…choose, respond, change…

“We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.” – Edwin Markham

What is this chain of commands:  “choose, respond, change”?  Is it a natural sequence or is a sequence that comes only from self-awareness? 

Stephen Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, examines the Principles of Interpersonal Leadership by focusing on Habit Number 4: “Think Win/Win.”  This, I believe, is where “choose, respond, change” gathers most of its energy and force.  As Covey makes clear “Win/Win” is one of six potential paradigms from which people operate.  These include: “Win/Win,” “Win/Lose,” “Lose/Win,” “Lose/Lose,” “Win,” or “Win/Win or No Deal.” Without elaborating on all six of these, what I want to focus on is “Win/Win”  and how it makes use of “choose, respond, change.”

The command, “choose”  for me, goes back to memory and imagination.  Memory engages us in “Call up and Select” while imagination engages us with “Hold and Contain.”  Of course, we do both simultaneously.  That’s how memory and imagination work (see …memory or imagination (part 2)…). 

The command, “respond,” calls up the human endowment of self-awareness (see … appreciating our human endowments …).  Self-awareness insures that our uniqueness is included in the world around us.  When we respond, we fit the awareness that we have brought up from “choosing”  into what we make of the world by identifying “what-game we are in.”  Making the self-awareness connection allows us to be more flexible with our response. It allows us to be more effective in tailoring our behavior to the situation; we do not operate by default. 

Lastly, the command, “change,” is a measure of how comfortably we can stand within the unknown.  When we are willing to change, we can stay curious and open, we engage ourselves in the situation before pigeonholing our trust.  If we are too narrow with our trust, we opt out of change; preferring instead to stay with our earlier awareness – the one that comes from what memory and imagination bring to us.

How does this fit in with Stephen Covey’s idea of Win/Win? 

In his explanation, Covey talks about Character (its one of the five dimensions of Win/Win).   The important point that he makes about Character is that it uses of all four human endowments (self-awareness, creative imagination, independent will, and conscience).  Character is composed of integrity, maturity, and an abundance mentality.  Integrity uses all four endowments to create a proactive stance, one that can honor commitment and obligation.  Maturity is the balance between courage and consideration.  It is the willingness to step into the unknown because something can be gained for both parties.   And the abundance mentality is the belief that there is plenty out there for everyone.  We do not need to paint ourselves into a corner because we only believe in scarcity. 

So “choose, respond, change” requires a demonstration of Character.  It requires integrity, maturity, and an abundance mentality. It puts us in touch with “Win/Win” because we are willing to commit to the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated” and we can only do that if we have complete access to all four of our human endowments.

Thanks for listening!


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