DiCarlo: As you mentioned earlier, as a society we're feeling pain right now....
Covey: Yes... Just look at the economic dislocation, the social dislocation. It's getting so deep and so pervasive that it's really undermining the very foundation of our whole civilization. People are becoming increasingly aware of it. However, in my opinion, 80% or 90% of the people are capable of approaching this new situation with values that are based on principles, rather than just self-serving values. I think a critical mass can be marshalled through this pain. I am very optimistic myself that we can respond to the pain. I have seen this country do it before, and I think it can do it again.
DiCarlo: Are there any other individuals-living or dead, who have most influenced you in your thinking?
Covey: Well, I would say that I have been influenced by Ghandi, and the way he learned "Win-Win" and law. That became the foundation for his whole philosophy and approach in liberating 400 million Indians.
I am influenced by the wisdom literature of all the religions, and all of the cultures that have had enduring value. That they focus upon principles that ultimately control, not on personalities. That's why we can't focus on Deming, Covey or anyone. It's the principles that ultimately control. The more people become centered on those principles personally, the greater their minds come to think abundantly, to not have jealousy's, to do that kind of thing that builds trust between people and true integrity. And then to build that into the organization where the structures and systems are in alignment with it. That becomes their managerial task. But unless they work personally and build high trust with other people, the techniques will just not work.
DiCarlo: Obviously, you have a deep sense of life purpose..I'm wondering how you arrived at that?
Covey: Well, I guess I've just grown up in the tradition that you are here to make a contribution. You are here to make a difference-not a living. I also believe that it's genetically built into us. By that, I mean that meaning and purpose is a part of our own spiritual identity. We are intrinsically predisposed to serve and contribute. Whether you call it a sense of mission, or a sense of vision, or a purpose it wouldn't make that much of a difference. The key thing is that you are to add value-constantly. That's the only thing that enables survival. People cannot survive if they do not have a sense of meaning. They literally and physically cannot survive. Victor Frankl demonstrated that, Hans Seyle teaches that...
DiCarlo: You've borrowed a quote from Teilhard de Chardin, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." What are the implications of that recognition in the way we conduct our lives and manage our businesses?
Covey: Enormous. It means you have a sacred stewardship towards people. That they are immortal. Eternal. They are not just mortal animals.
It means that the next generation really needs to be taken care of, just like we take care of our environment. The highest and most precious stewardship we have are our children.
It would also imply that you cannot accomplish any worthy end with an unworthy mean- that the Machivallean concept of "the end justifies the means" is totally flawed.
Excerpted from the book Towards A New World View: Conversations At The Leading Edge with Russell E. DiCarlo. The 377-page book features new and inspiring interviews with 27 paradigm pioneers in the fields of medicine, psychology, economics, business, religion, science, education and human potential. Featuring: Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, Joan Boysenko, George Leonard, Gary Zukav, Robert Monroe, Hazel Henderson, Fred Alan Wolf, Peter Senge, Jacquelyn Small, Elmer Green, Larry Dossey, Carolyn Myss, Stan Grof, Rich Tarnas, Marilyn Ferguson, Marsha Sinetar, Dr. Raymond Moody, Stephen Covey and Peter Russell.