Thursday, September 15, 2011


This is my sixth post on the Seven Habits book. I am going to copy what I wrote in my last post on this (Seek to Understand, 11/11/10) because it's so relevent to what I'm going to write in this post.

"As I've been reading through Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, very slowly, trying to deeply understand each chapter, each of the habits seems to have resonated with what was going on in my life, right at that time.

"Covey's first habit ('Be Proactive') came as I was trying to take control of my life and after being highly influenced by a workshop I took with 'David' (see my post on Deciding, 2/19/10, for more on this). As I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I was reading the chapter on 'Begin with the End in Mind' (see my post, Goals, 5/4/10). Then, as I began to try to figure out how to organize my life, there was his chapter on 'Put First Things First' (which I wrote about in Priorities, 6/26/10). I talked about wanting to take a break from writing about these 'habits' but then I started a thread on this blog about how we could be in a world headed for collapse, which begin focusing on how we could benefit others, and his next chapter, on 'Think Win/Win', fit so beautifully in with this, I had to write about it (see Win/Win, 7/30/10)."

I then wrote how well Covey's fifth habit fit in with the work I was doing with Nonviolent Communication. It's been over ten months since I wrote that last post, but I have been working with trying'seek to understand' and listen and communicate better.

Now, I am in a house full of eight people that is struggling to become a community. I've been thinking for a while I wanted to write on Covey's next habit and when I re-read it, once again it was amazing how much it spoke to what is currently happening in my life.

We are currently trying to schedule our first house meeting. It's a complicated, confusing process. I like everyone and think they each offer something special but I'm afraid that the whole thing isn't going to gel or will take off in some direction that will not be what I want at all. I get anxious and worry. I keep looking at what I've posted by my door: "I can relax and see what unfolds". (See Watching the Process Unfold, 8/1/11.)

This morning, as I was re-reading The Seven Habits, I find this: "Most all creative endeavors are somewhat unpredictable. They often seem ambiguous, hit-or-miss, trial and error. And unless people have a high tolerance for ambiguity and get their security from integrity to principles and inner values they find it unnerving and unpleasant to be involved in highly creative enterprises. Their need for structure, certainty, and predictability is too high." Bingo! A friend of mine said that "Structure Binds Anxiety" is a psychiatric saying. The truth is, I need to build my own inner structure, rather than relying on having a structure around me.

Stephen Covey subtitles the chapter on this habit, "Principles of Creative Communication". He begins by saying; "What is synergy? Simply defined it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It means the relationship which the parts have is a part in and of itself. It is not only a part, but the most catalytic, the most empowering, the most unifying, and the most exciting part.

"The creative process is also the most terrifying part because you don't know exactly what's going to happen or where it is going to lead. ... It takes an enormous amount of internal security to begin with the spirit of adventure, the spirit of discovery, the spirit of creativity. ... You become a trailblazer, a pathfinder. You open new possibilities, new territories, ... so that others can follow."

Now I just need to remember that as the chaos of building a community continues. Thank you, Stephen Covey. This is just what I needed.

Quote of the Day: "Synergy is everywhere in nature. If you plant two plants close together, the roots will comingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated. ...
"Ecology is a word which basically describes the synergism in nature--everything is related to everything else. ...
"Synergy works.... It is effectiveness in an interdependent reality--it is teamwork, team building, the development of unity and creativity with other human beings." - Stephen Covey

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The First Step

I'm sure that there are some people who, if they read my last post (Walking Away, 8/23/11), would wonder what I was talking about. Even if they agreed with my analysis of what's wrong with this society, there is the question of how can you actually walk away from it--I mean short of heading out for a desert island.

I am going to suggest that the first step in walking away from this society is to stop buying all the stuff that they're trying to sell you that you don't need. If fact, stop buying stuff from the big corporations period. (See my post Boycott Corporate America, 9/12/08.) Start trying to figure out what you need and don't need, and buy what you need from small local businesses--or make it yourself, or reuse it. (See Reduce and Reuse, 11/24/09.)

As far as what we don't need, my guess is that we don't need most of it. What impresses me most is the folks that are determined to live on 10% of what the average American lives on. Back in 2007, Sharon Astyk and Miranda Edel started an online challenge to get their emissions down by 90% of the American average. They got several thousand people to participate in this. (See Riot!, 9/28/08.) Now Sharon Astyk is doing it again. She's challenging folks to use 10% of the transportation energy, use 10% of the electricity, use 10% of the heating and cooking fuels, use 10% of the water, create 10% of the garbage, use 10% of the food from the mainstream industrial food system, and buy 10% of the consumer goods that the average American does.

The 'Rioters' aren't the only ones looking at this question. Laird Schaub, a consultant on group process and consensus decision making who lives in an intentional community called Sandhill Farm, just wrote a six part piece in his blog on "My Summer of Sustainability", where he explicitly mentions the question of "How to create a vibrant, satisfying lifestyle that uses only 10% of the resources that the average American is currently consuming."

What we are talking about here is people in the US (and other countries in the 'developed world') living the way much of the rest of the planet does. What we are talking about is (to paraphrase Elizabeth Seaton) 'living simply so that others may simply live'. It won't get us to a new world by itself, but it's the first step.

Quote of the Day: "The lower we get our energy and resource consumption, the better prepared we are for our emergent future in which we are constrained by limits of climate, resources and wealth. If you recognize we cannot go on as we are, we must not wait for someone else to lead the way - it is time to make the changes that are needed ourselves." - Sharon Astyk