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Personality Development

PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT   Personality is the sum total of ways in which an individual reacts and interacts with others. Or Personality…

Foundation of Success


The very basic foundation of success is in-built in an individual’s attitude. Every and each one of us carry our own construct of reality. We have an attitude towards life and living. We carry a mental map so to speak of what is right, what is wrong what should be.

“There are many individuals who have achieved an incredible degree of outward success, but have found themselves struggling with an inner hunger, a deep need for personal congruency and effectiveness and for healthy, growing relationship with other people.”

Such successful people are troubled by deep problems, painful problems-problems that quick fix approaches can’t solve. Quick-fix approaches like personality development courses and the other courses on self-improvement, according to Stephen R. Covey are merely designed as social-image consciousness, techniques and quick-fixes with social band-aids and aspiring that addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily, but left the underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and again.

Almost all the literature in the first 150 years or so focused on what could be called, according to Stephen Covey, the Character Ethic as the foundation of success-thing like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty and the Golden Rule. Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is representative of that literature.

The character Ethic taught that there are basic principles of effective living, and people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.

But shortly after World War I the basic view of success shifted from the Character Ethic to what we might call the Personality Ethic. Success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques, that lubricate the process of human interaction. This personality ethic essentially took two paths: one was human and public relations techniques and the other was Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). Some of this philosophy was expressed in inspiring and sometimes valid maxims such as “Your attitude determines your altitude”, “smiling wins more friends than frowning “, and “whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.”

Other parts of the personality approach were clearly manipulative, even deceptive, encouraging people to use techniques to get other people to like them, or to fake interest in the hobbies of other to get out of them what they wanted or to use the “power look”, or to intimidate their way through life.

Some of this literature acknowledged character as an ingredient of success, but tended to compartmentalize it rather than recognize it as foundational and catalytic. Reference to the character ethic became mostly lip service; the basic thrust was quick-fix influence techniques, power strategies, communication skills, and positive attitudes.

(Source: Stephen R. Covey)

From, the highly esteemed author of the ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, it is clear that the true foundation of success is not to be found in personality Ethic. Personality ethic, at best provides only quick-fix solutions to personality development. It is like band aid or aspirin whose curative value is only superficial.

In the words of William George Jordan, “Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or evil- the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of his life. This is simply the constant radiation of what man really is, not what pretends to be”.
Stephen Covey does not suggest that elements of Personality Ethic-personality growth, communication skill training, and education in the field of influence strategies and positive thinking are not beneficial, in fact sometimes essential for success. He believes they are. But these are secondary, not primary traits.

If your character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity-then, in the long run you cannot be successful. Your duplicity will breed distrust, and everything you do-even using so-called good human relation techniques will be perceived as manipulative. It simply marked no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique

To focus on technique is like cramming your way through school. You sometimes get by, perhaps even get good grades, but if you don’t pay the price day in and day out, never achieve true mastery of the subjects you study or develop an educated mind.

In short run, in an artificial social system such as a school you may be able to get buy if you learn how to manipulate the man-made rules to “play the game”. In most one-shot or short-lived human interactions, you can use the Personality Ethic to get by and to make favorable impressions through charm and skill and pretending to be interested in other people’s hobbies. You can pick up quick, easy techniques that may work in short term situations. But secondary traits alone have no permanent worth in long term relationships. Eventually, if there isn’t deep integrity and fundamental character strength the challenges of life will cause true motives to surface and human relationship failure will replace short-term success.

Many people with secondary greatness–that is, social recognition for their talents–lack primary greatness or goodness in their character. Sooner or later, you’ll see this in every long-term relationship they have, whether it is with a business associate, a spouse, a friend, or a teenage child going through an identity crisis. It is character that communicates most eloquently. As Emerson once put it, “what you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”
There are, of course situations where people have character strength but they lack communication skills, and that undoubtedly affects the quality of relationships as well. But the effects are still secondary.

In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do. We all know it. There are people we trust absolutely because we know their character. Whether they are eloquent or not we trust them, and we work successfully with them.

Paradigm means a model, theory, perception, assumption or frame of reference. It’s the way we “see” the world not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding interpreting.

A simple way to understand paradigms is to see them as maps. A map is not the territory but simply an explanation of certain aspects of territory. Suppose you wanted to arrive at a specific location on in Central Delhi. A street map of the city would be a great help in reaching the exact place. But suppose you were given the wrong map. There was a printing error due to which the map of labeled Delhi was actually the map of Kolkata. Your frustration and ineffectiveness in trying to reach the place within city can be well imagined.

You might work on your behavior you could try harder, be more diligent, double your speed. But your efforts would only succeed on getting you to the wrong place faster.

You might work on your attitude you could think more positively. You still wouldn’t get to the right place, but perhaps you wouldn’t care, your attitude would be so positive, you would be happy wherever you were.

The point is, you would still be lost. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with your behavior or attitude. It has everything to do with having a wrong map.

Each of us has many, many maps in or head, which can be divided into two main categories; maps of the way, things are, or realities and maps of the things should be or values. We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware that we have-them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be.

And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of those assumptions. The way we see things is the source of the way we think and the way we act.

There is a very well known Jainism philosophy on the same issue. It is known as Saptabhanginaya or the seven fold judgment on relativity. Syadvad is the Jainism theory of relativity. According to this philosophy our perception of reality is relative. A reality has sides while we are only able to see one or few aspects of it.

Jainism philosophy explains it with the help of an analogy of blind men and elephant. There were seven blind men who touched an elephant and described what an elephant was like. The one who touched its tail said it was like a rope. The one who touched its trunk said it was like a python. The one who touched its ear said it was like a plate. The one who touched its leg argued that it was like a pole. And so on. They kept on fighting and arguing among themselves until a person with eyes saw the elephant and explained to them, what the elephant was like.

Now take a look at this picture. (double perception picture)

It is quite likely that after looking at all these pictures you would be able to see both the views depicted in the picture.

If ten seconds can have that kind of impact on the way we see things, what about the conditioning of a life time?

The influences in our lives-family, school, church, work environment, friends, associates and current social paradigms such as the Personality Ethic all have make their silent unconscious impact on us and help shape our frame of reference our paradigms, our maps.

It also shows that these paradigms are the source of our attitudes and behaviors. We cannot act with integrity outside of them. We simply cannot maintain wholeness if we talk and walk differently than we see. If you were among the 90 percent who typically see the young woman in the composite picture when conditioned to do so, you undoubtedly found it difficult to think in terms of using to help her cross the street. Both your attitude about her and your behavior towards her had to be congruent with the way you saw her.

This brings into focus one of the basic flaws of the Personality ethic. To try to change outward attitudes and behaviors does very little good in the long run if we fall to examine the basic paradigms from which those attitudes and behaviors flow.

This perception demonstration also shows how powerfully our paradigms affect the way we interact with other people. As clearly and objectively as we think we see things, we begin to realize that other see them differently from their own apparently equally clear and objective point of view. “Where we stand depends on where we sit.”

Each of us tends to think we see things as they are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are or, as we are-conditioned to see it. When we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. But, as the demonstration shows, sincere, clear headed people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.

This does not mean that there are no facts. In the demonstration, two individuals who initially have been influenced by different conditioning pictures look at the third picture together. They are now both looking at the same identical facts-black lines and white spaces and they would both acknowledge these as facts. But each person’s interpretation of these as facts represents prior experiences, and the facts have no meaning whatsoever apart from the interpretation.

The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been in influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting a largest picture and a far more objective view.


An American Indian tells about a brave who found an eagle’s egg and put it into the nest of a prairie chicken. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All its life, the changeling eagle, thinking it was a prairie chicken, did what the prairie chickens did. It scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. It clucked and cackled and cackled. And it flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that’s how prairie chickens were supposed to fly.
Years passed. And the changeling eagle grew very old. One day, it saw a magnificent bird far above in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

“what a beautiful bird!” said the changeling eagle to its neighbor. “what is it?”

“That’s an eagle-the chief of the birds,” the neighbor clucked. “But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him.”

So the changeling eagle never gave it a second thought and it died thinking it was a prairie chicken.

Stephen covey in his illustrious book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People speaks about the new level of thinking which is principle-centered, character-based, inside-out approach to personal and interpersonal and interpersonal effectiveness.

Inside-out means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self-with your paradigms, your character, and your motives.

It says if you want to have a happy marriage, be the kind of person who generates positive energy and side step negative energy rather than empowering it. If you want to have a more pleasant, cooperative teenager, be a more understanding, empathetic, consistent loving parent. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. If you want the secondary greatness recognized talent, focus first on primary greatness of Character.

The inside-out approach says that private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to the others. It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves. It must always be the Positive Character ahead of Positive Personality.
Inside-out is a process-a continuing process of renewal based on the natural laws that govern human growth and progress. It’s an upward spiral of growth that leads to progressively higher forms of responsible independence and effective interdependence.

The other approach is outside-in. this approach never brings lasting solutions to problems. Outside-in paradigm ultimately leads to unhappy people who feel victimized and immobilized, who focus on the weaknesses of other people and the circum stances they feel are responsible for their own stagnant situation. In unhappy marriages, each spouse wants to change the other, shape the other, correct the other; each is confessing the other’s sins. In labor management disputes, people spend tremendous amounts of time and energy trying to create legislation that would force people to act as though the foundation of trust were really there.

The inside-out approach says that private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to the others. It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves. It must always be the Positive Character ahead of Positive Personality
By: Abhishek Kumar Sadhu


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