An effective goal focuses primarily on results rather than activity. It identifies where you want to be, and, in the process, helps you determine where you are. It gives you important information on how to get there, and it tells you when you have arrived. It unifies your efforts and energy. It gives meaning and purpose to all you do.
You may be good, but what are you good for? You've got to be good for something. You've got to be about some project, some task that requires you to be humble and obedient to the universal principles of service. You've got to live a life of complete and total integrity in order to give this kind of service. This integrity enables you to love other people unconditionally, to be courageous and kind at the same time, because you have integratedness inside your own soul.
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To me, the essence of keeping the soul nourished is obedience to one's conscience. I don't think that the soul can be nourished unless people have a strong sense of conscience that they have educated and developed and soaked in the universal and timeless principles of integrity and service. This way, the individual's soul becomes part of the universal soul of service, contribution, and making a difference.
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Innocent pleasures in moderation can provide relaxation for the body and mind and can foster family and other relationships. But pleasure, per se, offers no deep, lasting satisfaction or sense of fulfillment. The pleasure-centered person, too soon bored with each succeeding level of "fun," constantly cries for more and more. So the next new pleasure has to be bigger and better, more exciting, with a bigger "high." A person in this state becomes almost entirely narcissistic, interpreting all of life in terms of the pleasure it provides to the self here and now.
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People with a scarcity mentality think there is only so much in the world to go around. It's as if they see life as a pie. When another person gets a big piece, then they get less. Such people are always trying to get even, to pull others down to their level so they can get an equal or even bigger piece of the pie.
Once we are self-aware, we must choose purposes and principles to live by; otherwise the vacuum will be filled, and we will lose our self-awareness and become like groveling animals who live primarily for survival and propagation. People who exist on that level aren't living; they are being lived. They are reacting, unaware of the unique endowments that lie dormant and undeveloped within.
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"If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you'll get my meaning anyway. You won't make me "an offender for a word." When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective."
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I believe that God is the source of all the universal, timeless principles. And to Him, I give all the credit and the glory. However, to a person who is not religious, I believe they can live to the highest level of their conscience and develop spiritual intelligence that surpasses most people, including many religious people, who profess but do not practice.
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Listen to your conscience regarding something that you simply know you should do, then start small on it - make a promise and keep it. Then move forward and make a little larger promise and keep it. Eventually you'll discover that your sense of honor will become greater than your moods, and that will give you a level of confidence and excitement that you can move to other areas where you feel you need to make improvements or give service.
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Lose/Win people bury a lot of feelings. And unexpressed feelings come forth later in uglier ways. Psychosomatic illnesses often are the reincarnation of cumulative resentment, deep disappointment and disillusionment repressed by the Lose/Win mentality. Disproportionate rage or anger, overreaction to minor provocation, and cynicism are other embodiments of suppressed emotion. People who are constantly repressing, not transcending feelings toward a higher meaning find that it affects the quality of their relationships with others.
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In the space between stimulus (what happens) and how we respond, lies our freedom to choose. Ultimately, this power to choose is what defines us as human beings. We may have limited choices but we can always choose. We can choose our thoughts, emotions, moods, our words, our actions; we can choose our values and live by principles. It is the choice of acting or being acted upon.
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As a principle-centered person you try to stand apart from the emotion of the situation and from other factors that would act on you, and evaluate the options. Looking at the balanced whole-the work needs, the family needs, the other needs that may be involved, and the possible implications of the various alternatives - you'll try to come up with the best solution taking all factors into consideration. We are limited but we can push back the borders of our limitations.
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People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me. The more principle-centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to...rather than detracts from...our lives.
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Many people think in terms of either/or: either you're nice or you're tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be empathic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that-to achieve that balance between courage and consideration-is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.
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In our own lives, having a mind-set of expecting to win increases our odds of winning. It helps us get better results. And better results help us increase our credibility and self-confidence, which leads to more positive self-expectancy, and more winning - and the upward cycle continues. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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If my sense of security lies in my reputation or in the things I have, my life will be in a constant state of threat and jeopardy-a fear that these possessions may be lost, stolen, or devalued. If I'm in the presence of someone of greater net worth, fame, or status, I feel inferior. If I'm in the presence of someone of lesser net worth, fame or status, I feel superior. My sense of self-worth constantly fluctu-ates. I don't have any sense of constancy, anchorage, or persistent selfhood. I am constantly trying to protect and insure my assets, properties, securities, position, or reputation.
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I believe that a life of integrity I the most fundamental source of personal worth. I do not agree with the popular success literature that says that self-esteem is primarily a matter of mind set, of attitude-that you can psych yourself into peace of mind. Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.
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Habit 7 is taking the time to sharpen the saw. By renewing the four dimensions of your nature - physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional, you can work more quickly and effortlessly. To do this, we must be proactive. This is a Quadrant II (important, not urgent) activity that must be acted on. It's at the center of our Circle of Influence, so we must do it for ourselves.
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When two people in a marriage are more concerned about getting the golden eggs, the benefits, than they are in preserving the relationship that makes them possible, they often become insensitive and inconsiderate, neglecting the little kindnesses and courtesies so important to a deep relationship. They begin to use control levers to manipulate each other, to focus on their own needs, to justify their own position and look for evidence to show the wrongness of the other person. The love, the richness, the softness and spontaneity begin to deteriorate.
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I know it is possible not only to restore trust but to actually enhance it. The difficult things that we got through with the important people in our lives can become fertile ground for the growth of enduring trust - trust that is actually stronger because it's been tested and proved through challenge.
The only person over whom you have direct and immediate control is yourself. The most important assets to develop, preserve and enhance, therefore, are your own capabilities. And no one can do it for you. You must cultivate the habit of leadership effectiveness for yourself - and doing so will be the single best investment you will ever make.
Too many vacations that last too long, too many movies, too much TV, too much video game playing-too much undisciplined leisure time in which a person continually takes the course of least resistance gradually wastes a life. It ensures that a person's capacities stay dormant, that talents remain undeveloped, that the mind and spirit become lethargic and that the heart is unfulfilled. Where is the security, the guidance, the wisdom, and the power? At the low end of the continuum, in the pleasure of a fleeting moment.
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As people enable themselves to achieve one or two goals for the year that are most meaningful, they will find power, peace of mind, and confidence in their abilities because they have achieved what they set out to accomplish. Your commitment to achieving what matters most will become the foundation for tremendous accomplishments and contributions. You will become the change you seek to make.
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If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control-myself. I can stop trying to shape up my wife and can work on my own weaknesses. I can focus an being a great marriage partner, a source of unconditional love and support. Hopefully, my wife will feel the power of proactive example and respond in kind. But, whether she does or doesn't, the most positive way I can influence my situation is to work on myself, on my being.
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Empathic listening is so powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with. Instead of projecting your own autobiography and assuming thoughts, feelings, motives and interpretation, you're dealing with the reality inside another person's head and heart. You're listening to understand. You're focused on receiving the deep communication of another human soul.
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All things are created twice, but not all first creations are by conscious design. In our personal lives, if we do not develop our own self-awareness and become responsible for first creations, we empower other people and circumstances outside our Circle of Influence to shape much of our lives by default. We reactively live the scripts handed to us by family, associates, other people's agendas, the pressures of circumstance - scripts from our earlier years, from our training, our conditioning.
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Humility is the mother of all virtues: the humble in spirit progress and are blessed because they willingly submit to higher powers and try to live in harmony with natural laws and universal principles. Courage is the father of all virtues; we need great courage to lead our lives by correct principles and to have integrity in the moment of choice.
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If you want to achieve your highest aspirations and overcome your greatest challenges, identify and apply the principle or natural law that governs the results you seek. How we apply a principle will vary greatly and will be determined by our unique strengths, talents, and creativity, but, ultimately, success in any endeavor is always derived from acting in harmony with the principles to which the success is tied.
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Principles always have natural consequences attached to them. There are positive consequences when we live in harmony with the principles. There are negative consequences when we ignore them. But because these principles apply to everyone, whether or not they are aware, this limitation is universal. And the more we know of correct principles, the greater is our personal freedom to act wisely.
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