Effectiveness is about getting the things that truly matter done. You know what they are for you:
- That project you keep putting off because it seems too complicated and out of your depth. But if you were to complete it would yield great benefits.
- That conversation with a key person who could help to move things forward.
- That important family friend or relative you know you need to get in touch with.
- That time alone or at the gym to re-charge your batteries and help you focus better.
In contrast to efficiency, effectiveness is based on timeless principles that in the end will bring about the maximum long-term benefits. To really understand effectiveness then we need to first understand what we mean by principles.
Principles are natural laws or fundamental truths about life and the universe that are:
- External to yourself
- Do not change
- Universal and timeless.
- Produce predictable outcomes in the long term.
- Continue to operate with or without your understanding or acceptance of them
- Self -evident and enabling when understood and applied.
Correct principles are like a compass. They are always pointing the way. If we can learn how to read them, not only will we not get lost, confused or fooled by conflicting voices and values, it is more likely we will move forward in our lives with confidence and true power
As Stephen R. Covey puts it:
“We are not in control; principles control. We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from these actions are controlled by principles.”
Principles are natural laws in the human sphere that are just as real, just as unchanging and arguably present as laws such as gravity is in the physical dimension.
The best example of this is found in the principles that govern the seasons and farming. Think about what a farmer does. He must prepare the ground, plant the seed, give time for it to germinate and grow. All this takes time and requires honouring the seasons by doing what is appropriate in a particular season. You prepare the ground and plant in the spring if you want to harvest in the autumn. How ridiculous it would be if you ignored this principle and instead chose to plant in the summer expecting a harvest in the winter! To do so is to violate the principles that govern the seasons and the growth of plants.
What are some examples of principles? When you hear them they seem obvious, and yet the media abounds with examples of people who do not live by them……