When I first read Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits’, one of the many concepts that jumped out was his ‘Maturity Continuum’. The core idea is that our emotional maturity is a progression, from You to I to We.
‘You’ is where we are dependent on others, thinking they control what happen to us. ‘They’ might include our boss, parents, partner, the government, ‘that idiot on social media’, or whoever.
‘I’ is where we are independent, and take personal responsibility for our actions. Understanding that while we don’t always get to choose what happens to us, we can always choose our response.
‘We’ is where we recognise our interdependence – our connections. We see that our individual decisions affect – and are affected by – the people and the world around us.
‘7 Habits’ is a book on personal development, so in that context, it makes sense that Covey presents this as a step-by-step process, taken by [some] individuals.
What if we were to think about it slightly differently? Rather than moving from one to the next and leaving the previous behind, we hold all three as possibilities.
There is a space for ‘You’. Times when it’s OK to ask for help, or hold someone else accountable for their actions.
There is a place for ‘I’. Situations where we can step up, or look in the mirror and take responsibility for our choices.
And they both connect to ‘We’. Where can You and I become We? Where are we stronger together?
It’s not always a neat, linear progression from one stage to the next – You to I to We. Rather, there is overlap and interplay between the three positions.
You and I and We.