12-Step program & the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

by mikea44646 on August 18, 2009

The following analogy and concept comes directly from the “7 Habits of Highly effective People”.  Long before reading the “7 Habits” I had been immersed in the philosophy for living most commonly found in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and other “self help” fellowships. My mother is a recovering alcoholic and I grew-up surrounded by the 12 steps and related principles. The immersion took place particularly during my time at The Family Foundation School.  The point here is that I immediately found commonality between the “7 Habits” and the “12 steps.”


The analogy below, I think, is a fundamental example of this parallel. The 12-step concept, that real change will require us to open up and examine all aspects of our life and to be ready to change any and all of our thinking if needed resonates with the way to see real change in the “7 Habits of Highly effective People”.  The 12 step program is full of catchy slogans that embody its philosophy. One in particular applicable here is “We must let go of our old ideas”, the ideas are our maps if you will and the 12-Steps are suggesting that the ones that didn’t work for us need to change or go all together in order to see different results in life.  So here is the parallel analogy from the “7 Habits of Highly effective People”:


A map is a tool that we use to get us from here to there. From time to time we may discover that the landscape has changed and that the map may need to be updated or even replaced it no longer accurately describes the territory. Maps are like our personal paradigms.  The territory is like the reality we live in. A map is an explanation of aspects of the territory, not the territory itself. Paradigms or belief systems (like maps) which we rely on to navigate our ‘territory’ may also need to be updated or even replaced. Maps or our paradigms are a subjective reality and are only an attempt to describe the territory.


Minor changes in our life can be made by focusing on and changing our attitudes and behaviors. Significant or quantum changes in our life require us to work on our underling paradigms.


“7 Habits of Highly effective People” has been adapted to “Teens” in the similar title “7 Habits of Highly effective Teens.” The Family Foundation School library has this title in its holdings. At FFS, we work with struggling teens in both middle school and high school. I wonder if a formal incorporation of the “7 Habits” in the FFS Living Skills curriculum might make the basic concepts of the 12 Steps even more available to the middle school students.


Paradigms =

à        “a typical example of something”  OR

à        “an example that serves as a pattern or model for something, especially one that forms the basis of a methodology or theory” OR

à        “in the philosophy of science, a generally accepted model of how ideas relate to one another, forming a conceptual framework within which scientific research is carried out”

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: