Paradigms and Principles
If we want to change any situation, we must first change ourselves; to change ourselves effectively, we just have to change our perception.
The Personality and Character Ethics
Stephen Covey noticed a pattern after studying writings about success, that writings on success before World War 1 focused on what he called “Character Ethics” as the foundation of success – things like:
- Modesty and the Golden Rule.
The character ethics taught that there are basic principles to effective living and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.
But shortly after World War 1, the basic view of success shifted from character ethic to what might be called “Personality Ethic. Success became more a function of :
- Public image
- Attitude and Behaviour
- Skills and Technique
that lubricate the processes of human interactions.
The personality ethics focused on social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes, social bandaids and aspirin that addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporary – but left the underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and again.
The personality ethic essentially took two paths:
- Human and Public Relations Technique and the other was
- Positive Mental Attitude.
Some of the philosophy was expressed in inspiring and sometime valid maxims such as “Your attitude determines your attitude” “Smiling wins more friends than frowning.” “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.”
Other parts of the personality approach were clearly manipulative, even deceptive, encouraging people to use technique to get other people to like them, quick- fixes Influence technique, Power strategies, Communication skills and Positive attitudes.
Stephen Covey was not suggesting that the elements of the personality ethic – personality growth, communications skill, training and education in the field of influence strategies and positive thinking are not beneficial, in fact sometimes they are essential for success, however, they are secondary and not primary traits.
He noted that to focus on techniques is like cramming your way through school. You sometime get by, perhaps even get good grades, but if you don’t pay the price day in and day out, you never achieve true mastery of the subjects you study or develop an educated mind.
You cannot cram on a farm, if you forget to plant in the spring and you play around in the summer, you cannot cram in the fall to bring harvest. The farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow, there is no shortcut. This is the law of the farm.
What we are communicate far more eloquently than anything we say or do.