FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Durelle Price | Uncategorized
How does trust in an organization, a company, or a school go awry? While there are many reasons, frequently it is the unintended result of unsuccessfully managing an unforeseen crisis. In such a situation, the unknown looms like a virus descending on an innocent village infecting all in its path and whispering in a sinister voice, “Change is coming.” The thought of change can begat fear, and fear often begets distrust. Whether the change is associated with an economic downturn, a stringent, government mandate, or a change in leadership, the resulting symptoms of distrust can debilitate and stifle progress in any organization.
Some seek remedies in the usual places; however the wise will go back to school to find a cure. Not just any school, but a Leader in Me elementary school. Leader in Me schools employ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® and promote internalization of the timeless leadership principles upon which the habits are based. As a result, teachers, parents, and students working together develop and sustain an environment wherein trust is implicit and mastery of 21st century skills enabled. Herein lies a powerful prescription for struggling organizations, companies, or educational institutions plagued by distrust.
Sean Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Happy Kids® suggests a visual of a serum and a syringe to understand the strategy of the initiative. The serum represents the principles and the composite of leadership behaviors, and the syringe is the system through which to introduce and administer the solution. When brought together in The Leader in Me school, distrust is healed by the speed of leadership.
Iconic educator, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, believed with all his heart, “Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.” The Leader in Me is an innovative, schoolwide initiative based on this philosophy. Driven from the bottom-up and focused on the organization’s biggest asset—the children—this model encourages a paradigm-shift that promotes a culture of personal and student empowerment naturally unleashing each child’s full potential.
Such schools developing a leadership culture and achieving extraordinary results are evaluated and may be awarded FranklinCovey Leader in Me Lighthouse status. Recently as part of a Lighthouse School Review Team, I visited Stone Oak Elementary, a Leader in Me school in San Antonio, Texas. We were greeted by smiles and eager, out-stretched hands. Not the hands of administrators, but those of student greeters aged 6 through 10. After a firm handshake and an uninhibited introduction that speaks of self-confidence, the students led our group on a schoolwide tour. Along the way, we passed other students holding signs directing parents to a 7 Habits overview workshop. Peeking through the workshop door, I saw about twenty parents and grandparents engaged in a fun, group activity. Apparently to accommodate busy schedules, similar workshops are available on evenings and weekends.
As the tour continued, the student tour guides took turns highlighting school- and grade-level goals posted in the halls and pointed out accompanying scoreboards designed to measure progress. When asked about the use of scoreboards, without hesitation one of the student guides explained, “When you have a goal, or an end in mind, you know where you’re going.” Scoreboards help us know where we are today, so we know what needs to be done tomorrow.” Another student chimed in, “Posting our goals and scoreboards helps us synergize and support each other.” Such transparency, abundance, and collaboration does indeed sponsor trust and promote progress.
While I was marveling at the student’s comprehension of leadership and business tools, one of the student guides shouted a greeting to his approaching father. The proud student turned to me and said, “My dad’s a Watch DOG,” which stands for Dad’s of Great Students. This national initiative engages men, inspires children, reduces bullying and enhances the educational environment. These “hallway heroes” foster a sense of safety, which everyone knows is a catalyst of trust.
One of the highlights of the tour was attending a student-led conference. Unlike the traditional teacher-led review of the child’s progress, two lovely young ladies—one in kindergarten and the other in fourth grade—shared their leadership notebooks with me in delightful detail. Each walked me through their goals and progress and shared victories including celebrations for reaching personal, class, and schoolwide goals. The enthusiasm for their educational experience was refreshing and contagious.
In retrospect, one could conclude the prescription for building or restoring trust in any organization, company, or school is clearly in emulating the practices of a Leader in Me school:
- Learn and practice The 7 Habits
- Internalize the effective, foundational principles of The 7 Habits
- Allow leaders to emerge based on strengths
- Identify and track goals
- Share your goals and account for your progress willingly
- Listen to your elders and those who have your best interest at heart
- Synergize not only in teams and interdepartmentally, but also with your stakeholders
- Celebrate personal, team, and organizational victories
You can learn more about the approximately 1200 Leader in Me schools around the world at leaderinme.org. Be a community leadership hero and sponsor a school. Arrange a visit at a Leader in Me school in your area today. What? There’s not one in your area? Then click here to find out what you can do to introduce The Leader in Me to your child’s school. Get started right now introducing your child to The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. Parents, check out the books, posters, and games available and begin to unleash your child’s potential!
February is Dating Violence Awareness Month.
According to a special report by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics females ages 16-24 experience intimate partner violence at a rate almost triple to any other age group or the national average. Parents, your daughters have a 1 in 3 chance of being victims of dating violence. While some teens are fretting over what to wear to prom, others are wondering what they can wear tomorrow to hide the bruises. Many are being “textually abused.” For some the wounds from the verbal abuse fester into an angry emotional abscess that prompts bad choices with often irreparable consequences. If this doesn’t seem serious enough for you to read on, conduct an internet search with the keywords, “killed by her boyfriend.” A recent search revealed not just a few links to news stories, but 25+ pages of links to heart-wrenching stories of families dealing with the loss of their loved ones to dating violence.
So, how do you know who to date? How do you avoid dangerous relationships? It’s often said that in business, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” When it comes to dating, give that old adage a new twist. Think “it’s what you know about who you know.” As you might have suspected, everything boils down to habits. What do you know about a person’s habits? Whether a potential business partner or a prospective life partner, you need to know as much as possible about who you know.
There are red flag habits and green flag habits to consider. Green flag habits are healthy behaviors that signal “Go—it’s safe to move forward with this relationship”. Red flag habits are unhealthy often dangerous behaviors that signal “STOP!—put the brakes on this relationship now.” Look for the red flag habit in this story about 17 year old Michelle found in Sean Covey’s book The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make.
Michelle…was zapped—love-struck by Justin, a hot, star athlete at their high school. Justin could be very sweet. He told her how beautiful she was and how much he loved her. Early in their relationship they went to a party and the guy at the front door told her she had pretty eyes. Before she could say thank you, Justin punched the guy flat to the floor. She had a terrible feeling in her stomach, but her friends all said, ‘Wow, you are so lucky. He loves you so much!’
As is common amongst teens, Justin’s violent red flag behavior was misinterpreted by Michelle’s friends and then justified by Michelle. However, her gut instinct that left the terrible feeling in her stomach was trying to help Michelle see the punch—an unreasonable response to a compliment—for what it was—a red flag habit—violence. Preceding the punch, Michelle viewed Justin’s absorption of all her free time as signs of love and commitment. She felt happy he wanted to spend so much time with her. She didn’t see it was another red flag habit that allowed him to gain control over her and distance her from her friends and family. As you read the continued excerpt below you’ll see the dire consequences Michelle experienced when denial kept her from recognizing the red flag habits.
A few years later they’d decided to get married. A week before the wedding, they had a minor disagreement. Suddenly, Justin dove across the room and grabbed Michelle by the throat. It was the longest 20 seconds Michelle had ever experienced. Just as quickly as it began, it ended. He dropped to his knees, threw his arms around her waist and pleaded with her to forgive him. As the tears streamed down his face, he blamed it on being nervous about the wedding and swore he’d never do anything like that again. Michelle didn’t know what to do. She’d been taught to forgive, right? She was humiliated and confused. She didn’t tell her sister. She sure didn’t tell her mother, and she didn’t even tell her best friend. She prayed it would never happen again. A week later they were married.
When red flag habits exist before the wedding, the behaviors often only increase and intensify in the marriage as is apparent in the continuation of the story.
Now she was trapped. Over the next several years, the physical and emotional abuse went from bad to worse before Michelle finally gathered the courage to leave Justin. He continued to stalk her for years.
Sadly, as the story confirms, even divorce often doesn’t put an end to violence. According to a study by Stark and Flitcraft (1988), 75 percent of violent incidents that lead to emergency room visits occur after separation. Another important fact is that relationship violence is not a gender-exclusive crime. Although statistics show the vast majority of reported abuse is perpetrated by males, many male victims fear the humiliation of reporting.
Michelle’s story is not unique but it is preventable. So what can a community leader, parent, teacher, concerned family member, or friend do to encourage better choices and drive more favorable consequences? Everyone benefits from supporting local violence prevention and intervention programs. Gather resources from those agencies such as the Power and Control Wheel displayed here. Parents of teens: give your kids copies of The 7 Habits for Teens and The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make (audio or books) and send an email to your local school board president containing the link for FranklinCovey youth workshops. If you are an elementary school teacher, introduce your peers and administrators to the FranklinCovey Leader in Me initiative that discourages bullying behaviors (often leading to dating violence) and encourages students as young as five years of age to become leaders in their own lives. Family members and can model green flag habits as well as sponsor and attend a 7 Habits Signature, 7 Habits Families workshop, or an 8 Habits of a Successful Marriage workshop at your business or in your neighborhood.
If you are a victim and feel trapped like Michelle in an abusive relationship. You have done nothing to deserve the abuse. There is a better life for you waiting on the other side. I know because Michelle’s real name is Durelle. Call the national dating violence hotline 800-799-SAFE for resources in your area. Get help and get out−Now!
What does it take to “leave a legacy”? This is a question that could have a myriad of answers—all individual, all personal. If you ask Graham Chamberlain of Gloucester, England, he may respond “It takes village.” Chamberlain, aged 70, a retired security officer, means this literally. Over 30 years ago in the early 1970’s, Chamberlain was working as a lorry (truck) driver traversing the border regions of South Warwickshire and Worcestershire and traveling through West Oxfordshire, Herefordshire, and Gloucestershire. Like poets, artists, and filmmakers awed by the Northern England’s Cotswolds landscape, Graham also was inspired by the beauty of the scenic countryside—charming villages cropping up out of the lush green rolling hills speckled with roaming livestock.
One sunny afternoon on a leisurely drive with his son, he commented that he’d love to build one of those pleasant cottages made of a yellow oolitic limestone rich in fossils. Chamberlain’s son, Steve, about age 7 at the time and a proactive boy by nature was quite confident in his father’s abilities. He urged, “then build one, Dad.”
Chamberlain shrugged off the suggestion. As the boy insisted, it was as if he’d tugged a chain clicking on the invisible light bulb above his father’s head. “Why not!” exclaimed Chamberlain. The hardworking father needed a way to relax and sharpen the saw. The kids wanted a fish pond in the back garden, but Graham now had other ideas. He’d always been handy with a tool belt and possessed a resourceful creative imagination. That weekend Chamberlain set out to sharpen both his saws—the proverbial and the one in the woodshed.
Finding the property upon which to erect his village was the issue. Financial resources didn’t allow for a large land acquisition. But that wasn’t what Chamberlain had in mind anyway. Dr. Stephen R. Covey advises “all things are created twice—mental creation precedes physical creation.” Gazing out the second story window of his Gloucester row house into his narrow back yard and neatly sculptured garden, the innovative designer had a vision. It was a grand vision on a small scale—in fact a miniature scale.
Beginning with the end in mind, Graham designed not only his own Cotswold cottage, but also an entire village.
Dr. Covey says, “There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase ‘to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy’… the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.”
Chamberlain’s contribution—acting on his vision while sharpening his saw—is far-reaching. He has opened his village to the community for tours inviting elementary children and other groups to visit. The visionary hopes seeing the village ignites the children’s imagination and encourages them to follow and act on their dreams—however megalithic or minuscule they may seem.
In 2011, the Chamberlain family grew with the addition of Graham and Pet’s first grandson, Rueben John, (son of Steve and Lucy). Soon Rueben John will stroll the small streets of his grandfather’s famous village; the streets his father swept as a boy.
The kin, both those at home in England and those “across the pond” in America cherish this miniature monument lovingly built as it represents a legacy of imagination, initiative, and execution. So, at least in this case it does take a “village” to leave Graham’s legacy.
Ahh…the sweet fragrance and comforting sounds of spring at last arrive! The smell of cut grass and the whirring of lawn mowers on Saturday morning fill the newly arrived warm air. Birds chirping in the morning replace the sound of the ice scraper on my windshield.
For the past several months I have been nothing but “cold and calculating”—skin chapped and paled from chilly winter winds; eyes red and blurred from all late night study sessions; right hand permanently locked around the empty mechanical pencil; head down in the pile of eraser fodder generated from hours of calculating and miscalculating algebraic equations and tricky word problems. Such was the life of one who was manically focused on her goal of effectively juggling a math-intensive course load; various community roles; and that of Price family winter “cruise director” responsible for keeping the holiday family fun afloat—maintaining order and balance on the Good-Ship-When’s-It-Gonna-Stop. (Please, please, my head’s about to pop!) By mid March, I was ready to assume an alias, abandon ship and park myself on a beach somewhere south of here.
Taking a hiatus from just about everything including this blog, I was on a mission to unleash my own greatest potential by achieving the private victory found only in the execution of habits 1,2, and 3 of the 7 Habits. Habit 1: Be Proactive required me to engage others in holding me accountable for proactively managing myself (e.g. doing my homework and staying on schedule).
It was easy to practice Habit 2: Begin with the End Mind—simply put, the end was: make grades that aren’t an embarrassment. I was engulfed by math anxiety (a euphemism for a debilitating condition that causes skipped favorite television programs, incessant head-scratching, ugly brow-furrowing and massive consumption of number two lead and legal pads). Therefore, I had to practice Habit 3: Put First Things First. So, I enlisted the services of retired geo-physicist-turned-tutor, Dr. Howard Taylor to help me manage and overcome the “condition” as well as make the grades.
Three months later without much damage to my GPA, I am no longer “cold and calculating.” I have emerged into the warmth of the spring sun triumphant! With statistics still on the horizon this summer, I am armed with the habits necessary to manage stress and my time effectively and conquer the negligent behaviors that would undo my success. Thanks to this Private Victory, I’m confident that math is no longer my foe (still not my friend, but no longer a formidable foe).
I never cease to be amazed at the value of this curriculum and its relevance in my life. Are you facing a formidable foe? Ever wonder where you fall on the effectiveness scale? Check out this Self-Scoring 7 Habits Profile that will allow you to evaluate your current level of effectiveness. Hey, the only thing you have to lose are bad habits.
Did you know that October was Relationship Violence Awareness Month? Probably not. Many other worthy causes have overshadowed this pandemic that thrives in the shadows.
Relationship violence destroys the lives of adults, teens and children. Recently, a teen told me she hadn’t realized she was in an abusive relationship until she read the story on page 185 of Sean Covey’s book, The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make.
In what seems like someone else’s story now, at 22, I was so beaten down physically and emotionally—I believed the lies of my batterer: that I was stupid, worthless, and pathetic. I sought to end my life, but failing in the attempt, I awakened in intensive care, angry and cursed the heavens and the hospital for sending me back to that house of horrors. I had given up on my only asset—me; on any chance that I might find some inkling of happiness or success. Then later at 24, looking down at my newborn daughter, I saw my purpose reflected in her big blue eyes. I had a mission— to be the best mother I could possibly be.
It would take five years to let go of the dangerous hope for change and the lies I’d told myself that kept me chained to a relationship filled with broken egg shells, broken spirits, and broken dreams. I had to grieve the loss as one would a death. I used to think it was the death of that cowardly, witless little girl, but now I know it was the death of the dream I grieved—the dream of having the perfect family—mommy, daddy, baby; living in harmony.
The scenario can be had. It was the actors’ inability to fulfill the roles that brought the show to a close. I had to relinquish my role—grieve the loss of the notion that the only way I could succeed was to stay and tough it out; be the perfect mommy, the good wife and help him change; lie motionless in the uncomfortable, seemingly flame-retardant bed I had, indeed, made. But at 30 years of age, I metaphorically burned that bed and over the years have tried to outrun the smoldering memories that linger in my subconscious. Some nights I still scream out and leap for the door. I still look in the rearview mirror fearful that I will see his angry face behind the wheel of the car behind me. I still set the security alarm each time I enter my home and check all the doors and windows before going to sleep.
Yet, I face the mirror each morning thrilled to see the fresh face of a neo 19 year old free of bruises and remind myself of who I am today—of the hurdles over which I have bounded and helped others to clear; of the accomplishments I can call my own: of the amazing husband who has stood by my side now for 17 years supporting any and all of my personal and professional efforts; and of the blossoming young woman whom I am blessed to call my daughter. For I know now that the courage and triumph was never in the staying, it was in the leaving.
If you are suffering in an abusive relationship—there is hope. Get help and get out. Call your nearest shelter and break the chains. Leave the habits behind that kept you trapped. Learn and live The 7 Habits of Successful Families. Living them has helped me, and I know it can help you too.
Exemplary teachers are the personification of The 8th Habit—they find their voices while helping their students find theirs. Henry Adams said “A teacher affects eternity. He (she) can never tell where his (her) influence stops.” These educators merit recognition for transcending the norm. As I write, Education is morphing; placing increased barriers between teaching and learning. The word “education” comes from the Latin word “educare” which translates: “…to draw forth from within.” That is truly the challenge for today’s educators who are faced each day with, among other challenges, state regulated testing, which often forces them into a vicious cycle of repetition and regurgitation: a situation wherein neither the teacher or the student is sincerely engaged.
Yet, award-winning teachers awake each day excited about their opportunity to change lives. Anthony J. Mullen, National Teacher of the Year 2009, advises “passion… ignites a flame too bright to be ignored by students. …Students can feel the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity radiating from a teacher and realize that what is being taught is important and worthwhile.” Passion—the fire within as Stephen Covey puts it—cannot coexist with apathy. Extraordinary tea
chers care about their students and the futures of those they serve. They are unselfish advocates who, like Mullen according to his peers, approach their work with extraordinary effort, a commitment to serving youth, professionalism, high expectations, humor, a flexible cooperative attitude, and a smile on their faces.
When I was a teen, I had two teachers, Mrs. McDowell and Mrs. Evers, whom I remember very fondly. I loved to make them laugh. Mrs. Dowell’s laugh was contagious. She was kind, attentive, and generous with encouragement. She had a never-ending well of patience and tolerance for those of us who were less than mainstream students. Mrs. Evers was a fun and engaging young teacher, not much older than our big-hair-wearing, disco dancing, motley crew. She took her job very seriously, but with a measure of humor and forgiveness. When the coffee in the teachers’ lounge was spiked with liqueur and the principal’s announcements more slurred than usual, Mrs. Evers looked no further than me for the culprit. After the proper reprimand in front of her peers, she leaned down to my ear and whispered, “That was quite a hoot, young lady! Dangerous, definitely inappropriate, but dang funny!”
I have the profound privilege of certifying such dedicated teachers in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens curriculum. Increasingly impressed with the quality of the educators I certify, I find them to be student-centered professionals who view teaching more as a calling than a career. Those who are called to teach recognize the breadth of influence their role grants and are continually seeking to improve their knowledge base and to model behaviors which are worthy of emulation. For this reason, over 4500 schools nationwide and beyond (click here to watch a video) have turned to The 7 Habits training as their choice for principle-centered, productivity and leadership enhancement.
Having a small role in developing educators of Mrs. Dowell and Mrs. Evers’ caliber is quite an honor and a personal accomplishment for me of which I know they would both be proud. Despite my mischievous pranks, between their influence and The 7 Habits training, I guess I turned out okay (smile…snicker).
A marathon is 26.2 miles—52,400 steps. In 2008, 20,000 people participated in the Boston Marathon. Most trained for months, some for years. Many are accomplished athletes—faithful runners who awake even in sub-zero temperatures for their morning run when the remainder of the populace turn over and crank their electric blanket control up a notch. Being that I am comfortably caudled in the latter, it may come as a shock that I did, indeed, join the less than 1% of the entire world who have participated in a marathon.
In 2000, as the Arthritis Foundation Executive Director for Middle Tennessee, I led the Joints in Motion team to the Dublin Marathon—never expecting to participate. Suffering from FMS, if I managed to walk the length of the mall during holiday season I was elated. But thanks to a fantastic doctor, six weeks later my energy level increased dramatically as my pain level decreased. I found myself walking farther and farther. Two weeks before our departure date, I decided to enter the marathon. The day before our flight to Ireland, I trekked 14 miles. I was significantly behind the others in training, but thought “why not?” Ironically, Sonia O’Sullivan, Olympic Silver Medalist, had the same thought the night before the race and made headlines around the world when she surprised only herself and won.
I knew the only headline I might make was back home in Tennessee: “Local woman drops dead in Dublin.” You see, I am what my friends dubbed: “athletically retarded.” But, I had a wildly important goal, a coach and a strategy. I tracked my lag measures closely and had specific lead measures: how many miles/days to walk; how much water to consume; attend meetings; etc. I listened intently to our experienced coach. He taught us to: sip water; pace ourselves; and use mental mantras to distract from aches and pains. The first week I chanted ”don’t pass out, don’t pass out.”
Although my official time reads more like a cross country road trip, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life: the carb-cramming buffet the night before (now there’s a sport I could win a gold medal in); heart-pounding excitement as 8900 participants lined the streets; rainy, bone-chilling temperatures; laughs; tears; and finally crossing an invisible finish line. The crowd was long gone along with the finish line tape and flags— removed hours before without concern for the unprofessionals, the athletically challenged stragglers who followed a trail of empty water bottles to find the finish line.
Along the way, I chummed up with a cheery Englishman who in honor of Halloween was sporting an exceedingly large, green Leprechaun’s hat. When asked which organization he was supporting, in a melodious baritone British accent, he exclaimed, “It’s for the puppies!” He’d entered on behalf of the RSPCA.
One advantage of having little concern for your race time is that you can stop to go to the restroom at will. So, we popped into a pub where pint wagging patrons cheered us through to the water closet. When I came out, my jolly friend was chugging his own pint and reading the newspaper. To my puzzled face, he said, “So much for the puppies!” After saying farewell and Godspeed, we parted ways.
Practicing Habit 4: Think Win-Win of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People promotes mutual benefit. But, have you ever found yourself thinking ‘when-win’ instead? The ‘when-win thinker’ constantly asks: “When is it going to be my turn? When will I get to ‘win’ in this relationship? When do I score the ‘big one’ at work, or in the stock market? When will my ship come in?” Finding himself in a perpetual state of lack and ingratitude, this person is actually thinking ‘lose-win’—positioning himself or herself as the victim—reveling in a funk of entitlement.
‘When-win thinking’ steals your joy, locks it away and gives the key to fear. Fear then steps in and convinces you you’re not worthy of joy anyway. So, why do so many people find themselves thinking ‘when-win’? Conceivably, it is a learned behavior—one that has sometimes been passed down generation to generation. The inbreeding of kissing cousins ‘when-win’ and fear—an unholy union—has produced noxious offspring-bullying, ‘win-lose’ thinkers. Prisons are brimming with these takers who pillage and plunder, robbing society of the domestic tranquility framed in the constitution by our courageous forefathers.
However, in this fear-driven economy, ‘when-win thinking’ can latch on to the best and stressed of us. So, how do you shake it? First, recognize you have cascaded down the slippery slope into scarcity mentality-fearful that your piece of the pie has already been eaten by someone else. The task ahead is to shift back to the paradigm of abundance.
I’m partial to the definition of “abundance” found in the Encarta World English Dictionary online:
- Large amount: a more than plentiful quantity of something
- Affluence: a lifestyle with more than adequate material provisions
- Fullness: a fullness of spirit that overflows
Building on the last characterization, to regain the paradigm of abundance you must reclaim your joy! Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, let your spirit overflow! Remind yourself daily of all the things you DO have such as: love of family, health, skills, and opportunities. What? Do you think I can’t see through this monitor the rolling of your eyes and the smirk that appeared on your face when you read the word “opportunities?” Dale Carnegie and his contemporaries frequently told stories such as that of a wealthy man who’d lost all his riches in the crash of ‘29. Yet, rather than hurl himself out a window, or retreat into self-pity, he charged the day; put on his one and only suit; donned a fresh carnation in the lapel; and picked up a copy of The Wall Street Journal. A cheerful greeting was his gift to all passers by, and when stopped by an associate who queried his state, he exclaimed, “Why it’s your lucky day because I am looking for a new opportunity!” Because he refused to succumb to the loser’s mental rhetoric of ‘when-win thinking’, it wasn’t long before this leader found the opportunity that rebuilt his monetary riches ten-fold.
So, if you’ve found yourself craning over the fence to survey the quality of your neighbor’s grass, rubber-necking a new Maserati, or wishing you got that island caretaking job in Australia (Okay, I admit it! I reeeeeeally wanted that one!), you need to know that the lonely guy driving the Maserati would give anything to have a loving spouse and two sweet kids just like yours.
Every day the perfect leader spends the last few minutes of the day planning the next. Each hour broken down into perfectly detailed steps toward a series of well-defined goals. In a perfect world, you wake up with the energy and resources to ascend those steps and embrace your goal. However, much to your disappointment the world is not perfect and neither are you.
If you wear various hats as I (and most of us) do, you often find yourself defined by the roles associated with those hats and validated by the execution of your goals. I have strived to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect friend, the perfect consultant, the perfect student, the perfect… Until I have found myself in the “perfect” whirlwind. At times, I couldn’t see for all the projects and commitments whirling around me. It appeared I’d forgotten how to say “no.” For some reason in my life, I equated saying “no” with failure, or at a minimum inadequacy.
Perhaps the same is true for you in business. You strive for perfection, say “yes” to every goal, and find yourself caught in a roaring whirlwind-unable to progress-feeling as if you are failing. To fight the whirlwind, you must be proactive rather than perfect, and you need discipline. In fact, what you need is four disciplines-The 4 Disciplines of Execution.
In my role as a community mobilizer, the goals are substantial and impact many people and organizations. Facilitating the 4 Disciplines process, the first thing we do is identify 2 or 3 Wildly Important Goals (WIG’s). These WIG’s drive everything we do. To reach those sometimes lofty goals such as lowering gun violence, or minimizing family violence, the laser focus and dedicated cooperation of many people and organizations is vital.
Identifying commonalities in agency missions and aligning representatives from those agencies on one collective goal is quite a task. However, when the 4 Disciplines are applied, it is accomplished and the results can be astounding. Take the city of Aurora, IL for example. They partnered with FranklinCovey and identified their number one WIG as lowering gun violence by 20%. Every member of each city department focused all their energies on that WIG and voila! Eight months later, not only did they lower gun violence by 21%, but gun-related homicides were reduced by 75%! They indeed conquered the whirlwind.
Another community partnered with FranklinCovey to strengthen families and improve the welfare and future of their children. We customized curriculum for The Jacksonville Network for Strengthening Families which became The 7 Habits of Successful Families in Jacksonville, and the network deployed it throughout Jacksonville, FL. Having successfully served their goal of over 3000 families now, their methodology and results has become the model for similar initiatives across the country.
Avoiding the whirlwinds takes effort, but is easier when you employ this system of disciplines. I was privileged to be there at the beginning of both of these city initiatives and can attest to the courage and determination that Aurora’s Mayor Tom Weisner, and Jacksonville’s Pete Jackson and Robyn Cenizal demonstrate daily as they lead these legacy-building projects.
Daily, one of the top internet searched items is “free stuff”. People look for free products, free music downloads, free coupons, and free information. Focusing on the latter, consider the following.
The top 5 searches on one search engine today were: 1. American Idol; 2. Jillian Harris; 3. Mariska Hargitay; 4. Chris Brown/Rhianna; and 5. IRS.
American Idol last week had 21.2 million viewers (Nielsen estimates). Jillian Harris, former “dump-ee”, is now getting a chance at being “dump-er.” Mariska Hargitay is having series health issues. Chris Brown and Rhianna are bringing relationship violence to the media forefront. And for those of you who aren’t using your planners, April 15th is just around the corner.
So what in the world do all those topics have in common? One might answer the common thread, with the exception tax prep needs, is the desire to avoid one’s own issues while becoming engulfed in others’ problems. However, that is only one perspective. What if…just what if…the underpinnings of these searches suggest personal concerns and your desire to live life as intended? Ponder this…
Search Number 1: Dreams and Aspirations (Spiritual Dimension)–Perhaps this search represents your deep desire to, against all odds, go after your dreams-to develop and showcase your talents and skills and find purpose in life. Are you interested in fulfilling a mission—leaving a legacy?
Searches 2 and 4: Relationships (Emotional/Social Dimension)–Maybe this search represents your recognition that it is all about relationships-that building healthy interpersonal relationships does make a difference in your long-term health and happiness. (Comment on this blog entry and request a copy of the government report “Why Marriage Matters.”) If you don’t have healthy personal relationships, how are you supposed to build strong, fruitful professional relationships?
Search 3: Health (Physical Dimension)–Stress is the number one killer. Conceivably, you may be concerned about your health and the health of your loved ones. Are you looking for a way to find balance between your personal and professional lives?
Search 5: Education and Accountability (Intellectual Dimension)–With economic and job market volatility, you may be looking for ways to meet your responsibilities. Are you concerned about your future and that of your family-asking yourself what you need to do, or how you need to grow, to assure professional sustainability and financial freedom?
Learning to practice Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw will help you search yourself and identify pressing needs in each of these human dimensions. Plan one activity each week that allows you to use your brain to learn. Plan another that will engage your heart with another’s to find your purpose. Sign up for a training to learn something new-stimulate your brain with possibilities and opportunities. Download a free sample planner (free stuff!!) and practice scheduling time for physical activity—if only a walk around your building at lunch—to develop the habit of regular exercise.
In fact, that’s all from me right now, I’m heading for the park with Little Man Tate, the world’s laziest Yorkie. We can both use a trot and some fresh air. Meet me back here next week and share how you’ve sharpened your saw.