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UCMT philosophizing | the same principle, changing world

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

This paper extracts from Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

One of the most profound lessons I have learned about life is that to accomplish your most desired goals and overcome your most daunting challenges, you must discover and apply certain principles or laws of nature, because they are the very principles that govern the success you so desperately desire. How a principle is applied varies from person to person, depending on one's unique strengths, talents, and creativity, but most fundamentally, the success of any endeavor depends on the proper and disciplined application of certain principles that are essential to success.

Many people, however, dismiss this principle, or at least try to avoid it. In fact, these principled solutions are at odds with the prevailing conventions and mindsets of our popular culture.

Here, I'd like to illustrate the difference with examples of some of the most common challenges facing humanity:


In our modern world, too many people suffer from fear. They fear the future. They fear losing their jobs. They fear not being able to support their families. This weakness often feeds a tendency to live a risk-free life, both at work and at home, and to avoid interdependence and cooperation with others. In the face of this problem, our culture often teaches people to be independent, "I'm going to focus on 'me and mine,' and I'm going to work, and work well, and be really happy through my work." Independence is an important, even defining, value and achievement view, and we live in an interdependent society where the most glorious achievements are achieved through interdependence and cooperation, far beyond the reach of individual ability.

"I WANT IT NOW" People want too much and too badly. "I want money, I want mansions, I want fancy cars, I want the most luxurious entertainment centers, I want everything, and I deserve it." Although the modern "credit card" society makes it easy to "overdraw", but we must ultimately face the economic situation, the existing capacity is far behind the purchasing power. It is difficult to ignore economic reality for long because the pursuit of profit is ruthless, even bloody. Hard work is not enough, because competition is increasingly fierce, driven by the globalization of markets and technology, and the pace of technology development is so fast that it is dizzying, so we cannot be content with campus education, we must constantly re-educate and reinvent ourselves. We must train our minds, invest heavily, and hone our competitiveness so as not to be eliminated from society. At work, the boss always has a variety of reasons to drive the employees to continue to perform. Competition is fierce and survival is at stake. Today, something must be produced. This is the reality of today and represents the intrinsic need for capital. But it is the underlying, enduring, rising success that deserves praise. You may have easily met your quarterly goals, but the question is, have you done the necessary investment and preparation to sustain and grow in the next, five, or even 10 years? Our culture, and in all industries where Wall Street leads, demands results, success today. But it is an indisputable fact that we must never lose sight of the principle of balance between the needs of today and that of the future the former one represents the current moment and the later future investment and improvement. The same principle of balance applies to the needs of your health, your marriage, your family life, and the community in which you live. DENOUNCE AND COMPLAIN Any time a problem is found, people tend to blame the society, "If only my boss wasn't a headstrong idiot...If only I came from a better background...If only I hadn't inherited my father's bad temper...If only the kids weren't so rebellious...If only that house wasn't such a mess all the time...If only people didn't go with the flow so much...If only wives were more considerate...If...If..."Habitually blaming everything and everyone else for problems and challenges seems to be the unwritten rule of the day, but it only brings temporary relief while locking us into these problems without finding solutions. If you can find a person who is open-minded, who can recognize his responsibility to the society and shoulder it, who can be courageous and fearless to pioneer, and undertake challenges in a creative way, I will tell you the supreme power, to teach you how to choose.

DESPERATE AND HELPLESS The inevitable result of condemning everyone and everything around you are to become cynical and hopeless. When we finally bow to fate, consider ourselves victims of circumstance, surrender to the doom of fatalism, we abandon hope, we abandon ideals, we become accustomed to resignation, we choose to stand still." I am nobody, like a puppet or a small cog in a wheel. In the face of reality, I can do nothing. Please tell me what to do." Many smart and capable people have experienced this kind of disappointment, and the frustrations and depressions that come with it. Popular culture's mantra for survival is cynicism -- "Don't expect too much out of life so you won't be disappointed in anyone or anything around you." In contrast, historical principles that encourage hope and growth advocate " I am the creative force of my life and we are creating the world.

LACK OF BALANCE IN LIFE In the modern world, with the rapid development of information, life is becoming more complex and diverse, demanding, pressing, and exhausting. Although we,try to make efficient use of time, work hard, positive enterprising, and use modern technology to improve efficiency, curiously, however, we are increasingly stuck on some trivial things, and the health, family, personal character and many important things in the work, the bigger point. We can't blame our problems on work, or on the complexity and change of our society, but rather on what our popular culture encourages: "Come early, leave late, be productive, sacrifice from now on" -- but the truth is, peace of mind is more than any of these skills can bring. It depends on people knowing what is most important, having a sense of priorities, and being able to focus on life and face reality objectively. "WHERE DO I FIT IN" Our culture says that if you want to get anything out of life, you must be "on top." In other words, "Life is a game, a contest, a competition, so you must win." Classmates, colleagues and even family members are treated as competitors -- the more people around you get, the less there is for you. Of course, on the surface, we do our best to be generous and applaud the success of others, while on the inside, somewhere deep down in our hearts, we deplore their achievements. In the history of human civilization, many of the greatest achievements or events at stake have been made possible by the sheer will of a single strongman. But in the age of knowledge, rare opportunities and remarkable achievements are often reserved for those who understand what "we" is -- teamwork. Really big things are usually achieved only by an open and rich mind, through a spirit of selfless cooperation -- mutual respect and win-win. EAGER TO UNDERSTAND There is no greater need in the human heart than the desire to understand -- to be heard, respected, valued, and to influence others. Most people believe that the key to influence is good communication -- getting your point across clearly and talking wisely. In fact, if you think about it a little, you'll realize that instead of trying to listen and understand when someone is talking, you're often busy preparing what you're going to say next. The first sign of influence is when the other person realizes that you are being influenced by them. When the other person feels that you have opened your heart, listened religiously, and understood them, they feel that they have influence. But most people are emotionally vulnerable and can't listen intently -- they can't put their own things aside and try their best to understand the other person's point of view before speaking their own mind. Our culture demands, even demands, this kind of understanding and influence. But influence is premised on mutual understanding, and mutual understanding is premised on being an engaged, active listener, or at least on one side of the conversation learning to listen first. CONFLICT AND DISAGREEMENT People are so alike, yet so different. They have different ways of thinking, different values, motivations and goals, and sometimes they are completely antagonistic. There is no doubt that these differences bring conflict. Faced with these differences and conflicts, society tends to solve them with a competitive approach, emphasizing "go all out to win". Although there has been some success in the clever use of the "compromising" approach, that is, in pursuit of a goal, compromise to a mutually acceptable extent, the outcome is usually disappointment for both parties. What a waste it is that these differences drive people to accept mechanically and equitably the only common characteristics of both parties. And what a waste it is to fail to take full advantage of creative collaboration to find solutions that are better than either party's original ideas. PERSONAL STAGNATION Human nature is four-dimensional - physical, spiritual, intellectual, social/emotional. Compare the difference and effectiveness of the following two approaches to problem solving (according to existing cultural tendencies and principles, respectively): Keep in mind not only the general suffering of mankind, but also your own practical needs and tribulations. Only then will you have a lasting solution and a clear idea of where you want to go in your life. At the same time, you will find that the gap between the methods advocated by popular culture and the timeless, centuries-old, and highly principled methods will widen.


Habit 1: proactive is taking initiative and taking responsibility for your past, present, and future actions, and making decisions based on principles and values rather than emotions or external circumstances. Proactive people are promoters of change. Instead of being passive victims, they don't resent others. They tap into the four unique human endowments -- consciousness, conscience, imagination, and free will -- while creating change from the inside out and facing everything positively. They choose to create their own lives, which is the fundamental decision of every human being.

Habit 2: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND all things are created twice -- first in the mind and then in the substance. When individuals, families, teams, and organizations make any plan, they create a vision and a goal and shape the future, accordingly, focusing on the principles, values, relationships, and goals that matter most to them. For an individual, family or organization, a mission statement is the highest form of vision. It is the primary decision making that dominates all other decisions. At the heart of leadership is creating a culture behind a shared mission, vision, and values.

Habit 3: PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST the creation of substance. It is the organization and practice of your dreams (your goals, vision, values, and priorities). The things of less important don't have to come first, and the more important things don't come second. No matter what the urgency, individuals and organizations come for important things. The point is to put important things first.

Habit 4: WIN-WIN THINKING is a kind of thinking framework and intention based on mutual respect and seeking mutual benefit, aiming at greater opportunities, wealth, and resources, rather than hostile competition. Win-win is not selfish at the expense of others (win or lose), nor is it selfish at the expense of oneself (win or lose).Our work partners and family members need to think in terms of interdependence (" we ", not "I"). Win-win thinking encourages us to solve problems and helps individuals find mutually beneficial solutions. It is a sharing of information, power, recognition, and reward.

Habit 5: when we give up answer, change in order to understand the heart to listen to others, can open the real communication, improve their relations with each other. Once understood, the other person will feel respected and recognized, so they can begin to shed their inhibitions and speak freely, and both parties will understand each other more naturally. Know that your partner needs kindness; It takes courage to explain oneself. If you can balance the two, you can greatly improve the efficiency of communication.

Habit 6: SYNERGIZE is about creating a third alternative -- not my way, not your way, but a third way that is far more than one's own vision. It is the result of mutual respect -- not just understanding each other, but even appreciating each other's differences, appreciating each other's approach to problems and opportunities. The strength of the individual is the niche where the team and the family are integrated, where the one plus one is greater than two. Relationships and teams that practice integration discard adversarial attitudes (1+1=0.5), do not aim for compromise (1+1=1.5), and do not stop at cooperation (1+1=2). They seek creative cooperation (1+1 > 2).

Habit 7: SHARPEN THE SAW is about constantly renewing yourself in each of the four basic facets of life: physical, spiritual, intellectual, and social/emotional. This habit increases the effectiveness of the other six habits. For organizations, Habit 7 provides vision, renewal, and continuous improvement, preventing the organization from becoming old and tired, and moving on to new paths of growth. For families, Habit 7 is an example of how to upgrade the effectiveness of the family through fixed personal and family activities, just as it is the establishment of traditions that make the family grow with each passing day.

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