Moving in the right direction
I'm moved with appreciation and love for the awesome impact Stephen R. Covey, who passed away last week, has had on my life.
In 1989, when the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was published I was a 21 year old who hadn't mastered any of the things Mr. Covey professed as habits of greatness. A few years later I saw him speak at the US Naval Academy. The story I share below continues to have a great impact on me.
During his speech, Mr. Covey asked the entire brigade and guests to point North. Four times, he asked the crowd to do this. Arms from the crowd arouse in various directions, depending on which way people thought was North. (NOTE: The crowd was the US Naval Brigade and guests on the grounds of the Naval Academy. This location was very familiar territory for every member of the brigade and many of the guests.)
Even though I had lived and played in this area my entire life, I didn't know which direction was North. So, I decided to follow the direction of what seemed to be the most confident portion of the brigade.
Once it was clear that there wasn't an agreement (even within the brigade), Mr. Covey pulled out a compass and pointed North. He then, matter-of-factly, said to us that this is a big problem in our society. Mr. Covey claimed that as a society "we are values based [rather than] principles based." The direction the crowd pointed to as North was value based. The direction the compass, and Mr. Covey, pointed to as North was principle based.
Two things really struck me. The first is that I didn't know where North was. The second is how quickly I followed the confident naval brigade.
Ultimately, the direction I pointed towards wasn't North and the challenge Mr. Covey offered me that day continues to be a powerful metaphor in my life.
Today, when making a decision in my life, two powerful questions I ask are:
- Will this decision take me in the right direction?
- Is this decision value -or- principled based?
Here is a quick video of Stephen Covey telling another great story which relates to our discussion. I encourage you to invest a few minutes to check it out.
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Onward & Upward!
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RelianceNet Blog by Pat Cooley
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