I was saddened with news of the death of the inspirational role model and teacher Stephen Covey. His book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sold over 20 million copies and was listed as one of ‘The 25 most influential management books’ by the Times in 2011.
I first heard about Stephen Covey in the mid 1990’s, at a management development course I was attending where many of the course elements were based on this book. The material grabbed me instantly and I went out and bought the book straight away. Perhaps it was just the right timing for me at that point in my life, but this book acted as a catalyst to spur me on a personal development journey that has continued ever since.
I particularly like the way the core principles are distilled into such simple concepts. You could say it’s just good common sense isn’t it? – but as you know ‘common sense isn’t necessarily common practice’. Here’s my interpretation of the 7 Habits:
1. Be proactive – take action and do what needs to be done, rather than waiting for things to happen around you.
2. Begin with the end in mind – have a clear sense of where you want to be heading, that way you’ll put your energy into doing the things that will help get you there.
3. Put first things first – keep your eye on the important stuff (the things that will move you in the direction you want to be heading) rather than just the more immediate urgent matters or unnecessary distractions that can easily take up all your time.
4. Think win-win – it’s not just about what’s good for you, but keep the other person’s needs in mind too, working on the assumption that a mutually beneficial solution is possible.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood – keep an open mind and be prepared to really listen and understand the other’s perspective before putting your own point across.
6. Synergize – respect differences and working together you can create something that can be far better than if done individually.
7. Sharpen the saw – avoid getting caught up with endless ‘busyness’ and ensure you take time out to re-energise. Even your mobile phone won’t work endlessly, you need to recharge it to ensure you don’t get caught out with a flat battery. So why should you expect your body and mind to continue without pausing to recharge.
Stephen Covey’s contribution to the fields of personal and business development will have a long lasting impact. It certainly has for me… Thank you Stephen.