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