Sunday, March 20, 2011

Level 3: Spiritually-rooted skills (B)

This section deals with the ‘skills’ part of my equation:

Potential for Good = Desire x Skills.

It builds on my discussion of desire for good, and on my overview of this equation.

These skills are slightly more advanced skills than those in the previous post, and build on those skills. Again, there are a lot of skills on this list that I won’t discuss, including:

- Able to Find Mentors
- Knowing How to Present Yourself
- Reliability and Integrity.
- Curiosity or Always Wanting to Know More

These type of skills I feel like I’m just starting to learn., so I’ll list a few with brief notes.


This is completely linked with being able to understand others and their feelings, make good judgments, care about others, and so on. True leadership requires character – Donald Trump and “Slick Willy,” take heed.

Covey gives the example of parents, employers, teachers, and other leaders.

Often, “they may be competent, knowledgeable, and skillful, but are emotionally and spiritually immature.”

Imagine: “How do these immature people react to pressure? How does the boss react when subordinates don't do things his way? The teacher when the students challenge her viewpoint?

“How would such an immature father treat his teenage daughter when she interrupts his convenience with her problems? How does he discipline the younger children when they get in the way? How does he handle a difference with his wife on an emotionally potent matter?”

Creating and changing culture.

Culture, at its bottom, concerns the underlying assumptions that we make that govern our behavior. Persuading people to do good things is good, but an even more powerful way is to persuade them to positively change their assumptions.

Simple examples would be introducing and popularizing memes like “Just because Joe has Down’s syndrome, doesn’t mean we should be mean to him” or “I know it’s hard to admit being wrong, but…” or “It’s worth doing [good thing X] because…”

There are some generally true memes like the previous ones, but the tricky part is figuring out how to choose and popularize the right meme in a complicated situation.

- A student who on her frenetic elite college campus, frequently reminds her overly busy friends of the importance of taking time to build meaningful relationships.

- A professor who realizes his students put him on too high of a pedestal and then takes the right actions and changes his behavior to help them treat him more informally.

- A newspaper editor who loves the community and is fierce in defending them inspires those around him to keep persistently asking questions and to be willing to offend local authority figures. (Two much-needed skills in journalism.)

Anyone can do this, but it involves a ton of Level 1 and Level 2 character attributes and skills to do well.

Good judgment, to correctly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of any given group of people or individual, and find the right meme to spread. Listening, to gather information. Communicating, to express things in the right way. Maybe as a joke.

Humility, subtlety, and persistence, to do this as often as needed without drawing undue attention to yourself and engendering resentment. Love for others, to want to do this at all. Knowledge, of how people interact with each other and organizational dynamics.

(Without these skills, one risks becoming the crackpot with his pet idea, the constant shrill-voiced moralizer, the ‘friend’ who always tries to make others change.)

Relationship skills.

The ability to form a functional relationship with a roommate, a co-worker, a significant other. Some common elements and shared responsibility, working together, agreeing on decisions, enough interaction that you could really get on each others’ nerves, the potential for rewarding emotional openness and intimacy.

The same problem Covey writes about for leaders is applicable here, too.

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