When Dr. Steven R. Covey passed on July 16, I must have been in a fog because I missed the news. Years ago, I went to a conference in Milwaukee to meet him and was hugely disappointed. I discovered that he wrote wonderful books, but he didn’t live his principles. It took me a while to process that a lesson can be great even if the teacher hasn’t mastered it.
His most popular book was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. If you haven’t read it, buy it now. It will change your life. I didn’t realize how much it had changed my life and my core point of view until I decided to write this post.
I decided to honor his life today because I am profoundly distressed over the win-lose, partisan bickering in Washington, D.C. and in social media. I am distressed by the hate-fueled, anti-Muslim sentiments being spewed by people who claim to be Christians. And, I am irritated that Sen. Patty Murray failed to flex her political muscle to get her veterans jobs bill through Congress. She’s effectively blamed the Republicans, and it seems everyone is so lost in the rhetoric that we’ve all forgotten that there are veterans who put their lives on the line for our freedom and who now desperately need jobs. They shouldn’t have to beg. We shouldn’t need to pass a law. We should all be thanking them for their service by helping them transition back into civilian employment.
We seem to have collectively forgotten one of Dr. Covey’s most important lessons: Think Win/Win.
Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit. . .all parties feel good. . .feel committed. . .see life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena. . .Win/Win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others. . .
It’s not your way or my way; it’s a better way, a higher way.
Dr. Covey believed that when we can’t come to a Win/Win solution, we each need to agree to disagree. No recriminations or hard feelings. No revenge. Take a chill pill and walk away.
The problem with needing to win at the expense of another person is that we all lose in the long run. In our competitive culture, this is easy to forget. Yet, in many areas of life, good sports shake hands at the end of a game. Sometimes they have a beer together afterwards. A true good sport is more invested in the love of the game than in the thrill of victory.
Give Peace a Chance
Fifty years ago, hippies were asking everyone to give peace a chance. Yesterday, we entered an astrological period that will take us back to the radical transformative mood of the mid-1960s. The 99% and women are uniting in opposition to the 1%’s patriarchal power and greed. We are finding a new sense of who we are. We are experiencing a collective metamorphosis.
When I watched the news last night of Aung San Suu Kyi’s Congressional Gold Medal for her work for democracy in Myanmar, I was stunned to see politicians from both sides of the aisle unite in celebration of her work for peace. I wondered why they couldn’t all behave like grown-ups with great responsibility on behalf of We the People here in the United States. They bicker like brats on the playground for the benefit of their partisan followers and lobbyists, but I knew that last night they probably dined and drank together, told jokes, and enjoyed private camaraderie.
The sad truth is that we’re in a political lose/lose mode. Neither party has the market cornered on good ideas. Neither party is sincerely trying to get Americans back to work and out of debt. We trade rhetoric like parrots without examining the record. We aren’t collectively going to get back on a winning track unless we collectively decide to follow Dr. Covey’s advice and Think Win/Win.
Now, I think I’ll mellow out by listening to my Michael Jones CDs. The upside of the Milwaukee conference was that I also met Mr. Jones and discovered how his professional work took him back to his true love: the piano. His music is sublime and inspired. His book Creating An Imaginative Life is one of my most treasured books. It comes with a CD of his music which helps ease the stress of living in a world where the love of power trumps the power of love.