Sunday, January 30, 2011
As a former college athlete, I can attest to the fact that although games are decided on the field in front of crowds, much of how those games play out is dictated in long practices, meeting rooms and coaches' offices in the days leading up to games. My coaches often stressed the need for our teams to be proactive- dictating the pace of games, making the other team react to our style of play rather than having them control the competition. I see Covey's "private victories" and his first habit of proactivity much in the same way. My headstrong nature has led me to try and be proactive whenever possible- whether it's heading off a trouble spot in rehearsal, making the effort to show at a youth choir member's soccer match, or finding time to call or visit church members who are going through rough patches in their lives. However, these examples are all ones that are public; private proactivity can be a daunting task. Covey noted the difficulty of staying on a dieting and exercise regimen; keeping that up is no easy task for me now that I don't have a 2-hour practice five days a week. After dwelling on these principles laid out in the book, I think the best things for me to work on privately would be my rehearsal planning strategies and the way I manage my time throughout the week. These private victories, I feel, will be as important as the public ones I have with my minister, choir, and congregation going forward.
In reading Covey's delineation between the "Character Ethic" and the "Personality Ethic," I began to consider the ways in which I had already incorporated or relied on one set or another. Surely my life reflected the foundations of success from the Character ethic: I have integrity, I'm patient, industrious, and modest at all the right times! I then stopped and wondered if indeed I had displayed those characteristics- but only in a conditional sense, making them as much a part of the Personality Ethic as the Character Ethic.
Everyone's always said that I have a great personality, that I'm charming, easy to talk to, get along with, etc. But what about when people aren't watching? What am I like then? Whether as a choral conductor or a church musician, one must be able to effectively communicate with others in a way that is not abrasive or distant; one must also be able to convey a willingness to help, offer counsel, and be a faithful guardian of information. Genuine interest helps both parties.
I look at the two ethics as I do two approaches one can have to dating: if one is interested in the short-term, "get-rich-quick" type of relationship, then you'll do anything you can to get the other person to trust you, feel comfortable with you, regardless of the ethical boundaries you might bend and break in the process. However, if you're genuinely looking for a supportive, strong relationship, you take people for how they are; you learn to accept and love all their idiosyncrasies; patience, understanding, and honesty are of primary importance. As I've just gotten engaged, I've been able to realize this change in my life the past couple of years, and how it's begun to shape my entire person in a positive way.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
For the most part, I tend to stay away from mainstream books that become some folks' standards to live by. In my mind, they all get lumped into the same category, be they A Purpose-Driven Life or The South Beach Diet, et al. However, I must admit that Seven Habits' opening pages are better than I expected, perhaps because of how Stephen Covey presents his initial premises based on past experience. We all know that hindsight is 20/20; however, we're not always comfortable with looking back on past events to see what we may have done wrong, much less realize that our whole way of evaluating past actions and those to come might be flawed. I'm intrigued as to how my paradigms might shift as a result of reading Seven Habits.