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The Upward Spiral

The upward spiral from Stephen Covey illustration: showing a spiral growing from the bottom with Learn Commit Do repeating as it rises and someone reading a map, packing their gear and heading off determinedly on a trip illustrating each step

The upward spiral is Stephen R. Covey's simple model of personal growth and change, which repeats the three steps: Learn, Commit, and Do.

Of course, we are all doing all of the time. The difference is taking the time and effort to learn from our doing, and deciding to commit to how we want to grow, and deliberately putting it into action. Getting better is in our control.

Though it didn't seem like it would take any effort, I've found the commit step to be surprisingly important. For me, "Commit" means actively deciding to make a change and following through with it. It's the difference between finding something intriguing versus deciding that you're going to do something about it. Coupling the "Commit" with getting specific using, for example, implementation intentions can increase the chance of getting on that upward spiral. "Commit" is the mental shift of telling yourself you're going to make a change.

Repeating each of the three steps again and again is a simple and guaranteed path to improving at anything we try.

Stephen Covey discusses the upward spiral as part of sharpening the saw—renewing, refreshing and recharging ourselves to be the best we can be:

"Renewal is the principle—and the process—that empowers us to move on an upward spiral of growth and change, of continuous improvement."
— Dr Stephen R. Covey

Also see: sharpen the saw, the express-test cycle


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