What matters most Featured

9:46am EDT July 22, 2002
Running a business is like suddenly finding yourself face-to-snout with a snarling dog.

You have several choices: Turn and run, stand still and hope the dog leaves, carefully approach the beast in a friendly manner or snarl back. Your choice reveals something about how you view the world.

According to Hyrum W. Smith, of The Franklin Covey Co., everyone views the world through a filter, a belief window, a combination of experiences and attitudes, and it colors every decision made. Those beliefs also create rules, which govern actions. Choose the wrong action because of an inaccurate belief and the consequences could be painful.

In the case of the aforementioned dog, those actions affect your physical well being. In business, it could ultimately mean the survival — or demise — of your enterprise.

Smith devised the Franklin Reality Model, a system for analyzing beliefs and, if need be, for changing them. Case is point is something that happened in his company. Executives believed that cutting costs “no matter what” would ultimately benefit the company.

The result was the addition of a bad receptionist. Realizing the negative impact she had on the business, the company got rid of the employee and adopted a new belief: “We want the best reputation in the world.”

The basic human needs

How do you know if beliefs are detrimental? Measure them against the four basic human needs: survival, love, variety and the need to feel value. Every action should, over time, support one of those needs.

If one of those human needs is not being met, Smith says, all our energy is turned to the area. That is where addiction come from, he says. Smith defines addiction as “compulsive behavior with short-term benefits and long-term destruction.”

“If my grandpa missed a train, no big deal,” Smith says. “He’d wait 24 hours. If my dad missed a plane, he’d wait five hours. No big deal. If I miss a section of a revolving door, I go berserk.”

The belief window Smith had to learn to change deals with time.

Seven natural laws

The first step to understanding behavior is to recognize the beliefs that influences it. To do that, Smith developed the seven natural laws:

1. If the results of your behavior does not meet your needs, there is an incorrect principle on your belief window.

2. Results take time to measure.

3. Growth is the process of changing principles in your belief window.

4. Addiction is the result of deep and unmet needs.

5. If your self worth is dependent on anything external, you are in big trouble.

6. When the results of your behavior do meet your needs over time, you experience inner peace.

7. The mind naturally seeks harmony when presented with two opposing principles.

Six steps to follow

You’ve done a little self-reflection and realize that you have a few beliefs that need adjustment. Smith suggests applying the following rules:

1. Identify the behavior patterns.

2. Identify possible principles driving the behavior. (Ask why.)

3. Predict future behavior based on those principles.

4. Identify alternative principles.

5. Predict future behavior based on the new principle.

6. Compare steps three and five.

Daniel G. Jacobs (djacobs@sbnnet.com) is senior editor at SBN.