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Begin with the End in Mind
-to be Highly Effective!

Habit 2: Principles of Personal Leadership.
Although Habit 2 applies to many different circumstances and levels of life, the most fundamental application of "begin with the end in mind" is to begin today with the image, picture, or the paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. Each part of your life—today's behavior, tomorrow's behavior, next week's behavior, next month's behavior—can be examined in the context of the whole, of what really matters most to you. By keeping that end clearly in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important, and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole.

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you're going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

It's incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it's leaning against the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy—very busy—without being very effective. People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them. People from every walk of life—doctors, academicians, actors, politicians, business professionals, athletes, and plumbers—often struggle to achieve a higher income, more recognition or a certain degree of professional competence, only to find that their drive to achieve their goal blinded them to the things that really mattered most and now are gone.

How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most. If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster. We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.

If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you at your imaginary funeral experience, you will find your definition of success. It may be very different from the definition you thought you had in mind. Perhaps fame, achievement, money, or some of the other things we strive for are not even part of the right wall.

When you begin with the end in mind, you gain a different perspective. One man asked another on the death of a mutual friend, "How much did he leave?" His friend responded, "He left it all."

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" Mark 8: 36.
"Be very careful, then, how you live- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Eph. 5:15,16.

Be encouraged.

>> Letter # 31 (14. 9. 2003)
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