The Voice of the Knowledge Worker

Cover of "The 8th Habit: From Effectivene...
Cover via Amazon

One of the most successful books in the area of personal development is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, as mentioned in my previous post.  Covey published a follow-up book called The 8th Habit, in which he talks about humans in the current Knowledge Worker Age (or Information Age), which has replaced the Industrial Age and all of its now outdated ways of doing things.

The primary assumption is that the world has fundamentally shifted, and the old ways of getting results that worked in the Industrial Age will no longer suffice. For example, companies and organizations can no longer treat employees like “things” and still expect them to be loyal to the company.

In this new paradigm, it is essential that we look at humans in a new way as well.  The Knowledge Worker Age is based on another assumption or perspective called the Whole Person Paradigm, wherein each human is seen as having 4 dimensions: body, mind, heart, & spirit.

Covey states in the book, “I commend to you again this simple way of thinking about life: a whole person (body, mind, heart, & spirit) with four basic needs (to live, to learn, to love, & to leave a legacy), and four intelligences (physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual) and their highest manifestations (discipline, vision, passion, conscience), all of which represent the four dimensions of voice (need, talent, passion, & conscience).”  The table accessible at the following link demonstrates this statement concisely: Whole Person Paradigm table

Voice” is defined by Covey as your “unique, personal significance” or “your calling”.  Covey suggests that “voice lies at the nexus of talent (your natural gifts and strengths), passion (those things that naturally energize, excite, motivate, and inspire you), need (including what the world needs enough to pay you for), and conscience (that still, small voice within that assures you of what is right and that prompts you to actually do it).”

Note that “spiritual” is not necessarily related to any set of religious beliefs.  “Spiritual” refers to an individual feeling a deep sense of purpose or mission about their contribution to their community – wherever that may be.  “Spiritual” refers to “who you are at your very core” and your own interpretation about how you fit into the larger community.

Cornerstones 2.0: Find Your Voice, Tell Your Story

“Finding Your Voice, and Telling Your Story” is what Cornerstones is all about.  The process of “Finding Your Voice” is what fraternities have always been all about, although it may have been articulated in different ways.

Covey suggests that “when you engage in work (professional, community, family) that taps your talent and fuels your passion – that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet – therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.”

I am focusing on this idea of “voice” in order to make an important point about the program – which is – that Cornerstones is not about mandating a certain course for each individual members personal development.  It is your responsibility to chart on your own.  Cornerstones is about applying some basic principles of personal development in a way that is personally meaningful to you.

Finding Your Voice” refers to the process of personal development and introspection by which an individual comes to discover or create their “calling”, or their life’s work.  As mentioned above, your “voice” can be found at the intersection of your talent, your passion, the needs of your community, & your conscience.

Telling Your Story” relates to the practice of demonstrating the growth or progress that you are making as an individual.  It includes the casual conversations that you have with your friends, questions that you answer for potential members, writing a reflection after participating in a development activity, as well as being able to explain to a potential employer why your experience in Acacia provided you with a process that made you into the best possible candidate for the job you are going after.

So, again, the first step in our new “Cornerstones 2.0” model is to complete the Cornerstones Personal Development Plan.  Do the introspection, the reflection.  Then, feeling more connected to “who you really are” – go out and take action to realize your dreams & goals!  It’s that simple.

3 Pillars of Cornerstones

Three pillars

The “Three Pillars” of Cornerstones define “what you must have in place in your life in order to participate fully in the program.”

So we could just as easily call the “Three Pillars” by another name such as:

  • the Three Non-Negotiables of Cornerstones, or
  • the Minimum Standards of Cornerstones, or
  • the Basic Working Parts of Cornerstones
* image used by permission of this license

The “Three Pillars” of Cornerstones as related to an individual member of Acacia are to have :

1. A Growth Mindset (aka growth attitude, growth perspective, or growth paradigm)

2. An Organized Plan

3. A Demonstration of Your Achievement/Efforts (in some form)


  • Pillar One:  A Growth Mindset

In the book Influencer, by Kerry Patterson, he and his co-authors describe the importance of having a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset.

  • Growth mindset – to learn how to develop a set of high-level learning skills and techniques, to strive for continual learning
  • Fixed mindset – if one believes they cannot improve, then they won’t even try, and he’ll create a self-fulfilling prophecy, and as a result will not grow
  • these definitions come directly from the book Influencer by Kerry Patterson, which you can check out here.

In our usage here, “mindset” could also be interpreted as: “attitude“, “perspective“, or “paradigm“.

Each member either has a “growth mindset” or a “fixed mindset” when it comes to his own personal development.

To paraphrase the definition of a “growth mindset”, it is “learning how to developlearning skills“.

Brain mechanism
Having a growth mindset is the first step in realizing that there is a whole world of learning & discovery out there for you, but you must have the awareness and the humility to readily accept that fact, then go about the business of learning what you need to learn in order to get where you want to go.

* image used by permission of this license

Here’s a couple of examples of what a “fixed mindset” might sound like:

  • “Dude, I don’t need to do that Cornerstones stuff, I’m already learning as much as I can in my classes.”
  • “No way, I’m not spending even more time learning skills, I’m already totally swamped with academics.”
  • “All that personal development stuff is just fluff.  There’s really nothing for me in those lessons or activities.”

  • Pillar Two:  An Organized Plan

Organized Planning only happens if you already have a Growth Mindset.  You now have the attitude and ability to learn new skills and techniques.  Now it’s time to talk about your Goals and your Plan to reach those goals.

By completing the Cornerstones Personal Development Plan, you will identify and state your personal Strengths, Values, and Life Purpose/Mission/Definition of Success.  Once you have clarified those aspects, it is your responsibility to identify Goals/Objectives to work toward in the short-term and long-term.

There are many methodologies, guidelines, or frameworks within which a person can complete this sort of reflection and planning.  The framework that we are going to use in this document is based on exercises in the following books:

Once you have completed this introspection and reflection, it is your responsibility to transfer your plans into a format that will be useful to you, and that will be helpful to you in pursuing your goals/objectives.  One might consider using:
Atmail6-Calendar

    • a calendar (online or print)
    • a planner
    • an online task manager or to-do list manager
    • a Word document or Excel spreadsheet

Get the point?  Make it your own.  Do it your way, just make sure you do it.


  • Pillar Three:  Demonstration of Your Achievement / Efforts

The mission of Cornerstones states “The resulting outcome (of program participation) is graduating seniors who are able to articulate the positive impact of Acacia Fraternity in their lives, as well as their plans for staying involved as an alumni member.”

The whole point of Cornerstones is to prepare you to be able to articulate, or explain, or demonstrate the journey of personal development that you have been on in your life.

The whole point of Cornerstones is NOT to get you to complete a checklist of activities, but rather to “get you in shape to be the leader whom you are becoming, or the leader that you want to be.”

At some point, you have to demonstrate your participation and engagement with the program by creating something external that other people can experience.

Once you have completed your development activities, it is your responsibility to document your achievement and reflect on your progress in a format that can be communicated to others.  One might consider using:

    • your ACACIAconnect account
    • a Word document or Excel spreadsheet
    • a blog site
    • an ePortfolio

Get the point?  Make it your own.  Do it your way, just make sure you do it.

A Final Word on Reflection – Reflection includes taking some time to reflect on what you’ve just done, and reset for future action.  This could also be described as self-monitoring or self-observation.  This is closely related to tracking your progress in some way (GatesofSamos.org, on paper, on a blog, etc.).  Reflection can be done by simply answering the following questions:

      • “What?” – What did you just do, learn, or experience?
      • “So What?” – What is the relevance to your life?
      • “Now What?” – What will you now do with this new knowledge, awareness, or experience?