Sunday, March 18, 2007

New habits...

Dawn introduced me to Covey's 7 Habits book, and I was looking carefully at the Venn diagram on Habits last night during my reading session. There are the three main circles of Skill, Desire, and Knowledge, and of course Habits was in the middle. Mathematicians draw these diagrams to contemplate what happens in each of the 7 regions, which leaves all of the two-without-one regions. Oddly, it made sense to label these three regions with negative monikers:
  • Skill^Knowledge^~Desire=Procrastination
  • Knowledge^Desire^~Skill=Ignorance
  • Desire^Skill^~Knowledge=Addiction
This makes total sense to me. If you know why and how to do something, but don't want to do it, that's a natural definition of procrastination. If you know why to do something and you want to do it, but you don't know how, this is ignorance. If you want to do something you know how to do, but aren't sure that you should be doing it (or are willfully ignoring the consequences), this suggests addictive behavior.

Some questions naturally occur with this line of inquiry. If you don't know why you are doing something, is this the same as willfully ignoring the reason? I would suggest yes. You should have a moral reason to do the things you do. If reasons to possess a certain behavior are proven wrong later, you have a reason to change your behavior, and not taking this action shows dependence on the behavior. Does the broaden the range of addiction? Sure it does; even people who take vitamins after the suggested benefits are disproved are showing an addiction to the habitual action (and possible placebo effects of) that behavior. Isn't there a fine line between procrastination and ignorance? I would suggest that the perfection effect (being paralyzed by inability to perfect the task you're attempting) is a struggle between procrastination and ignorance, and is really just using ignorance to cover for your procrastination. This is indicated by the ease in which ignorance is cured (by research) as opposed to procrastination (where said research turns into aimless wandering).

Finally, after looking at these negative conditions, doesn't the Venn diagram seem kinda lopsided? It could be an effect of the internet; the increasing ease in which ignorance is curable allows for the other parts of the diagram to dominate. Something to think about.

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