Stephen Covey: Seven Habits, Stephen Covey: 7 Habits, Stephen Covey: Seven (7) Habits

Stephen Covey, 7 Seven Habits, Stephen Covey, Seven 7 Habits, Stephen Covey, 7 Seven Habits,

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Martin Luther(?!)

Click on This Line of Text for More on Stephen Covey and The Seven (7) Habits of Highly Effective People

Covey quotes Martin Luther in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Luther is said to have exclaimed one morning on waking: "I have so much to do today I will have to spend an extra four hours on my knees this morning!"

Covey's most important suggestion, in my view, is represented well by this example. In essence it means that there was something drastically different about the way that Martin Luther lived his life, and also the way highly effective people with sound habits presumably live their lives, and the life-style that perhaps most of us now experience.

Covey's second habit is Begin the End in Mind. His third habit is Put First Things First (which implies having spent a lot of time really reflecting on what the "first things" are). But most of us spend the "first" part of a day in a hot subway-car! Is this really a good basis for a day? Does this set our minds up for the kind of directional and well-thought-out day that helps someone get closer and closer to that which they have decided is most important? Or does it truncate our sleep patterns, and result in a morning of confusion.

Of course, a settling-in period once a person has got in the door at work is common enough, and so maybe this can be the period of a Martin-Luther-style "four hours on the knees." The essential point, however, is that what shocks us about the Luther quote is that because he is so busy, he must spend less time acting and more time in psychological preparation or, what our culture calls (inaccurately) inactivity, by which is implied "time-wasting."

Covey's point is that "inactivity" of this sort (though mental activity is hardly necessarily less strenouous than physical activity!) is not time-wasting: on the contrary, the seven habits suggests that careful mental preparation, ideally with pen in hand or word-processor in front of you, careful directing of your own mental patterns so as to eventually make them habits, writing and "scripting" scenarios, thinking hard about what it is that is most important, and about how to bolster rather than damage relationships, is work -- in fact it may be the most important kind of work that a person can spend "the first four hours of the morning" doing.

Certainly this has been my experience of late. I have found that this blog-writing has been very helpful in getting myself to really evaluate what it is that Stephen Covey is trying to get at, and to really let seep in to increasingly deeper layers those aspects of his philosophy that make most sense to me. As such I have spent, perhaps, an inordinate amount of time on this activity. A couple of days ago, however, I turned to finishing my thesis. Unfortunately this meant that my Covey blog-writing fell by the wayside. And I have definitely felt the effects.

It appears that I need the disciplined activity of writing on these seven habits; that my own thought-patterns, when left to drift, do just that: drift! In the end I have to say that our pop culture's emphasis on letting it all hang out, going with the flow, chillin', and gratifying our emotions no matter what, needs to be justified. That is, maybe that is the best way to live life, but, if it is, convince me! At least Covey explains why it is that he believes what he believes, and allows his readers to judge, and assess, rather than simply being blown around by the facts of the historical accident that we live in the early twenty-first century, with its ethos of undisciplined hedonism.
Stephen Covey's Seven (7) Habits of Highly Effective People system requires organizing and planning in detail, and in an ongoing way. Maybe something found by clicking on this line of text might help you with this...
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