X, I must do Y.  Don’t get me wrong, to a large extent that works.  It just doesn’t allow for the power of “flow” to show up – that mysterious energy that seems to oil all your efforts with a sense of ease as it brings you all you desire.  With goals, we tend to be obsessed with following the steps and being in control in order to make things happen.  Never have I known obsession or control to lead to a joyful life.


With an intention however, that rigidly defined path disappears and is replaced by a sense of freedom and endless possibility.  With intentions, you simply declare for yourself what it is you wish to create in your life, hold it in your heart and consciousness, and then let go and allow for the path to emerge.  The great thing about this approach is that it allows for many more options to show up in your life, any one of which may lead you to the result you desire.


There is No Room for Judgement

Another key distinction between goals and intentions is that intentions eliminate judgment.  With goals, we tend to set milestones and constantly measure and judge ourselves against them.  If we meet them, we are successful.  If we don’t, we are a failure.  It’s hard enough that others judge us, and that we measure ourselves based on what our peers are doing.  Do we really need to add the pressure of judging against ourselves? 


All this judgment eliminates the ability to be in flow; to connect with the Universe and allow the miracles to show up.


With intention, there is no judgment, just inquiry.  At the end of the year I ask myself 3 simple questions.

1)  Did my intention come to fruition?

2)  If not, I seek to understand why.  How did the intention serve me?  How did it not?

3)  Do I want to carry any part of that intention forward into the next year?


Without fail, I find that not only is my intention fulfilled, but due to the free, unattached, and non-judgmental approach I take, I always seem to achieve something I desired even more in my life, but did not know it at the time.  Something of which I wasn’t even aware I longed for.  And it is usually that hidden accomplishment that satisfies my heart, soul, and life more than anything I could have ever imagined.

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