In the second chapter of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he writes…
“Borrowing strength builds weakness. It builds weakness in the borrower because it reinforces dependence on external factors to get things done. It builds weakness in the person forced to acquiesce, stunting the development of independent reasoning, growth, and internal discipline. And finally, it builds weakness in the relationship. Fear replaces cooperation, and both people involved become more arbitrary and defensive.”
This passage stopped me dead in my tracks, when I realized that this was a tactic I had been employing for years and while using scare tactics, bribery or power position to get my way worked in the short run; it had built resentment in many of my most important long-term relationships. This included both my significant other and business partner.
Prior to this passage in the same chapter Covey writes “Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education,” and quotes Henry David Thoreau – “How can we remember our ignorance, which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?”
It was true. I was ignorant to the fact that utilizing my position in a relationship to get what I wanted was creating long term growth issues in both myself, the people around me and my relationships. Although I did not know I would stumble across this, my proactive self-directed education helped me do so. Without the continued development of the mind, heart and soul we are forced to stay where we are in life, as a leader or otherwise.
“The significant problem we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
So how do we solve the problem? Build character, primarily and also understanding as Covey puts it “The way we see the problem is the problem.” I would argue that Covey lays out a strong roadmap in 7 Habits with seeking first to understand, and creating win/win agreements being chief among the core conflict resolution tools. I would also assert that “you can’t fix it when you don’t know it’s broke” and “you won’t know it’s broke if you don’t look at it.”
Reading = Learning = Thinking = Growth