"Dr. Stephen R. Covey - one of the world's
leading management consultants and author of the best selling book The Seven Habits Of
Highly Effective People - is co-chairman of Franklin Covey located in Salt Lake City,
Utah in the U.S.A. Franklin Covey provides consultancy services to Fortune 500 companies
as well as thousand of small and mid-size companies, educational institutions, government
and other organisations world-wide. Their work in Principle Centered Leadership is
considered to be an instrumental foundation to the effectiveness of quality, leadership,
service, team building, organisational alignment and other strategic corporate initiatives.
Excerpts from Chapter 7 - SevenDeadly Sins - Page 87 to 93
Mahatma Gandhi said that seven things will destroy us. Notice that
all of them have to do with social and political conditions. Note also that the antidote
of each of these "deadly sins" is an explicit external standard or something
that is based on natural principles and laws, not on social values.
Wealth Without Work
Pleasure Without Conscience
Knowledge Without Character
Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)
Science Without Humanity
Religion Without Sacrifice
Politics Without Principle
© 1990 Stephen R. Covey. All rights reserved. Reprinted with
The Seven Habits and Principle-Centered Leadership are registered trademarks of Franklin
Covey and are used with permission. To learn more about Franklin Covey, visit their
web-site at www.franklincovey.com
This refers to the practice of getting something for nothing -
manipulating markets and assets so you don't have to work or produce added value, just
manipulate people and things. Today there are professions built around making wealth
without working, making much money without paying taxes, benefiting from free government
programs without carrying a fair share of the financial burdens, and enjoying all the
perks of citizenship of country and membership of corporation without assuming any of the
risk or responsibility.
How many of the fraudulent schemes that went on in the 1980s, often
called the decade of greed, were basically get-rich-quick schemes or speculations
promising practitioners, "You don't even have to work for it"? That is why I
would be very concerned if one of my children went into speculative enterprises or if they
learned how to make a lot of money fast without having to pay the price by adding value on
a day-to-day basis.
Some network marketing and pyramidal organizations worry me because
many people get rich quick by building a structure under them that feeds them without
work. They are rationalized to the hilt; nevertheless the overwhelming emotional motive is
often greed: "You can get rich without much work. You may have to work initially, but
soon you can have wealth without work." New social mores and norms are cultivated
that cause distortions in their judgement.
Justice and judgement are inevitably inseparable, suggesting that to
the degree you move away from the laws of nature, your judgement will be adversely
affected. You get distorted notions. You start telling rational lies to explain why things
work or why they don't. You move away from the law of "the farm" into social /
When we read of organisations in trouble, we often
hear the sad confessions of executives who tell of moving away from natural laws
and principles for a period of time and begin overbuilding, over borrowing, and
over speculating, not really reading the stream or getting objective feedback,
just hearing a lot of self-talk internally. Now they have a high debt to pay.
They may have to work hard just to survive - without hope of being healthy for
five years or more. It's back to the basics, hand to the plow. And many of these
executives, in earlier days, were critical of the conservative founders of the
corporations who stayed close to the fundamentals and preferred to stay small and free of debt.
The chief query of the immature, greedy, selfish, and sensuous has
always been, "What's in it for me? Will this please me? Will it ease me?" Lately
many people seem to want these pleasures without conscience or sense of responsibility,
even abandoning or utterly neglecting spouses and children in the name of doing their
thing. But independence is not the most mature state of being - it's only a middle
position on the way to interdependence, the most advanced and mature state. To learn to
give and take, to live selflessly, to be sensitive, to be considerate, is our challenge.
Otherwise there is no sense of social responsibility or accountability in our pleasurable
The ultimate costs of pleasures without conscience are high as
measured in terms of time and money, in terms of reputation and in terms of wounding the
hearts and minds of other people who are adversely affected by those who just want to
indulge and gratify themselves in the short term. It's dangerous to be pulled or lulled
away from natural law without conscience. Conscience is essentially the repository of
timeless truths and principles - the internal monitor of natural law.
A prominent, widely published psychologist worked to align people
with their moral conscience in what was called "integrity therapy." He once told
me that he was a manic-depressive. "I knew I was getting suicidal," he said.
"Therefore, I committed myself to a mental institution. I tried to work out of it,
neutralize it, until I reached the point where I could leave the hospital. I don't do
clinical work now because it is too stressful. I mostly do research. And through my own
struggle, I discovered that integrity therapy was the only way to go. I gave up my
mistress, confessed to my wife, and had peace for the first time in my life. ""
Pleasure without conscience is one of the key
temptations for today's executives. Sometimes on airplanes I'll scan the
magazines directed at executives, noting the advertisements. Many of these ads,
perhaps two-thirds of them, invite executives to indulge themselves without
conscience because they "deserve it" or have "earned it" or "want it," and why
not "give in" and "let it all hang out"? The seductive message is, "You've
arrived. You are now a law unto yourself. You don't need a conscience to govern
you anymore." And in some ads you see sixty-year-old men with attractive
thirty-year old women, the "significant others" who accompany some executives to
conventions. Whatever happened to spouses? What happened to the social
mores that make cheating on spouses illegitimate behaviour?
As dangerous as a little knowledge is, even more dangerous is much
knowledge without a strong, principled character. Purely intellectual development without
commensurate internal character development makes as much sense as putting a high-powered
sports car in the hands of a teenager who is high on drugs. Yet all too often in the
academic world, that's exactly what we do by not focusing on the character development of
One of the reasons I'm excited about taking the Seven Habits into
the schools is that it is character education. Some people don't like character education
because, they say, "that's your value system." But you can get a common set of
values that everyone agrees on. It is not that difficult to decide, for example, that
kindness, fairness, dignity, contribution, and integrity are worth keeping. No one will
fight you on those. So let's start with values that are unarguable and infuse them in our
education system and in our corporate training and development programs. Let's achieve a
better balance between the development of character and intellect.
The people who are transforming education today
are doing it by building consensus around a common set of principles, values,
and priorities and debunking the high degree of specialization,
departmentalization, and partisan politics.
In his book Moral Sentiment, which preceded Wealth of Nations, Adam
Smith explained how foundational to the success of our systems is the moral foundation :
how we treat each other, the spirit of benevolence, of service, of contribution. If we
ignore the moral foundation and allow economic systems to operate without moral foundation
and without continued education, we will soon create an amoral, if not immoral, society
and business. Economic and political systems are ultimately based on a moral foundation.
To Adam Smith, every business transaction is a moral challenge to
see that both parties come out fairly. Fairness and benevolence in business are the
underpinnings of the free enterprise system called capitalism. Our economic system comes
out of a constitutional democracy where minority rights are to be attended to as well. The
spirit of the Golden Rule or of win-win is a spirit of morality, of mutual benefit, of
fairness for all concerned. Paraphrasing one of the mottos of the Rotary Club, "Is it
fair and does it serve the interests of all the stakeholders?" That's just a moral
sense of stewardship toward all of the stakeholders.
I like that Smith says every economic transaction. People get in
trouble when they say that most of their economic transactions are moral. That means there
is something going on that is covert, hidden, secret. People keep a hidden agenda, a
secret life, and they justify and rationalize their activities. They tell themselves
rational lies so they don't have to adhere to natural laws. If you can get enough
rationalization in a society, you can have social mores or political wills that are
totally divorced from natural laws and principles.
I once met a man who for five years served as the
"ethics director" for a major aerospace company. He finally resigned the post in
protest and considered leaving the company, even though he would lose a big
salary and benefit package. He said that the executive team had their own
separate set of business ethics and that they were deep into rationalization and
justification. Wealth and power were big on their agendas, and they made no
excuse for it anymore. They were divorced from reality even inside their own organization. They talked about serving the
customer while absolutely mugging their own employees.
If science becomes all technique and technology, it quickly
degenerates into man against humanity. Technologies come from the paradigms of science.
And if there's very little understanding of the higher human purposes that the technology
is striving to serve, we becomes victims of our own technocracy. We see otherwise highly
educated people climbing the scientific ladder of success, even though it's often missing
the rung called humanity and leaning against the wrong wall.
The majority of the scientists who ever lived or living today, and
they have brought about a scientific and technological explosion in the world. But if all
they do is superimpose technology on the same old problems, nothing basic changes. We may
see an evolution, an occasional "revolution" in science, but without humanity we
see precious little real human advancement. All the old inequities and injustices are
still with us.
About the only thing that hasn't evolved are these
natural laws and principles - the true north on the compass. Science and
technology have changed the face of most everything else. But the fundamental things
still apply, as time goes by.
Without sacrifice we may become active in a church but remain
inactive in its gospel. In other words, we go for the social facade of religion and the
piety of religious practices. There is no real walking with people or going the second
mile or trying to deal with our social problems that may eventually undo our economic
system. It takes sacrifice to serve the needs of other people - the sacrifice of our own
pride and prejudice, among other things.
If a church or religion is seen as just another hierarchical system,
its members won't have a sense of service or inner workship. Instead they will be into
outward observances and all the visible accoutrements of religion. But they are neither
God-centered nor principle-centered.
The principles of three of the Seven Habits pertain to how we deal
with other people, how we serve them, how we sacrifice for them, how we contribute. Habits
4, 5 and 6 - win-win interdependency, empathy, and synergy - require tremendous sacrifice.
I've come to believe that they require a broken heart and a contrite spirit - and that, for
some, is the ultimate sacrifice. For example, I once observed a marriage where there were
frequent arguments. One thought came to me : "These two people must have a broken
heart and a contrite spirit toward each other or this union will never last." You
can't have a oneness, a unity, without humility. Pride and selfishness will destroy the
union between man and god, between man and woman, between man and man, between self and
The great servant leaders have that humility, the
hallmark of inner religion. I know a few CEOs who are humble servant leaders -
who sacrifice their pride and share their power - and I can say that their
influence both inside and outside their companies is multiplied because of it.
Sadly, many people want "religion," or at least the appearance of it, without
any sacrifice. They want more spirituality but would never
miss a meal in meaningful fasting or do one act of anonymous service to achieve
If there is no principle, there is no true north, nothing you can
depend upon. The focus on the personality ethic is the instant creation of an image that
sells well in the social and economic marketplace.
You see politicians spending millions of dollars to create an image,
even though it's superficial, lacking substance, in order to get votes and gain office.
And when it works, it leads to a political system operating independently of the natural
laws that should govern - - that are built into the Declaration of Independence : "We
hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness . . . . "
In other words, they are describing self-evident, external,
observable, natural, unarguable, self-evident laws: "We hold these Truths to be
self-evident." The key to a healthy society is to get the social will, the value
system, aligned with correct principles. You then have the compass needle pointing to true
north - true north representing the external or the natural law - and the indicator says
that is what we are building our value system on : they are aligned.
But if you get a sick social will behind the political will that is
independent of principle, you could have a very sick organization or society with
distorted values. For instance, the professed mission and shared values of criminals who
rape, rob and plunder might sound very much like many corporate mission statements, using
such words as "teamwork," "cooperation," "loyalty,"
"profitability," "innovation," and "creativity." The problem
is that their value system is not based on a natural law.
Figuratively, inside many corporations with lofty mission
statements, many people are being mugged in broad daylight in front of witnesses. Or they
are being robbed of self-esteem, money, or position without due process. And if there is
no social will behind the principles of due process, and if you can't get due process, you
have to go to the jury of your peers and engage in counterculture sabotage.
In the movie The Ten Commandments, Moses says to
the pharaoh, "We are to be governed by God's law, not by you." In effect he's
saying, "We will not be governed by a person unless that person embodies the
law." In the best societies and organizations, natural laws and principles
govern - that's the Constitution - and even the top people must bow to the principle. No one is above it.
The Seven Habits will help you avoid these Seven
And if you don't buy into the Seven Habits, try the Ten Commandments.
Chapter 9 - Principle-Centered Power - Page 108
To some, these principles and the ideals they represent are readily
attributable to notable leaders of distinction such as Mahatma Gandhi, but they are harder
to find in the much more common experiences of everyday living. In response to this
concern, Gandhi replied, "I claim to be no more than an average man with less than
average ability. I am not a visionary. I claim to be a practical idealist. Nor can I claim
any special merit for what I have been able to achieve with laborious research. I have not
the shadow of a doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would
make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith.
A Personal Note - Page 323
Gandhi emphasized : "A person cannot do right in one department
whilst attempting to do wrong in another department. Life is one indivisible whole. "