One of the things that is asked of you with the 7 habits is to create a Mission Statement. Figure out what is truly important to you and then write that down in the form of a statement, a manifesto if you will, that you can use as a guideline for decisions moving forward. I have spent some time working on this. And came up with my four guiding principles that I want to use to guide my life moving forward.
I will live my life and make decisions that show respect. Not just for others but also myself. For others that may mean treating others with respect. From dealing with them honestly and openly, to respecting their choices and decisions. I may not always agree with others choices, but I can at least show respect for them. This can mean something as simple as showing up on time (or a little early) for planned events. To being as nuanced as not speaking ill of those who have made choices I may not agree with. That is a lot harder than it seems. And is a goal which I strive for, I am not all the way there yet by a long shot.
I will also begin treating myself with respect. That means making choices and decisions that are best for me. Eating better. Getting more exercise. Sleeping better. Making sure I practice proactive self-care.
I will encourage others and myself. When someone wishes to do something I will encourage them. If they are working on a project that does not directly involve me I can seek to encourage them. This can be as simple as a pat on the back for my co-workers when they are dealing with a difficult customer. Or as long term as working with my family members in log term activities like school, work, Scouting.
This does not mean I have to act as a constant cheerleader. But I can still do my part to encourage folks when they undertake activities. Telling my kids I know they can get themselves a meal instead of relying on the parents.
I have been on this planet for 50 plus years. I have had an extensive education. I have worked a variety of jobs. And consider myself to be pretty well read on a variety of topics. In short, I know things (although I do not drink). The thing about all that knowledge is that it is useless if I do not share it. So my fourth principle is to share what I know.
As a father, one of my main jobs is to teach my kids. From something as simple as tying a shoelace, to as complex as how to write a coherent essay. As a husband, my wife and I are constantly teaching each other things (even after 20 some years.) At work, I have learned that teaching others what I know has the benefit of solving problems ahead of time which reduces everyone’s workload.
I know a lot. But that does not mean I know it all. I think that one of the hallmarks of success for me is to keep learning. That could be learning how to do something at work that benefits my position there. Or just learning something that I can share with my colleagues.
It could be as meaningful as learning about the complex nuances of current events: local, national and international. Or it could be as mundane as learning who acted in a current movie or who a certain player is playing for. Or it could be about learning to play a new game or a different way of playing a game I already know. It all comes down to keeping an open and inquisitive mind. Because there is always something new out there to learn about.
Those are the guiding principles I choose to follow. That will affect my choices and decisions. Should I agree to do this new project for the Scouts? Who does the cooking and cleaning around the house? What am I doing for a vacation? I can look to my 4 principles to determine the answers to those questions.