July 16, 2012 at 8:04 pm #166237
Was sad to hear that Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, passed away today.
In his honor, have you read the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”? What habits do you try to do?
For those that haven’t read the book, the 7 habits are:
1) Be Proactive
2) Begin with the End in Mind
3) Put First Things First
4) Think Win/Win
5) Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
7) Sharpen the Saw
July 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm #166267
Words to live by.
This book is a classic. It was required reading for Navy Medical officers many years ago. You can still buy it at Amazon.com for under $10. It’s still as relevant today as when it was first written.
This man has had a profound influence of many people. RIP.
July 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm #166265
This is truly a classic management book, as well as his newer book – The 8th Habit. I tend to emphasize “sharpening the saw” by constantly exploring new ideas and ways of getting work done. I consider my time on networks like GovLoop, attending webinars, reading business books, and attending professional conferences as my attempts to sharpen my saw.
July 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm #166263
They are all great habits but for me #5 provides the most value. It is not always possibul to fully understand people with world views 180 degrees opposite from our own. Nevertheless, even a partial understanding is worth the effort.
July 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm #166261
I’ve always been a fan of #4 – Think Win / Win. I love how it facilitates collaboration, rather than competition. Not only is it relevant in the public sector, but it can be a huge value added in the private sector as well!
July 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm #166259
I’ll put in in biblical terms to illustrate its importance: SEEK ye FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, and only then TO BE UNDERSTOOD. Doing so would save so much hurt and work.
July 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm #166257
I like number 1 honestly… planning ahead and being preceptive to what’s happening and addressing it head on goes a long way.
July 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm #166255
They’re all obviously good habits, and it seems unlikely to me that anyone could be totally satisfied with their efforts and outcomes and relationships to the sheer neglect of any single one of those habits. That said, #2 jumps out at me. Because much of my various careers have involved either teaching or information gathering, I feel compelled to always begin any dissemination or gathering of information with a clear purpose in mind, and with realizable outcomes. It helps me to carve away the distractions and nonsense, and construct the task in terms of logical steps that will lead to the desired outcome. That outcome can be a leap in understanding on the part of a student body, or it can be the kind of evidence that lets management take confident action. But it all begins with the end: What do we/you need to know, and why do you need to know it? What do you hope to be able to do with that knowledge?
In some respects, Covey himself charted his life on the basis of #2: how do you want to be remembered?
July 17, 2012 at 9:35 pm #166253
David B. GrinbergParticipant
How about an 8th highly effective habit: Positivity.
Think and act positive, be positively expectant about yourself and toward those around you. A positive workplace is a happy and healthy workplace, one with increased productivity and better results. A positive leader is a uniter and team builder, one who receives respect and admiration of co-workers and colleagues whom he/she motivates. One of the best authors on being positive is the late Norman Vincent Peale, who wrote “The Power of Positive Thinking ” and many other books on the topic. See his quotes @ http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/8435.Norman_Vincent_Peale
PS — Although I understand the Steve “Losey” cite was a typo, I’m sure he would feel honored to be mentioned among the likes of Stephen Covey. The Steve Losey I know is a reporter with Federal Times.
July 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm #166251
Begin With the End in Mind – I always strive to start with outcomes. What do we want to accomplish? What real impact do we want to have in this endeavor? I try to begin with that vision and work backwards to build a project plan that moves toward it – and I do it at work and home. I often ask myself: what will I think of doing X if I consider it from the vantage point of my death bed? Might be morbid, but it’s also what allows me to choose the most meaningful course of action…from the perspective of the ultimate end.
One other note: I’ll never forget back in the summer of 1994 when a buddy of mine sent me to a Franklin Covey seminar as a birthday gift. That’s where I first learned about the 7 Habits and how to align my life around my values. The speaker was incredible, the seminar workbook was excellent and the planning system has enabled me to virtually multiply myself and take charge of my time. Moreover, I took the 40-50 book recommendations at the back of the workbook and it used it as a checklist for the rest of that summer. I ended up reading 15-20 of the best books of all time as a result…can’t say enough about the impact of Covey’s work on my life.
July 18, 2012 at 12:29 pm #166249
+1 – good one
July 18, 2012 at 9:57 pm #166247
Thanks for the Big Rock Stephen C.
July 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm #166245
They’re all helpful, but the one that’s been most useful day to day is first things first. Dividing up tasks into the Urgency/Importance quadrants has made a HUGE difference, and moved me to using a daily planner that keeps me on track. It also provides just the right vocabulary to communicate with my colleagues.
July 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm #166243
I think the one I admire the most is “Think Win/Win”. So important, often so hard to do, especially in a culture of “scarcity”.
July 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm #166241
A couple of decades ago I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a week at the Covey Leadership Training in Sundance, Utah. Wow, what a life-changing week. Toward the end of the training to become a certified facilitator in the 7 Habits Dr. Covey, even though he had a funeral to attend of a staff member’s child, visited our class. We took a break after he spoke and as I was walking back to my cabin he was in the parking lot and my “thank you for your work Dr. Covey” turned into a 30 minute conversation, which I believe was probably Dr. Covey’s life and not unique to me. He seemed incredibly invested in his fellow humans. I’m not sure there is a stronger epitaph.
Of the 7 Habits, which “one” is most important? Geez. Good one. I tend to focus on Seek First to Understand. I’m not certain that I do this because this is my greatest area of opportunity, or because I find the habit to be so incredibly powerful and to form such a strong foundation, but if I had to choose one, I believe I’d choose this one.
Rest in peace, Dr. Covey.
July 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm #166239
I think one of the things people tend to overlook about Covey’s assertions is the “habit” part. I would venture to say that all the various ideas have occurred to everyone at some point in their lives. And they may have been quite emphatic about pursuit of any of those ideas, at that time, even if it didn’t occurr to them midway through whatever it was they were involved in. The larger question is whether those ideas occurred to them reflexively and consistently. I prefer to look at this through a “connectionist” lens: i.e., in terms of the strength of mental/neural connections in the knowledge-base, and the likelihood that knowledge/memory tidbit A will be instantly activated or awoken by knowledge/memory tidbit B. Same thing goes for “emotional intelligence”, and even morality. It’s not whether the better path possibly enters your thinking eventually, but whether it automatically comes to mind as your default approach. I like to tell people thatthe difference between a thief and an honest man is that the honest man sees a $20 bill on the ground and immediately thinks that someone has lost it, while the thief first thinks “Hey, twenty bucks!” and may eventually get around to thinking that the money has been lost by someone. Speed and automaticity thught is fundamental.
When I taught smaller classes (<80), and could have essay or paragraph-answer questions on exams, I would often distribute little cards for students to place on the corner of their desk during exams, that had 6 or 7 questions. I explained to the students that the difference between an A student, and one who does so-so or only occasionally does well is the consistency with which students ask themselves such things. They included: “Did I answer the question that was asked?”, “Did I say what I wanted to say or thought I said?”, “Does what I wrote make sense?”, “Would someone who has never taken this course understand what I wrote?”, and a handful of others. Great students monitor such things all the time, and hit and miss students may ponder them, but only inconsistently so. The card was to serve as a proxy for habit (although they still had to quickly form the habit of looking at the card).
Whatever principle/s you select to guide your actions in life, the biggest challenge is observing it/them consistently. We can sometimes denigrate things as “only” a habit, but it is often the habitual in life that makes it, and other people, a blessing or a curse. Pick your habits wisely, and once you’ve done that, make them habitual.
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