I have concluded that the root cause of all the ills of the world is that humans do not live their lives according to the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have others do unto you. The Golden Rule is the common thread of all religions and can therefore be considered the unifying principle for every human on earth. It is probably the one concept that everyone can buy into but also one goal that everyone would admit they could and should do better. For myself I know that if I truly lived the Golden Rule I would feel much more pain at the unacceptable gap between the rich and the poor because as one of the rich I would see myself or my loved ones as one of the starving and would want to do something about it. The fact that I don't do anything about it - or not enough - means that I am just a wimp. Just a lot of hot air. I say one thing but do another. My failure, multiplied six billion times is what has turned this paradise we inherited into the crisis-ridden planet we live on today. It was a strange and wonderful discovery, therefore, that this book has been written to help me - and you should you be so inclined - to come closer to living the Golden Rule through what the author refers to as Principle-Centered Leadership.
A second conclusion is that we need more of the Mother Teresa style of leadership. She spoke very little, rolled up her sleeves and just waded into the slums of the poorest of the poor, while my leadership style has been to keep at a safe distance and say "Hey, someone should do something about this." The big difference between Mother Teresa and me is that she lived the Golden Rule while I just mouth it. Principle-Centered Leadership is the book I was seeking to help me change from a talker to a doer.
Principle-Centered Leadership will help us resolve dilemmas that cannot be resolved using conventional approaches. Our social conditioning leads us to quick-fix solutions such as cramming; we may get away with it for an exam or two but such an approach would be disastrous on a farm where natural laws operate. There are no quick-fix solutions for a marriage breakdown or for a teenager in crisis where only principle-centered solutions work. Manipulative strategies might work for a while but will eventually result in a loss of trust. We usually think in terms of learning new skills rather than showing more integrity to basic principles. Principle-Centered Leadership introduces a new paradigm - that we center our lives and our leadership of organizations and people on inviolate principles very much like gravity is an inviolate law of nature. These principles constitute the roots of every civilized society, family or institution that has endured and prospered. Changing habits, developing virtues, keeping promises and living in harmony with principles of fairness, equity, justice, integrity, honesty, and trust is what this book is all about. Subordinating oneself to higher purposes and principles is the essence of highest humanity and the foundation of effective leadership. Adherence to these principles uplift, ennoble, fulfill, empower and inspire. Covey believes that violations of these principles cause societal decline. Principle-Centered Leadership is based on the reality that natural laws cannot be violated with impunity.
We tend to live our lives in compartments, each with its own value system and expectations. We wear our Sunday hat but take it off the other six days of the week. Centering life on correct principles is the key to developing the internal power we require to realize many of our dreams because we are more balanced, unified, organized, and rooted. Principle-Centered Leadership and living cultivates four sources of strength - security, guidance, wisdom and power, giving a foundation to all relationships and decisions and a sense of stewardship over time, talents, money, relationships, family and ourselves. Because we feel secure we are not threatened by change and criticism. Because we are guided we discover our mission and can write the script for our lives. Because we have wisdom we learn from mistakes and seek continuous improvement. Because we have power we can communicate and cooperate even under stress and fatigue.
People on the low end of the guidance continuum lead selfish, sensual or social lifestyles while those at the high end have lives centered on true principles from inspired and inspiring sources. People at the low end of the security continuum show extreme insecurity while those at the high end have a high sense of worth, self-esteem and personal strength. People at the low end of the wisdom continuum base their thinking on distorted, discordant principles while those at the high end show good judgement, discernment and comprehension. People at the low end of the power continuum appear powerless, insecure, and react to circumstances while those at the high end are proactive, make things happen, and take responsibility for their feelings, thoughts and actions.
It is difficult to imagine who would not profit from this book because Principle-Centered Leadership affects all aspects of our life and brings back harmony to the different compartments in which we live. If your marriage needs attention this book will help. If you want to improve your business performance, you will learn some useful lessons. If you want to be a better employee this book will give you plenty of ideas. If you just want to become a better person, there is no better place to start than absorbing the lessons in Principle-Centered Leadership.