Albert Einstein observed, “The significant problems we face can-not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
As we look around us and within us and recognize the problems created as we live and interact within the Personality Ethic, we begin to realize that these are deep, fundamental problems that cannot be solved on the superfi-cial level on which they were created.
We need a new level, a deeper level of thinking – a paradigm based on the principles that accurately describe the territory of effective human being and interacting – to solve these deep concerns.
This new level of thinking is what whole topic is about. It’s a principle-centered, character-based, “inside-out” approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness.
“Inside-out” means to start first with self; even more fundame-ntally, to start with the most inside part of self – with your paradigms, your character, and your motives.
It says if you want to have a hap-py marriage, be the kind of per-son who generates positive ener-gy rather than empowering it. If you want to have a more plea-sant, cooperative teenager, be more understanding, empathic, consistent, loving parent. If you want to have more freedom, more latitude in your job, be a more responsible, a more helpful, a more contributing employee. If you want the secondary greatness of recog-nized talent, focus on primary greatnesa of a character.
The inside-out approach says that provate victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to others. It says it is futile to put put personality a head of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves.
Inside-out is a process – a conti-nuing process of renewal based on the natural laws that govern human growth and progress. It’s an upward spiral of growth that leads to progressively higher forms of responsible independe-nce and effective interdepend-ence.
I have had the opportunity to work with many people – wonderful people, talented peo-ple who deeply want to archieve happiness and success, people who are searching, people who are hunting. I’ve worked with business executives, college students, church and civic groups, families and marriage partners. And in all of my experience, I have never seen lasting solutions to problems, lasting happiness and success, that came from outside in.
What I have seen result from the outside-in paradigm is unhappy people who feel victimized and immobilized, who focus on the weaknesses of other people and the circumstances they feel are responsible for their stagnant situation. I’ve seen unhappy marriages where each spouse wants the other to change, where each is trying to shape up the other. I’ve seen labor manage-ment disputes where people spend tremendous amounts of time and energy trying to create legislation that would force people to act as though the foundation of trust were really there.
Members of our family have lived in three of the “hottest” spots on earth – South Africa, Israel, and Ireland – and I believe the source of the continuing problems in each of these places has been the dominant social paradigm of outside in. Each involved group is convinced the problem is “out there” and if “they” (meaning others) would “shape up” or suddenly “ship out” of existence, the problem would be solved.
Inside-out is a dramatic para-digm shift for most people, largely because of the powerful impact of conditioning and the current social paradigm of the Personality Ethic.
But from my own experience – both persona and in working witgh thousands of other people – and from careful examination of successful individuals and societies throughtout history, I am persuaded that many of the principles embodied in the Seven Habits are already deep qithin us, in our conscience and our co-mmon sense. To recognize and develop them amd to use them in meeting our deepest concerns, we need to think differently, to shift our paradigms to a new, deeper, “inside-out” level.
As we sincerely seek to understand and integrate these principles into our lives, I am convinxed we will discover and rediscover the truth of T.S Eliot’s observation:
We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.