If leaders of the world could follow the third alternative, there would be no more wars. Every problem would not be our way or your way, but a win-win.
Stephen Covey, founder of Franklin Covey — a leading global educational and training firm in 147 countries— said this process applies at work, home, school, the law, society, world and to ourselves. He tells us how to solve problems after we have the desire for improvement, but not how to get the desire. To me, this is the most important question of all. If we have self-will, then the spirit cannot predetermine whether we are good or bad. Hitler chose the evil part of his spirit, Mother Teresa the saintly part. There are forever opportunities to solve problems, grow through knowledge and create great works.
We are conditioned to think in choices such as to keep working or retire. It is better to make a contribution because this will make the later years more meaningful. We can save our lives by not squandering days in retirement, but by benefiting others, states Covey. Those who quit working and go to leisure often decline mentally and physically almost at once. A mission-driven life rejuvenates and keeps our immune system strong and the body invigorated.
We need to live in crescendo, not decrescendo. After Jimmy Carter left office, he decided to use his status as former president to help solve some of the world’s toughest problems. He could have retired to a life of leisure. He is acknowledged as the most productive ex-president in history.
Covey’s grandfather taught him, “Life is a mission and not a career” and not a vacation.
Covey believes we have a responsibility to help others live in crescendo and every person is capable of contributing. In the headlong search for secondary success — money and social status — we run a serious risk of missing entirely the far deeper satisfaction of primary success: the love, trust and gratitude of those we serve. He believes we are on earth to serve people.
I believe, if we listen to the good part of our spirit, we can assist people in material and spiritual ways. Covey wrote that service is the key to lasting happiness and is the pleasure of true success in our life. Your greatest work is still ahead of you and, you will be blessed with life of meaning and purpose as well. I have 93 years of wisdom and this is the most enjoyable time of my life.
The author stated there are natural laws that ultimately govern all of life. Regardless of how we psyche ourselves up or will something, we are often subject to the conditions beyond our control. To me, we are affected by disease, wars and suffering or wellness, peace and comfort because of natural law and whether other people follow the good or bad part of their spirits.
Covey stated that though we may fail to live life more fully all the time, we need to do more work inside our soul and develop strength in the “muscle” of our character. The more we care, the more we attempt to live a mindset in every challenge and opportunity in life. The more we desire to take on the big, important issues we face, the more inner strength it will require. The greater the challenge is the greater the need for inner security, thinking, patience, love, respect, courage, sympathy, tenacious determination and creativity. The wider the river the more internal strength it takes to cross.
Les Frazier is an emeritus profession at Kansas State University.