Stephen Covey in his classic book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, discusses the contrast between primary greatness that stems from our character (inside) versus secondary greatness that stems from our personality (outside). He states that the personality ethic can be quite shallow and is rooted in other people’s judgment and assessment versus an internal compass that aligns personal values with self-evident unchanging principles. He asserts that sustained personal development is an inside-out growth process that involves shifting our paradigm, or the way we see things.
A paradigm is a mind map of how one sees themselves, others and the world. Our paradigms are embedded in our character. Covey’s 7-Habits philosophy is a principle-based paradigm. Adopting and implementing these seven habits begins by recognizing that our problem is often the way we see the problem, our paradigm. If I want to be more effective in life, relationships, and the pursuit of personal fulfillment, I must realign my character (expressed by habits) with unchanging self-evident principles such as fairness, honesty, goodness, kindness, service, and excellence. My destiny changes when my character is changed, and my character is a product of my habits that consist of my repeated actions driven by choice. This inside-out paradigm of human change is a key to understanding and implementing sustained personal change.
I encourage you to slow down today and consider your current habits. Do they support the person you aspire to be? What choices could you take that would realign your actions with self-evident principles of life? I encourage you to invest some time in proactive thought!