Friday 26 January 2007

Theories & Models - Stephen Covey's Habits of Highly Effective People

First published in 1989, the '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' quickly became an international bestseller. The basis of the text is that our character is a composite of our habits, which Covey defines as the intersection of our skills, knowledge and desires. Habits exert a powerful and consistent influence over our lives and impact directly, and daily, on our personal effectiveness . . . or ineffectiveness.

According to Covey, the 7 Habits are designed to provide an incremental, sequential and highly integrated approach to the development of personal and interpersonal effectiveness. They represent a complete framework of universal, timeless principles of character, and human effectiveness. The habits exist on a continuum from
dependence (where we are directed, nurtured & sustained by others) through independence (where we develop physical, mental, emotional & financial self reliance) to interdependence (where individuals combine talents & abilities to create a sum greater than that of the individual parts).

In the text, this is also described as a transition from the paradigm of YOU (you take care of me; you made me do this) to the paradigm of I (I can do this) through to the paradigm of WE (we can co-operate).

The 7 Habits are cited as follows:

1 Be Proactive
2 Begin with the End in Mind
3 Put First things First
4 Think Win / Win
5 Speak first to Understand . . .then to be Understood
6 Synergise
7 Sharpen the Saw

The last habit surrounds the other habits & makes them possible, and invokes principles of balanced self-renewal.

More recently, in 2004 Covey revisited the concept and added 'The 8th Habit', subtitled 'From Effectiveness to Greatness'. Covey is at pains to point out that the 8th Habit is not about adding a previously overlooked principle to the original seven. Rather it is about seeing and harnessing a third dimension that meets the challenge of the new 'Knowledge Worker Age'.

The 8th Habit is:

8 Find your Voice, and Inspire others to Find Theirs

This is based on Covey's assertion that their is a deep, innate, almost irrepresible yearning within all of us to find our voice in life. This Voice resides at the nexus, or intersection of our Talent, Passion, Need & Conscience - it is in effect, our 'souls code'.

Theories & Models - Myers Briggs Personality Types

Psychological type is a theory of personality developed by Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Carl G. Jung to explain the normal differences between healthy people. Jung concluded that differences in behavior result from people’s inborn tendencies to use their minds in different ways. Jung’s type theory defines patterns of normal behaviour, or types, and gives an explanation of how types develop. The mother and daughter team of Myers & Briggs further developed Jung’s theory creating the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a self-report questionnaire designed to make Jung’s theory of psychological types understandable and useful in everyday life. After more than 50 years of research and development, the MBTI is the most widely used & accepted instrument available.

Personality type training is used by organizations around the globe and has become an essential tool for assessing personality differences and using those differences to improve individual and team performance. It can also be used in personal relationships.

In short, the theory has four behavioural dimensions of how Energy is focused, how Information is gathered, how Decisions are made and how Action is taken. Within each behavioural dimension, are two opposite poles – preferences – for which everyone has a natural preference (inborn strength) for one of the two opposites in each of the four behavioural dimensions. These are ascribed a letter, as follows:-

Energy -- I for Introversion or E for Extroversion
Information -- S for Sensing, or N for iNtuition
Decisions -- T for Thinking or F for Feeling
Action -- J for Judging or P for Perceiving

Our psychological type is thus described by the combination of the above four choices e.g. ISFJ, ENTP etc. There are a total of 16 possible combinations, each which have discrete and definable characteristics, specific to that type. These can be further extrapolated into personal and professional characteristics, leadership styles, preferences for career type, communication styles etc. As we use our preferences, we develop what the research defines as our psychological type: an underlying personality pattern resulting from the dynamic interaction of our four preferences, environmental influences and our own choices. People tend to develop behaviours, skills, and attitudes associated with their type, and those with types that differ from yours, will likely be opposite you in many ways. Each type represents a valuable and reasonable way to be. Each type has its own potential strengths, as well as its likely blind spots.

This is a widely used, and well tested approach, which appears to have a high degree of validity and acceptance. Most people who undergo ‘testing’ generally agree with their identified type, and its predominant characteristics.

If you wish to undertake a basic assessment of your personality type, and see related information go to Articles on the application of the MBTI can be viewed at

Theories & Models - Neuro Linguistic Programming

Neuro Lingusitic Programming (or NLP) was developed in California in the mid 1970's by John Grinder & Richard Bandler. NLP is a systematic study of human communication, which analyses the relationships between thinking (neuro), language (lingusitic) and achievement, and then models best practice (programming) to make it available to others as a conduit for change. The underlying assumption is that there are defined patterns - or meta programmes - hardwired into the brain, which act as filters or channels for information. These influence and determine our individual perceptions, motivation, behavioural responses etc. Essentially, NLP is an approach centred on recognising, applying, developing and reproducing effective behaviours, thought processes and ways of communicating that contribute to success.

NLP is generally considered to have four main aspects:

1 An Attitude of Curiousity - how do people do what they do? How is it somedays we are better than others? Why is this, and how can we replicate 'best behaviour' regularly.

2 A Methodology of Modelling - exploring ideas and actions to establish how they operate. Using this information derived from effective habits of highly functioning individuals, models of best practice are devised.

3 A Vision - having access to the best possible methods

4 A Set of Tools - NLP has a basic set of tools which, when implemented, develop further approaches

Our meta programmes - of which there is accepted to be approx 120 'stabilised' sorting patterns - can be identified to some degree by our use of language. Basically, people are motivated in two directions, i.e. towards pleasure or away from pain. 'Those in Towards Pleasure' mode use positive phrasing and action words (such as gain, achieve, accomplish) and often fail to account for potential problems when considering goals or directions to set themselves. Those in 'Away from Pain' mode are opposite, often using negative phrases (prevent, avoid, unable) and are likely to point first to likely difficulties in any proposed plan. Their glass is generally half-empty, rather than half full, to use a common analogy.

The NLP approach is used extensively in Coaching, and by Sports Psychologists. It is also used effectively by populist exponents such as Paul McKenna, in their clinical psychotherapy work with clients, assisting them to stop smoking or lose weight.

More comprehensive information is available from books and websites, such as: and for example.

Theories & Models - Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis (TA) was first described as a coherent concept by Eric Berne in his 1964 book ‘Games People Play’. Berne outlined his theory of the person, which places interpersonal interactions, or transactions, at the centre. He defines a transaction as occurring when we respond to a stimulus signal (e.g. a question) from another person.

In responding to these stimuli, we are likely to adopt one of three mind states (i.e. child, adult or parent), which will intersect with the other persons mind state. The child state is based on feelings, the parent mind state is generally critical, whilst the adult mind state – which is the preferred mode – is rational. Thus transactions, or conversations can occur at a number of levels e.g. child – child, child – parent, adult – child etc. As you can imagine, adult to adult mind state interactions are best, as they will be rational and often co-operative, whilst parent – parent interactions may be overtly critical in nature, which if repeated may descend into conflict.

Berne hypothesises that, during difficult or stressful times and/or periods of insecurity, we may regress in a child mind state. In a healthcare setting, ‘difficult’ patients experiencing illness may be operating from their child state, and require positive reinforcement to build their ‘adult’ self. Hostile relatives may be operating from a judgemental, ‘parent’ state and thus require a response which is adult, and rational. This of course assumes that we are conscious at all times of our behaviour, and that of others, and the mind state being adopted by either party. Equally, it should be recognised that these mind states are dynamic, and may change frequently during the course of any interaction. Indeed, Berne argues that transactions assemble into ‘games’ which, when repeated / practised often enough during our lifetime condition us to respond semi-automatically to stimuli (like ‘scripts’). In this regard, being finely tuned to the positions being adopted – usually unconsciously – and developing insight is paramount.

The ultimate goal of Transactional Analysis is to build up our adult mind state through positive and productive interactions to be rational, caring and co-operative. TA offers a systematic approach to understanding ourselves and others, and its approaches are practical, insightful and readily communicated. This makes TA an ideal framework for teaching & learning ‘soft-skills’, as it aligns a reasonable explanation of both the conscious (behavioural) and unconscious (emotional) processes in people, with parallel principles for effective behaviour modification.

Theories & Models - Dale Carneige

First written in 1936, How to Win Friends, and Influence People is probably the seminal self-help text, and spawned a subsequent industry of personal development handbooks. The book was originally written to provide "training in the fine art of getting along with people, in everyday business and social contacts".

The book is divided into four parts, with a number of key principles underpinning each section, as follows:-

Part 1 - Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

- don't criticize, condemn or complain
- give honest and sincere appreciation
- arouse in the other person an eager want

Part 2 - Six Ways to Make People Like You

- become genuinely interested in other people
- smile
- remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest & most important sound in any language
- be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- talk in terms of the other persons interests
- make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely

Part 3 - How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

- the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
- show respect to the other persons opinions. Never say 'You're Wrong'
- If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
- Begin in a friendly way
- get the other person saying Yes immediately
- let the other person do a great deal of the talking
- let the other person feel the idea is his or hers
- try honestly to see things from the other persons point of view
- be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires
- appeal to their nobler motives
- dramatize your ideas
- throw down a challenge

4 Be a Leader: How to Change People without Giving Offence or Arousing Resentment

- begin with praise and honest appreciation

- call attention to peoples mistakes indirectly

- talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person

- ask questions instead of giving direct orders

- let the other person save face

- praise the slightest improvement, and every improvement

- give the other person a fine reputation to live up to

- use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct

- make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

In many respects, it can be argued that Carneige's approach is subservient and lacks assertiveness in the extreme. It is very people centred, and is predicated on protecting the other persons feelings. However, whilst much of the language, and many of the examples, used in the book are now dated, the core principles espoused over 70 years ago have provided the bedrock of many of the Personal Development approaches still being used today.


Thursday 25 January 2007

Theories & Models - Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Originally coined by two American psychologists Peter Salovey & John Meyer, the concept of Emotional Intelligence was popularised in the 1990's primarily by Daniel Goleman . This theory differentiates between the conventional Intelligence Quotient (IQ) – which is generally considered to be genetically determined and fixed – and Emotional Intelligence (EQ), which can be developed and enhanced. EQ suggests that the part of the brain that controls emotion receives external signals in advance of the intelligence functions, which implies that initial responses to events are often emotional, rather than rational.

In essence, Emotional Intelligence can be defined as a learned ability to perceive, understand and express our feelings accurately, and to control our emotions so that they work for, rather than against, us. The five core competencies of Emotional Intelligence are outlined below.

Self Awareness : knowing what you are feeling and how your emotions affect your performance. By insight into your strengths and weaknesses, you are better placed to gain self-confidence and certainty about your capabilities, values and goals
Self Regulation: ability to control your emotions and reduce stress by acting in a more positive and proactice way. The key benefits are the ability to retain composure and think more clearly under pressure, to modify your impulses and to exercise self-restraint
Motivation: persistence in overcoming discouragement, and enjoy challenge, stimulation and then strive for achievement towards your personal goals.
Empathy: ability to ‘read’ emotions in others, to understand others points of view and behave openly and honestly with others.
Social Skills: influencing & handling other peoples emotions and engaging in honing interpersonal skills such as communication, listening, negotiation and leadership amongst others

Goleman (2002) contends that ‘great leadership works through the emotions’ and that the key task of leaders is to create ‘resonance’ i.e. a reservoir of positivity that liberates people, to flourish and perform to the best of their ability.

Further general info available at and with and also work a look.

Sunday 14 January 2007

Resolutions - a review

The New Year is two weeks old, but how are your newly made, bright & shiny resolutions surviving? Are they looking a bit tarnished, battered & bruised, or have they been consigned to the bin until next Year . . .and another attempt.

If you are struggling, or want to get started again here's another approach that might be useful - the SMART approach.
The SMART acronym is widely used in Project Management, and stands for :

Specific:- make your goal specific. Rather than saying that "I want to lose weight", try restating this aim to 'I want to lose 1lb each week'

Measurable:- put an amount, or even a limit on your objective e.g. if you are cutting down on cigarettes rather than stopping, set yourself a goal of reducing by one/two/ten per day /week or month, as you decide. This will assist you benchmark your actual progress against your plans

Achievable:- set goals that are realistic, and within your capacity to attain. Be careful not to be too ambitious, or take too optimistic an approach. If for example you are planning to increase your activity levels, don't try and run 10 miles on the first day, or push yourself to 100% capacity.

Realistic:- Further to above, start small and achieve within your capacity. Its better to start with small successes, which build confidence. Give yourself some space and capacity to improve. Start by pushing yourself only to 60% - 70% of your limit, and know that you can - and will - do better tomorrow.

Time bound:- Put your goals and objectives into a defined timescale, e.g. losing 1lb per week, 4lbs by end of month etc but keep the time line fairly short. Aiming to lose x amount of weight before the summer holidays for example, may give you mental permission to lapse, as the goal (and ultimate reward) is too far into the future.

Before I finish, if you have managed to maintain your resolution and are sticking with it . . . WELL DONE!!! Take a little time out to pat yourself on the back, reflect on the changes you have made and use these improvements, and your positive feelings about your success to date, as a springboard to continued success.

Tuesday 2 January 2007

Reflections on Life 2

The following was sent to recently me by a friend:

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When
you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need
you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty,
to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically,
emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any
wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say
or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die.

Sometimes they walk away.

Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must
realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work
is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to
move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has
come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or
make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They
usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real.
But only for a season!

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must
build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to
accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use
in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love
is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life, whether you were a reason, a
season or a lifetime.

Reflections on Life

The following piece was written by Dr Bob Moorehead, and not foul-mouthed American comedian George Carlin, to whom it is often attributed. It was given to me by Tom Kenny, a Belfast based Management Consultant. I suspect there are lessons for us all in the message:

A wonderful Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers;
wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete. Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent. Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

If you don't send this to at least 8 people.... who cares?