Get Stubborn


We have an unprecedented opportunity to get stubborn. In times of disruption, we are all exposed. We're faced very quickly with the reality of how prepared we are, what our values are, and our resiliency.


A good friend of mine, J. Bryson Baker, often shares a quote that has stuck with me, "Be stubborn about the important things." Now is the time to reflect on what's important and get very intentional about those things.


I was fortunate to get out for a bike ride yesterday and came across this scene. A single blade of grass pushing its way through pure asphalt. It looks impossible. But the grass doesn't need motivation. It has life and just lives, stubbornly persisting in the face of what seems to be an impossible situation.


As I rode, I had a distinct realization that we are very lucky. I am very lucky. I'm lucky to be able to continue working from home. I'm lucky to have secure housing and food. I'm lucky to have the internet to watch Tiger King. I'm lucky that this is the extent of my pain during this trying time. Plus, I still get to ride bikes.


In his book, "Principle-Centered Leadership," Stephen R. Covey revisits his seven habits. Here, he likens each to either a primary or secondary human capability endowment. These can be a very good starting point to take inventory of where we are, and what to focus on next.


The first three habits relate to primary human endowments.


Related to habit one, be proactive, is the endowment of self-knowledge and self-awareness; the ability to choose your response. As this increases, we move from blaming outside forces for our circumstances to realizing that we are the creative force in our own life. We know our tendencies, our triggers, our scripts, and programs. But after knowing them, we can rewrite them. We're in the driver's seat.


Related to habit two, begin with the end in mind, are the endowments of imagination and conscience. Right now, many may be on the lower end of the spectrum, feeling hopeless with a sense of futility about goals, purposes, and improvement efforts. As we develop, we move toward a future we've mapped out for ourselves with the imagination to see it. We should use this time to re-imagine or refine what that end looks like.


Related to habit three, put the first things first, is the endowment of willpower. I certainly have indulged during this time of rapid change in some of the lower-level traits here: flaky, avoiding responsibility, coasting (read: watching Tiger King). With the time we've been granted, now is the time to move toward higher discipline; focus on the important things, even if not necessarily urgent.


The last four habits relate to secondary human endowments.


Related to habit four, think win/win, is the endowment of an abundance mentality. This area grows as we move from scarcity to abundance by developing intrinsic self-worth and a desire for mutual benefit. Now is the time to rewrite that voice in your head so that your security doesn't come from others.


Related to habit five, seek first to understand, then to be understood, is the endowment of courage balanced with consideration. We tend to think in terms of "you need to understand me" when approaching problems. We all perceive the world through our own "lens" that's informed by our own life experiences. To grow in this area, we need to increase our ability to listen with empathy. Empathy here requires restraint, respect, and reverence.


Related to habit six, synergize, is the endowment of creativity. Right now, we're getting a peek into the ability and eagerness to band together. To create new ways to live, learn, and support one another. In their book, "Getting to Yes," Professors Roger Fisher and William Ury outline a new way to negotiate. Instead of holding to positions and occasionally splitting the baby, dig into the motives behind the position. You want the window open, and I want it closed. Why? You like the fresh air, but I dislike the draft. Now we can synergize. As we grow here, we go from defensive positions toward creating new alternatives and transformations.


Related to habit seven, sharpen the saw, is the unique endowment of continuous improvement or self-renewal. Without self-renewal, we inevitably fall into entropy, closed systems, and styles. We get set and settled. As we grow here, we move from getting settled (which is actually the start of everything breaking down), toward improvement, innovation, and refinement.


Find the important things. Now is the time to get stubborn.

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