We've discussed this book in some threads recently, so I figured I would share some quotes. It's funny because years ago, I read it just thinking about how to be more efficient. And now, like others have pointed out, it is easier to see how many of the things the author says constitute very good advice for doing the Work, doing our best to better ourselves, to see reality as it is, to nurture deeper values, work with others, etc. So IMHO, it's not just one more "self-help" book, and taken in the context of our forum, it can be another useful tool.
To be continued...INTRODUCTION
As my study took me back through 200 years of writing about success, I noticed a startling pattern emerging in the content of the literature. Because of our own pain, and because of similar pain I had seen in the lives and relationships of many people I had worked with through the years, I began to feel more and more that much of the success literature of the past 50 years was superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes -- with social band-aids and aspirin that addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily -- but left the underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and again.
In stark contrast, almost all the literature in the first 150 years or so focused on what could be called the character ethic as the foundation of success -- things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden Rule. Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is representative of that literature. It is, basically, the story of one man's effort to integrate certain principles and habits deep within his nature. The character ethic taught that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.
But shortly after World War I the basic view of success shifted from the character ethic to what we might call the personality ethic. Success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques, that lubricate the processes of human interaction. This personality ethic essentially took two paths: one was human and public relations techniques, and the other was positive mental attitude (PMA). Some of this philosophy was expressed in inspiring and sometimes valid maxims such as "Your attitude determines your altitude," "Smiling wins more friends than frowning," and "Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve. Other parts of the personality approach were clearly manipulative, even deceptive, encouraging people to use techniques to get other people to like them, or to fake interest in the hobbies of others to get out of them what they wanted, or to use the "power look," or to intimidate their way through life. Some of this literature acknowledged character as an ingredient of success, but tended to compartmentalize it rather than recognize it as foundational and catalytic. Reference to the character ethic became mostly lip service; the basic thrust was quick-fix influence techniques, power strategies, communication skills, and positive attitudes.
If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other -- while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity -- then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do -- even using so-called good human relations techniques -- will be perceived as manipulative. It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique. To focus on technique is like cramming your way through school. You sometimes get by, perhaps even get good grades, but if you don't pay the price day in and day out, you never achieve true mastery of the subjects you study or develop an educated mind. Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm -- to forget to plant in the spring, play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest? The farm is a natural system.
The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut. This principle is also true, ultimately, in human behavior, in human relationships. They, too, are natural systems based on the The Law of the Harvest. In the short run, in an artificial social system such as school, you may be able to get by if you learn how to manipulate the man-made rules, to "play the game." In most one-shot or short-lived human interactions, you can use the personality ethic to get by and to make favorable impressions through charm and skill and pretending to be interested in other people's hobbies. You can pick up quick, easy techniques that may work in short-term situations. But secondary traits alone have no permanent worth in long-term relationships. Eventually, if there isn't deep integrity and fundamental character strength, the challenges of life will cause true motives to surface and human relationship failure will replace short-term success.
Many people with secondary greatness -- that is, social recognition for their talents -- lack primary greatness or goodness in their character. Sooner or later, you'll see this in every long-term relationship they have, whether it is with a business associate, a spouse, a friend, or a teenage child going through an identity crisis. It is character that communicates most eloquently. As Emerson once put it, "What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you say."
There are, of course, situations where people have character strength but they lack communication skills, and that undoubtedly affects the quality of relationships as well. But the effects are still secondary. In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do. We all know it. There are people we trust absolutely because we know their character. Whether they're eloquent or not, whether they have the human relations techniques or not, we trust them, and we work successfully with them. In the words of William George Jordan, "Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or evil -- the silent unconscious, unseen influence of his life. This is simply the constant radiation of what man really is, not what he pretends to be."
For our purposes, a simple way to understand paradigms is to see them as maps. We all know that "the map is not the territory." A map is simply an explanation of certain aspects of the territory. That's exactly what a paradigm is. It is a theory, an explanation, or model of something else. [...]
Suppose you wanted to arrive at a specific location in central Chicago. A street map of the city would be a great help to you in reaching your destination. But suppose you were given the wrong map. Through a printing error, the map labeled "Chicago" was actually a map of Detroit. Can you imagine the frustration, the ineffectiveness of trying to reach your destination? You might work on your behavior -- you could try harder, be more diligent, double your speed. But your efforts would only succeed in getting you to the wrong place faster.
You might work on your attitude -- you could think more positively. You still wouldn't get to the right place, but perhaps you wouldn't care. Your attitude would be so positive, you'd be happy wherever you were. The point is, you'd still be lost. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with your behavior or your attitude. It has everything to do with having a wrong map. If you have the right map of Chicago, then diligence becomes important, and when you encounter frustrating obstacles along the way, then attitude can make a real difference.
But the first and most important requirement is the accuracy of the map. Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way things should be, or values. We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we're usually even unaware that we have them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of those assumptions. The way we see things is the source of the way we think and the way we act.
This brings into focus one of the basic flaws of the personality ethic. To try to change outward attitudes and behaviors does very little good in the long run if we fail to examine the basic paradigms from which those attitudes and behaviors flow. This perception demonstration also shows how powerfully our paradigms affect the way we interact with other people. As clearly and objectively as we think we see things, we begin to realize that others see them differently from their own apparently equally clear and objective point of view. "Where we stand depends on where we sit."
Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are -- or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. But, as the demonstration shows, sincere, clearheaded people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience. This does not mean that there are no facts. [...] The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view.
[...] Our Paradigms are the way we "see" the world or circumstances -- not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting. Paradigms are inseparable from character. Being is seeing in the human dimension. And what we see is highly interrelated to what we are. We can't go very far to change our seeing without simultaneously changing our being, and vice versa.
[...] While practices are situationally specific, principles are deep, fundamental truths that have universal application. They apply to individuals, to marriages, to families, to private and public organizations of every kind. When these truths are internalized into habits, they empower people to create a wide variety of practices to deal with different situations. Principles are not values. A gang of thieves can share values, but they are in violation of the fundamental principles we're talking about. Principles are the territory. Values are maps. When we value correct principles, we have truth -- a knowledge of things as they are. Principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have enduring, permanent value. They're fundamental. They're essentially unarguable because they are self-evident. One way to quickly grasp the self-evident nature of principles is to simply consider the absurdity of attempting to live an effective life based on their opposites. I doubt that anyone would seriously consider unfairness, deceit, baseness, uselessness, mediocrity, or degeneration to be a solid foundation for lasting happiness and success. Although people may argue about how these principles are defined or manifested or achieved, there seems to be an innate consciousness and awareness that they exist. [...]
Principles of Growth and Change
The glitter of the personality ethic, the massive appeal, is that there is some quick and easy way to achieve quality of life -- personal effectiveness and rich, deep relationships with other people -- without going through the natural process of work and growth that makes it possible It's symbol without substance. It's the "get rich quick" scheme promising "wealth without work." And it might even appear to succeed -- but the schemer remains. The personality ethic is illusory and deceptive. And trying to get high-quality results with its techniques and quick fixes is just about as effective as trying to get to some place in Chicago using a map of Detroit. [...]
A New Level of Thinking
Albert Einstein observed, "The significant problems we face cannot 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 superficial 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.
[...] Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits. "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. Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character and produce our effectiveness or ineffectiveness.
For our purposes, we will define a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why. Skill is the how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.
I may be ineffective in my interactions with my work associates, my spouse, or my children because I constantly tell them what I think, but I never really listen to them. Unless I search out correct principles of human interaction, I may not even know I need to listen. Even if I do know that in order to interact effectively with others I really need to listen to them, I may not have the skill. I may not know how to really listen deeply to another human being. But knowing I need to listen and knowing how to listen is not enough. Unless I want to listen, unless I have the desire, it won't be a habit in my life. Creating a habit requires work in all three dimensions. The being/seeing change is an upward process -- being changing, seeing, which in turn changes being, and so forth, as we move in an upward spiral of growth. By working on knowledge, skill, and desire, we can break through to new levels of personal and interpersonal effectiveness as we break with old paradigms that may have been a source of pseudo-security for years. It's sometimes a painful process. It's a change that has to be motivated by a higher purpose, by the willingness to subordinate what you think you want now for what you want later. But this process produces happiness, "the object and design of our existence." Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.