Part Two – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Steven R. Covey

This  post follows on from my previous one that covered the first three habits of Steven Covey’s book, centred on ‘Private Victory’.     You have to achieve this victory before you can really embrace the next habits that focus on ‘Public Victory’, the concept of interdependence.

Habit 4 – Think Win/Win – if you look at different communities around us, you’ll see this mindset more and more. Many budding entrepreneurs call it community over competition. “It’s a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions…. it’s a belief of the third alternative. It’s not your way or my way, it’s a better way…”. The chapter discusses how most situations we find ourselves in are interdependent; therefore win/win is the only viable option. What I really like about this section is the importance placed on character in order to achieve win/win.  When you read my blog post about character vs competence you’ll know how much I embrace this. Integrity, Maturity, and an Abundance Mentality are the three traits Steven Covey identifies as the foundation to a win/win mentality.

Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood – we’ve all heard this in some form or another before, but how often do we actually practice it? This habit discusses the four levels of listening, from ignoring, pretending, and selective listening, to empathic listening, which is listening with the intent to understand and is the only true form of listening. You’ll know when you’re doing this, because it’s absolutely exhausting! It’s also quite liberating, and something I’m really bad at! Anyway, the bottom line is that it’s vital if you want to actually “Diagnose before you prescribe”. Just think about that for a moment. As a whole its fair to say we don’t listen well, and what this really means is we’re coming up with solutions to problems before we really understand the problem. Such a simple concept we manage to get so wrong.

Habit 6 – Synergize – this habit reinforces the others with its very title – synergy “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. I’m sure you’ve all heard it countless times before. But do we live by this? Do we consider everybody and everything else? Or do we roll over what’s in front of us to get to the prize first, not realizing that on a different level is a far bigger prize that can only be reached together.

Habit 7 – Renewal – this is the habit that brings it all together, and without this you cannot have lasting success in any of the others. Even after first reading this book, I received a performance review that identified the story of the two axe man chopping wood in the forest. It’s a great analogy that really helps you understand the importance of balance and taking a break. For me receiving it in a performance review was liberating – not only did it help me re-realize the importance of it, I also felt that I was being given permission to take a break, look after myself and make sure I was ready for the marathon instead of thinking I was in a sprint. “This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life – investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute”. Powerful stuff.

So that’s it. Seven simple habits so easy to understand but so hard to implement. Like anything they take practice, years and years of practice, and I fail on most fronts everyday. But I keep trying, and I keep reflecting, and that’s where true inner growth lies.

Have you used this book in your organisation?

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