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Stephen Covey is most famous for his "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." I have mentioned him a few times in various places on my site.
Today I am
pulling some of those bits together on this page. For my
friend JB in Indiana :) He asked me if I knew of Covey :)
JB and I haven't been in touch for about 15 years. So he
doesn't know what mischief I have been up to!
Here are extensive notes from one of his last books before he died, "The 3rd Alternative"
And here are some other things I have said about Covey on my site over the years. This site has been around since 1998 or so btw.
Other EQI.org Topics:
|More references to Covey on the EQI
Strength from Youe Beliefs My writing about a teenager - I mention Covye's term "Psychological air""
His story about paradigm shifts - big changes in your perspective.
- Train story
Here is someting I found on the net about a story I remember Covey talking about when his view quickly changed about something..
It is from this page https://john.do/real-story/
I think often about the story that Stephen Covey shared in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Here, Stephen shares the power of what he calls a Paradigm Shift in an experience he had on a subway in New York:
I love how Covey ends this segment with a quote from Thoreau:
|Begin with the end in mind
I mentioned this idea of Covey's in this section of my writing about conflict resolutions, regardig a personal conflict I had with a neighbor in Uruguay.
|The 3rd Alternative
Below are notes and quotes from Covey's 2011 book "The 3rd Alternative. I think it was his last one before he died.
I felt encouraged, hopeful and inspired by much of what Covey says in this book.
1. The Transition Point - 1
2. The Third Alternative - 8
3. The Third Alternative at Work - 91
4. The Third Alternative at Home - 153
5. The Third Alternative at School - 202
6. The Third Alternative and the Law - 247
8. The Third Alternative in the World - 375
9. The Third Alternative Life - 415
10. Inside Out - 435
On page 437 he also recommends 20 things he says are helpful in developing the "inner strength and security needed to create 3rd Alternative solutions
Covey page 2 - EI and Covey's 7 Habits
Compromise vs 3re Alternative and Synergy - With compromise each person gets less than they wanted. With synergy or a "3rd alternative", they each get more than they thought possible and something different than they were hoping for or imagining.
|Chapter 1 and 2
Chapter 1 doesn't say much. It is mostly just telling you how important the principles of synergy and the "3rd alternative" are.
p 5 "So how do we resolve our most divisive conflicts and solve our most difficult problems
- Do we go on the warpath, determine that we won't take it anymore, but we will take it out on our "enemies"
- Do we play the victim, helplessly waiting for someone to save us?
- Do we take positive thinking to the extreme and slip into a pleasant state of denial?
- Do we sit back stoically, with no real hope that things will ever get better?
- Deep down, do we really believe that all the prescriptions are just placebos anyway?
- Do we keep plugging away, like most people of good will, doing what we have always done in the slim hope that things will somehow get better?
Here are some quotes
My way, your way, our way
He basically says that the problem with conflicts is we take a side, but he says the problem is "usually not in the merits of the side that we take or belong to, but in how we think.
"The word paradigm means pattern or model of thinking that influences how we behave. It is like a map that helps us decide which direction to go. The map that we see determines what we do. If we shift paradigms our behavior and results change as well. "
p 11 Then he explains that if I only see my mental map of the situation, "the only way to solve the problem is to persuade you to shift your paradigm or even force you to accept you to accept my alternative.
"It's the only way to preserve my self-image: I must win and you must lose."
p 12 He suggests people try saying this: "Maybe we can come up with a better solution than either of us has in mind. Would you be willing to look for a third alternative we haven't even thought of yet?"
In 1964, the freedom fighter Nelson Mandella began serving a 27 year sentence in South Africa's desolate Robben Island prison. As a young lawyer, he had rebelled against the apartheid system that repressed black Africans like himself. "A thousand sleights, a thousand indignities, and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me in anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people," he explains. In prison he experienced more of the same, and at first he grew even more bitter.
But gradually, Mandella's
heart changed. Years after his release from prison, I had
a personal visit with him. I asked him, "How long
did it take you to overcome your bitterness toward your
warders, those who tortured you and treated you with such
profound indignity?" He answered, "It took
about four years." I asked him why the change of
heart, and he said, "They would talk about their
relationships with each other, and their families, and I
came to realize they too were victims of the apartheid
The friendship transformed
Christo Brand's life. He began to do favors for Mandella,
smuggling bread to him and bringing him messages. He even
broke rules to allow Mandella to meet and hold his infant
grandson. "Mandella was worried that I would get
caught and be punished. He wrote to my wife, telling her
that I must continue my studies. Even as a prisoner, he
was encouraging a warder to study."
Mandella became devoted to Brand's young son Riaan, who was allowed to visit him and grew to love him like a grandfather. In later years, when Mandella was president of South Africa, his education fund awarded a scholarship to Riaan.
For both men, Nelson Mandella and Christo Brand, their friendship moved from "I--It" to "I--Thou." The young man who saw black Africans as animals came to love the old prisoner and to oppose the apartheid system. The old man who had seen whites as his enemies became fond of the young guard. It was just one stage of what Mandella calls his "long walk to freedom" from his own prejudices.
Mandella writes, "It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. . . . The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity."
These transformations happen when relationships become authentically personal. Mandella and Brand came to see each other as 'persons' instead of representatives of the hated opposition. When we at last 'truly' see one another, as Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu says, "We catch a glimpse of the better thing... when the world is galvanized by a spirit of compassion and an amazing outpouring of generosity; when for a little while we are bound together by bonds of a caring humanity." This is the power of the "I see you" paradigm.
When I embrace the "I
see you" paradigm, my respect for you is authentic,
not faked. I see 'you', not your side of the conflict....
In the "I see you" paradigm, you and I together
are uniquely powerful because your strengths and my
strengths compliment each other. There is no combination
like us anywhere else.
SH note - I would add, for all this to work, we need some common goal.
Pages 44 to 46
thru page 91
|Chapter 3 - School
Some children find their own way to this
third alternative because they naturally possess
that kind of primary inner strength. Id say
maybe they had inner strength or maybe they had
supportive parents, or maybe a combination of both.
|Chapter 5 - Society|
Chapter 6 - The 3rd
Alternative and the Law
We deeply honor and respect those who enter into the noble practice of law. Theirs is the supreme opportunity to bring relief, creative solutions, peace, and healing to individuals in a world overridden with strife, contention, and intractable problems. The New Testament teaches, Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God. If there ever was a time when we needed peacemakers, it is today, and lawyers are uniquely positioned to take that role. As a peacemaker, a lawyer has a superior opportunity, said Lincoln.
most attorneys enter the practice of law with the highest ideals, with a love of justice and the rule of law, with a desire to earn a good living and provide a good life of opportunity for themselves and their families, and with a sincere desire to serve humanity
However as young attorneys get sucked into the whirlwind of the firm, the partner track, and the adversarial battle with the other side, many become disconnected from these ideals. They compartmentalize their work life from private life and are often left feeling emotionally, mentally, and spiritually empty.
Patrick J. Schiltz, a former law professor and dean, now a federal court judge in Minnesota, warns law-school graduates: The bad news is that the profession that you are about to enter is one of the most unhappy and unhealthy on the face of the earth and, in the view of many, one of the most unethical.
According to Schiltz, lawyers seem to be among the most depressed people in America. One study cited found elevated rates of anxiety, hostility, and paranoia among law students and lawyers.
Schiltz also notes that lawyers appear to be prodigious drinkers, citing a study that a third of lawyers in one state suffer from problem drinking or drug abuse. In addition, studies suggest that divorce rates may be higher for lawyers than for other professionals, and that lawyers reportedly think about suicide more often than nonlawyers.
Adds Schiltz, People who are this unhealthy people who suffer from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, and suicide to this extent are almost by definition unhappy. It should not be surprising, then, that lawyers are indeed unhappy, nor should it be surprising that the source of their unhappiness seems to be the one thing that they have in common: their work as lawyers.1
1. Patrick J. Schiltz, On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession.
adversarial system encourages people to think in terms of
"win or lose", "my way or your way."
But the pathway to peace -- in the heart, and not just
between individuals, but in the world -- is our way, a
The distinguished former justice Sandra Day OConnor of the U.S. Supreme Court expresses alarm over the trend to use the law as a means for escalating conflict instead of resolving it:
It has been said that a nations laws are an expression of its peoples highest ideals. Regrettably, the conduct of lawyers in the United States has sometimes been an expression of the lowest. Increasingly, lawyers complain of a growing incivility in the profession, and of a professional environment in which hostility, selfishness, and a win-at-all-costs mentality are prevalent. One lawyer who recently stopped practicing law explained his decision to leave the profession in these bleak terms: "I was tired of the deceit. I was tired of the chicanery. But most of all, I was tired of the misery my job caused other people.
We speak of our dealings with other lawyers as war and too often we act accordingly.
Lawyers are dissatisfied with their careers not simply because of the long hours and hard work Rather, many lawyers question whether, at the end of the day, they have contributed anything worthwhile to society
1. Sandra Day OConnor, The Majesty of the Law
The all-too-often endpoint of 2-Alternative thinking is the courtroom. The great paradox is that the courts could be the best venue we have for 3rd Alternatives, and lawyers the greatest practitioners of synergy.
Is it possible that the practice of law even if the client is powerful and demanding could be transformed by 3rd Alternative thinking? Yes, and to a degree its already happening. One positive sign is the explosive growth of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
Contrasted with a lawsuit, an ADR approach to resolving conflict can produce much better, faster, and cheaper results with far less wear and tear on the parties. Among ADR approaches, mediation is the most like synergy.
Mediators are usually more interested in how to solve the problem than in who wins or who loses. They also work hard to maintain the relationship between disputants. A skillful mediator can turn a bitter divorce into a workable arrangement whereby parties can get on with their lives and cooperate on child custody, property sharing, and so forth.
ADR is in the business of achieving fair, just, and equitable solutions, but not necessarily going on to synergy.
Synergy is all about getting to real common ground and requires a fundamental paradigm shift. Its about escaping from the mind-sets of competition and compromise and embracing the mind-set of the 3rd Alternative.
Xxx --He uses Gandhi as an example, but it doesnt fit with his description of synergy or 3rd Alternative
I want to change their minds, not kill them. (from Mohandas K. Gandhi, My Appeal to the British.)
The vast nonviolent resistance movement that led to Indias independence is legendary. The remarkable thing is that Gandhi, the leader, never held any office or formal authority of any kind
When the British left in 1947, they did so in peace and friendship.
This is a powerful secret of the 3rd Alternative mind-set: its about turning foes into friends. Gandhi never lost faith that even the most hardened human heart is capable of conversion of being moved by an opponents genuine gestures of love.(Uma Majmudar, Gandhis Pilgrimage of Faith). With these gestures, this diminutive Indian lawyer changed the world.
the first change was in Gandhis own mind and heart.
As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in
being able to remake the world, he said, as
in being able to remake ourselves.
Lawyers who see themselves as peace-makers first, as gifted communicators and learned creators of concord instead of discord, view each case as an opportunity to arrive at a 3rd Alternative, a far greater and more satisfying challenge than trying to tear down the opposition.
Litigants willing to see themselves and their opponents as flawed human beings still worthy of respect can move toward a deeper understanding of each other. They can face the reality that no issue is either black or white, that we all have our slices of truth, and that their indignation might be blinding them to mounting disaster for everyone involved including themselves.
Covey begins the chapter by saying most people dont believe they can do much about the problems of society. But, he says we are affected by these problems and we might not be aware how deeply. He continues to say, Science now believes that the pain of others, no matter how remote they are from us, can literally hurt us. Social pain activates the same pain regions of the brain as physical pain! The brain is deeply social. We have massive amounts of social circuitry. (1)
1. David Rock, Your brain at Work, Nov 12, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJSXfXep4M
He quotes peace-worker Rabbi Marc Gospin:
I have discovered a fundamental similarity between the intractable feuds among rival nations that cause so much strife in the world and the destructive personal and family struggles that affect us so deeply as individuals. While the scale and the stakes are obviously different, the underlying process, the drama is the same.
North American business executive: Poverty is so often the catalyst that leads to the anger, hate, greed and jealously behind wars, terror and unemployment solving the poverty problem has got to be the point of greatest leverage.
SH - here I disagree with the executive. I believe solving the problem of unmet emotional needs will help th world more because I have been to very poor countries where the people are much happier and healthier emotionally than in richer countries. This is something nearly all international travellers agree upon - the happiest people in the world do not come from the wealthiest countries, but instead countries like Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesi. While I lived in Montenegro, a relatively poor country of former Yugoslavia, II also met many relatively poor families who were quiet happy and mentally healthy.
Interdependent people are fully self-reliant and fully responsible to each other at the same time.
When Emperor Ashoka [xxx google him] of India attacked and destroyed the peaceful land of Kalinga more than two thousand years ago, he found himself in the midst of the bloodshed and rubble, horrified at what he had done. To his credit, he spent the rest of his life trying to atone for it. He renounced his greed for lands to conquer and dedicated himself to the eradication of violence and poverty, both economic and spiritual. He issued hundreds of edicts carved on stone from one end of the empire to the other, urging his people towards peace and generosity, pleading with them to be respectful, dutiful, and pure.
Ashoka gave up his royal trappings and spent the remaining twenty-eight years of his reign traveling the empire from Persia to Thailand, meeting with the people, learning about their problems, and doing his best to teach them self-reliance and compassion for one another. Its said that the Golden Age of Ashoka was the most prosperous and peaceful time in the history of that land. H.G. Wells said of him, Amidst the tens of thousands of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. Ashoka may have been the first great monarch in history to try to solve the problems of society instead of making hem worse through greed and cruelty. He strove to teach and to live by the dharma [xxx google], the duty to love oneself and others.
Ashokas ideal of dharma is close to what I mean by interdependence. Two major aspects of dharma are self-discipline and compassion, which are fundamental to the interdependent mind-set. If you have the self-discipline of dharma, you become a solution, not a problem. You see yourself as infinitely capable, with the initiative and inner resources to give to society, not to take from it. If you have the compassion of dharma, you see into the hearts of others, and their ills become yours and their happiness becomes yours. This was Ashokas creed:
What I desire for my own children and I desire their welfare and happiness both in this world and the next that I desire for all men.
Ashoka transformed himself from the worst kind of bipolar thinker, attacking and massacring anyone who opposed him, into the embodiment of synergy. He became an energetic social innovator alongside his people, devising roads and roadhouses, universities, irrigation systems, and a new thing called a hospital. He banned violent punishments for crimes. He never went to war again because he resolved conflicts in the spirit of dharma.
One who does good first does something hard to do, Ashoka said.
Both teams in [the liberal-conservative tug-of-war] game have misplaced faith in big forces that dont merit their faith the one, government, the other, the marketplace and both are about as reliable as the weather.
But you cant wait for large, unpredictable, impersonal forces to swing your way. As a synergist, you are in the game to change it, not to play it. You believe that in synergy with other resourceful, intelligent people, you can start creating a new future undreamed of by the ideologues with all their weary rhetoric.
The End of Crime
Overwhelmed by the root causes, we try to treat the symptoms.
In the United States the prison population has skyrocketed since 1980 from about 330,000 to more than 2 million in 2011 due to nationwide crackdowns and long, mandatory prison sentences. Now the cost of the penal system is beginning to overwhelm the country, yet the underlying problem remains.
Does the get-touch approach actually reduce crime? According to James P. Lynch and William J. Sabol of American University, Substantial increases in imprisonment are not associated with substantially large estimated reductions in violent crime. Many experts believe that getting touch actually causes offenders to commit more crimes; it shames and stigmatizes them to the point that they feel totally alienated from society, and it destroys their potential for change. It leaves them hopeless.
The answer to crime is more than just law enforcement, catching criminals after the fact. Building a society is the real job to be done, a society based on strong relationships of respect and empathy.
Covey spends several pages telling us about the interesting and creative things Canadian police officer Ward Clapham is doing.
Covey tells a story about how Chapman got a call to deal with some kids playing hockey on the street and blocking the traffic. When Clapham got there and saw how the kids were afraid of him, he decided to do something that would more likely create lasting peace. He said, Ill give you a choice. I can give you all a ticket, or I can play hockey with you, then he joined in their game. He received a lot of complaints, but greatly improved the relationship with the young people in that town.
Another story about how he got stores who were selling to tobacco to minors to hold anti-smoking classes for the youth instead of giving penalties to the owners.
Clapham has his eye on the root of the problem, not just the symptoms.
[xxx smoking is a symptom. Doesnt mention their needs]
Clapham comes up with the idea to issue positive ticketing to young people caught doing something good, instead of just tickets for breaking the law. The tickets were redeemable for prizes like free ice cream, free golfing, etc.
Covey tells the story of a teenager who saw a small child running out into the traffic and pulled him back to the sidewalk. A police officer watching this approached him, and gave him a ticket. When the teen came home and told his foster mother he got a ticket from the police, she was at first unhappy, but then he explained it was a positive ticket. He was so proud that he pinned the ticket to the wall of his room and vowed never to use it.
The community has seen a difference. Keith Pattinson, the director of Boys & Girls Clubs for British Columbia, says this: When the police focus on young peoples strengths, theyre finding the relationship changes. Instead of getting the finger when they drive by, kids are calling them over and telling them, Look, theres something going down tonight. Someones going to get hurt, maybe you guys should check it out.
Clapham sees the same thing. Most young people avoid the police, dont want the ticket. With positive tickets we reward young people for doing good things, so when they see the police they run to us instead of away from us. Relationships develop. The youths can turn to the police instead of fearing them. The police become a positive part of their lives; instead of impersonal enforcers of the law, they are friends who help them navigate the treacherous rapids of growing up.
Clapham also gave out the equivalent of positive tickets to his own team: small gift cards to recognize the contribution of his officers to changing the culture of Richmond. Of course, he immediately ran into trouble with the rule book: Thou shalt not use taxpayer money to purchase gift cards for employees to recognize their good deeds.
They took my government credit card away from me and sent me to a four-hour course, which I refused to attend. But heres the interesting part: when I told the city leaders of Richmond about it, they asked, How much money do you need to continue doing what youre doing? then they gave me a credit card because they saw the value of what I was doing was a thousand percent return on their money. The rule book was just plain misaligned. I was trusted with guns and bullets and pepper spray, but not with the tools to transform the culture.
But the community loved it. When they started to see the success, they wanted more of it. The community as the reason I kept going, because I was driven by my passion toward my purpose to end crime in our city.
Ward Clapham made structural changes to his unit to reward officers who excelled at [helping young people]: When I came, I could see that we were perhaps not putting our best people into the youth section. Being promoted to detective was the big reward. So I said no, were going to put our brightest and our best into working with young people. Were going to celebrate the youth section. So he turned the promotion scheme on its head. Today being selected for the youth section is a prestigious reward requiring much training and touch application process.
The RCMP helped create the Richmond Restorative Justice Program, which helps young offenders confront the harm they have done, but not in a punitive way. Instead of going to jail, they meet with their victims, witnesses, police officers, and a facilitator who helps them all come to an agreement that addresses the harm. Its a forum for strong empathic listening that helps the young person understand what he or she has done to others and to be understood as well.
Despite the innovative things he did, Superintendent Ward Clapham was not without his critics. People saw Richmond police officers goofing around with kids, playing ball, handing out positive tickets. Why arent you out arresting bad guys? What difference does all this stuff make? they would ask. Clapham bristles at this.
Were making one heck of a difference. These connections with young people, the positive messages they get, influence their decision making and prevent them from getting into crime and tragedy. We recognize both the good kids and the borderline kids, to reinforce staying on the good side. We see kids who have actually been in a lot of trouble with the police change their lives. Ten years from now these young people will be adults. They will support us in what we want to do for them and their children.
Alternative Reviews from Amazon
The most helpful critical review
Not much new; mostly examples
I have always been a Covey fan and have used his 7 Habits extensively. In that book, he packaged some great concepts together very well and made them very concrete and usable.
Frankly, I was disappointed with this book. I did not really see anything new - just a re-packaging of 7 Habits' concepts and lots of examples: Think win-win; reach out to the other guy to really listen; synergize.
Also, maybe I have changed, but I now find his tone heavy-handed and "teachy."
I really had hoped for something new and fresh - but I didn't find it.
Agree, he is too much
boxed by his old paradigm of 7 Habits. The world keeps
changing. As he always quotes Albert Einstein by saying,
" the significant problems that we face cannot be
solved at the same level of thinking when we created
them." He must unlearn from his past success and
originate instead of living on the past--the Old Golden
1. Beware of pride. Let go [Be aware] of needing always to be "right". Your grasp on reality is always partial anyway. Allow yourself to achieve the important breakthroughs in relationships and creative solutions that will never likely be realized if you stubbornly hold on to being "right".
(But he confuses pride with unmet emotional needs to feel right, important, superior, worthy etc
2. Learn to say "I'm sorry." Do it quickly once you realize you've fallen short or hurt someone. Be sincere and don't hold back. And don't go just half-way. Apologize fully, take responsibility, and express your desire to understand.
3. Be quick to forgive perceived slights. Remember, you choose whether or not to be offended. If you feel offended, let it go.
4. Make and keep very small promises to yourself and others. Take baby steps. As you create a pattern of doing so, make and keep bigger promises. Your own integrity will become your greatest source of security and strength.
5. Spend time in nature. Go on long walks. Create space in your life everyday for reflection on the synergies of the world around you.
6. Read widely - it's one of the best ways to make mental connections and get insights that can lead to 3rd Alternatives.
7. Exercise often, each day if possible; eat healthy food, with balance and moderation. The body is the instrument of the mind and spirit.
8. Get enough sleep, at least 7 to 8 hours daily. Science tells us that the brain grows new connections during sleep, which is why we often awake with sparklingnew ideas. And you'll find yourself so much more able to give the emotional, mental, and spiritual energy needed to create 3rd Alternatives.
9. Study inspiring or sacred literature. Ponder, mediate, or pray. Insights will come.
10. Make quiet time for yourself to think through some creative 3rd Alternative solutions to your challenges.
11. Express love and appreciation to those with whom you associate. Listen empathically to them. Devote time to learning about them, what is important to them, what is their story.
12. You have two ears and one mouth: use them proportionately.
13. Practice being generous with others - with your time, your heart, your forgiveness, and your affirmation. Be wise and generous in sharing your resources with those in need. Be generous with and forgive yourself. We all have weaknesses. We all have strengths. Look to the future and move on. All these things will cultivate within you a spirit of abundance.
14. Avoid comparing yourself to others. Just don't. You are unique. You are of infinite worth and have great potential. Define your own exceptional mission in life.Just be true to it, be yourself, and serve others and the world simply and magnificently!
15. Be grateful. Express it.
16. Learn to become enthusiastically relentless about discovering how to create great wins for others. Wins that increase their peace, their happiness, and their prosperity. It will become infectious, and you may often find others seeking the same for you. This is the key to producing remarkable synergies.
17. When things aren't going well, take a break, take a walk around the block, get a good night's sleep and come back at it with the freshness and perspective of a new day .
18. If you truly can't reach win-win, remember that "no deal" in some cases is the best alternative.
19. When it comes to other people, their reactions, their weaknesses, ambiguities, just smile a lot and when it comes to your teenagers, remind yourself "this, too, shall pass".
20. Never stop believing in the possibility of the 3rd Alternative.
|1. Pride.He says pride. But IMO that isn't pride. To me, pride is the good feeling you feel when you do someting you feel good about which wasa challgenge or difficult or which makes a contribution to humanity. If I think in terms of growth or defense, I'd say pride is a growth feeling, but the way he is using it would be more llike a defense. You feel a need to be right because you are insecure and afraid of being wrong. Because in the past you learned it was not "ok" to be wrong.|
Personal Comments from Steve H.
Here are my first comments. I wasn't impressed with the first chapter but the book got better..
I just noticed that Stephen could sound like "step" "hen".
Strange how the English language works. My name is spelled Steven. I am kind of glad now because I suppose kids would have called me "step hen" lol, like step-sister or something.
I am not sure that Covey's ideas are any better than mine but he is a lot better writer, if writing means promoting your own work, convincing people that what you say is profound, life-changing etc.
He says on page 1 "It's about a principle so fundamental that I believe it can transform your life and the world."
Then he says "It's the key to solving life's most difficult problems."
The single, only key? All we have to know? Somehow I doubt that. I don't think you will see me saying that something I write about is "the key" to anything. Unless I am talking about the key to my bike lock or hotel room. But I remember when I read lots of self-help books a lot of them said they had the key to this or that.
He hasn't told us what the principle is yet. Let's see how long it takes before he does!
On the top of page 2 he says "If you understand and live by the principle in this book.." blah blah blah...
But he hasn't told us what it is yet.
Then he says his 7 habits book "leads up to it."
Then he says more about how important the principle is and how he will tell us stories about people whose live were changed or "transformed" and more bbb. But he still hasn't told us what it is.
On page 3 he tells us all the ways we can apply the principle, including weight loss and a child who won't "launch"
He has 12 of them.
Page 4 he is bragging about how he taught it to a bunch of important people.
p5 still hasn't told us what it is.
p6 end of first chapter and he still hasn't told us what it is. i guess we just have to assume it is "the 3rd alternative"
so now we get to Chapter Two which is titled
The 3rd Alternative: The principle, paradigm and process of synergy
So I'm confused. Is the wonderful principle synergy then? Or is it "The 3rd Alternative"?
In the table of contents, by the way, it only says "The 3rd Alternative"
Reading the next few pages doesn't clarify things.
Then on page 12 he has this section heading:
The Principle of Synergy
The first sentence in that section is:
Ok, so is synergy a process or is it a principle? I am more confused now than before.
Checking the index I found this
3rd alternative, see synergy
wow. *shakes head and laughs. wtf?
I wonder why they didn't capitalize "alternative" like they do everywhere else to make it sound more important.
i also noticed "prayer" in the index, so I went to that page and found him mentioning praying as a suggestion, along with meditation and studying inspiring or sacred literature. p 438
I also found him saying "I believe these universal principles come from God and are a manifestation of His love for us and desire for our happiness." p 437
|He gives a free add to Fox and Fowle in page 295|
|article i want to edit/
The rigid partisanship behind last week's
Not Putting Some Things In The Index
There are several important words which Covey and the publisher left out of the index. For example, spirit, spirituality, and God. So I have listed some of the page numbers where these are found.
Bible 259, 322, 356, 396
Circle of Influence - 423, 437 Covey capitalizes this, but doesn't have any reference to it in the index and doesn't explain it either time he uses it.
God 24, 49, 50 249, 333, 429, 437, 439
p 437 "I believe these universal principles come from God and are a manifestation of His love for us and desire for our happiness."
His last words in the book, on page 439, are "God bless you."
Industrial Age lens - p 22 and others. He uses this reference several times but never explains it. I had an idea what he meant, but looked in the index for help and found nothing.
Psychological Air Covey also uses this term a few times and it is useful and well-explained, but it is not found in the index.
Spirt p 402"..to listen to each other with the heart, mind and spirit."
Trim tab - He uses this term, which I think is from sailing, but doesn't define it or have it in the index.
Spirititual wealth p. 355 "This kind of spiritual wealth is primary wealth."
Spirititual intention. p 357 "Spiritual intention drives perception, drives behavior..."
Spirititual worth p 365 "But more significant than economics is the spirititual worth of Gupta's work."
Spirititual challenge p 366 "...poverty is fundamentally a spiritual challenge."
Spirititual values p 381 "...nourished by the Spirititual values.."
Nothing on "emotion", "emotional"
He does, though, have a reference for Fox and Fowle architechts 295-297.
|Heaven and Hell
I assume Covey believes in Heaven and Hell, which seem to be very clear examples of two alternative thinking....
In several places SC talks about the importance of serving others. I got a little tired of it and wrote in the margin "I am not here to serve anyone or be anyone's servant." I agree we feel better and life is better for all when we help each other, but I don't like the idea of "serving" others. Unless you work in a restaurant of course...
xxxFor criticim part
I think much of the blame [for unhealthy lifestyles] lies with the thick Industrial Age
lens through which we view ourselves. We see our bodies as machines that can be "fixed" if
something goes wrong. We see ourselves as producers who must run all the time rather than
contributors who need renewal and friendship and spiritual growth to thrive. We need the
brisk walk in the park as much for our spirits as for our cardio systems. We believe we
need our addictions so we can keep producing...[but what we need is an authentic vision of
ourselves]...as the Bible says, "fearfully and wonderfully made."
--He talks about the Living Well Health Center in Gallatin, Tennessee - which is
interesting but it's not 3rd Alternative.
--Covey describes a discussion between a woman and a man with opposing views about the
environment. They debate and don't show understanding to each other.
So I taught them Talking Stick communication, the mind-set and skill-set of empathic
listening. The ground rule: You can't make your point until you state the other person's
point to his or her satisfaction. the other has to feel understood.
The woman then gave it a try.
[She stated the man's view]
It's not that she agreed. She wasn't taking his position. She was only seeking to
understand. But he didn't feel satisfied that she understood yet. He felt that she was
mimicking him. She had to get into his frame of reference, how he saw things. But the
spirit between the two of them had begun to change. It was a lot less adversarial.
Then I asked the man, "On a scale from one to ten, how well does she understand you?" He
gave her a five on the ten-point scale. She gave herself a one, which didn't surprise me.
Just the attempt to use Talking Stick communication helps people feel understood even when
the understanding isn't there yet. When you're trying to understand someone, you're
actually working on yourself. You say to yourself, "I'm not going to judge. I'm going to
persist. I'm really going to get into that person's shoes and feel what he feels."
Now it was his turn to try to understand her. I asked him to go for an eight or a nine or
a ten, to make her point as well as she did and to express the same depth of conviction.
[He stated her view]
She gave him a seven. He gave himself something less. As for me, I thought his tone of
voice, the feeling he expressed, was quite generous toward her. We were moving toward
I asked them both, "Did you find yourself preparing to reply? That your turn's coming? Or
were you genuinely empathetic in understanding? What about total openness to understanding
with real intent?"
They agreed they were moving in the right direction, but then the man asked me, "So where
are we going with this process? What purpose does this serve?"
Clearly, he had lost sight of our goal. I replied, "What is your purpose from the
beginning? A synergy. A higher solution than you've thought of before."
Respect and empathy for ourselves and others is not disconnected from respect and empathy
for all of life.
"Before answering 'What is to be done?' we must first ask, 'What kind of beings are we?'"1
1. Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, 'Break Through: Why We Can't Leave Saving the
Planet to Environmentalists' (New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 2007), 8.
Ideally, synergy begins with a shared understanding of the job to the done. Without
criteria of success, you don't really know what success looks like and your solution will
be less than robust. That's a key reason why there must be empathy for diverse
perspectives; you're not going to get to a 3rd Alternative by mocking and lobbing insults
at each other. You're much more likely to get there by carefully and thoughtfully
understanding the job to be done from all perspectives.
Perhaps the toughest problem our society faces is poverty, the root of so much crime,
violence, abuse, and most other social ills.
Integrity, honesty, hard work, compassion for others... This kind of spiritual wealth is
Above all people in the world, the poor need our respect and empathy. We see them in the
spirit of Ubuntu, as irreplaceable, uniquely gifted individuals without whom we ourselves
are less than human. We lift their sights so that they too can see their own worth and
potential. Once they catch that vision, they will start gaining that spiritual wealth that
leads to material wealth.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson: "We become what we think about all day long."
-- Story of Weldon Long, described as a "garden-variety loser"1, who dropped out of
school, never had a steady job, drank and took drugs. He also abandoned his 3 year old
son, and had been to jail three times for robbery. One day, while in jail, he found the
writings of Ralph Waldo and decided to try to change his life by changing about what he
thought "all day long". So he thought about himself constantly as an educated, loving
family man, honest businessman, etc. He started writing letters to his son and taking
every class the prison offered. Eventually when he was released, he did not go back to his
old life of committing crimes. Instead, he started his own equipment company and was able
to get two homes with his wife and son.
1. Weldon Long, "Emerson Was Right -- If You THINK He Was!," Source of Insight, March 30,
Spiritual intention drives perception, which drives behavior, which then drives results.
If you actually get people to think in terms of their contribution, it gets them
immediately into a spiritual frame of mind. When you lift the hearts of poor people, when
you help them to see themselves as beings of infinite worth, they will take their own
journey out of poverty. This is the job to be done.
-- Talks about how Dave Phillips and his wife, once retired, decided to dedicate their
lives to helping people out of poverty. They set up Cincinnati Works, a public employment
agency that treats people not only as clients, but as members of a support group. Their
goal to help people get a long term job and to get out of poverty. He quotes A CW
"Our members must feel that they are in a place of caring and commitment where we'll walk
with them every step of the way on their journey out of poverty."
This reliable emotional support is crucial. In their research, the Phillipses found that
60 percent of their members suffered from chronic depression, which is true of the
chronically poor not just in Cincinnati, but everywhere. The symptoms of depression are
often perceived as laziness. Liane Phillips says:
"We found that perception to be resoundingly false. Most of the poor people we met were
far from lazy. Every day was a struggle and required constant problem solving. Tasks that
seemed automatic and simple for us required a lot of energy for them: getting to and from
work without a car, finding groceries and paying for them, cashing a paycheck -- if you
had one -- without a bank account... Most striking of all, we started to grasp the depth
of their despair and frustration at trying and failing repeatedly to get jobs."
A lifetime of failure and rejection fills them with fear.
"It's very frightening looking for a job," says one member. "Being rejected makes me feel
disappointed in myself. I wonder how and where did I go wrong." Another describes "just
the fear of leaving the house, going out and getting the job, the fear of being turned
down or being pushed away, the fear that they won't call you back," They agonize over
their isolation and the overwhelming social message that something is wrong with them. For
many, no matter how bad their lives are, it's just too painful to risk more failure.
Because of these sensitive emotional wounds, their real problem is often not to find
employment but to keep it. This was a major insight for the Phillipses. Once employed,
many quit if someone at work disrespects them or they miss a bus or a child gets stick.
Quitting again and again discourages them and makes them more unemployable. "In the heat
of the moment, or in the face of a problem -- real or imagined -- they quit on the spot,
failing to grasp how critical job retention is to their future."
So CW is organized around a strict three-month regimen with frequent communication and
follow-up. The mantra is "Call before you quit." Stressed-out members ring up the CW
hotline for help when they run into problems.
One year on the job usually marks both material and emotional stability. A member says, "I
think not having a job magnifies my depression, with isolation... the sense of wrongness.
But when I'm working and I'm in my little rut job-wise, I feel great. I have a purpose. I
have a sense of being okay. I feel like I belong, like I'm connected."
-- Story of Jerry and Monique Sternin who represented a charitable foundation trying to
improve child nutrition in Vietnam. Thousands of babies were malnourished, and past efforts
from charitable groups had had no impact after they left. The Sternins figured out that
they wouldn't change anything permanently unless they did something more than just bring in
food and leave. They worked with village leaders to find a solution. Volunteers began to
weigh every child and charted them against family income, and to their surprise, found
that the best-nourished children belonged to the poorest families. It turned out that the
poor were adding tiny shrimps and wild sweep potato greens to their diet, which most
villagers considered "trash food", but which actually were good sources of nutrition. So
the solution was there all along. The Sternings concluded that:
"You can't bring permanent solutions in from outside."1
1. David Dorsey, "Positive Deviant," Fast Company, November 30, 2000,
As highly educated, technologically sophisticated experts from the West, they were invited
to Vietnam to save the "primitive" villagers. But the Sternins turned everything around.
They came to learn, not teach. They listened rather than imposing their ideas. They
synergized with the people rather than dictating to them. They found their richest answers
among the poorest of the poor.
Professor Anil K. Gupta founded the Honey Bee Network, so called because bees and flowers
and honey form a symbiosis, as a vehicle for synergy among grassroots innovators, venture
capitalists, and academics. A classic countertype, the Network operates on the premise
that India's greatest knowledge resource is in the countryside, not in the universities.
"Being economically poor does not mean being knowledge poor."1
[Also, being economically poor doesn't mean being emotionally poor. Doesn't talk about emotionally poor vs finacially poor.]
1. Sarah Rich, "Anil Gupta and the Honey Bee Network," WorldChanging.com, March 21, 2007,
http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/006333.html; Raja Murthy, "India's Rural Inventors
Drive Change," Asia Times, January 29, 2010,
[All his stories come from net!]
Another man invented an amphibious bicycle so he could cross the river to see his
girlfriend. "I couldn't wait for the boat," he says. "I had to meet my love. My desperation made me an innovator. Even love needs help from technology." The cycle is no
joke; investors are looking at it as a rescue device for flooded areas.2
2. Anil Gupta, "India's Hotbeds of Invention," TED.com, November 2009,
xxx serach for:
Reports of the semiannual shodhyatras can be found at
http://www.sristi.org/cms/shodh_yatra1. Accessed April 2011.
xxx Serach 'Mitti Cool'
But more significantly than economics is the spiritual worth of Gupta's work.
When their knowledge is respected, when someone values the contributions they can make,
the poor respond with their hearts. The rural grandmother no one has noticed for a long
time suddenly becomes a precious font of knowledge about herbs as the community sits at
her feet. Village children compete to show their inventions, and their pride in their
accomplishments fuels their spirits.
Poverty does not belong in a civilized human society. Its proper place is in a museum.
That's where it will be," predicts the Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus. Father of the
microcredit industry -- a brilliant 3rd Alternative in itself -- Yunus understands that
poverty is fundamentally a spiritual challenge. It involves the whole person. You cannot
separate physical poverty from the mind, the heart, and the spirit. Curing poverty
requires a positive internal synergy of every part of our nature. A degraded and starving
body, a depressed and unvalued heart, an uneducated mind, a despairing spirit -- these
constitute the negative synergy we call poverty.
So Yunus came up with a 3rd Alternative.
xxx criticim [Not]
"Unfettered markets are not meant to solve social problems and instead may actually
exacerbate poverty, disease, pollution, corruption, crime, and inequality."1
1. Muhammad Yunus, Creating a World Without Poverty (New York: Public Affairs, 2008), 5.
Yunus: "A businessperson is not always someone who wants to maximize profits. Companies can also have another goal: to serve a societal purpose. We need business people who are nto driven by money but by their desire to contribute to society."
Anil Gupta says, "People may be economically poor, but they are not poor in the mind. The
minds on the margin are not marginal minds."
We don't have to wait for society to change. We can consciously create our own change.
xxx look up
1. Mohammed Dajani, "The Wasatia Movement -- An Alternative to Radical Islam,"
Worldpress.org, June 21, 2007, http://www.worldpress.org/Mideast/2832.cfm.
2. Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, Wasatia: Centrism and Moderation in Islam, n.d., 17,
-- About the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, which is dedicated to helping
Israelis and Palestinians meet and listen to one another:
"The Jews in the groups have never opened the Quran, and the same in reverse -- the
Palestinian Muslims and Christians know very little about Judaism. In one group, a Muslim
religious leader heard for the first time the Talmudic verse "If you save one human life,
it's as if you save a whole world" and exclaimed, "We have the same verse in the Quran!"
Through study of each other's sacred texts, Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Israel and
the region develop trust as they learn from each other."
Following her mother's example, and nourished by the spiritual values of the Focolare
Movement [a movement aimed at creating dialogue between different religions], Karram came
to love her Jewish friends and, as a Christian, wanted to learn more about them.
By neglecting the opportunity to create the empathic connection people need from each
other, standard diplomacy does not allow for "psychological air."
Each year the world's top government and business elites convene a summit meeting in
luxurious surroundings in Davos, Switzerland. They know each other well and form a kind of
"transnational consensus of the jet set, who control virtually all international
institutions, many of the world's governments, and the bulk of the world's economic and
military capabilities."1 But the rarefied atmosphere of Davos supplies no psychological
air to the millions who are actually hurting.
[Davos] 1. Cited in Richard K. Betts, "Conflict or Cooperation? Three Visions Revisited,"
Foreign Affairs, November/December 2010,
page=show. Accessed November 30, 2010.
Dr. Marc Gopin, a distinguished scholar and practitioner of peace efforts in the Middle
East, understands the importance of the emotional, personal connection that must be made
if there is to be a creative solution. Formal agreements are not enough. "Conflict
resolution as a field is in a very primitive stage of development," he says. "Its
theoreticians seem not very adept at facing their own feelings and inadequacies. The
diplomats have no sense of the trauma that will happen. They run away from it." The
rationalism of the negotiators leaves no space for truly seeing one another.
--Account of Marc Gopin's meeting with Palestinian chief, Arafat:
"When I sat with him, it was the first time I touched a person who had killed a lot of
Jews, who was still giving orders to kill Jews. But I thought, "If this can save one life,
then it's worth it." That's what we were facing. Everyday there were killings, and he was
a major player in this cycle of endless violence. If only he could just say a few words to calm things down.
"So I looked into his eyes as if he were a nice old man and expressed sincere sorrow for
all the Palestinian children who had died. I told him there's a mitzvah (commandment) in
Judaism to comfort the mourning. I told him that in Jewish and Islamic tradition, it's a
sacred act to share texts with others. It's a sacred bond. Now, there's a text in the
Talmund that says the world stands on three things: truth, peace, and justice. Rabbi Muna
said that where there is no justice, there will never be peace.
"Arafat knew that I was acknowledging his people's need for justice, but that I was also
criticizing his methods for attaining justice. Mostly he was silent. Then he looked at me
deeply and said, 'You know, when I was a boy, I prayed at the Wall. You know... the Wall.
With the old men. And they said their prayers and I said my prayers.'
"I was stunned. His coterie were stunned. You have to understand the subtleties here. What was he saying to me? He was acknowledging that the Western Wall in Jerusalem was indeed a
Jewish holy place, that Jews and Muslims could worship side by side. This was the same man who at Camp David had denied that there had ever been a Jewish presence in Jerusalem. He
blew up the Camp David conference on that basis."
--- Gopin talks about the power of gestures of respect. He talks about the conference
between President Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Begin, and Egyptian President Sadat.
Begin and Sadat had been unable to come to a peace agreement because Begin was unwilling
to sign. So Carter ordered his secretary to find out the names of all of Begin's
grandchildren. He autographed photos of the three of them with a personal message to each
grandchild. Begin was so moved by this gesture, that he was soon willing sign the
agreement. Gopin says:
"Where is that in international-relations theory?"
During the 2003 uprising in Palestine, the streets of Jerusalem were deserted. No
tourists, few business people. Gopin describes being one of the few guests in a major
Jerusalem hotel. He walked out in the evening to take a taxi. There were five empty cabs
on his side of the street and one cab all alone on the other side of the street. One of
the five drivers came up to him and said, "Don't go with that cab over there. He's an
Arab." So Gopin, being the bridge builder that he is, walked across the street and got
into the Arab's cab.
"He was sitting there alone, burning. He knew I was Jewish. He knew I came over to him on
purpose. He was quiet. I said ten words to him: 'This must be very hard for you and your
family.' Of course, all the cab drivers were starving because there was no business.
Amazingly, he started speaking a torrent of things that could've gotten him in serious
trouble with some of his Palestinian compatriots. 'That man Arafat, he's destroyed
everything. We were getting along before he came. He caused all of this.' Now, that
unburdening of his was a remarkable gift to me, but it came only because I had shown him a
little empathy. He knew I had gone against my own people when I took his cab.
"That's what happens when you're willing to step out. These gestures of respect and
empathy are very contagious, just like anger is very contagious. I heard more honest
conversation from him that night than I had heard in all the stupid diplomatic dialogues
where everyone is acting a part and saying nothing. Real conflict resolution starts with
single personal relationships."
-- Talks about Israeli musician Barenboim and his friend professor Edward Said, a
Palestinian Arab. Together they had an idea to form an orchestra of Palestinian and
Israeli musicians, to help the two sides get to know one another better.
Barenboim insisted that they were not there to repress their feelings but to express them
to each other. He told players, "It is not that we say we're all musicians and isn't it
lovely to play music and forget about everything else. On the contrary, it is a project
where everyone has the possibility, the right, and in fact the duty to express exactly his opinion."1
xxx [Probably nobody trained them in emotional literacy and the difference between feelings, thoughts and beliefs]
xxx [Note to mysef: Thoughts connect feelings and beliefs]
1. "Barenboim's Music: A Bridge across Palestinian-Israeli Divide." AFP,
The Israeli cellist Noa Chorin says, "When I am playing next to Dana from Syria, I don't
think 'she's from Syria,' I think 'that's my friend.'" After they played in a Palestinian
town, Chorin remembers, "one girl said we were the first Israelis she had ever seen that
were not soldiers. And when it came to say goodbye, and go our different ways, people were crying."
xxx look up:
1. Ed Vulliamy, "Bridging the Gap, Part Two," Guardian (Manchester), July 18, 2008,
October 21, 2010.
2. Palestinian-Israeli Orchestra Marks 10th Anniversary," Al-Jazeera English, August 21,
2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDJui5-zoeg. Accessed October 20, 2010.
--Talks about how Barenboim has his critics, among them some of his fellow Israelis who
see him as consorting with Arabs, "the enemies of Israel."
[Countries are a man made invention.]
--Talks about how Barenboim was given a Palestinian passport, and was the first person to
hold both Israeli and Palestinian passports. He said the passport "symbolizes the
everlasting bond between the Israeli and Palestinian people."
[What makes you an Israeli? 1) Born in 2) Culture 3) Parents. With different
parents/culture, you would still be a human.]
Where 2-Alternative thinking has dehumanized so many others in the region, Barenboim
allows neither side to define him.
[Peace activist Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari] pleads with Jews and his fellow Muslims to stop fighting "over the three percent of their scriptures which differ while ignoring the other 97 percent which they have in common."
[Better to drop them all]
I have read the Qur'an and the Old and New Testaments; they are all inspiring[*],
The key is the heart. Until we understand people's hearts, not just their minds and
ideologies, nothing can happen. That's why it's absolutely essential to create
opportunities for people to listen to each other with the heart, mind and spirit.
-- About Guillaume-Henri Dufour, a Swiss soldier engineer:
"He is a soldier, but he draws the human being out in the soldier. He wages war, but he transforms it into a prelude to peace."1
1. "Guillaume-Henr Dofour -- A Man of Peace," International Review of the Red Cross, September-October 1987, 107. http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/RC_Sep-Oct-1987.pdf.
The law recognizes no ethnic group identity, only individuals.
W.H. Auden wrote, "I and the public know what all schoolchildren learn, / Those to whom evil is done do evil in return."
xxx [Those who are hurt, hurt. Those who are helped, help.]
-- Talks about how well Switzerland works, but doesnt mention the high percentage of Atheists there.
-- Journalist Robert Wright:
"...the thing that most amazes me, most impresses me, and most uplifts me -- that there is a moral dimension to history, there is a moral arrow. We have seen moral progress over time."
xxx [Like Goleman in chapter one]
-- Tells a story about the great cellist Pablo Casals. He would practice playing the cello all the time when he was a little boy, and eventually a composer invited him to play for the Spanish royal family. He performed for the Queen Victoria when he was 23, and played for President J.F. Kennedy at 85 years old. He was acclaimed the greates cellist in history, and won every possible honor. During the last years of his life, his neighbors would listen to the sound of his playing from out the window.
One day, when he was ninety-three, one of them asked him why he continued to practice the cello three hours a day. Casals replied, "I'm beginning to notice some improvment... I notice myself getting better at this."
When the music dies down, it's called diminuendo, and when the music swells to life and grows in grandeur, it's called a crescendo. He was determined that his life would not slip into diminuendo. He lived in crescendo.
Your most important work is always ahead of you.
Always believe your most important work is ahead of you, never behind you. Regardless of what you have or haven't accomplished, you have important contributions to make. You may do different work than you have done in the past; it may be significant in different ways; but it is important work nevertheless, especially if you can positively impact the lives of others. We should avoid the temptation to keep looking over our shoulder in the rearview mirror at what we have done and instead look ahead with optimism.
We may get satisfaction from past accomplishments, but the next great contribution is always on the horizon.
As this book shows, there are challenges everywhere that require the creative influence of a synergist. We have relationships to build, communities to serve, families to strenghten, problems to solve, knowlege to gain, and great works to create.
George Burns said when he was ninety-nine, "I can't retire now, I'm booked!"
Too many of us live a kind of 2-Alternative existence: we work or we play. Many work in order to play. We put in long days at work with no particular end or goal in mind except to get through it as quickly and as hassle-free as possible so we can relax.
We see ourselves through the lens of the Industrial Age, as machines that perform a certain function until we're no longer needed. We switch off every night until the switch goes on again the next morning.
We go on the shelf. We retire to leisure, to play for the rest of our days. And that's exactly what many of us want because we have been brainwashed to see our whole lives in terms of these 2 Alternatives.
But this is a false dichtonomy imposed by a society with an Industrial Age mind-set. We are conditioned to believe there are only two choices: keep working or retire. We think that someday when we are no longer "machines," we'll be happy. Then life will be meaningful. But for many, as the poet William Butler Yeats wrote, "Life is a long preparation for something that never happens."
I believe that the 3rd Alternative is by far the best. Make a contribution.
-- He says that in the past, people would die more often around retirement age (55). He says the life expectancy of Americans has increased by 7 hours every day for the past century, and now the average life expectancy is about 79.
Some of us don't know what to do with this time and may miss invaluable opportunities to make a difference in the lives of so many.
Will we squander those years doing nothing much, or make them count?
The contribution paradigm can actually save your life.
A mission-driven life is rejuvenating. Meaningful contribution keep our immune system strong and the regenerative forces of the body working. My own sense of mission is swelling inside of me, not shrinking, and that's why every new day excites me. I don't sense myself as just growing older; as Carl Rogers said, "I sense myself as older and growing."
To me, the whole concept of retirement is a flawed notion, a culturally misaligned relic of the Industrial Age.
-- Talks about what President Jimmy Carter and his wife decided to do after retirement:
His vision was to become a catalyst for change, an agent of peace and healing. He went to work furiously on his first project, establishing a refuge where people from all over the world could meet and talk and explore creative alternatives to their problems.
Although serving as president of the United States is a pinnacle of human achievement, the Carters felt they could achieve higher things.
[Carter] is almost universally acknowleged as the most productive former president in history.
[The Carters] have not retired from life, and they challenge us to join in synergy with others to answer the needs of humanity:
"Involvement in promoting good for others has made a tremendous difference in our lives in recent years. There are serious needs everywhere for volunteers who want to help those who are hungry, homeless, blind, crippled, addicted to drugs or alcohol, illiterate, mentally ill, elderly, imprisoned, or just friendless and lonley. There is clearly much left to be done, and whatever else we are going to do, we had better get on with it."
xxx Look up:
DeWayne Wickham, "An Amazing Story of Giving That Could Change Our World," USA Today, March 20, 2007. http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2007-03-19-opcom_N.htm.
-- Tells the story of "Jackie", an anonymous woman who in her later years became a 'permaculture farmer'. Disliking the pace and chaos of urban life, she decided to live in a house small enough to be legally considered a shed, meaning she can live there without gas, electricy, running water, etc. Environmentalist journalist William Powers tells her story in the hope of sharing her insights into living a sustainable lifestyle. She identifies as a "wisdom keeper", a term going back to Native Americans and which means elder women who inspire others to dig more deeply into life.
To the beurocratic world, Powers says, Jackie is "invisible."
Powers describes his first meeting with Jackie:
"She was partly obscured by the tea bushes. At a distance, all I could see was part of her face and a ponytail of salt-and-pepper hair...
With a little pull on my hand, Jackie led me over to some rainwater pooled by the tea bushes. We crouched there, and a bee flew off my arm and landed beside the pool. Above us sat a bee box. Jackie told me her Italian bees produced forty pounds of honey a year, enough to give to friends. 'Listen to how quiet the bees are,' she said...
A slight buzz mingled with the murmur of the creek. We were surrounded by Juneberries, figs, hazelnuts, and sourwood. The bee that had been on my forearm was now sipping from the pool. Jackie reached down and stroked its wings as it drank. 'Sometimes I wake up in the morning out here in the silence, and I get tears of joy.'"
-- Story about James Kim, who was wounded at 15 year old when he was a solider in South Korea. Fearing for his life, he asked his god to spare his life so he could 'return love to his enemies'. Kim survived the war, so he decided to dedicate his life to helping his former enemies instead of killing them. He moved to America to get a US passport and make money, so that he would be able to access North Korea and China, where he planned to fund a small college on the North Korean border.
The job to be done, he felt, was to help educate young people and open their minds to learning. It was the best gift to his old enemies he could think of.
"Ask Kim about where he finds his inspiration, and he'll always say, 'Love.'"
When his North Korean and Chinese hosts asked him if he would call himself a capitalist or a communist, he recalls, "I told them I was simply a 'love-ist.'"
xxx look up
1. Bill Powel, "The Capitalist Who Loves North Korea," Fortune, September 15, 2009, http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/14/magazines/fortune/pyongyang_university_north_korea.furtune/index.htm.
2. Richard Stone, "PUST Update," North Korean Economy Watch, November 1, 2010, http://www.nkeconwatch.com/category/dprk-organizations/state-offices/pyongyang-university-of-science-and-technology/.
Where many would be pleased to see the last of their enemies, Kim virtually beat down the doors to help his.
"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how."
I believe we also have a responsibility to help others live in crescendo
--Story of his friend who let his old, disabled mother spend her last days living with him instead of sending her to a rest home.
...he would have missed something that transformed his life: the quiet rewards of love and service.
It is my personal belief that we are on this earth to serve others, that God expects us to do His work by helping our fellow men and women. We may be the answer to another's prayer for help. Through the gift of conscience, God inspires us to bless His children in ways both material and spiritual. I believe service is the key to lasting happiness and is the measure of true success in this life.
[I AM NOT HERE TO SERVE]
And as you answer with a synergy of mind and heart, you will be blessed with a life of meaning and purpose as well.
Without strength inside myself, I could not expect to succeed outside myself.
You will face this same reality as you attempt to create 3rd Alternative solutions to your toughest problems and challenges. Despite all your best desires and efforts, I guarantee you will find yourself falling short and experiencing what feels like failure as you attempt to resolve a tough difference with a friend, colleague, or family member and it doesn't turn out as you hoped. It may even seem to make matters worse.
I come up against these limits all the time. I lose my patience. I overreact. I find it really hard to listen at times... especially when I KNOW I'm right! And since I've taught these principles to my now grown children so often over the years, they don't hesitate to call me on it when I'm not listening. So I've learned to smile, take a deep breath, apologize quickly, and then say, "Okay, help me understand." And to be honest, sometimes it takes me a while to get there.
We may start off with great intentions, but in the struggle find ourselves becoming defensive, hurt, reactive, or falling back into old patterns of "fight or flight" communication. These things need not indicate failure at all, but rather that we need to do more work inside our souls and develop greater strength in the "muscle" of our character.
The more we care, the more we attempt to live with a 3rd Alternative mind-set in every great challenge and opportunity in life, the more we desire to take on the big, important issues we face, the more inner strength it will require. The greater the problem, the more important the relationship or the issue, the greater the need for inner security, abundant win-win thinking, patience, love, respect, courage, empathy, tenacious determination, and creativity. The broader the river, the more internal strength it takes to cross.
In closing, I express to you my love, my belief in you and in your potential, and my confidence that as you choose to walk the path of a 3rd Alternative life, you will bring about great good in the world. You're so needed. God bless you.
---Covey talks about a philosopher called Michel Foucault who talked about the
surveillance society "in which we live under constant observation". Then Covey says
Foucault argues that as surveillance increases, respect for our individuality increases.
Reward and punishment is based on how well we shut up and follow instructions rather than
how we volunteer our unique gifts to make a contribution. When we orient people to be
[xxx next word italics]led instead of [next word italics]leading, society and opportunity
The prisonlike mind-set of the Industrial Age takes hold of us during our school years but influences the whole of our lives and our society. It can create in us a fundamental
misinterpretation of life: that we are like passive worker ants in a vast colony. Too many of us exist as children to be told what to do, as adults to fit into a job slot, and as
senior citizens to retire to pointless leisure. We are trained into a subtle victimhood.
If we don't fit in at school, we are ciphers or nonpersons. If we lose a job, we lose our
identity. Eventually we can become conditioned to dependence: if we can, we find someone
to take care of us, or to point fingers at if we can't.
Parents have their own struggles within the framework of Industrial Age education; some
are boosters, some opt out, some solider on within the system. On one hand, we see
children whose lives are so overprogrammed that they never learn to decide for themselves
how to live. Their parents push them to achieve without helping them discern between
winning in a competition and making a meaningful contribution in life. On the other hand,
we see children suffering from PADD, parental attention-deficit disorder, who just don't
care because their parents don't care. So they drop out.
Few parents are astute enough to see that their children are being prepared for a life of
When I met the president of the United States a few years ago, he asked me what I thought
was our top educational challenge. I said something like this: "Creating partnerships
among teachers, parents, and the community [last part of sentence in italics] to unlock
the potential of all children to lead their own lives instead of being led."
---Now I would add when he says "creating partnerships among the teachers, parents, and
the community", he left out students. So what about including them?
---Then he says that "That would be a transformational change in education." He said that
basically in the past people just argued over how to "turn out the product".
---Then Covey says,
The point, however, is not to "turn out a product" at all. Children are not raw materials
to be packaged into products for the market place. Each child brings distinctive gifts
into the world and the power to choose how to use those gifts. The job of education is to
help each child to succeed at maximizing that potential.
My good friend Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, a lifelong
teacher, believes that schools have been doing the wrong job for too long. He likes to
think about students as if they were independent contractors hiring a school to do a
certain job for them. What is the job?
[Clayton Christensen says:]
It matters a lot to understand what job people hire schools to do for them. Why are
students not motivated? Dropout rates, absenteeism in suburban as well as urban schools,
students sitting there with defiant or bored looks on their faces -- you know the signs.
What job do they want done?
Students and their teachers want to feel successful every day! That's the job they want
done. Now, they could hire a school to do that, or they could hire a gang to do that. Or
they could hire a car to cruise around in and look successful. What the schools are
competing against are all the other ways a young person can feel successful.
Our schools are designed to make most students feel like failures. Once you understand
that, you can start thinking of a very different way to help students feel successful.
---He's close, but there's more than just feeling successful. There are also all the other
--- Covey says:
If school doesn't do the job of helping young people feel successful every day, they will
find other providers of success. And if forced to comply, they will do what any unhappy
customer does: submit resentfully or figure out how to game the system. They will
substitute some other form of success, perhaps the familiar teenage refrain "It doesn't
matter, I don't care, it makes no difference," phrases that desperately snatch at the last
tatter of a shredded identity, the last defense against failure.
---Covey talks about how he defines a leader. He says
Let me quickly say that I don't define a "leader" as one of the few who end up in big
leadership positions. We are too used to thinking of leaders as people with titles like
CEO or president. This view of leadership is an artifact of the Industrial Age, and we are long past that kind of hierarchical thinking. I'm talking about the ability to lead your
own life, to be a leader among your friends, to be a leader in your own family - to be the active, creative force in your own world.
True leaders define and achieve enduring success by developing character and competence and taking principled action; they dont wait for others to define it for them. Because they see themselves as uniquely gifted, they compete against no one but themselves.
With time and circumstances, they might fall short of a goal, but they never actually
fail. [xxxlast word in italics]
--- I put a question mark by that because I'm not exactly sure what he means by that,
although it sounds nice.
For a child educated to be this kind of a leader, success comes from the inside out, not
from the outside in. From the outside comes only a lesser, secondary sort of success,
rewards like good grades and academic notoriety in the short them and big money or an
impressive title later on. People fight over these scarcer successes. But from the inside
comes primary success, feeling good about yourself, discovering what you're good at, the
rewards and respect for others and self, deep satisfaction for making a unique and
creative contribution, of honest, upright service.
---But I don't like his ideas about service because I don't think I'm here to serve
anyone, and I'm not a servant, and I don't want to be a servant.
[Note to self: I skipped a couple of pages between 216 and 220 that I want to go back to
---Covey says he asked people, I guess including students: "If you could create the ideal
school, what would it look like?"
---Covey said the children wanted teachers "who love us, who know who we are, who are nice to use, forgive us when we make mistakes, know our hopes and dreams."
Teachers idealized respectful children committed to making a difference in their lives,
eager to learn and kind to each other. Parents valued responsibility, problem solving, goal setting, and self direction.
---I'll comment on that later. Then he says,
The input of business leaders was a little unexpected. Where they might have said they
wanted concrete job skills, they actually asked for "honesty and integrity, teamwork and
interpersonal skills, strong worth ethic." Technology skills were way down the list.
---Then Covey adds
Interestingly nobody mentioned excellent basic skills or higher test scores...
---Part of what I want to write about is how Covey is still talking about this school
where he liked the principal so much. The principal was name Richard Esparza, and what
they are doing in the school is teaching the children how to behave. For example,
The children also learn how to look the part of a leader: how to shake hands, how to lead
a meeting, how to stand and deliver. Their ticket into the classroom is greeting their
teacher and student peers; their ticket out is to show their gratitude and thanks to the
---I guess means even if you don't feel really grateful and thankful.
The children thank the teachers for returning their papers. They say, "Yes Ma'am" and "No
A new boy come to our daughter's classroom with significant anger issues. The way the
teacher handled this student was inspiring. The teacher visited honestly with the children
one afternoon when the boy was not in class. She said, "The recent blowups in our
classroom are not working for us." She involved them in the solution. The children
understood that much of the problem was this new student. On their own, they formed a
support team. They said they could help this new boy even better than the teacher. This
young man responded well and started making great academic progress for the first time in
life. When he later moved away the students in the class cried. They had learned to love
---Covey says, by the way, you can see a video about the transformation of this school
called the A.B. Combs School on The3rdAlternative.com
---Now here's another example of confusing goals. Covey says
Instead of focusing on the performance standard itself, they focus on teaching and
teaching the leadership principles that produce high performance. Academic excellence is,
frankly, a secondary goal, a by-product of their emphasis on primary success. The
principle is "teach the paradigm, and the behavior follows," and it works beautifully.
---So that is similar to what I say about how if you fill the emotional needs, then the
let's say, pro-social behavior will follow. But the problem is, it's still not clear
whether they really want academic performance or whether they really want a different kind of person, and a different kind of society. And it seems though, that they want academic
performance because then they even say this...
Initially, the staff thought it would be wonderful to get 90 percent of the students
scoring at or above grade level. "Then", she says, "we got to 95 percent. There was a
pivotal point when we said that was no longer acceptable, not until we are at 100
---So they really are focusing on the academic goals.
A visitor to the school made this report:
I immediately knew this school was special when I walked in the front door and a young
kindergarten student approached me unprompted, looked me in the eye, gave me a firm
handshake, and said in a welcoming and clear voice, "Good morning sir. My name is Michael.
We are so happy to have you here at our school." This warm, sincere, and professional
greeting was then followed by similar ones from other students of all ages as I walked
toward the office.
---But what I wonder is, how sincere was it really? Sounds pretty programed and pretty
brainwashed to me. It sounds like a school run by the scientologists. I don't think you
could be depressed at that school. They wouldn't let you to be. So you would feel totally
alone if you did feel depressed there, because nobody would want you to be unhappy. They
would all want you to behave as if you were happy even though you weren't, I'm afraid.
---Then Covey says
The housing prices in that area have skyrocketed and some parents will drive an hour to
bring their children to school.
---While this is an interesting story, I don't really see how it's an example of 3rd
Alternative thinking, or synergy, or conflict resolution.
--He gives the example of someone who became a cadet at West Point Military Academy, and
he says, "I'm probably sitting at West Point today because I was a student at Combs." But
what I would say is, that means the school has failed if they are sending people off to
West Point Military Academy to make them into soldiers to train them to kill people. They
totally miss the point of improving society. I would say a successful school would be one
that resulted in no students wanting to join the army, and all students wanting to work
towards peace in the world.
---Now just a note: Covey talks about the Circle of Influence, which I think he talks
about in his book, The Seven Habits. By the way, I looked up in the index 'the Circle of
Influence' and it's not in the index. And Covey says that in his book called 'The Leader
in Me', he describes in detail what happened at that school and other schools.
---Now here's something interesting. He quotes some guy who says:
The nature of the relationships among the adults who inhabit a school has more to do with
its quality and character, and with the accomplishments of its pupils, than any other
---That's from a guy who Covey calls a "great educator", Roland S. Barth.
---Covey also says he sees four reasons why his model of a different kind of school works.
First, he says, it starts with a different paradigm in which every child is capable, every child is a leader. And it doesn't see children through the lens of a 'normal' distribution curve - in other words, some kids are smart and some are less smart. He says this paradigm changes everything.
---Well I say, again, that's close to the right idea, but he doesn't realize that some
students are better at different things, such as emotional intelligence or art or math.
---The he says: Second, it works from the inside out. In other words, first you change the teachers... and parents? Or maybe, first teachers, then students and then parents.
---Third... and this is what's interesting to me: Third, it uses a common language. He
says When everyone - teachers, students and parents - begins using the same language, you
get a compound-interest effect that is truly amazing. For example, what a difference it
makes when everyone knows what it means to "put first things first" or "seek first to
understand" or to be "proactive".
---And what I said in the margin was, what if everyone used the same language that I use
such as 'invalidate', and the same understanding of respect, cooperation and punishment?
And I would add to that 'emotional literacy' and probably some other things. And I would
take out of language or redefine words like 'selfish' and 'should' and 'inappropriate'.
But I agree with Covey that in any kind of a micro-society or society or group of people,
it's important to have a common language and a common understanding of the words in the
And his fourth thing was, the implementation is ubiquitous, meaning everywhere and all the time. So instead of just teaching leadership at a certain time each week, they made
leadership a part of everything they did at the school.
---I say Covey puts too much emphasis on leadership, and again, doesn't address the
individual kids' emotional needs.
One thing which bothered me though, is his over-use of the term 3rd Alternative. He also has applied it too broadly, in my opinon, to some of the examples he gives. For example, he has called the concept of micro financing made famous by Muhammad Yusuf a 3rd Alternative. But what Yusuf did doesn't fit Covey's model of a 3rd Alternative solution which includes things like "I seek you out." Yusuf's idea was original and innovative, but I don't believe it is fair for it to be included as an example of a situation where two opposing parties come together and joinly look for a solution than neither of them imagined. Instead, Yusuf on his own came up with his solution, as far as I am aware.
Another thing which bothered me a little is Covey's over-use of terms like "spiritual energy", which he doesn't define. And in the last chapter of the book Covey also mentions his belief in God. I find this ironic though, considering that the concept of a dichotomous, two alternative afterlife consisting of either heaven or hell is such a big part of conventional monotheistic religions. I suggest that perhaps it is time to look for a "3rd Alternaive" in this regard as well.
From Forbes Magazine
Stephen R. Covey Gives You a 3rd Alternative
Stephen R. Covey
For my second interview (read my first interview here) with Stephen R. Covey, we focused on his new book The 3rd Alternative: Solving Lifes Most Difficult Problems, which just came out today! Dr. Covey is the author of the worldwide bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. First written in 1989, it has now sold over twenty million copies in 38 languages! Dr. Covey has been recognized as one of Time Magazines 25 Most Influential Americans. He is the co-founder and vice chairman of FranklinCovey, the leading global professional services firm with offices in 123 countries. He is also the author of The 8th Habit. In this interview, Dr. Covey talks about why business negotiations should factor in the 3rd alternative, common conflicts that occur in the workplace that the 3rd alternative can resolve, and much more.
When negotiating a business deal, why do people seek the 1st or 2nd alternative instead of the 3rd, as you suggest in your new book?
Theyre not aware that they can go for a 3rd Alternative, which is a better way than your way or my way. Most negotiators are trying to get their way. Through rounds of haggling, they usually arrive at a compromise, in which both sides concede something to get an agreement. By contrast, a 3rd Alternative requires no concessions at all because its truly a better deal for everyone. You get to it not by haggling but by asking, Would you be willing to go for a 3rd Alternative that is better than what either of us has in mind?
What are some of the most common conflicts that occur in the workplace that the 3rd alternative can resolve?
Beyond ever-present personality conflicts, serious conflicts arise over compensation, promotions, resource allocation, who gets credit for what, big strategy questionsalmost all of them can be not only resolved but turned into great opportunities for growing and advancing the organization. A 3rd-Alternative thinker automatically looks beyond the two sides of a conflict in search of a better way.
Can you give an example of a situation at work, where someone resolved a conflict using your recommendations?
A young man reluctantly asked his boss for a raise. Of course, she could say either yes or no, and he was ready to fight if she said no. But she surprised him by going for a 3rd Alternative. She asked him about the clients he was working with, how the firm could serve them better, and what he would do to build more business with them. By listening to him, she learned how he could add a lot more value and earn a lot more salary. By working with him over time, she built up not only his confidence and compensation, but also her volume of business with his clientsa true win-win for everyone.
You believe that synergy short-circuits conflict in the workplace. What are the barriers to achieving synergy?
You get to the 3rd Alternative through synergy, which happens when the talents of two or more people add up to more than the sum of the parts. Synergy starts when I go to a person I differ with and say, You see things differently. I need to listen to you. Its exciting when you truly hear out divergent views and you start to see how to bring them together for a solution nobody ever thought of before. Of course, the barriers are defensiveness, territoriality, the not-invented-here syndrome.
How does someone create a win-win situation in business? What happens when one side benefits more?
When one side benefits more than the other, thats a win-lose situation. To the winner it might look like success for a while, but in the long run it breeds resentment and distrust. You get to win-win simply by asking, How could we both win in this situation? What youre looking for is a 3rd Alternative thats superior to anything you could create alone.