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Celebrating great ideas

This is not the usual topic I will blog about, but with the death yesterday (July 16, 2012) of author Stephen Covey I wanted to recommend his great book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I read quite a lot on a wide range of subjects, but this book is one of only a handful that I would describe as truly life changing for me.  Since reading it in 1992 hardly a week of my life has gone by in which I have not thought about and tried to apply its core ideas.  Whether I’m thinking about time management (‘Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities’) or working with teams in the midst of transition I return regularly to Covey’s seven habits.  There is more meat in each chapter of his book than I find in most whole books about business.  Here are the seven habits for those who don’t know.

  1. Be Proactive.  Don’t sit around waiting for things to happen to you or feeling powerless to make an impact; instead remember that you are response-able and use your talents and influence to pursue what matters most.
  2. Begin with the end in mind.  Make sure you know what you are striving for and that it is really worth the effort.
  3. Put first things first.  Don’t get swamped in the tyranny of the urgent; instead choose to give time to what is truly important in each area of your life.
  4. Think win-win.  Instead of settling for ‘compromise’ where everyone gives up some of what they want or letting those with more power impose their own opinions, look for solutions that give all of the participants what is most important to them.
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  Listen first, trying to grasp the key concerns of other people before trying to express your own perspective in ways that will make sense to your listeners.
  6. Synergize.  Creative and committed people working together can come up with solutions better than anything that one person would have thought of; draw the best from all your team members without worrying about who gets the credit.
  7. Sharpen the saw.  If you ignore your own physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual needs you will wind up depleted, unhappy, and ineffective.  So make it a priority in your life to choose activities that refresh and stretch you – not just mind-numbing distractions but truly enriching pursuits that give you the focus and vitality you need.

Even writing these now reminds me that I need to keep growing in my practice of these seven habits.  They sound easy, but of course in truth it’s not that simple.


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