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,

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Seven Habits: More on Begin with the End in Mind, and its relationship to Putting First Things First.

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Covey's second and third habits are "Begin with the End in Mind," and "Put First Things First." The first of his habits is "Be Pro-Active." Looking at this a bit more closely, and thinking with "synergy," to use one of Covey's favorite words, we can re-arrange these three habits into one principle: Be pro-active by putting first things first, where the first thing is to begin with the Ends in mind. That is, being pro-active (getting off your backside) should, first and foremost, involve some deep thinking about what is most important to you, what the most effective ways of acting are so that you can approach your goals, and planning, brainstorming, careful thinking and rearranging your ideas and your priorities.

Covey's seven habits system is counter-intuitive to many people. The habits stress over and over the value of planning. This is why we, in our household, are starting to lay aside more time for sitting at the kitchen table with pen and paper, and actually thinking and discussing what it is we want, and how to get what we want. This seems to be a waste or distraction of time, when we could be doing, doing, doing, but the fact is that, once we have started to develop a better idea of what we want, of "where we are heading," then actions are not just fluff, not just treadmilling, but allow for a more contemplative dimension that is invaluable. Life is short. Dont' piddle away your time on things that are less important to you than they may at first glance seem to be.
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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The Seven (7) Habits of Highly Effective People: Living It

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Stephen Covey's Seven (7) Habits of Highly Effective People, like so many thought systems and philosophies, are often easier to read about on paper than to "actualize" in real life situations. In addition to this, his theory is quite complex and involves several different ideas, all of which require considerable effort and skill to practice.

Here is an example. My landlord started doing renovations on our stairwell, which is right next to our bedroom, at eight o' clock this morning, ie., a Saturday. He gave us no warning of this. What is my reaction to be? I assure you that my previous, "pre Covey's Seven Habits" reaction would be to allow myself the sweet joy of justified anger, after which would come guilt and awkwardness.

Covey's introduction stresses however, that there is always a chance to insert some kind of considered thought in between event and "natural" response. So I stopped myself. So far so good.

The Seven Habits, however, is quite subtle... of the habits, three of them are about dealing with interactions with others. So, while I am able to restrain myself, I am still left with the problem of someone making noise outside my bedroom at eight o clock on a Saturday morning, and still need to judge how to handle such an interaction, and it is here that the Seven Habits can give me advice.

The Seven Habits is divided into Private and Public Victory. Within public, or interaction-with-others, victory, there is "Seek first to understand, then to be understood," and there is "Think Win-Win."

The Seven Habits, then, encourages me to say to myself, "I understand that this guy is not a malicious person [which is true], so what could be leading him to act in an apparently jerky fashion." My suspicion is that it is fear... that is, he seems to be too shy to pick up the phone and ask me, ahead of time, if he can do work at this hour. Also, I suspect that he gets the run-around from contractors quite often, and sometimes feels pressured into their schedules.

The Seven Habits, then, helps me calm down and recognise that, in this case, at least, I am not dealing with a jerk or an ogre, but someone who is "inconsiderate by default."

The Seven habits also stresses Win-Win. This does not mean, however, in this case, "Button my lip and let the other person win." But, again, things are more subtle than they first appear. Although Covey stresses Win-Win, he also says that sometimes it is okay to go for Win-Lose if, for example, the relationship is short-term and fleeting, and the energy that would be used up by negotiating out the situation could be better served elsewhere in my life.

The Seven Habits are subtle and complex, then, because this leads me back to the first three habits, two of which are "Begin with the End in Mind," and, having decided what the most important ends for me are, "Put First Things First." That is, given a finite amount of time in a week, or in a lifetime, I should choose my activities according to whether they build towards my long-term goals. In this case, I have no long-term goal to build a good solid relationship with this landlord, because we will be moving in a few weeks anyway. Also, I have lots of other more important things on my plate and in my head. So, in this case, the solution might actually be "Go for Lose-Win," knowing that this situation will terminate itself very soon anyway.

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