The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (25th Anniversary Edition) (Covey, Stephen R.)
I jokingly refer to this as the Mormon productivity bible. It’s unfortunately titled like a listicle from the mid-2010s, but the information is good. What it actually contains is some shockingly clear thinking on balancing the priorities in your life.
Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm—to forget to plant in the spring, play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest? The farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.
The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting
My marriage has gone flat. We don’t fight or anything; we just don’t love each other anymore. We’ve gone to counseling; we’ve tried a number of things, but we just can’t seem to rekindle the feeling we used to have. The Personality Ethic tells me there must be some new book or some seminar where people get all their feelings out that would help my wife understand me better. Or maybe that it’s useless, and only a new relationship will provide the love I need. But is it possible that my spouse isn’t the real problem? Could I be empowering my spouse’s weaknesses and making my life a function of the way I’m treated? Do I have some basic paradigm about my spouse, about marriage, about what love really is, that is feeding the problem?
Effectiveness lies in the balance—what I call the P/PC Balance. P stands for production of desired results, the golden eggs. PC stands for production capability, the ability or asset that produces the golden eggs.
you had known, for example, that you would be teaching the material on the P/PC Balance principle to someone else within 48 hours, would it have made a difference in your reading experience? Try it now as you read the final section in this chapter. Read as though you are going to teach it to your spouse, your child, a business associate, or a friend today or tomorrow, while it is still fresh, and notice the difference in your mental and emotional process.
Even the most intelligent animals have none of these endowments. To use a computer metaphor, they are programmed by instinct and/or training. They can be trained to be responsible, but they can’t take responsibility for that training; in other words, they can’t direct it. They can’t change the programming. They’re not even aware of it. But because of our unique human endowments, we can write new programs for ourselves totally apart from our instincts and training. This is why an animal’s capacity is relatively limited and man’s is unlimited. But if we live like animals, out of our own instincts and conditioning and conditions, out of our collective memory, we too will be limited.
By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods.
Considerate, thoughtful, smart, productive
smart, mentor, team player, enthusiastic
If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success. It may be very different from the definition you thought you had in mind. Perhaps fame, achievement, money, or some of the other things we strive for are not even part of the right wall.
Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
I can use my right brain power of visualization to write an “affirmation” that will help me become more congruent with my deeper values in my daily life. A good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, it’s positive, it’s present tense, it’s visual, and it’s emotional. So I might write something like this: “It is deeply satisfying (emotional) that I (personal) respond (present tense) with wisdom, love, firmness, and self-control (positive) when my children misbehave.”
One of the main things his research showed was that almost all of the world-class athletes and other peak performers are visualizers. They see it; they feel it; they experience it before they actually do it. They begin with the end in mind.
You can do it in every area of your life. Before a performance, a sales presentation, a difficult confrontation, or the daily challenge of meeting a goal, see it clearly, vividly, relentlessly, over and over again. Create an internal “comfort zone.” Then, when you get into the situation, it isn’t foreign. It doesn’t scare you.
When I begin work with companies that have already developed some kind of mission statement, I ask them, “How many of the people here know that you have a mission statement? How many of you know what it contains? How many were involved in creating it? How many really buy into it and use it as your frame of reference in making decisions?” Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment.
APPLICATION SUGGESTIONS 1. Take the time to record the impressions you had in the funeral visualization at the beginning of this chapter. You may want to use the chart below to organize your thoughts. 2. Take a few moments and write down your roles as you now see them. Are you satisfied with that mirror image of your life? 3. Set up time to completely separate yourself from daily activities and to begin work on your personal mission statement. 4. Go through the chart in Appendix A showing different centers and circle all those you can identify with. Do they form a pattern for the behavior in your life? Are you comfortable with the implications of your analysis? 5. Start a collection of notes, quotes, and ideas you may want to use as resource material in writing your personal mission statement. 6. Identify a project you will be facing in the near future and apply the principle of mental creation. Write down the results you desire and what steps will lead to those results. 7. Share the principles of Habit 2 with your family or work group and suggest that together you begin the process of developing a family or group mission statement.
Question 1: What one thing could you do (something you aren’t doing now) that, if you did it on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?
Volunteer or donate to a charitable organization
Seek to involve more people (internally and externally) in my work.
It is intrinsic—in the Quadrant II paradigm that empowers you to see through the lens of importance rather than urgency. I have included in the Appendix an exercise called “A Quadrant II Day at the Office” which will enable you to see in a business setting how powerfully this paradigm can impact your effectiveness.4
THE EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT We all know what a financial bank account is. We make deposits into it and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship. It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being. If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me “an offender for a word.” When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.
I have a friend whose son developed an avid interest in baseball. My friend wasn’t interested in baseball at all. But one summer, he took his son to see every major league team play one game. The trip took over six weeks and cost a great deal of money, but it became a powerful bonding experience in their relationship. My friend was asked on his return, “Do you like baseball that much?” “No,” he replied, “but I like my son that much.”
he and his wife resolved to love their son unconditionally, regardless of his choice. It was an extremely difficult thing to do because the value of his educational experience was so close to their hearts and because it was something they had planned and worked for since his birth. The father and mother went through a very difficult rescripting process, struggling to really understand the nature of unconditional love. They communicated to the boy what they were doing and why, and told him that they had come to the point at which they could say in all honesty that his decision would not affect their complete feeling of unconditional love toward him. They didn’t do this to manipulate him, to try to get him to “shape up.” They did it as the logical extension of their growth and character. The boy didn’t give much of a response at the time, but his parents had such a paradigm of unconditional love at that point that it would have made no difference in their feelings for him. About a week later, he told his parents that he had decided not to go. They were perfectly prepared for this response and continued to show unconditional love for him. Everything was settled and life went along normally. A short time later, an interesting thing happened. Now that the boy no longer felt he had to defend his position, he searched within himself more deeply and found that he really did want to have this educational experience. He applied for admission, and then he told his father, who again showed unconditional love by fully accepting his son’s decision. My friend was happy, but not excessively so, because he had truly learned to love without condition.
suggest that in an interdependent situation, every P problem is a PC opportunity—a chance to build the Emotional Bank Accounts that significantly affect interdependent production.
“Stephen, I can’t get to first base in getting the funding I need for my research because my research is really not in the mainstream of this department’s interests.” After discussing his situation at some length, I suggested that he develop an effective presentation using ethos, pathos, and logos. “I know you’re sincere and the research you want to do would bring great benefits. Describe the alternative they are in favor of better than they can themselves. Show that you understand them in depth. Then carefully explain the logic behind your request.”
APPLICATION SUGGESTIONS: Select a relationship in which you sense the Emotional Bank Account is in the red. Try to understand and write down the situation from the other person’s point of view. In your next interaction, listen for understanding, comparing what you are hearing with what you wrote down. How valid were your assumptions? Did you really understand that individual’s perspective? Share the concept of empathy with someone close to you. Tell him or her you want to work on really listening to others and ask for feedback in a week. How did you do? How did it make that person feel? The next time you have an opportunity to watch people communicate, cover your ears for a few minutes and just watch. What emotions are being communicated that may not come across in words alone?
Next time you catch yourself inappropriately using one of the autobiographical responses—probing, evaluating, advising, or interpreting—try to turn the situation into a deposit by acknowledgment and apology. (“I’m sorry, I just realized I’m not really trying to understand. Could we start again?”)
Base your next presentation on empathy. Describe the other point of view as well as or better than its proponents; then seek to have your point understood from their frame of reference.
You’re not sure when you engage in synergistic communication how things will work out or what the end will look like, but you do have an inward sense of excitement and security and adventure, believing that it will be significantly better than it was before. And that is the end that you have in mind. You begin with the belief that parties involved will gain more insight, and that the excitement of that mutual learning and insight will create a momentum toward more and more insights, learnings, and growth.
Then comes brainstorming, where the spirit of evaluation is subordinated to the spirit of creativity, imagining, and intellectual networking.
Sociologist Kurt Lewin developed a “Force Field Analysis” model in which he described any current level of performance or being as a state of equilibrium between the driving forces that encourage upward movement and the restraining forces that discourage it.
When you see only two alternatives—yours and the “wrong” one—you can look for a synergistic third alternative. There’s almost always a third alternative, and if you work with a Win/Win philosophy and really seek to understand, you usually can find a solution that will be better for everyone concerned.
Sound motivation and organization theory embrace these four dimensions or motivations—the economic (physical); how people are treated (social); how people are developed and used (mental); and the service, the job, the contribution the organization gives (spiritual).
Taking time to sharpen the saw is a definite Quadrant II activity, and Quadrant II must be acted on.
Even if it’s raining on the morning you’ve scheduled to jog, do it anyway. “Oh good! It’s raining! I get to develop my willpower as well as my body!”
“Oh good! It’s raining! I get to develop my willpower as well as my body!”
Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context. Writing good letters—communicating on the deeper level of thoughts, feelings, and ideas rather than on the shallow, superficial level of events—also affects our ability to think clearly, to reason accurately, and to be understood effectively.
Sharpening the saw in the first three dimensions—the physical, the spiritual, and the mental—is a practice I call the “Daily Private Victory.” And I commend to you the simple practice of spending one hour a day every day doing it—one hour a day for the rest of your life.
The late Dr. Hans Selye, in his monumental research on stress, basically says that a long, healthy, and happy life is the result of making contributions, of having meaningful projects that are personally exciting and contribute to and bless the lives of others.
“earn thy neighbor’s love.”
the greatest benefit of physical exercise. Each Daily Private Victory makes a deposit in your personal intrinsic security account.
Make a list of activities that would help you keep in good physical shape, that would fit your life-style and that you could enjoy over time. Select one of the activities and list it as a goal in your personal role area for the coming week. At the end of the week evaluate your performance. If you didn’t make your goal, was it because you subordinated it to a genuinely higher value? Or did you fail to act with integrity to your values? Make a similar list of renewing activities in your spiritual and mental dimensions. In your social-emotional area, list relationships you would like to improve or specific circumstances in which Public Victory would bring greater effectiveness. Select one item in each area to list as a goal for the week. Implement and evaluate. Commit to write down specific “sharpen the saw” activities in all four dimensions every week, to do them, and to evaluate your performance and results.
There is an internal sense of the principle of justice or win/win. There is an internal moral sense of the principle of responsibility, of the principle of purpose, of integrity, of respect, of cooperation, of communication, of renewal.
You can pretty well summarize the first three habits with the expression “make and keep a promise.” And you can pretty well summarize the next three habits with the expression “involve others in the problem and work out the solution together.”
- “Was that a deposit or a withdrawal [from your emotional bank account]?”
- “Is that reactive or proactive?”
- “Is that synergistic or a compromise?”
- “Is that win/win or win/lose or lose/win?”
- “Is that putting first things first or second things first?”
- “Is that beginning with the means in mind or the end in mind?”
I’ve seen entire cultures transformed by a wide understanding of and commitment to the principles and concepts symbolized by these very special code words.
All true leadership is based on moral authority, not formal authority. Gandhi never held a formal position. Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela gained their moral authority from years of imprisonment for the sake of conscience.