Experiencing the inside-out approach to life

I love exploring the dynamics of change. I am a liberal person and am a believer in supporting change through politics, religion and in just about any other scenario. I realize that this is at odds with my analytical nature of over thinking and often erring on the side of caution. The truth is that change is what moves this world forward.

In 1989, Dr. Stephen Covey published The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which has remained on must-read book lists for the past 23 years. This self-help manifesto calls on readers to align their lives with these seven sound principles that can guide readers to success. Although this book is often recommended in corporate settings, its lessons transcend the cubicle and office wall.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from this book is Covey’s “Inside-Out” approach. I believe that it is the cornerstone to success. It calls on me to embrace change from within before I can outwardly affect change. The following quote from Covey is a good summarization of this principle.

 “The ”Inside-Out” approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness 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.

The inside-out approach says that private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to others.

It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves.”

Prior to the last four years, I was more apt to blame others for my failures, particularly in maintaining a healthy life. I was overweight and very sedentary. My job kept me from being active. My volunteer work kept me from taking time to exercise. Everyone was jockeying for my time. My hectic schedule made eating fast and unhealthy packaged foods the norm. The list goes on. I believed was a victim of my circumstances.

In 2008, I began my bariatric surgery journey. At that time, Dr. Covey’s words rang especially true to me. I knew that I had to begin that change inwardly first. I stopped making excuses and had to sever relationships that stole my time. That was a challenging change for me. I enjoyed being the leader at church and volunteer organizations.

I made that change by looking at what was motivating me and what I valued. After spending the first half of 2008 soul searching, I knew that my life needed to be driven by bettering my health, particularly in reducing the threat of a future heart attack. I framed my inner wants and wishes with a theme of reaching a healthy weight and achieving a level of regular activity to support that healthy life.

My character did being to change. I was up at 5:00 a.m. to run the treadmill. The weight began to fall. I began cycling and found a new love. Along with that came my social networking in the weight loss community. I became a very active participant in my local weight loss support group.

Covey was right. My mindset changed and with it came many outward changes. I helped form a casual bicycling club that has grown to almost 200 members. I began running early this year and find myself involved in a social running group. I enjoy sharing my newfound active life in my blog.

It has been four years of changing. I know that change is ever present. I look for my life to be ever changing and getting better as the days slip by. I encourage you to try Covey’s inside out approach in your personal life and see where it leads you.

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