I hope you don’t think I have a formula for a great life, other than this:
Align what you do with what
you believe is the best thing to do.†
I made this website to help us quit futzing around in the confusion of choices, make some decisions, and get on with doing our best as often as possible. How to make those decisions is key, and connecting to roles, focusing on goals, and making a new plan every week is the most reliable way I know how.
Pilot Fire certainly builds on the work of others. The core technique of parsing a life by roles, and planning every week with a few “most important goals” is derived directly from the methods described in a book by Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill, called First Things First. The ideas they describe in the 100 pages gave me a structure I needed to rebuild my life when it had fallen to pieces. If you are benefiting from a simple system for everything, you owe them gratitude.
Stephen Covey became a giant in the corporate world and self-help industry among people seeking high achievement in the 1990’s. His groundbreaking work, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, established a values-based model to organize decision making and be your best. The goal is to move from dependancy through independence toward interdependence. In summary, the habits he recommends people develop for high effectiveness are as follows.
- Be Proactive. Take responsibility for your choices, your actions, and the consequences.
- Begin with the End in Mind. Develop your core values and envision your ideal self through the roles you play in your life.
- Put First Things First. Plan, prioritize, and execute.
- Think Win-Win. Seek mutual benefit in your relationships, rather than selfish gain.
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Listen with empathy before attempting to solve problems.
- Synergize. Value and use the strengths of others through teamwork.
- Sharpen the Saw. Stay healthy, rested, and balanced in your lifestyle.
Not so shabby.
In my youth I was lucky to witness these habits in my parents. Raised in the midwest by modest Christians their values were clear and mostly unspoken, and while they sometimes struggled to model these habits, it was obvious they tried very hard. Their successes gave me inspiration and their failures— another kind of inspiration. (The other habits they gave me were for flavor.) To them I am endlessly grateful.
For you, I list these habits for your reflection. Look again. Are you mastering any of them? Does one in particular call for more of your attention? Any hogwash in the mix?
Now, go. Be effective!
† I wasn’t totally honest. I do I have some vision of what a great life would be. My personal revelations captured in this work aim directly at that vision, so please, when my leaky morality, ignorance, or sentimentality get in the way of something vital, I beg you to call me out.