Monday, May 23, 2005

The 8th Habit: Finding Your Voice

Stephen Covey changed the world about 15 years ago with the publishing of his seminal work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I came late to the party, only reading it within the last couple years. But I embraced its message. In his "personal note" at the end of the book, he quotes Teilhard de Chardin, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."

Now Covey's come out with a new book that is again rocking my world. The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness strikes a chord on many levels, not the least of which is that he has again observed and synthesized what people had begun to suspect on their own but hadn't been able to articulate.

It turns out the 8th Habit is finding your voice and encouraging others to find theirs. This coincides so specifically with my own spiritual journey that I am (almost) speechless.

For me, spiritual progress can be seen in some observable stages. First, a person connects with Spirit to solve their own problems. They may need better health, more money, harmony in relationships, etc. When any of these things is out of kilter, it's hard to take the next step, so they must be resolved first. And that's okay. It's important that the spiritual journey feed and sustain ourselves first.

Next, a person may want to give back, so they begin to share what they've learned, perhaps in the context of a spiritual community, church, support group, school. They seek to magnify their connection to Spirit by connecting also to Spirit's creation, other people. And this too is a sign of progress. The person gets as much as they give in the group setting, sometimes conforming for a time to the group's values as their own spiritual journey is strengthened. But eventually they have to make those values their own.

And this I think leads us to what Covey's saying. Whatever our background or belief system, we can't just accept it because our parents or friends or fellow church members have. We need to make it our own. We need to do our own spiritual study, contemplation, application, in order for the expression of our convictions to be authentic. It's in authenticity that the true power of what we know shines forth.

For me this means not telling people who call me what to think or how to believe, but asking, what does a particular spiritual concept or passage mean to you? I think each one of us is on our own path. This is entirely individual, indeed, it must be because Spirit is infinite. That infinite Spirit has created each of us, no two alike. That being the case, it is actually limiting to believe we are supposed to duplicate or emulate the journey of another, even in admiration or agreement. It is vital for us to find our own path and stay true to it -- otherwise, we are truncating the infinite expression of Spirit.

This coincides with one of my favorite sections of Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health. From about pages 223 227, she discusses freedom -- from sickness, from sin, from despotism -- and she links this freedom to "free thought." I find these passages liberating. I feel she's telling me to have my own relationship with spiritual ideas, and only I can determine what they mean to me. My own freedom of thought is a divine right, and I must take advantage of it.

No one can do this for us, we have to do it ourselves. So I'm now asking myself, how much of what I think is because someone else told it to me? How much of it is genuine inspiration? Which spiritual truths have resonated within me, which have I proven for myself? This is my authentic journey, and the only thing that will enable me to help others.

What has resonated with you and made the most difference in your life?

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
Email this posting to a friend with the envelope icon below. tags:


At 7/05/2007 07:02:00 PM, Anonymous diane Williamson said...

Thankyou for these thoughts ..very pertinant to my concerns lately. It has been bothering me that I have been happy with my spiritual progress in all ways except one...that of healing MYSELF when it comes to something "physical"...althgough I seem to be able to help others ! What you have said has enlightened me! It actually hadnt occurred to me that I dont HAVE to live up to what OTHER Christian Scientists do ...or feel ineffective.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home