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Poem Response Journal

Response Journals
A response journal is exactly what it sounds like. You write a page in which you respond to a piece of literature that interested you from the readings for the lesson. There are many things you can write about. You can express your opinion, or compare the literature to something that has happened in your own life. You can write about specific language or imagery that impressed you, or you can mention some of the difficulties you experienced in reading the literature.
Response Journal Options
1. Do you think that Miniver Cheevy would have been any happier living in one of the time periods mentioned in the poem? Explain why.
2. Why is miniver, the fur trimming used on people’s garments in the Middle Ages, an appropriate name for the character in the poem, “Miniver Cheevy”?
3. How was Cheevy in control and not in control of his life? Explain.
4. Do you agree or disagree with Pres. Kennedy’s statement: “The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.” Explain why. Describe any personal experiences you have had that would illustrate Pres. Kennedy’s point.
5. Describe your previous experiences with setting goals. Were they successful? Unsuccessful? What made you successful or unsuccessful? How might Covey’s suggestions help you in your goal setting?
6. What technological breakthroughs do you envision for the future? Be specific.
7. Do you agree or disagree with Milton’s statement (quoted in The Great Divorce): “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”? Explain why.
8. Choose any of the pieces of literature in this lesson and respond in your own way.

Kennedy: Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort
President Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:
I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief.
I am delighted to be here and I’m particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.
We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a state noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.
Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nation’s own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.
No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man’s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power. Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America’s new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.
This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.
So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward—and so will space.
William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.
If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.
Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it—we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.
Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation.
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.
In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man’s history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where five F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48 story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.
Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them were made in the United States of America and they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.
The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the 40-yard lines.
Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and icebergs.
We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public.
To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.
The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.
And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this state, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your city of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this center in this city.
To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year’s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year—a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United States, for we have given this program a high national priority—even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun—almost as hot as it is here today—and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out—then we must be bold.
I’m the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute. [laughter]
However, I think we’re going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don’t think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the Sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the terms of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.
And I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.
Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.”
Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.
Thank you.
John F. Kennedy—September 12, 1962

Edward Arlington Robinson
Miniver Cheevy
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons
Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.
Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam’s neighbors.1
Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.
Miniver loved the Medici,2
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.
Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the medieval grace
Of iron clothing
Miniver scored the gold he sought;
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought
And thought about it.
Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.
—Edward Arlington Robinson

Stephen R. Covey
“Chapter 7: The Power of Goals” from First Things First
You can want to do the right thing,
and you can even want to do it for the right reasons.
But if you don’t apply the right principles,
you can still hit a wall.
One of the most common elements of all self-help and management literature is the idea of the power of goals. We’ve been told to set long-term goals, short-term goals, daily goals, monthly goals, personal goals, organizational goals, ten-year goals, lifetime goals. The virtues of “measurable, specific, and time-bound” goals have been preached from the pulpit of self-help books for generations.
Goal setting is obviously a powerful process. It’s based on the same principle of focus that allows us to concentrate rays of diffused sunlight into a force powerful enough to start a fire. It’s the manifestation of creative imagination and independent will. It’s the practicality of “eating our elephants one bite at a time,” of translating vision into achievable, actionable doing. It’s a common denominator of successful individuals and organizations.
But despite their obvious value, our experience with and feelings about goals are mixed. Some of us can set heroic goals, exercise tremendous discipline, and pay the price for incredible achievement. Others can’t keep a New Year’s resolution to pass up dessert two days in a row. Some see goals as the primary factor shaping the destiny of individuals and nations. Others see them as superficial, pie-in-the-sky idealism that has no staying power in the “real” world. Some of us stick to a goal, no matter what. And some goals stick to us, no matter what. Some authors tell us that if we think positively, we can do anything; others tell us to stop beating ourselves up when we find out we can’t.
Two Areas of Pain
In all our experience around goal setting, there seems to be two major areas of pain:
1. the blow to our integrity and courage when we don’t achieve our goals; and
2. the sometimes devastating results when we do.
Withdrawals from the “Personal Integrity Account”
As we said earlier, we each have what we might call a “Personal Integrity Account” that reflects the amount of trust we have in our ourselves. When we make and keep commitments, such as setting and achieving goals, we make deposits. We increase our confidence in our own trustworthiness, in our ability to make and keep commitments to ourselves and to others. A high balance in this account is a great source of strength and security.
But when we don’t achieve our goals, we make withdrawals, and this becomes a source of great pain. Over time, frequent withdrawals cause us to lose confidence in our ability to make and keep commitments and to trust ourselves and others. Cynicism and rationalization follow, and these attitudes sever us from the power of setting and achieving meaningful goals. Then, when we need strength of character to meet critical challenges in our lives, we find it just isn’t there.
Stephen: Once I served as an assistant in a survival camp and led a group of students on an overnight hike. We ended up in a valley where we had to cross a river hand-over-hand on a rope. We were exhausted, fatigued, and dehydrated. We’d had no food or water for about twenty-four hours. But we knew that across that raging, forty-foot-wide river was breakfast.
As one of the leaders of the group, I was supposed to go first. I started out with determination and even a little arrogance. I started bouncing around on the rope and showing off. But by the time I got halfway over, I felt my strength starting to go. I tried every technique I knew—from sheer will power to visualizing myself making it across and eating that food—but I reached the point where I was afraid even to take my hand off the rope to move forward. I didn’t have the confidence my other hand could continue to hold up my body weight.
Right in the middle of the river, I fell. The strength just wasn’t there. I was dangling on my safety rope on top of this churning water. The students loved it! “Pride goeth before the fall.” As it turned out, most of them had the same experience. Only a few had the strength to make it.
Building character strength is like building physical strength. When the test comes, if you don’t have it, no cosmetics can disguise the fact that it just isn’t there. You can’t fake it. It takes strength to set a heroic goal, to work on chronic problems instead of going for the “quick fix,” to stay with your commitments when the tide of popular opinion turns against you.
There are many reasons why we don’t achieve our goals. Sometimes the goals we set are unrealistic. We create expectations that don’t reflect any sense of self-awareness. New Year’s resolutions are typical examples. Suddenly, we expect to change the way we eat, the way we exercise, or the way we treat people simply because the calendar has changed from December 31 to January 1. It’s like expecting one of our children to learn to crawl, eat with a fork, and drive a car all in the same day. Our goals are based on illusion, with little self-awareness or regard for the principles of natural growth.
Sometimes we set goals and work to achieve them, but either the circumstances change or we change. A new opportunity surfaces; there’s a shift in the economy; another person comes into the picture; we get a different perspective. If we hold on to our goals, they become masters instead of servants. But if we let them go, we often feel uneasy or guilty that we didn’t keep our commitment. We find it hard to maintain a high balance in our Personal Integrity Account when we constantly change our goals or fail to achieve our goals.
Ladders Against the Wrong Wall
While failing to achieve our goals creates painful problems, accomplishing them can as well. Sometimes the goals we achieve are at the expense of other more important things in our lives. It’s the “ladder against the wrong wall” syndrome, meaning we climb the proverbial ladder of success only to find that it’s leaning against the wrong wall for us.
One of our associates shared this story:
Several years ago, a man announced to his friends and neighbors that his goal for the year was to earn a million dollars. He was an entrepreneur who believed, “Give me a good idea and I can sell a million.” He developed and patented a state-of-the-art recreational product, and then drove around the country selling it.
Occasionally he would take one of his kids with him on the road for a week or so. His wife complained to him about taking the kids, saying, “When they come back, they stop saying their prayers and doing their homework. They just party the whole week. Don’t take the kids if you aren’t going to help them do the things they ought to be doing.”
Well, at the end of the year, the man announced that he had met his goal: he made a million dollars. Shortly after, however, he and his wife divorced. A couple of his kids wound up on drugs. Another went off the deep end. Basically the whole family disintegrated.
This man was focused on a single goal and measured everything against it. But he failed to count the total cost. That million dollars cost him a lot more than it was worth.
When we become consumed by a single goal, we’re like a horse with blinders, unable to see anything else. Sometimes our goals are “hit-and-run” goals that leave bodies strewn along the way. At other times, our goals may be well intended, but accomplishing them creates other undesirable results. A program participant from Russia shared this experience:
Gorbachev wanted to restrict the use of alcohol and not allow the Russian people to drink as much. It was like the American Prohibition, with similar results. Rather than turning to more productive activities, as was hoped, people went from drinking alcohol to using narcotics instead. The government achieved their goal of dramatically reducing the consumption of alcohol, but it didn’t bring them what they wanted.
We typically set a goal with the expectation that meeting it will create positive change and quality-of-life results. But often the change isn’t so positive. Accomplishing one goal impacts other areas of life in a negative way. When we come face-to-face with the results, we become disillusioned.
In light of this “disillusioned if we do, and doomed if we don’t” dilemma regarding goals, is it any wonder that many of us feel uncomfortable with the goal-setting process?
Is it possible to have the power without the problems? To build a strong Personal Integrity Account by setting and achieving meaningful goals on a regular basis? To be able to let go of or change or even partly reach a goal and still maintain, or even add to, our Personal Integrity Account? To ensure that our ladders are leaning against the right walls?
We affirm that it is possible—even that we can access a significant increase in the power of goal setting. The key is in using our four human endowments in a synergistic way in setting and achieving principle-based goals.
Using Our Four Human Endowments
Done well, traditional goal setting is powerful because it accesses the power of two of our unique endowments: creative imagination and independent will.
We use our creative imagination to visualize, to conceive of possibilities beyond our direct experience. We use our independent will to make choices, to transcend background, scripting, and circumstance. When we set a goal, we’re saying, “I can envision something different from what is, and I choose to focus my efforts to create it.” We use our imagination to keep the goal in mind, and our independent will to pay the price to achieve it.
The power of these two endowments is formidable—it’s the power of purposeful living, the fundamental process of conscious change. But it’s only a small part of the power available to us.
What’s often missing in the goal-setting process is the power of two other endowments:
conscience—the deep connection of goals to mission, needs and principles; and self-awareness—the accurate assessment of our capacity and the balance in our Personal Integrity Account
Let’s take a closer look at these two endowments to see how they can empower us to set and achieve meaningful goals.
Conscience Creates Alignment with Mission and Principles
Conscience is powerful because it creates alignment between mission and principles and gives guidance in the moment of choice. The moment we set a goal—the moment we consciously decide to focus our time and energy toward a particular purpose—is a moment of choice. What determines that choice? Is it the social mirror, the agendas of others, values that are truncated from fundamental principles, needs, and capacities? Or is it a deep, principle-based, conscience-connected, contribution-focused fire within?
Goals that are connected to our inner life have the power of passion and principle. They’re fueled by the fire within and based on “true north” principles that create quality-of-life results.
One of the best ways to access this power is to ask three vital questions: what? why? and how?
What do I desire to accomplish? What is the contribution I want to make? What is the end I have in mind?
A principle-based “what” focuses on growth and contribution. It isn’t just setting and achieving goals that creates quality of life. Hitler set and achieved goals. So did Gandhi. The difference is what they chose to focus on. What we seek, we generally find. When we set goals that are in harmony with conscience and the principles that create quality of life, we seek—and find—the best.
Why do I want to do it? Does my goal grow out of mission, needs, and principles? Does it empower me to contribute through my roles?
In the context of mission and vision, the “what” may be easier to identify than the “why” and “how”
Roger: After speaking on the importance of mission and roles in a recent seminar, I asked one of the participants if he would be willing to go through the goal-setting process with me in front of the group. He agreed.
I said, “Okay, choose a role—any role you’d like.”
“What do you feel is the most important goal you could work on in this role?”
“To improve my relationship with my fourteen-year-old son.”
“Well, our relationship’s not that good.”
“So why do you want to improve it?”
“He’s having a lot of challenges at school with friends and peer pressure. He’s being pulled in directions that are not productive. I feel it’s important to be close to him at this time in his life.”
“So I can help him stay on the right path and be productive.”
“Because he needs it.”
“So why do you want to do it?”
“To help him.”
He was beginning to get a little flustered. “Because I’m his father! It’s my responsibility!”
“So why do you want to do it?”
Frustration was evident on his face. “Well, because, because . . .”
There were two people at his table who absolutely could not sit still a minute longer. At the same instant, they both almost shouted, “Because you love him!”
It was written all over his face. It was reflected in his words. It was so evident that people around him could sense the deep love he had for his son. Maybe he couldn’t say it because of the seminar environment, or maybe he hadn’t made the connection with that fire within.
The moment these two people said the words, his face broke into a sheepish grin. “That’s right!” he said. “I love him.” Everyone could feel the strength and peace that flooded over him.
Without this deep connection, we go through life feeling duty-bound to develop sufficient self-control to achieve our goals, to endure to the end, to crawl battered and bruised over the finish line, if it’s the last thing we do. There’s no connection to our deep energy sources, our convictions, our experiences. We’re working against ourselves, not sure why (or even if) we want to accomplish a particular goal. The commitments we make in a moment of enthusiasm don’t have the sustaining power to carry us all the way to successful achievement of our goals.
The key to motivation is motive. It’s the “why.” It’s what gives us the energy to stay strong in hard moments. It gives us the strength to say “no” because we connect with a deeper “yes!” burning inside.
If a goal isn’t connected to a deep “why,” it may be good, but it usually isn’t best. We need to question the goal. If it is connected, we need to push our thinking and feeling until we break through and create an open flow between the passion of vision and the goal. The stronger the connection, the stronger and more sustained the motivation.
How am I going to do it? What are the key principles that will empower me to achieve my purpose? What strategies can I use to implement these principles?
Once we create alignment between the “what” and the “why,” we’re ready to look at the “how” The choice of how often boils down to a choice between “control” and “release” styles of thinking and managing. If our paradigm is one of control, we assume that people have to be tightly supervised if they’re going to produce or perform well. If our paradigm is one of release, our assumption is that, given the freedom, opportunity, and support, people will bring out the highest and best within them and accomplish great things.
The way we see others in terms of control or release generally reflects the way we see ourselves. If we have a control perspective, we assume we have to exercise strict control over ourselves if we want to accomplish anything. If we have a release perspective, we see our primary leadership task as creating optimal conditions for releasing inner capacities. If our focus in goal setting is on the endowment of independent will—gut it out, discipline ourselves, do it no matter what—that’s a good indication that our basic paradigm is one of control.
Roger: I said, “Okay, how are you going to show your love?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’ll just look for opportunities.”
“How else?”
“I’m going to invest the time.”
“How else?”
He sighed. “I don’t know. To tell you the truth, I’m scared. I’ve tried before, and it hasn’t worked. Sometimes it seems like the harder I try, the worse it gets.”
We then began to talk about some of the principles that could be applied in his relationship with his son. We talked about trust worthiness—if you want to build a trusting relationship, be trustworthy. Make and keep commitments. Be loyal to those not present. We talked about empathy—seek first to understand. Give respect.
He began to realize that, no matter how desperately he wanted to help his son, his efforts would never be effective as long as he was building the relationship on the illusion that he could control him with good intent—not on the reality that he could release him with principle-centered leadership and love.
Often in a seminar situation, people choose a business instead of a family role. Most have an immediate sense of “what” they feel they should do.
“Increase sales 5 percent this month.”
“Reduce operating costs 3 percent by the end of the quarter.”
“Improve office morale.”
But when we go through the “why” process, the motivations people recognize at first are usually negative, economic, extrinsically focused, or urgent: “If I don’t do it I’m going to lose my job.”
“If I don’t accomplish it, I’m going to lose credibility, and I’ll feel terrible.”
“We have a real problem here that has to be fixed before it spreads.” As we press for deeper answers, we often begin to hear a different story:
“If I do it, I’m going to feel like I really did my job and earned my pay.”
“I enjoy feeling like I did something and provided a quality service to the customer.”
“I actually care about trying to make this world a better place.”
Many businesses are so focused on the economic or physical dimension that they never tap into the deeper motivations. They fail to recognize or address social, mental, and spiritual needs. They don’t let people connect naturally with what they feel in their hearts—their need to love, to learn, to live for something higher than self. And yet this connection is the very source of the energy, the creativity, the loyalty employers seek.
When we get to the “how,” people who choose a business role usually think they just have to “gut it out.”
“Just have to get in there and do it.”
“Have you tried that before?”
“Did it work?”
We then talk together about some of the “true north” principles that could make a difference. We look at principles of interdependence—empathy, honesty, making and keeping commitments, building relationships. We look at principles of shared vision, win-win agreements, and systems alignment. It soon becomes apparent that knowing what to do and even deeply wanting to do it are not enough. The doing has to be based on the principles that create quality of life.
Doing the right thing for the right reason in the right way is the key to quality of life, and that can only come through the power of an educated conscience that aligns us with vision, mission, and true north.
Self-Awareness Empowers Us to Build Integrity
Our trustworthiness is only as high as the balance in our Personal Integrity Account. Because our integrity is the basis of our confidence in ourselves and the confidence we inspire in others, one of the greatest manifestations of effective personal leadership is the exercise of care and wisdom in building a high positive balance in that account.
Primarily, we build it through the exercise of independent will in making and keeping commitments. But without self-awareness, we don’t have the wisdom necessary to manage such an account. We may set our goals too high, turning potential deposits into huge withdrawals when we fail to achieve them. We may set our goals too low, depositing pennies when we could be depositing dollars. We may pass up daily, weekly, moment-by-moment opportunities to make deposits because we’re too busy blaming circumstances or other people for our own failure to achieve our goals.
Self-awareness involves deep personal honesty. It comes from asking and answering hard questions:
* Do I really want to do it?
* Am I willing to pay the price?
* Do I have enough strength to do it?
* Do I accept the responsibility for my own growth?
* Am I settling for mediocrity when I could be achieving excellence?
* Am I blaming and accusing others for my own inability to set and achieve goals?
Self-awareness prompts us to start where we are—no illusions, no excuses—and helps us to set realistic goals. On the other hand, it also doesn’t allow us to cop out with mediocrity. It helps us recognize and respect our need to stretch, to push the limits, to grow. Since much of our frustration in life comes as a result of expectations, the ability to set goals that are both realistic and challenging goes a long way toward empowering us to create peace and positive growth in our lives.
Self-awareness is ear to the voice of conscience. It helps us to recognize that there are principles independent of us, to understand the futility of trying to become a law unto ourselves. It helps us to be humble and open to growth and change, to realize that we are neither omniscient nor omnipotent when we set a goal. To the best of our awareness at the time, out of all the good things we could do, we choose the best thing, for the best reason, and we plan to do it in the best way.
But the situation may change. We may change. And we can’t act with integrity without being open to that change.
Self-awareness empowers us to ask: Am I allowing the good to take the place of the best? The best may be the goal we set. The best may be in the unexpected opportunity, the new knowledge, the new options created by increased understanding. If change is driven primarily by urgency, mood, or opposition, it takes us away from the best. If change is driven by mission, conscience, and principles, it moves us toward the best. To have the self-awareness to know the difference between the good and the best and to act based on mission, conscience, and principles is to make the most significant deposits in our Personal Integrity Account.
Integrity means more than sticking to a goal, no matter what. It’s integrity of system, an integrated process that creates an open connection between the mission and the moment.
How to Set and Achieve Principle-Based Goals
Without principles, goals will never have the power to produce quality-of-life results. You can want to do the right thing, and you can even want to do it for the right reasons. But if you don’t apply the right principles, you can still hit a wall. A principle-based goal is all three: the right thing, for the right reason, in the right way.
Principle-based goal setting involves the full, synergistic use of all four human endowments:
* Through conscience, we connect with the passion of vision and mission and the power of principles.
* Through creative imagination, we envision possibility and synergistic, creative ways to achieve it.
* Through self-awareness, we set goals with realistic stretch and stay open to conscience-driven change.
* Through independent will, we make purposeful choice and carry it out; we have the integrity to walk our talk.
The principle-based goal-setting process is most effective when it includes: 1) setting “context” goals, 2) keeping a “perhaps” list, and 3) setting weekly goals.
1. Setting Long-Term and “Context” Goals
Most people find it helpful to connect weekly goals with the context provided by their mission statement through the use of long-term and mid-range goals. But the terms “long-term” and “mid-range” put these goals into a chronos framework.
While timing may be an important issue, we suggest that other issues such as relationships with people and with other goals and events are better recognized through “context” goals. The term “context” reminds us that personal leadership is not just having a long-range view—it’s having broad-range understanding.
If you organize around your roles, you could keep a page of context goals under each role in your organizer for easy access. The what/why/how format is an effective way to capture these goals. For example, a context goal in your “sharpen the saw” role might look like this:
* What:
* My goal is to maintain a healthy, well-disciplined body.
* Why:
* So that:
* I can have the strength, endurance, and physical presentation necessary to effectively fulfill my missions.
* I can be an example to my children and to others in effective health maintenance.
* I can build my personal character strength.
* How:
* Good nutrition. I will increase my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, whole grains, poultry, and fish; I will decrease my intake of sugars, fats, salt, and red meats; and I will eat smaller meals more frequently.
* Physical maintenance. I will do thirty minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week; I will join a basketball league; and I will get seven hours of sleep a night by retiring and rising early.
* Mind/body connection. I will think positive thoughts about my body and health; I will read and attend seminars and workshops to learn more about health.
* Focus. I will attend to specific health problems.
This “what/why/how” format creates an open connection between mission, principles, and goals. As you prepare to set your weekly goals, you can review these context goals to immediately tap into that connection and select a bite-sized actionable piece that will move you toward them.
Looking at a goal in this way reaffirms the interconnectedness of our lives. Although this goal might be considered a “physical” goal and filed under the “sharpen the saw” role, think of how interrelated it is with each of the other dimensions and with all other roles.
For example, most people report that one of the greatest benefits of regular physical exercise is not in the physical, but in the spiritual dimension—the increase in integrity and character strength. The mental dimension—learning more about health, thinking healthy thoughts, and reducing stress—powerfully impacts the effectiveness of this “physical” goal. Exercising with friends or family members can create a rich social as well as physical experience. Increased health empowers us in the physical, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions of all our other roles.
An awareness of this interconnectedness keeps us open to abundance thinking and empowers us to create a powerful synergy among our goals.
2. Keeping a “Perhaps” List
One problem we have in dealing with goals is that often we read a book, attend a seminar, or have a conversation with someone and come away from the experience with an idea of something we really want to do. We’re not ready to set a goal, but we don’t want to lose the idea.
Most of the time, we let it wander around in an already overcluttered cerebral waiting room, floating in and out of awareness, distracting us from the task at hand and causing a vague uneasiness of something not yet done. Or we write it down on a generic “to do” list that collects items faster than they can ever be accomplished, mingles top-priority items with things that don’t matter much, and constantly reminds us of all we haven’t done.
Far more effective is the “perhaps” list, a list kept under each role of things you might want to do. Whenever an idea occurs to you, write it on the “perhaps” list under the appropriate role for future consideration. Writing it here does not mean it’s a goal or a commitment. Perhaps you’ll do it; perhaps you won’t. It’s simply input to be considered for future organizing. Your integrity is not on the line.
Noting ideas on a “perhaps” list diffuses the anxiety and distraction and makes them accessible for future consideration. During weekly organizing, you can look over the list, translate any item you wish to a goal for the week, keep it on the list for future reconsideration, or discard it as not really that important.
3. Setting Weekly Goals
When we set our weekly goals, the “what/why/how” format becomes more a way of thinking about our roles and goals. As we set our goals, we look at each role, and then we pause in that space between stimulus and response to ask:
What are the one or two most important things I could do in this role this week that would have the greatest positive impact?
The answer to this question may be in a feeling or impression that comes as we review our mission and roles. One man shared this experience:
When I review my roles each week, I often get impressions of specific things I need to do, especially in my role as a father. Something will come to my mind regarding a particular child. I find I’m more aware of my children’s individual needs, more sensitive and open to opportunities to make a difference.
The answer may come as a result of reviewing our context goals in each role, or from an insight or idea we put on our “perhaps” list in a particular role during the week. As we review these things, we create an open connection between our deep inner life and our current situation. We create the context that gives meaning to our goals.
Characteristics of Effective Weekly Goals
As you set your goals, keep in mind five characteristics of effective weekly goals:
1. They’re driven by conscience. An effective goal is in harmony with our inner imperatives. It’s not driven by urgency or reaction. It’s not a reflection of the social mirror. It’s something we feel, deep inside, we need to do, and it’s in harmony with our mission and with true north principles. We need to be sensitive to our inner voice of conscience, especially as we select goals in our most unique roles, where we can have the greatest influence. We also need to maintain balance. It’s important to remember that we don’t necessarily need to set a goal in each role each week. There are times of short-term imbalance when wisdom suggests that we make the conscious choice not to set goals in some roles.
2. They’re often Quadrant II goals. The Quadrant II organizing process automatically creates a connection between the “what” and the “why.” As a result, the goals that we select are typically important, but not necessarily urgent. We may also select some Quadrant I goals that are both urgent and important, but we select them primarily because they’re important.
3. They reflect our four basic needs and capacities. Good goals can be about doing in the physical dimension, but they can also be about understanding and being (the spiritual dimension), relating (the social dimension), and growing or learning (the mental dimension). Many of us feel dissatisfied and imbalanced because the goals we pursue are essentially time-bound and physical. To ignore the reality of other vital dimensions is to severely limit our capacity to create meaningful quality of life. It’s also to deprive ourselves of the incredible synergy that can be created among goals.
4. They’re in our Center of Focus. We each have what we call a Circle of Concern that encompasses everything we’re concerned about—our health, a meeting with the boss, a teenage son’s plans for the weekend, offensive magazines on display in a neighborhood convenience store, the President’s foreign policy decisions, the threat of nuclear war.
We also have another circle that usually falls within this Circle of Concern called the Circle of Influence. This circle defines the area of concern where we can actually make a difference. We may not be able to influence the President’s foreign policy decisions or the threat of nuclear war, but we can do something about our health. We may also be able to influence our son’s weekend plans or the neighborhood store’s magazine display.
But the most effective use of our time and energy is generally in a third circle—the Center of Focus.
In this circle are the things we’re concerned about, that are within our ability to influence, that are aligned with our mission, and are timely. To spend time and effort in any other circle diminishes our effectiveness. When we operate in our Circle of Concern, we basically waste effort: on things we have no ability to control or affect. When we operate within our Circle of Influence, we do some good, but what we do may be at the expense of something better. When we set and achieve goals that are in our Center of Focus, we maximize the use of our time and effort.
Interestingly, we find that as we do this over time, our Circle of Influence automatically increases. We find positive ways to influence more people and circumstances.
5. They’re either determinations or concentrations. You may find it helpful to distinguish between determinations—things you’re determined to do, no matter what—and concentrations, areas of pursuit you focus your efforts around. When you set a determination, you put your integrity on the line. This is when it’s vital to follow through, to keep your commitment, to do what you said you were going to do. The only valid reason for not sticking to a determination would be if you became thoroughly convinced—through conscience and deep self-awareness—that the “best” goal you set had for some reason become only “good.” Then, and only then, could you change with integrity.
When you set a concentration, you identify an area where you desire to focus time and energy. You seek opportunities to do it. You move toward it. But you don’t risk your integrity. If you don’t do it, you lose the benefit of the time and energy you invested, but you don’t make withdrawals from your Personal Integrity Account.
Remember, you don’t have to put your integrity on the line every time you set a weekly goal. In fact, it’s important to manage your actual commitments with great care, being sensitive and wise in building the balance in your Personal Integrity Account. But your caution should not keep you from moving forward with purpose.
Confidence and Courage
To set and work toward any goal is an act of courage. When we exercise the courage to set and act on goals that are connected to principles and conscience, we tend to achieve positive results. Over time, we create an upward spiral of confidence and courage. Our commitment becomes stronger than our moods. Eventually, our integrity is not even an issue. We build the courage to set increasingly challenging, even heroic goals. This is the process of growth, of becoming all we can become.
On the other hand, when we exercise courage in setting goals that are not deeply connected to principles and conscience, we often get undesirable results that lead to discouragement and cynicism. The cycle is reversed. Eventually, we find ourselves without the courage to set even small goals.
The power of principle-based goal setting is the power of principles—the confidence that the goals we set will create quality-of-life results, that our ladders are leaning against the right walls. It’s the power of integrity—the ability to set and achieve meaningful goals regularly, the ability to change with confidence when the “best” becomes the “good.” It’s the power of the four human endowments working together to create the passion, vision, awareness, creativity, and character strength that nurture growth.
To access this power is to create the upward spiral that empowers us to continually put first things first in our lives.
Quadrant II Ideas to Nurture The Power of Goals
Use the what/why/how format to set context goals in each of your roles.
Set up a “perhaps” list under each role in your organizer. During the week, write down ideas that come to you for goals you may want to set under the appropriate role. Notice how you feel about putting these ideas on “perhaps” lists. As you plan your next week, refer to the lists for goal ideas.
As you set your weekly goals, pause and connect with conscience. Act on what you feel is most important for you to do in each role.
Think about how you’re using each of your endowments as you set and achieve goals for the week.
Identify each of your goals for the week as a “determination” or “concentration,” At the end of the week, analyze how this differentiation affected your attitude toward the goal, your progress in achieving it—and the balance in your Personal Integrity Account.



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