“For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.
~Henry David Thoreau
[By: Martin Grunburg]
The day Dr. Covey passed away, I received numerous emails and phone calls asking what I thought about the news. In each case, I shared the same basic sentiment: “Tragedy. He was a true genius and a shining light: A great leader, forefather and teacher within the personal development arena.”
Now that some time has passed, I’d like to pay tribute, reflect, and share a few key lessons (personal takeaways) from his masterful work, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Just watch this video (above) and if you didn’t already know, you’ll quickly get a sense what a tremendous and thoughtful teacher he was.
It seems few still understand or appreciate one his most fundamental and significant lessons; the CHARACTER ETHIC vs. the personality ethic. BTW: reflect on politics quickly and ask yourself which most politicians focus on. ; )
Dr. Covey’s work has left an indelible impression upon my life and I’d always expected that someday we’d meet and I could thank him (perhaps we’d even exchange a few theories about HABIT ; ) ). Unfortunately, that’s just another crazy thing about life— tragedy strikes/accidents happen and our plans/expectations change in an instant. So, as I write this, my heart is still heavy as I’d expected to met this great teacher and I’d never thought I’d be writing a blog/tribute— certainly not in 2012.
Without rehashing the bulk of the ideas within the book, I figured I’d share a slightly different perspective on The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People —my version/a cliff-notes version. Again, it’s really no exaggeration to suggest that many of these lessons influence my life on a daily basis, which, then has its own ripple effect among— my family, friends and colleagues. Add to that, The Habit Factor® would likely not exist (app and book) without these powerful ideas.
So, here you go: The Seven Habits – a cheat sheet just for you.
1 Be proactive. = You own it. Take responsibility! (no excuses/none) YOU are in charge – you are the master-programmer of your life.
2 Begin w/ end in mind = IMAGINATION and VISION! – YOU are the creator.. btw: in my mind, this could’ve be flipped w/ first one. Consider, it even starts with “Begin” as in “Begin with the end in mind”. In order to be proactive, you ought to know what the “end in mind” is so your actions have direction. Having said that, in order to know what the end in mind is, you have to be proactive —clearly these go hand in hand.
3 First things first = MORE than just prioritize. You must actually know what the FIRST things are. Most people unfortunately prioritize the wrong things!
According to Covey, the first 3 make up the framework for what he labels the PRIVATE victory. In other words, you must have your own house in order before you can integrate effectively and work with others.
4 Think Win/Win = this is essentially BIG PIE mentality -an abundance mindset. Getting away from the old mentality; “For me to win you must lose”. In Covey’s words, “Anything other than Win/Win is ultimately Lose/Lose”
5 Seek first to understand, then to be understood = Listen but listen by understanding from their frame of reference. You have to understand emotional deposits only have value from their frame of reference.
6 Synergize = this isn’t lip service or just cooperative alignment but a sincere and deep appreciation for differences. YES! an appreciation for differences
so much so that they are literally sought out.
As you read these you can easily see how they might re-frame someones entire world view.
Habit #7 – Sharpen the saw = this is seeking and directing change. More than just embracing it as it comes but constantly pursuing new levels of discomfort for the purposes of learning and personal growth.
If you know my personal “story” behind the development of The Habit Factor® then you know my biggest breakthroughs came from my own “Sharpening of the saw”. That is, once I directed my energies toward a more balanced life (physical vs mental); first competing in the Catalina Classic (paddle-board event) then in Ironman triathlons. The “renewal” I experienced over (the long haul) the training, developed new levels of physical and mental tenacity, which then, interestingly enough, feed many of the ideas for the app and book (an absolutely unexpected consequence).
The take away: Ensure that you are in a state of constant renewal /”Sharpening the Saw” focus on the four core pillars: Mind, Body, Spirit & Social aspects of your life.
“While you are free to choose your actions, you are not free to choose the consequences of your actions.” ~Dr. Stephen R. Covey
More 7 Habits:
Quick anecdote: As strange as it might sound, on an entrepreneur retreat last year to Machu Picchu (that isn’t national geographic but actually my photo above), there was a good two hour stretch where a fellow entrepreneur and I were discussing deeply The Seven Habits as we scaled the mountainside weaving through a bit of jungle and hiked the ancient Inca Trail. As you might guess, it was certainly one of the more memorable dialogues around the Seven Habits one could have. My friend started to pepper me with questions, knowing I was an avid student of the work.
“So” he’d say, “‘Synergize’ that’s really just 1+1 = 3 right?”
“Sure” I’d say, “that’s part of it— it’s really 1+1 = 3 or more. The key here with Synergize (Habit 6) is that you actively seek out and want others’ perspective and information. You need it! Because we all come from our own frame of reference. You don’t just accept it or placate them by listening, but you actually go out of your way to seek it – to deeply understand it. Their information and ideas, their perspectives helps to foster a new result or outcome that wouldn’t have been possible. Hence, Habit 5; Seek first to understand, then to be understood, precedes Habit 6, Synergize.”
This sort of dialogue carried on for hours and in the end, reminded me of one of Dr. Covey’s great axioms “Teach once, learn twice.” I couldn’t help but think, maybe this is how the Seven Habits should always be taught— amid such idyllic settings.
Beyond the 7 Habits: Even More Great lessons
It’s a bit ironic is that when 20 million copies of a book are sold, at times, it appears, that type of visibility can actually backfire and many of the important messages somehow become cliche rather then meaningful. For instance, the number of people who can say “Being with the End in Mind” yet haven’t necessarily got a clue what it means. Or, worse yet, when others dilute or even distort the 7 Habits actual meaning. From my experience, nearly everyone knows OF The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People yet, very few actually understand them, and even fewer can recite them. Just curious… could you recite them from memory?
The ideas below extend beyond the 7 habits and in some cases support them..
You can only be efficient with things and effective with people.
“Try” Dr. Covey would say, “to be efficient with your teenage daughter.”
Slow is fast and fast is slow (with people)
In order to make deposits into someone’s emotional bank account – you must come from their frame of reference. Know what is valuable to them?
Always HONOR the absent. This means to speak about the person always if he/she is around even when they are not. No duplicity or backstabbing.
The Four Quadrants for Effectiveness (Time Management).
Urgent & Important (1) = Crises
Not Urgent & Important (2) = Strategy, Preparation
Urgent & Not Important (3) = Interruptions
Not Urgent & Not Important (4) = Trivia
A Fitting Conclusion:
Finally, one of Dr. Covey’s more powerful teachings is around the awareness of human fulfillment. I’ll let him take it from here:
“There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase ‘to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy’. The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution”
Dr. Covey Lived
Dr. Covey Loved
Dr. Covey Learned
Dr. Covey left a tremendous Legacy!
He lived alright; advising more than 50 heads of state and packing in adventures that would otherwise constitute several lifetimes. He Loved- I believe he left 52 grandchildren in his wake. He was an avid student— always learning and reading. And, he certainly left a legacy, touching millions of lives! So, the short answer here is, I think it’s safe to say Dr. Covey lived a very fulfilled life!
Thank you Dr. Covey and a sincere and heart-felt condolences to the Covey family.