Inside-Out Growth - A look at building character over personality

What does it mean to be a leader? Someone that people look up too? It someone who tells the truth? Is it someone who sees a decision through to the end? Is it the person who seems independent, and can take big risks and be the first to tackle a big task?

As we look closer to what it means to be a great leader, we could probably assume that lying would definitely not be in the best interest of the role, but is positivity? Do we always have to be positive to be a great leader? The reality is that none of these questions are addressing the true Principles, about what it means to be a great leader. Before we can even determine how to grow as a leader, we must first understand that it is not in the Personality of the way we talk, or the face by which we smile. It is not in the attitude we may hold in a moment or a great idea we might have. Because when we understand that the traits of a leader are deeper, in Character, built by habits over time, we will then begin to see through a new paradigm by which we can begin to grow. 

The concept of Inside-Out Growth is outlined in one of the best business books of all time, The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People. The truth behind focusing on Character and building strong habits that support great Principles, is looked at as one of the core lessons that bring out the true nature of a leader. Stephen R. Covey, discusses these lessons through stories and wisdom which allows new readers to truly see the spine that holds up the giants of this world. To suck the marrow out of life, and live in all our greatness, we must understand how to adopt the 7 habits within our own lives.

One of the first stories Stephen discusses is about a farmer and a goose. The story is from an old fable by a greek story teller, Aesop. In the fable, a poor farmer discovers his pet goose has a glittering golden egg. He’s first shocked by the matter and is hesitant to believe it could be. His second thought is to take the egg to see if it’s real. He finds that it is real and sells it for money. As he begins to find his goose continues to lay golden eggs, he becomes more and more wealthy day after day. With his increasing wealth he begins to become greedy and impatient. One day the farmer decides to kill the goose and take all it's golden eggs at once. When he discovers the goose has nothing inside, he is unable to get any more eggs at all. He has destroy the producer of the eggs.

Stephen points out that this fable suggests a natural law or Principle, about effectiveness. Most people will see from a paradigm that if they only could produce more and more eggs, they would be highly effective. The problem is that without a producer (goose), one cannot be effective at all. For true effectiveness, both the production capacity and production need to be in balance. He states that if you adopt a life that is all about production, you will have no producer. If you adopt a life that is all about the production capacity, you will have no production. True effectiveness is determined by what Stephen refers to as, P/PC Balance. You must have both production, and production capacity. 

Stephen goes on to talk about physical, financial, and human assets. The human asset is extremely important. People control both physical and financial assets. When a person is focused on the golden eggs in a relationship, they will be looking for the benefits and will become inconsiderate and neglect the authenticity of the deeper bond and become manipulative, focusing on their own needs. The love, richness, and spontaneity will begin to deteriorate. As Stephen says, “The goose get’s sicker day by day”.

These are deep concepts, and they really get to the core of what’s happening when we lack character. It’s the light, surface-level, fluffy stuff that we need to watch out for when it comes to truly growing ourselves. Self-help based on Personality Ethics, will never truly address the root of who we are as a person. Becoming something great, is also never going to be a quick fix. It’s not something that is a one-size fits all, and it must be diligently practiced with persistence and habits to achieve it. It’s also something that we do have the power to change. The beauty of the matter, is that when we stop looking outward for solutions and fixes, we have everything we need within to build ourselves to the bold leader we want to become.

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