Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

Experiencing Objectivism through the Enhanced Tri-Quation
by Luke Setzer

Previous articles regarding the Objectivist ethics and the Franklin Covey tools of the tri-quation, Productivity Pyramid and Reality Model have assumed the individual has the liberty to pursue his own Governing Values and to act on his own best judgment. Sadly, when a social context gets placed around such a rugged individualist, that person can often find his spiritual triad attacked from all sides. Throughout history, tyrants of both petty and weighty proportions have sought to rule over individuals with various combinations of force and fraud. These twin evils constitute the ultimate social wrong in the Objectivist ethics. A brief survey of history shows tyranny as a wretched norm during most of humanity's past.

Happily, the Enlightenment era of the eighteenth century brought forth great thinkers who advanced new conventions based on reason and science rather than dogma and superstition. These new conventions articulated natural laws declaring the individual's basic rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. The United States set a new standard for human being in a social context with its Declaration of Independence and its Constitution the standard of a free society.

In a free society, one gains great values through production and trade of values with others. This happens through specialization, division of labor and accumulation of inter-generational knowledge. Imagine all the great values a person in a free society enjoys that he could never enjoy while struggling to make a meager subsistence living on a desert island: friendship, entertainment, art, romance, education, family love, etc. Such a free person does this through the fulfillment of chosen roles that allow him to form mutually beneficial relationships with others for the exchange of values.

Hyrum Smith's book What Matters Most enhanced his original tri-quation presented in The Ten Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management with broader concepts from his friend and business partner Stephen Covey.


From the company's Forms Wizard worksheet on Roles:

A role describes an area of responsibility in your life. For example, a common role for many people is "parent".
Research has shown that a person can typically focus on only five to nine "chunks" or categories of information at any one time. Less than five leads to boredom while more than nine leads to overwhelm. This natural law of human consciousness dictates that a person should consolidate his identification of his roles to an average of seven plus or minus two roles, including the central role of the Self. The following diagram illustrates how a Self can play various value-trading roles in a social context.

The worksheet continues:
[You will find it helpful to] list the key people associated with each role. For example, in your role as a parent, the key people associated with that role would be your children. Finally, write a clarifying statement that defines your ideal performance in that role. If you have a role as an account manager, your clarifying statement might read, "I consistently acquire new accounts and maintain the ones I have by delivering the best service and results to my clients."
In addition to these instructions, you will benefit greatly by listing the particular Governing Values that each Role generates for you. For example, your Role of "Parent" might bring you a Governing Value of "Family Love". Imagine each spoke of the previous diagram as a two way pipeline. You produce values as a Self, pipe those values into the Role, then gain Governing Values back to the Self through that pipeline. In each case, to qualify as genuinely life-affirming, a given Role must deliver net value to you. Otherwise, why do you fill that Role?

Once you have clearly articulated in writing your Roles in life, how you intend to fill those Roles and what Governing Values each Role delivers to you, you can move to the next step manifesting those Roles in real world action.

The worksheet continues:

In the role of parent, your responsibilities might be to meet the needs of your children be with them, take them to their events, etc. All of those duties can now be separated into your "parent" role.
Augmenting the previous diagram with a brief set of tasks for each Role paints a broader and more complex picture.

Notice the overwhelming number of tasks that can burden a person with a poorly trained mind. Even a well-trained mind cannot focus on this diversity of tasks without employing some unifying common denominators. A short but well-reasoned goals list and a concise Mission Statement to integrate these goals into a unified whole can bring inner peace to those willing to practice these spiritual values. The diagram below shows the "layers of the onion" that a person of integrity will reveal to those who seek his "psychological visibility".

Mission Statement

Your list of Governing Values articulates your vision for yourself of what you want to be. Achieving them on a consistent basis serves your Self-Esteem and gives you a credible claim to earned pride. Whereas your Governing Values focus on what you want to be, and your Roles focus on relationships you want to have to achieve those Governing Values, a Mission Statement focuses on what you intend to do in order to gain and to keep your vision.

From the company's Forms Wizard worksheet on the Mission Statement:

What would your life story be about? What have you devoted your time and talents to? A mission statement becomes a personal standard for you, a self-created road map of how you will choose to live amid the unpredictable circumstances and emotions that affect your life.
Ayn Rand offered the world her Mission Statement in "The Goal of My Writing" in The Romantic Manifesto:
[M]y purpose is the presentation of an ideal man. The motive and purpose of my writing can best be summed up by saying that if a dedication page were to precede the total of my work, it would read: To the glory of Man.
Not only in her career, but in her every action, Ayn Rand manifested this Mission Statement. Those who knew her well stated that she consistently lived this concise statement of her life philosophy, not only in her writing, but in her verbal exchanges, forms of recreation and all other choices. To the core of her being, her actions revealed integrity to her Mission Statement.

Manifestation Levels of the Objectivist Ethics

Smith's book What Matters Most simplified his original Productivity Pyramid as shown here.

By now, this article and its predecessors have shown how the Objectivist ethics of Self-Esteem, Reason and Purpose manifest themselves at various levels of visibility to self and others. These supreme and ruling values of the human spirit elevate human life from pain to pleasure, from suffering to joy. The tools of Franklin Covey assist in illustrating the level, function and interaction of these three values as a unified whole.

This section concludes with a table summarizing the essentials of these systems and a powerful diagram to synergize these concepts.

Natural Laws
Matters Most
WhatProductivityMission StatementActPurpose
HowEvent ControlRolesPlanReason

Integrating the best of these systems yields the powerful Objectivist Tri-Quation shown below.

A future article will show how to experience these values through Microsoft Outlook.
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