I attended the Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training programme last year and the course was sponsored by my then employer. Ironically though, the content of the course was really useful to me when I need to decide to move from the company. I have found that the course had a profound impact in my life, particularly because the content were so much aligned with the concept of life that i learned and belief as a Muslim.
Maturity Continuum was one of the term used by Covey to describe the stage of maturity as a person, not with respect to age, but rather with respect to the person’s level of independence. Covey describes the maturity in 3 stages, namely dependence, independence and interdependence.
Dependence is the level where we a person depends so much to others around them, physically and emotionally. This is very true physically since no person can survive without other people around them since they we born. These physical dependencies later develop into emotional dependency, where the happiness and joy, sadness and regret, and every single thing that a person feel and belief is subjected to or depended on other people and their surroundings.
The next level of maturity is called independence. Physically, the more a person grows up, the more independent they became. A true independence person is the one who does not need others around them. Emotionally, they choose what make them happy and what can make them sad. Why should wheather affect one’s feelings anyway? They choose what they want to belief and what they wanted to wear.
The next and the highest level of maturity is the interdependence. This is the level that an independent person recoqnises that there are more to be achieved if they live interdependently.
Now, i like to draw the parallels to what Dr Covey is preaching to the lesson that i learnt in Islam. Islam ask its followers to be independent, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Physically a muslim are asked to work and earn their living. Being the one who gives are better than being the one who receives. Emotionally and in term of belief system, Islam put emphasize on the use of rational mind as oppose to blindly follow the custom and trend.
“If thou obeyedst most of those on earth they would mislead thee far from Allah’s way. They follow naught but an opinion, and they do but guess.”
Hudhaifah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “You should not be a sycophant, or a ‘yes’ person, doing well if people would do well, and doing wrong if people would do wrong. But you should get yourselves accustomed to doing what is right either people do it or not.”
– At-Tirmidhy, Hadith no. 1930
The emphasize on independent can also be seen from the obligation to have a pure intention in every deed that a muslim perform. Even a good deed will carry no weight in the sight of Allah if it is done with other intention other then for Allah. In this manner, a Muslim should not subject himself to the surroundings. They should not do anything just to be seen as good, or for merely pleasing others. He is an independent person. What he or she is doing is only for Allah, they carry themselves with the utmost integrity, What is inside their heart is what is portrayed in the outer side.
The need for interdependence is also emphasized in Islam. Many of the good deeds that Islam promote cannot be carried out without the interdependencies among the people. How can zakaah be performed as an individual? How can an individual perform hajj? How can the islamic law be implemented by a single person? The need to stay as a group is at the very core of islamic teaching. It is not just a religion that can be practised by individuals.
Another simple example is in the obligatory prayer. A prayer that is carried out by a muslim for the sake of others will be nothing in the sight of Allah. In other words, Allah only accept the prayer done solely for Allah’s sake. Hence, a prayer need to be done by independent person. Furthermore, the reward for a prayer in congregation is 25 or 27 times more than the reward of praying alone. This may be the meaning of what Covey said about synergy, where 1+1 is not just equals to 2! This is the prayer carried out by a group of independet person, in an interdependent manner! Sounds logical?