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From John Lester April 22, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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This next section is a reply I received from John Lester, a member of the group. I think this shows how wide an interpretation can be made of the same material. If you are running an organization and I think my way and John his then we are not aligned in our vision, mission and goals. That isn’t to say we all have to be 1984 robots; I’m talking about core values.

You and I can agree that education is important so the problem comes in the “how” it will be done. If you think about I bet most confrontations you have in your life are based more on methods not meaning. That’s why as a leader you focus on outcomes. Tell a worker, this is what I want at the end of the day. How you do the task, I don’t care just don’t break the law. This is a form of delegation focused around trust and respect. Many of us want to micro-manage the person doing the task. In that case, just do it yourself. If the point is to gain more time for other tasks and promote pride in the team then micro-manage is out.

I’ll go more into delegation later but for now here is John’s reply:

Mr Wood Dickinson appears to have a misunderstanding regarding the concept of proactivity. He states that “much of what the 7 Habits proposes is false”. Self determinism, group determinism and pan determinism are all demonstrably down to earth practical objectives.

It is temporarily sad that his “continued research” has led him up a dead alley, but at a later date he is likely to discover that his research was not wasted, only clouded by his own misunderstanding.

Each person’s proactivity is nothing more than their own current reality, which is the same as the implementation of their beliefs as they gradually convert dodgy beliefs into eventual knowledge (personally experienced certainty). Every time we cycle through the Seven Habits (or through any other experience for that matter) we finish up drawing conclusions. These automatically combine with our previous realities, changing or consolidating our beliefs and our operating basis at the same time.

It may be that Stephen Covey, by suggesting that “Be Proactive” is the first Habit rather than the last, confused the entire subject. Even a new born baby has a high level of animal need reaction (proactivity) and security need reaction (proactivity), plus a high level of demand for relationship (proactivity). Proactivity is the point from which every process begins its next cycle.

A Perfectionist Personality (such as a religious evangelist or a religious terrorist has a highly consolidated and totally locked up proactivity that leads both of them into their own personally chosen form of hell.

Similarly a predominantly Carer, Promoter, Romantic, Observer, Questioner, Adventurer, Asserter or Peacemaker Personality will have their own appropriately self prejudiced proactivity. The ultimate proactivity is to synergise all of these nine differing “godlike qualities” into each person’s own unique personality. This is what religious people call salvation and psychologists call self realisation.

Stephen Covey is not actually teaching anything new. He is teaching ideas that are as old as Pythagoras (500 BC) and Plotinus (500 AD) in a very modern down to earth practical manner.

Mazlow taught exactly the same principles with his Seven Universal Needs. The psychologists who specialise in Enneagram Studies teach exactly the same principles. The Seven Deadly Sins and their corresponding Seven Heavenly Virtues are teaching the same thing. Only the practices vary. It seems likely to me that Mr Wood Dickinson only taught practices and that he has never understood the universality of any of the many seven step principles.

I trust that Mr Wood Dickinson will tell us specifically which of Covey’s ideas he considers to be false. I hope he will also explain his (presumed) research into more than just Covey’s Habits. Maybe his experience will enable him to explain why Mazlow’s Seven Needs, The Psychologists Seven Psychological Types and The implied steps of the International Standards Organisation’s Quality Management System Model ISO 9001 are all also false.


John Lester
MSc. C.Eng. M.I.Mech.E., F.C.Q.I

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