Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Higher Level of Maturity?

After attending a Covey Leadership Training earlier this week, I have decided to share my interpretation of what was learned.  My "spin" on "The 7 habits of highly effective people"....

I had read the book prior to going to the training, and what I took away from the book was simple... 7 habits (or steps) to achieving a higher level of effectiveness.   These steps were only quarantined (in my mind) to the business world.   This time going through the experience, it had much more of a broad level of application for me.

The 7 habits are:
1.  Be Proactive
2.  Begin with the end in mind
3.  Put first things first
4.  Think Win-Win
5.  Seek first to understand, then to be understood
6.  Synergize
7.  Sharpen the saw

The day was spent as we went from habit 1, and breaking it down and dissecting the habit, then advancing on to the next habit.  Various exercises to help make the point, and help with group participation to promote synergy and involvement.  Over all, I did enjoy the training, and took a great look at my life and have much to think about!

This time, however, I found them breaking the 7 habits into 3 levels of "DEPENDENCE"... That word was interesting to me, as I have thought much on the topic over the years. The REAL take-away that they wanted me to have, was to learn that:... As you master these habits, they allow you to graduate from being a "DEPENDENT" person, to an "INDEPENDENT" person, and then to (what they considered a higher level of "maturity") an "INTER-DEPENDENT" person.  I found that very interesting!  It isn't just 7 habits to master, yet they represent an evolutionary process to self mastery.

"We should all be in the pursuit of self-mastery...It is a life long pursuit."
Janice H. Davis

This is the first of 2 or 3 blog entries that I wish to write as I attempt to address these topics.  I admit that I feel quite confident in parts of what I want to say...yet other parts (that represent the areas in which I know I want to grow) I feel quite inadequate as I attempt to say something that might be meaningful.  Meaningful to whom?  Myself!  I write for me!  I feel it forces me to work it out in my own mind, before I will write/publish, any particular topis or issue.  I think of writing as a form of meditation, prayer, or a way to obtain clarity of thought.  One might ask..."Why put it out there for public display?"  My response to that would be:  To invite feedback and avoid delusional thinking.  To formulate a view or opinion, why not invite the feedback and perspective of others?  To think that I possess perfect perspective on my own in any matter, is simply delusional.  So I throw some topics out there for those that wish to listen and offer their thoughts in return... Hopefully mutually achieving a "Value for Value exchange."  Which should be the aim of any endeavor that involves more than one person.  Anyhow, I'll now get back to my desired topic :)
I wish to tackle these three levels of evolution, and write on each of them.  I choose this forum, to invite readers to please participate as I attempt to achieve even more out of the training (which is now days behind me)... I want it to be much more lasting, than a "feel good day, where we all sang Kumbaya"...only to go on the shelf and eventually be forgotten.
"That which receives energy grows."  I wish to give this content more of my energy, and hopefully include your energy as well...So it grows!  For us ALL!! :) 

We all start out in life "Dependent" on others...  Some however, never entirely graduate from being dependent on others.  We are born 100% depend on others.  We depend on them for food, shelter, and every level of sustenance.  We eventually learn self awareness, and then we begin to do things on our own.  We begin to be proactive (the 1st habit) in many many ways.  We learn communication (sounds, speech, writing, etc...)  We learn to be mobile (creep, crawl, walk, run, then drive, etc...)
There are however, areas of growth that many people are never taught because of the way they are raised.
Some are never really taught how to choose.  I believe that the ability to choose is often times taken away from kids, and thus they grow up not being able to think for themselves.  "Mom (or Dad), can i do this or that?"... "No!"... "Why?"..."Because I said so!"...  No explanation or logic even taught or mentioned... Never to learn the simple concept of cause and effect. Choices have consequences (good or bad).  Yet if kids are just told what to do, and scolded if they don't comply,.. never understanding the "Why" and logic behind instructions, then they never think for themselves!
Another area in which we are taught to be dependent, is work.
*** Work
Go to school, get good grades, so someday you can get a JOB, and then you'll be good.  I do believe in school and being educated!  Yet not for the culmination of getting a JOB!  How anticlimactic!!  Lets go through a very long educational journey to eventually have someone else (a boss) tell me when to show up, when I can leave, when I can have a break, how long I can have for lunch, how many days I can even be allowed to be sick, and how many days I can take (per year) to vacation and enjoy those that I love, AND (the worst) how much my time is worth per hour.  Who taught us that our hour is only worth X amount of dollars?  We are taught to settle and sell our time for X amount per hour... The employer provides the schedule, structure, timelines, daily activities, and expected levels of performance...thus leaving the employee dependent on the employer.
Ultimately,  I believe that this is dependence on the production of another.  I believe in education, to do what you love!... NOT to contribute to that which only others love.
***Emotional dependence
      Looking outside of self for validation, worth, love, etc... Someone who NEEDS another to feel of worth, or valuable.  This is a level of "DEPENDENCE"...  Those who say "I love you" not because they meant it and really wanted to say it, but because they NEEDED to hear "I love you too" in return...?  They are dependent.  People set these hooks out there in hopes that we'll feel loved in return.  When love is not shown in return, then  "I must not have worth." is the adopted mentality... They only feel of worth when an outside source, tells them they are of worth.  I think we all can work on this one to some degree or another.  Others have an emotional dependency on their work.  If I don't get this or that job, then I must not be good enough.  They wrap their entire identity and self worth in what position they have, the house in which they live, the car they drive, or the qualifications that their significant other might possess.    Lots that we could say on this topic.  All of this results in a person being emotionally dependent. 

How to evolve and move from Dependence to Independence (Habits 1-3)...

Habit 1: "Be Proactive"  We must often assess if we are being Proactive or Reactive in the decisions that we are making.  Do we wait until we are FORCED to change?...or do we identify what we want, and proactively go after it?...which are two VERY different ways of doing things!  Somethings we can't do anything about, yet there are somethings we CAN do something about.  I would say to focus on what we CAN do something about.  One thing we can ALWAYS choose, is our mindset.  Our Attitude.  I do believe that "Attitude determines Altitude!"  We can not be victims in life!  We can always do something! "Be Proactive"

Habit 2:  "Begin with the end in mind"   What do I want?  Where am I headed?  "All things are created twice:  First mentally, then physically."...Covey     Most people don't identify what they want.  They get stuck in the cycle of just existing and paying the bills.  About 5 years ago I was instructed to write my own obituary.  Although that may sound morbid in nature... I did write it, and it's something I often return to and read.  In the end...after all is said and done, what do I want said as the 'caption of my life'.  It was an exercise that caused me to finally get serious about what I wanted to do while here in this life.  Once that is identified, then ANYTHING you do that is not working toward that predetermined end, is wasting your time!  I understand that is a bold statement, yet think about that.  How does one get out of the cycle of "existing to just pay the bills"..?  First, one must decide to change!!
For those that want a better relationship?...Because that involves another individual it's not entirely within our power to make changes.  Same principles apply though... Are you stuck just "paying the emotional bills"..?  Here's an interesting question... Are you paying your own emotional bills, or are you paying your partners' emotional bills for them?  "THEY have a problem yet ask you to fix it."... Hmmm.  In the end, the process is the same.  Identify what it is that you want, and proceed accordingly. 
Be proactive, and decide what you want.  "Begin with the end in mind"

Habit 3:  "Put first things first"    We all know people that are always "busy being busy", that really don't accomplish much.  Are we one of those people?  Are we stacked full of "things to do", yet in the end NONE of those things move us toward what we really want?  We have to begin to let go of things that do not move us forward, and be disciplined enough to focus on the things that DO move us forward toward what we want.  The Covey training broke this down into 4 quadrants of activity.
1.  Things we do that HAVE to get done and demand our immediate attention.  Crisis, deadlines, angry customers, sick child, flat tire, etc...  These are things we HAVE to get to NOW.  So they tend to get done.
2.  Things we ought to be doing that move us toward our goals.  Planning and preparation, education, training and development, relationship building, renewing self, etc... This quadrant is very much the creative quadrant.
3.  Things that "come up" that really don't allow progress that we COULD avoid if we are disciplined enough.  Interruptions, pressing matters, some emails, meetings, and phone calls, other people's priorities, busy bee errands, etc... Things that are not contributing to our overall forward progress.  "Activity is NOT accomplishment"...Covey... (Love that!)
4.  Things that turn off the brain and are a blatant misuse of our minds and talents.  Excessive computer games, aimlessly surfing the web, mindless TV, meaningless conversations (gossip)... Things that will never move us forward EVER!

We should try to spend most of our time in the first 2 quadrants, and much less time in 3 or 4...  3 sometimes has to take our attentions, yet can we get back into quadrants 1 and 2 and be effective?
I found it interesting to analyze where my time might at present, be spent... and weather or not i am effectively advancing toward my goals and overall purpose.  "Put first things first"  prioritize your time.  "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!"

One who is unable to master these 3 habits, tend to be dependent people. They do not think proactively.  They do not have direction.  They do not prioritize their time in the effort to move forward. 

"Someone who is "DEPENDENT" that enters a relationship (of any kind) with another who is "DEPENDENT", becomes "CO-DEPENDENT" which is not recommended and not even healthy. Two dependents together,.. the blind leading the blind, often do not go anywhere of significance in life, and do not generally accomplish much.
One who is "DEPENDENT" joining with another who is "INDEPENDENT"...this then develops a relationship that is "WIN/LOSE"...  A win for the "DEPENDENT" because they are experiencing the fruits, decisions, and benefits of their producing "INDEPENDENT" counterpart.  While the "INDEPENDENT" party is losing having to pull all the weight.  This is not a "value for value exchange" or "Win/Win" at all!  The producer will eventually realize they are not winning and begin to resent and lose respect those that do not provide much (or any) value.  "BOTH PARTIES MUST BE EVENLY YOKED"... If they are evenly yoked, mutual respect is merited, and a thriving relationship lasts, for both parties contribute. One party contributing while the other is not...often results in the contributing party no longer need the other, and to move their focus elsewhere.
I say....Rightly so! 

IF we are able to Focus on, and allow these 3 habits to become a part of us, then (according to the FranklinCovey training philosophy) we will have reached a level called "INDEPENDENCE"... Mastering the first 3 habits (1. Be Proactive  2. Begin with the end in mind  3. Put first things first) will then allow us to be independent and self starting and self motivating.  These people do not wait for others to start.  They have direction, and know where they are going.  They prioritize their time to get whee they wish to go, and reach their goals.  They live with purpose!!  They are "INDEPENDENT" of others to get there... Now, on the other hand...
IF we do NOT master these first three habits, we then React to whatever life brings... We do not have much direction... and we are busy yet never really accomplishing much nor are we really moving forward much in life.
Think of where you were 5-10 years ago.  Now think of where you are today.  Has much changed?  Or has much progressed with that on which you focus?   On a day-to-day basis it is hard to see the overall progress of life.  Yet when we step away and look at things over a 10 year span, we either see progress, failure, or a whole lot of "the same"...  We can either point our fingers elsewhere as to why, or we can be accountable for ourselves, and accept responsibility and decide to change. 

"Years know things that days never knew"... Gordon C. Peters

This is where I feel I am in life.  "INDEPENDENT"... What was revealing to me (as I went through this training) was that being "INDEPENDENT" is still a state of immaturity.  Although it is more mature than those that are "DEPENDENT", it still represents a limited level of existence.  Yeah, you don't need Mommy or Daddy (or the government) anymore.  You can think on your own and are proactive.  You know what you want out of life.  You can be disciplined enough to put first things first to get there... but guess much enjoyment will one obtain alone, and with whom can they share?  Yes, you can get a certain distance on your own, but you could go so much further, WITH other producers.  This topic I will attempt to tackle in a future entry.
One who is "INDEPENDENT", joining with another who is "INDEPENDENT"... Then begins to see what "synergy" means.  Oh how that opens a whole new level.  Wow!!  Looking forward to exploring that topic!

In summary, can we move from "DEPENDENCE" to "INDEPENDENCE"..?  Can we stand on our own and be a producer in life?  A Creator.  (If you really think about it, it would actually be a Co-Creator with God!...) 
I appreciated learning these steps that break this process down, and teach us how to advance from one habit to the next.  Habits make up a life of progress, or a life of average and mediocre results, and even a life filled with regrets and failures.  Do we exist on the production of others?  or do we produce ourselves?  Do we offer value, in exchange for value? 

Good questions to ask...and always good (and sometimes hard) to have a deep look in the mirror!!

I invite your thoughts!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"My life is not my Fault"...?

After a weekend of work, I decided to just flip on the TV tonight.  I was just letting it be "background noise" as I was busy doing other things.  My ears perked up when I heard the name Bruce Jenner, because I do like his history as an Olympic Gold Medalist.  I found it interesting that he was hitting the spotlight because of his "controversial comments" about drug addiction and how it's a choice.  The program then shifted to others saying how drug addiction is something that people don't chose and there's nothing they can do about it...then the spotlight shifted back to Bruce Jenner saying that it is a choice to take drugs.  I understand that the program was simply showing both sides to the argument,  and the program wasn't necessarily endorsing one side or the other, yet just showing both sides to the issue. 

I was very taken aback to learn that some are now excusing personal accountability in the world of drug use and drug addiction, and shifting that accountability to something other than the very drug users' own personal choice.  Were they always addicted to drugs?  Doubtful!  If they are now, who's accountable for that?  The drug user!  That IS a choice, and I personally agree with Mr Jenner in his stance!  (Although I do not agree with the judgmental remarks that were added, like calling someone "stupid"...) yet I still agree with the fact that we make choices, and we are responsible for those choices that we ourselves make.  If we aren't, then who is?  I just do not subscribe to any level of mentality that points fingers elsewhere for our own lives.  We are where we are, because of the choices that WE, ourselves, have made. 
If people have made choices, and are suffering from addictions, then should we have compassion and understanding and assist when and where possible?  YES!... and No, I do not profess to know and understand all individuals who suffer from drug addiction and each individual situation...but I do feel that regardless of how you look at at it... Drug use IS a choice. 

I also find it interesting how a drug user is praised for CHOOSING to enroll in a rehab program and take corrective measures. That was their choice and society allows them keep and own that choice.  But if they don't choose corrective measures, then "it just isn't they're fault" that they're addicted....??  I don't agree with that.  "Still a choice" is what Bruce Jenner said... (for which he was being accused of saying something controversial?!?)

Will society continue to excuse ownership and accountability, and shift blame elsewhere for choices that are made?  Will we buy into the story that "my own life is not my fault"....? 
!! I WON'T !!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half of the things you do you might just as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great individuals and, alas, of all failures, as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human. You may run me for profit or run me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you."

Who am I?
I am Habit


Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Reset Button

It's early and I've been up for a few hours now... One of those morning when your mind is awake and alive, and running a million miles an hour.  My thoughts are turned to my kiddos.  The questions that run around in my head like:  "Are my kids getting the upbringing that they need to prepare them for life's challenges?"..."Are they loving their childhood and now teenage years?"... I remember so many things that I had as I was growing up, that have now become "fond memories" and even "anchors" in my life.  Do my kids have those?  When the winds of life blow, will they have a "center" to which they can return to clear away the clutter of life and start anew?  A core set of beliefs and values that anchor them in truth and unquestionable solid ground?  I know how I hit that "reset button" in my life and return my center, yet do they?  Things to assess and re-adjust if needed, yet my mind is awake with this line of questioning...
How do YOU hit your "reset button" in YOUR life?  I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Love today

Tonight is a one where emotions run high, deep tender feelings have surfaced, and I have decided to briefly write.  The hustle of life that surrounds me, and the love that I have for life keeps me ever charging forward.  Busy with this and busy with that, cause me to just keep plowing through each day, week, month, etc...  Then there are nights like tonight, that strip away all the appointments and schedule, and cause me to come face to face with the most precious.  The most dear. Absolutely the most important core that this life can ever offer.  The purest part of my soul.  MY Family!  Those whom I hold most dear... The fragility of life... How in an instant it could be over... How it causes the feeling of overwhelming gratitude and joy, and that I have been gifted those that I have and hold so dear.  How they color my world and make it so much more than ever possible on my own.  They are my reasons why!
In an can change and be gone.  Seize the chance to love deeply, to embrace that which is in front of you, and love TODAY!

Monday, May 6, 2013


Driving across the wide open space of Indiana. The early morning air, the sun coming up, and my mind is awake and alert. Peaceful feelings inside as the world wakes up and begins its morning rhythm.

Lyrics tumble around in my mind as things in my life occur. What's inside me, somehow wants to emerge in lyrical or poetic form. Always that unsung tune, that tries to take form so I can express what I'm feeling.

Misunderstood, distant, and perhaps I would even admit to sadness lately. "I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go..." (Life of Pi). Letting go is so hard for me! I don't want to! Yet i know that change is ever constant and sometimes I have difficult time with it. No fault to pin. No blame to assign. Just change and the evolution of life will often times bring joy, and other times bring sorrow.

Holding strong to that which anchors me. I've learned, and even repeated to others, that "Sorrow can not take root in a grateful heart"... Trying to count my blessings (for they are many)...

Bom Día.... from the open roads of Indiana...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Accountabilty 101

"You are exactly where you are, based on the decisions that you have made"
... Dallon H. Oaks

This quote resonates in my mind right now.  Sometimes I experience things that cause me to slow down and just try to look at things from an outsiders' perspective.  I ask myself... "How have I contributed to exactly where I am right now?"  If I'm honest, I am able to see that I have played The Main Roll in exactly where I am right this instant.  It's easy to blame and point fingers at others as to why we are where we are.  Most people do just that!  However, NOTHING will change until we decide to take personal accountability for our own lives.  Looking inward and raising our own awareness is the key.  You either go "within, or you'll go "without"...   We must become more aware of our ego, and the roles that it constantly tries to play.  Aware of our own patterns and being willing to look in the mirror.  Not an easy thing to do at times, yet oh so necessary. 

The truth is...Where we are today is direct reflection of what we believe and what we know.  The only way to change where we are, is to expand what we believe and what we know.  Raise our awareness!!  It starts inside our minds.

The tricky part, as we are picking apart our own lives, is to look at things with proper perspective.  We are typically way off the mark, when we venture into self analysis. Too much interference involved (personal fears, ego, victim mentality, etc...) for us to even expect a fair self analysis.   I was once told by a dear friend (John McLay)... "Don't you dare venture into the realms of self analysis, unless you invite The Lord to be present while doing so."  Great advise, because as I dive into this lately, I sure do feel like crap! :(  Easy to be harder on ourselves...or we are "our own worst critic"...  Only with The Creators' perfect perspective should we try to put ourselves under construction to build us into something better... Perhaps a prayer to seek guidance isn't such a bad idea...?   ;)

Sifting through patterns, habits, limited perspective... Yet learning of self, becoming more aware, and growing through difficult things is worth the task.

"We should all be in the pursuit of self mastery...It is a life long pursuit."
...My Mother

Thank you Mom :)

Dissecting it all

" Dissect hate and you'll find that it's nothing more than love wearing shields and armor. Dissect trust and it's nothing more than expectations satisfied. Dismantle wisdom and you'll find that it's nothing more than the shaded area of an overlap of experiences. Dismantle miracles and you'll find that they are nothing more than a reflection of your defying acts. Now dismantle yourself and see that you are a chamber of light."
Tiyu Zafu --- Submitted by Samantha Levy --- California


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