When a colleague loaned me Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits Of Highly Successful People” many years ago, it took me about three months to get round to reading it – I now realise that I wasted those three months! In fact, I read it three times in order to ensure that I had fully digested the wisdom.
Whilst I cannot claim to have experienced an epiphany of “Damascus Highway” proportions, it did cause me to make fundamental changes to the way I conducted business. In reality, I was practising much of what Covey suggests, but I was doing so in a fairly unstructured and ill-disciplined way. However, in what I now term my “Post Covey” period, I do ensure that I audit myself regularly and I would urge you to do the same.
Covey is also responsible for the book “Principle Centred Leadership“, and many of his ideas and approaches relate to the management of people.
Covey’s view focuses on interdependence, on what he calls “mature interaction”. When we are truly interdependent, then we have achieved and are practising all seven habits. The habits are in fact steps, leading us from dependent through independence to interdependence and making use of our innate human characteristics – moving us in effect from what Covey terms “private victories to public victories”.
In any situation, our natural human response is to look for similarities to situations we have previously encountered. In doing this, we fail to recognise the situation we are actually in and we fail to recognise opportunities and challenges presented to us. In effect “the way we see the problem is the problem” … which accounts for why we find ourselves repeating patterns of frustration and feeling unable to respond appropriately to situations facing us.
Einstein observed “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Covey develops this theme into what he calls an “inside-out” approach. This means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self – with your principles, your values, your motives and your character.
We each have, and can develop further, various assets. Covey’s view encourages wider recognition of these assets and the maintenance of them. Once we take for granted say effective working relationships, then we cease to actively maintain them. The result could well be a reduction in the effectiveness of the relationship and therefore of a very important asset. The key is balance between the use of any asset and maintenance of it.
You may enjoy this free EBook, which is my synopsis of “The Seven Habits …”