As you go through your professional and personal life, you’ll come across all kinds of tools for personal growth, increased productivity, greater happiness, and more meaning.
For me, Stephen’s Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was a life-changing set of guidelines. In business, Kouzes and Posner’s five practices of exemplary leadership have influenced millions around the world. Leadership author John Maxwell laid out his 21 indispensable qualities of a leader.
The list goes on and on.
The most interesting lists to me are the ones that form the most fundamental part of a life philosophy that can be applied to countless situations both at work and at home.
These lists are characterized by simplicity and influence; they’re easy to remember and can have a dramatic impact if they’re used regularly. You don’t have to memorize long definitions or convoluted formulas. And once you have them firmly in your mind, you will think about them often and begin to make decisions in your life based on them.
There’s one powerful list I realized I had forgotten about: the 4-Way Test of Rotary International.
In recent months, I had an opportunity to speak at several Rotary club meetings. The members recite the 4-Way Test at every gathering, and carry the sentiment of the Test into their business meetings and their personal lives.
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build better relationships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Four simple words neatly summarize the list: Truth, Fairness, Friendship, and Goodwill.
Think about this from a business perspective:
- You want to do business with people you trust. How can trust be established if truth isn’t at the center of the transaction?
- Fundamentally, you want to work with supervisors, managers, and leaders who are fair. You want to be respected, acknowledged, and significant. You also want to reap the rewards you deserve if you’ve worked more productively than others.
- Relationships are the heart of all of your interactions. For example, you feel the difference between a networking event where business cards are thrown at you and one where conversations are developed and common ground struck.
- How can everyone benefit to the extent possible from this relationship? How can you create a win-win situation whenever possible? This will foster an environment where mutual benefit forms the core of the relationship.
Perhaps the 4-Way Test is one of the reasons Rotary International has been involved in building business relationships and improving communities for more than a century. I think the Test speaks to who we are as human beings and taps into our most fundamental desires for better, more rewarding lives. Not every development tool does this.