Stephen R. Covey says that we should always begin with the end in mind.
For most things in our lives we do begin with the end. We are just not fully aware of it.
For example, artists, before painting a portrait, have a picture of what they want it to look like before grabbing the brush. Professional athletes visualize what they want to do in a game before the game has even started. An entrepreneur, before launching his/her business, will write down a business plan of what he/she would like the business to be.
So, with everything in life there will always be 2 creations. Our visualization and the concrete product.
As an exercise, Covey asks his readers to close their eyes and picture themselves driving to a loved one’s funeral.
As you get there you see family, coworkers, community friends, and others getting ready to speak in honor of the fallen. There will be four speakers: one from his/her immediate family, a coworker, a friend, and someone from a community organization (a church or volunteer program) whom which has been involved with him/her.
However, as you get close and look inside the casket you see yourself! This is your funeral in 3 years from now.
Now, what would you like these speakers to say about you?
Write down 10 to 15 things you would like to be remembered for.
Leadership comes before Management
The 10 to 15 points you wrote down are your principles. These are the things you value the most in life and would define your terms of success.
Living through a well thought out set of values is going to direct you towards the path you want the most. These principles will guide you towards your personal definition of success, and ultimately will be what you will be remembered for.
For example, when I am long gone I would like to be remembered as a person who always loved to help others before myself, had a progressive vision with what I wanted to do, carried myself with great leadership, integrity and confidence, was easy to talk to, and worked extremely hard towards goals bigger than myself in an ethical and value-driven way.
With these set of values I have done my first creation of what I would like my life to be like.
So, now comes the question: what is the difference between leadership and management?
- A manager focuses on how he/she can accomplish certain things
- A leader focuses on what he/she wants to accomplish
With this distinction it is easy to understand why leadership has always to come before management. For example, group of explorers are traveling in a jungle with producers cutting through trees looking for a treasure. The managers are the ones behind the producers sharpening the machetes, writing procedure manuals, and organizing the schedule.
The leader, however, is the one who climbs up the tallest tree and says: “We are in the wrong jungle!”.
The leader has a set of well thought out principles which serves as his/her compass. This compass will guide his group in the right direction. With that being said, no management success can compensate for failure in leadership.
Your Personal Constitution
Think about the Constitution of a country. That is the tool used to evaluate any law that is passed or not passed. The Constitution will last and endure over years because it is based on a set of correct principles which are the truths obtained upon the declaration of the independence of this country.
By beginning with the end in mind you will be able to develop your own Personal Constitution by utilizing your imagination and conscience (discussed in the previous post).
As an example, I will share my own Personal Constitution:
I am at my best when I inspire others.
I will try to prevent times when I let my negative feelings dictate my responses.
I will enjoy my work by finding employment where I can lead a group of people towards a common goal.
I will find enjoyment in my personal life through making the ones around me laugh.
I will find opportunities to use my natural talents and gifts such as learning quickly, including people into activities, solving problems, motivating myself and others towards achievements, and communicating with others.
I can do anything I set my mind to. I will start a company in the sports industry and utilize the profits to help the poor in Third World countries.
My life’s journey is to continually develop myself as a leader in my community in order to attain the resources and trust of others to help the poor and my own family. I am doing this because I was raised in Brazil being exposed to poverty and also lived in Canada, getting to see the benefits of living in a developed country. I intend to end my journey by inspiring many others to take on the challenge of being a proactive member in society with the desire to help the ones in need.
I will be a person who will always carry myself with integrity, self-belief, and respect (for myself and for others). I will always be a leader with a progressive vision and trail blaze a path to many others behind me. I will always be easy to talk to.
My most important future contribution to others will be to provide my family with options to choose from. I want to return everything my parents have done for me and become a good supporting parent like they were for me. I also want to help the poor communities in my country to develop and thrive as individuals.
I will stop procrastinating and start working on:
- Going to bed earlier and waking up earlier
- Getting off my cellphone/laptop and doing more activities outside
- Taking more chances on the things I believe are right for me
I will strive to incorporate the following attributes into my life:
- Being humble and generous
- Carrying myself with great integrity and respect
- Leading others with a pioneer’s mindset
I will constantly renew myself by focusing on the four dimensions of my life:
- Exercising regularly
- Meditating regularly
- Reading regularly
- Interacting with others regularly
You can also develop your own mission statement by clicking here (read the entire post first).
The 4 Balancing Factors
Before writing our personal mission statement we must first understand what fuels the center of our lives.
Stephen R. Covey describes the four interdependent vital factors that dictate our balance in life:
- Security: your sense of self-worth, identity and self-esteem
- Guidance: your source of direction in life, your internal frame that interprets what is happening outside
- Wisdom: your perspective on life, how your principles apply and relate to each other, a sense of oneness
- Power: your capacity to act, your vital energy to make decisions, your capacity to overcome bad habits
Depending on what is in our center, each of these factors will be found somewhere in between strong (security, guidance, wisdom, and power) and weak (security, guidance, wisdom, and power). For example, your sense of security will be found either on one end of the spectrum as extreme insecurity, or on the opposite end as a deep sense of self-worth.
Types of Centers
You could center your life in a variety of different aspects of your life, and with that your four balancing factors will consequently be affected by that.
- If you are money-centered your sense of personal worth is based on your net worth, becoming vulnerable to anything that threatens your economic situation; profit is your only decision making criterion; making money is the lens through which you see life; and your power is restricted to what you can accomplish with your money.
- If you are friend-centered your security is a function of the social mirror; you base your decisions on others’ judgements; you see the world through a social lens; and you are limited to your social comfort zone.
- If you are enemy-centered you are always wondering what your enemy is up to; you guide your actions based on what your enemy does; you are defensive and overreactive; and the little power you have comes from anger, resentment, and vengeance.
- If you are family-centered your security if founded on family acceptance; your family dictates your source of correct attitudes and behaviors; you interpret all your life in terms of your family; and your actions are limited by family models and traditions.
According to Stephen R. Covey you can also be spouse-centered, work-centered, possession-centered, pleasure-centered, church-centered, and self-centered. All of the above provide a volatile way to center your life around, putting your sense of security, guidance, wisdom, and power at the mercy of external factors.
By centering your life around a well-thought out set of values and a personal constitution your four factors will be dependent on internal factors. This will provide you with a more consistent balance throughout life:
- Security: based on principles that do not change regardless of external factors and you understand your own development
- Guidance: you are guided by a compass and you stand apart from life’s situations, emotions, and circumstances enabling you to look at a more balanced whole.
- Wisdom: you adopt a proactive lifestyle basing your actions on long-term consequences.
- Power: you are only limited by your basic understanding of your correct principles and your decisions are not based on your current financial or circumstantial limitations.
Applying your Principles
Our brains are divided into a left and a right hemisphere. The left hemisphere is more logical and verbal, whereas the right hemisphere is more intuitive and creative. Although people use both sides of the brain, one tends to be more dominant than the other depending on the person.
Since we live in a primarily left brain dominant world, where words and logic are enthroned, our creative and intuitive side tends to be overlooked. Even in the public educational institutions we are teaching all of our kids to become mathematicians, engineers, or analysts. We hardly see schools encouraging music and art – it is more of an option for the students.
However, we do need to exercise our right side of the brain in order to be able to visualize our first creations. It is extremely important that we begin to value more our intuition and integrate that with our left side of the brain to put it into practice.
Once we figure out what is important to us, what are our values, we make a promise to ourselves not to react to the external environment. We become more aware of ourselves and once we find a fork on the road we are sure of which road to take.