“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
—The byline of Principle-Centered Leadership
by Stephen R. Covey
Some believe that in part, Stephen R. Covey wrote Principle-Centered Leadership to finally quiet others of the opinion there was a basic flaw in his ground-breaking book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In the minds of these speculative readers, within the book’s pages Covey hadn’t defined principles very well as opposed to values.
Covey certainly heard the naysayers, for in reading PCL the Leadership part of Principle-Centered Leadership can seem a convenient fringe benefit. I’m flipping through his book once again in a quick review. It was brought back to mind for me after I had a conversation with James Shewmaker of our Ho‘ohana Community via email. James has a brand new blog called Cohesive Integrity, and in yesterday’s post there he gives his definition between values and principles.
In our email conversation I openly admitted my own Covey brainwashing to James, and as I read the Preface to Principle-Centered Leadership again late last night (the book’s preface is titled A Principle-Centered Approach) it was pretty startling for me to realize just how profoundly Covey’s teaching has influenced me: I had repeated his definition to James almost verbatim.
This is in a section of the PCL Preface called Leadership by Compass:
“Correct principles are like compasses: they are always pointing the way. And if we know how to read them, we won’t get lost, confused, or fooled by conflicting voices and values.
Principles are self-evident, self-validating natural laws. They don’t change or shift. They provide ‘true north’ direction to our lives when navigating the ‘streams’ of our environments.
Principles apply at all time in all places. They surface in the form of values, ideas, norms, and teachings that uplift, ennoble, fulfill, empower, and inspire people. The lesson of history is that to the degree people and civilizations have operated in harmony with correct principles, they have prospered.”
And then this ” the part that has become such subconscious fact for me without my realizing it until I re-read the words again last night. When I talk to people about values versus principles, and when I coach, this has been my own definition and reference; I include the map analogy, for it remains the best I have heard:
“Principles, unlike values, are objective and external. They operate in obedience to natural laws, regardless of conditions. Values are subjective and internal. Values are like maps. Maps are not the territories; they are only subjective attempts to describe or represent the territory. The more closely our values or maps are aligned with correct principles—with the realities of the territory, with things as they really are—the more accurate and useful they will be.”
—Stephen R. Covey
I do talk about Covey often, and I give him full credit for the lessons I’ve learned from him and have used effectively. In the coaching I do I’ll give my student Covey’s map analogy as a picture frame in which they can then create the art of their ho‘ohana (the purpose of their work) and ‘imi ola, their best possible life within that purpose.
Then, I coach with questions which help them think and reflect, so that they choose the principles (their territory) and the values (their strengths-connected map) which may govern their reality, all on the continent of their work. The result is that we talk about both values and principles quite a bit, with principles being the business landscape we operate in. The values of Managing with Aloha are intended to help managers fully understand how proactive, positive, and self-validating values can be with aligned with their individual strengths.
And now ” Virtues
I wrote a post for Lifehack.org yesterday which tosses virtues in the mix, and hence dips our toes in the waters of morality, spirituality, and religion. Whew! Ah well, what better time that December to get into the discussion? You can read it at Leon’s place, and I’ve also re-posted it at Managing with Aloha Coaching for my own ever-ready-reference. It’s my Aloha Virtue List.
For those of you who do not have Managing with Aloha (‘yet,’ right?) this is what I wrote there on the spirituality and religion question, it appears on page 21:
As you read on, I ask you to keep something in mind whenever I use the words “spirit” or “spirituality.” Where I say spirituality, I refer to the spirit within; you could call it the breath of your life, the voice of your soul.
For me, the individual religions of the world are merely different expressions people have for their own spirituality within them, and they have made a choice as to who they will honor in their gratefulness.
I am not suggesting religiousness; that is your own choice. However I do believe that we should acknowledge our own spirituality and get comfortable with it. One’s inner spiritual power is assumed in the Hawaiian culture, and it is celebrated.
In many ways Managing with Aloha is about tapping into the spirit that is inside you; it embraces your intuition and gut-level feelings.
Have some thoughts on all of this? Let’s talk story.
As a corollary to all this, you may also be interested in a quick review of Covey’s stated Law of the Harvest: this is from my Why GTD reminds me of the 7 Habits post.
I had learned that Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits are based upon the timeless principle called the Law of the Harvest: we tend to reap what we sow. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,” the maxim goes.
And it’s only day 2 of December! This is where we are”
A Ho‘ohana of Faith and Family. Our Ho‘ohana for December 2005.
My Aloha Virtues List. Make your own list, and “check it off twice.”