The Seven Habits by Steven Covey in his book “7 habits of highly effective people.”
By the use of maturity continuum, Stephen Covey explained into details why interdependence is superior to dependence and independence. To him, Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success. He further observed, “It’s easy to see that independence is much more mature than dependence. Independence is a major achievement in and of itself. But independence is not supreme since Interdependence is far more matured and an advanced concept.
With a more brilliant explanation, Stephen Covey used P(production) / PC (Production capabilities) balance and the tale of the golden egg to make his point on how excessive focus on the outcome without considering other factors can affect effectiveness. “When people fail to respect the P/PC Balance in their use of physical assets in organizations, they decrease organizational effectiveness.”
Part Two: Private Victory
Habit 1: Be Proactive
According to Stephen Covey, being proactive is part of human nature and humans are responsible for their own lives. He indicated the details of a social map which consist of Genetic determinism (Ancestors), Psychic determinism (Parents) and Environment determinism (Boss or something in the environment). The proactive concept was explained further using the Stimulus and Response relationship and the catalyst story of Viltor Frankl. Between Stimulus and Response, man has the ability or freedom to choose. This means one can decide how to reactive to thing or how to handle each situation. What matters most is how we respond to what we experience in life. We need to take initiative and this means recognizing our responsible to make things happen. We need to act or be acted upon.
In Covey’s own words, reactive people are also affected by their social environment, by the “social weather.” When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive or protective. Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response. Proactive people aren’t pushy. They’re smart, they’re value driven, they read reality, and they know what’s needed. Another important issue he raised in the book is for people to expand their circle of influence.
Habit two: Begin with the end in mind
According to Covey, “Begin with the End in Mind” is to begin today with the image, picture, or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. It further means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. Using the principle that all things are created twice, Covey said the unique human capacities of self-awareness, imagination, and conscience enable us to examine first creations and make it possible for us to take charge of our own first creation, to write our own script.
“Habit 2 is based on principles of personal leadership, which means that leadership is the first creation. Leadership is not management.” Stephen Covey said as he explained the second habit. He further in the book explained that, in business proactive powerful leadership must constantly monitor environmental change, particularly customer buying habits and motives, and provide the force necessary to organize resources in the right direction.
Later in the book, Covey stated that, the most effective way he knows to begin with the end in mind is to develop a personal/ family/ organizational mission statement or philosophy or creed. It focuses on what one wants to be and to do (contributions and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based. Visualization and affirmation were also talked about.
Habit Three: Put first things first.
To Covey, we are responsible for our own effectiveness, for our own happiness, and ultimately for most of our circumstances.
The third habit is the personal fruit of habit 1 and 2. In Habit 3 according to Covey, we are dealing with many of the questions addressed in the field of life and time management. He used an illustration of four quadrants to show the essence of this habit and time management. Quadrant I stood for both urgent and important things. Quadrant III stood for urgent but not important things. Quadrant IV – not important, not urgent things while Quadrant II which is the heart of effective personal management stood for not urgent, but important things. These things to him are what we should put first before any other thing.
He also talked about ‘gofer delegation’ and ‘stewardship delegation’ (taking control and giving control out respectively).
Part three: Public Victory
At this part, Covey talked about the Paradigm of Interdependence. He asked us to remember that effective interdependence can only be built on a foundation of true independence. Private Victory precedes Public Victory. In the same way, Algebra comes before calculus. To expatiate on this point, Covey noted that independence is an achievement. Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. So the place to begin building any relationship is inside ourselves, inside our Circle of Influence, our own character.
Stephen further recollected an incidence he had with his two sons to explain what attending to little things meant. To him, Small discourtesies, little unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals in our lives. In relationship for instance, the little thing are the big things. Keeping commitments, Clarifying expectations, showing personal integrity, apologizing sincerely when we make a withdrawal from our emotional bank are important things to do to make deposits in to our emotional banks. Covey mentioned that, with the paradigm of the Emotional Bank Account in mind, we’re ready to move into the habits of Public Victory, or success in working with other people.
Habit 4: Think win-win (Principles of Interpersonal leadership)
Under this heading, Covey narrated his personal experience at work with a company and at the end he noted that, whether you are the president of a company or the janitor, the moment you step from independence into interdependence in any capacity, you step into a leadership role. You are in a position of influencing other people. And the habit of effective interpersonal leadership is to think win-win. In addition, I learnt from this book that, win-win is not a technique but a total philosophy of human interaction.
The principle of win-win begins with character then moves to relationship. Everything else is built on character. Maturity is the second foundation for win-win. To Covey, Maturity is the balance between courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be nice, you have to be courageous. You not only have to be empathic, you have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you have to be brave. That’s why we need to be internally matured, according to Stephen Covey.
The third characteristic of a win-win case is the abundance mentality, the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody. From the foundation of character, we build and maintain win-win relationship.
Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Principles of Empathic Communication
Stephen Covey began this session by saying this “if I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.” To him this principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication. It shows how we have such a tendency to rush in, to fix things up with good advice. But we often fail to take the time to diagnose, to really, deeply understand the problem first.
There is a link between character and communication. Communication is the most important skill in life. In addition to communication, Covey emphasized emphatic listening, another important factor aiding the fifth habit. We must always seek first to understand before seeking to be understood. Empathic listening means listening with intent to understand and that is needed for habit 5. Diagnosing before we prescribe is also needed for this habit.
Habit 6: Synergy
Principles of Creative Cooperation
“Synergy is the essence of Principle-Centered Leadership. It is the essence of principle-centered parenting and it catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest powers within people. All the habits we have covered prepare us to create the miracle of synergy”. Stephen Covey. He defined synergy to mean that, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He illustrated this in different scenarios and talked about synergistic communication. He explained that, when you communicate synergistically, you are simply opening your mind and heart and expressions to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options. He talked about synergy in the classroom and in business.
Another important thing he talked about was what he called Negative synergy. He also talked about valuing the difference; this to him is the essence of synergy, the mental, the emotional, and the psychological differences between people. And the key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.
Part four: RENEWAL
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Over here, he spoke about the principles of balanced self-renewal. This final habit involves taking time to sharpen the saw and it surrounds the other habits on the Seven Habits paradigm because it is the habit that makes all the others possible. According to him, it involves preserving and enhancing the greatest asset we have. (Us)
“Sharpen the Saw” basically means expressing all four motivations (physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional). It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently, in wise and balanced ways. To do this, we must be proactive, according to Covey.
He also used the physical dimension, mental dimension, socio/emotional and the spiritual dimension paradigms to explain this point.
Furthermore, he noted that balanced renewal is optimally synergetic. The things you do to sharpen the saw in any one dimension have positive impact in other dimensions because they are so highly interrelated.
He, at the end, talked about Inside out again by quoting the words of Ezra Taft Benson… “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”