As you likely have heard, Stephen R. Covey, author of many bestselling books, most notably The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People died Monday at age 79 (here is the CNN story). Covey was an author, speaker, humanitarian, business person and much more. In 1996 he was named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Americans. “The 7 Habits” is a modern classic in personal development literature, selling over 20 million copies and currently (though published in 1989) is ranked 7th on Amazon’s best seller list.
Accolades can be found in many places – that isn’t the goal of this post. Rather, I want to give you an overview of the habits and then challenge you as I am challenging myself.
First, the overview of the 7 Habits, with thanks to Wikipedia (here is their full entry on the book)
Independence or Self-Mastery
The First Three Habits surround moving from dependence to independence (i.e., self mastery):
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life. Create a mission statement.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Prioritize, plan, and execute your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you toward goals, and enrich the roles and relationships that were elaborated in Habit 2.
The next three have to do with Interdependence (i.e., working with others):
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, respect, and positive problem solving.
Habit 6: Synergize
Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone. Get the best performance out of a group of people through encouraging meaningful contribution, and modeling inspirational and supportive leadership.
The Last habit relates to self-rejuvenation:
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes on exercise for physical renewal, prayer (mediation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to the society for spiritual renewal.
There are 7 Habits listed above. . Like any habits these can be built and strengthened. Your challenge is to pick one and focus on building it over the next 30 days.
How do you pick?
While there are no wrong answers, one of them is speaking to you right now as an area you could grow in. Perhaps it is a strength you want to strengthen. Perhaps it is a habit you have let atrophy. Whatever the reason, whatever your goal, pick one o the habits, and consciously make growing and strengthening it a part of your life for the next 30 days.
I read the book many times – and will be reading it again in the coming days. If you have read it, it is worth a reread. If you haven’t there is no time like the present. While you could read the summary above and participate in the challenge, you will be most successful if you supplement your participation in the challenge by reading (at least) your habit- chapter.
In 30 days, I’ll share my insights and progress on the challenge myself.