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Archive for March, 2008

The Mission Statement That Changed The World

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

This week we ask Dr. Covey:

Q: Who is one of your personal heroes?

A: Mahatma Gandhi. Let me read you his personal mission statement:

“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
* I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
* I shall fear only God.
* I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
* I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
* I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”

- Mahatma Gandhi

I listened to Gandhi’s grandson talk about his life. Her name was Arun Gandhi and this is some of what she said.“Ironically, if it hadn’t been for racism and prejudice, we may not have had a Gandhi. See, it was the challenge, the public need for the public victory that developed the private victory. He may have been just another successful lawyer who had made a lot of money. But, because of prejudice in South Africa, he was subjected to humiliation within a week of his arrival. He was thrown off a train because of the color of his skin. And it humiliated him so much that he sat on the platform of the station all night, wondering what he could do to gain justice. His first response was one of anger.  

He was so angry that he wanted eye for eye justice. He wanted to respond violently to the people that humiliated him. But he stopped himself, and said ‘that’s not right.’ It was not going to bring him justice. It might make him feel good for the moment, but it wasn’t going to get him any justice.

From that point onward, he developed the philosophy of non-violence and practiced it in his life, as well as in his search for justice in South Africa. He ended up staying in that country for 22 years. And then he went and led the movement of India. And that movement ended up with an independent country, something that no one would have ever envisioned.”

And just think on this, he held no formal authority. No position. Most people think that leadership is a position. It isn’t. Leadership is influence. The key to influence is what we’re talking about. You can have influence without position. So don’t be so dependent upon position or formal authority, but use your moral authority, what you know is right. Gandhi changed over three hundred million people using this. Today there are one billion people in India.

I love going to India. It’s a tremendous place. And he achieved many significant goals, but he didn’t achieve all of his goals. But eventually, it became an independent country with its own constitution and they could deal with their own problems, instead of having some steward oversee what they were doing and making judgments and setting up rules and regulations.

He’s one of my favorite heroes.

But you know what he did? He learned synergy within himself. He learned to create a third alternative: non-violent action. He was not going to run away, and he wasn’t going to fight. That’s what animals do. They fight and they flight. That’s what people often do, they fight or they flight, they run away. He worked it within himself until he won the private victory and learned the philosophy of his life. Non-violent action; a third alternative.

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