It’s been a looooong time since I read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s probably one of the most influential books I’ve ever read. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the term paradigms and how you may need to adjust yours, you will learn how by the time you finish reading this book.
It’s Habit #2 that I got to thinking about today. It has been one of the hardest of the seven for me to “habitualize.” Habit #2 is Begin With the End in Mind. This is a great habit to get into, but my pragmatic way of thinking always gets in the way. It keeps insisting that I have no way of knowing what the end will be. Covey wouldn’t take that as a legitimate excuse. He says:
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.
Easier said than done…at least in real life. On the other hand, in the world of fiction, in which I have dabbled a few times, it has always made sense to me to have the end in mind. In fact, with every book I’ve written I always knew from the start what the end would be. I may take a circuitous route to get there, meandering here and there, but I know well where I’m headed and that, indeed, helps me map out the best way to get there.
Well, writing is one thing. It is so much harder for me to have a clear understanding of the destination in the non-fiction world of my real life. I have a problem with making predictions. Before I foretell the future I need details like historical data, trends and other observations. Even then I am reluctant to pick up a telescope and peer very far ahead.
Of course, in a perfect life the end is everything you want it to be. That way you easily glide all the way through to your destination enjoying the journey. But what if you actually determine the end is not good. That’s not a glide. That’s a slippery slope.
For me, to begin with the end in mind, I’d have to turn my life into a book. I would have to force myself to determine the end in advance—making it a great climax to an even greater life. Each chapter would be played out in perfect harmony with the end in sight. Maybe I would even hire an editor-in-progress to check my work and ensure I don’t make any stupid mistakes along the way. And, even if I did fumble, I could pick up the ball and keep running in the next chapter. So there, I’m all set I suppose. I shall detour from reality and write the story of my life beginning with the end in mind.
On second thought, nah! Nope, not going to do that. I’m not so sure I want to know the ending at the beginning, or even late in the game where I am now. Reminds me of the saying, “be careful what you wish for.” Not knowing the end makes the story more suspenseful. Yeah, I like that better. The story of my life…a real page-turner.
A Side Note to the folks who fall into the category of “You Know Who Your Are!” …Unless there is some procedure I am ignorant of, often I find it impossible to locate a “contact” address for people who have stopped by my blog, read it and even left a “like” behind. So, since many of you have been kind with the “likes” I just want to let you know I appreciate them–each and every one–and if you do not get a “thanks for stopping by” directly from me it’s because I couldn’t find an address.