Stephen Covey’s ‘Habits’ still useful after all these years

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Published on June 14, 2016 with No Comments

“It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it. People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.” These words from the now deceased, Stephen Covey in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” are borne out almost daily in news stories about government, finance or notable people. Of course Covey wrote other books, but this is the one, with the catchy name that just about everyone remembers. It sold 20 million copies in 38 languages perhaps because its lessons are timeless.

In short, the 7 Habits as Covey saw them, are: Be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand, then to be understood, synergize, and sharpen the saw. Most of those are self-explanatory but “sharpen the saw” has nothing to do with getting ready to do any kind of battle. It’s about relaxation. Covey believed that taking time to relax and rejuvenate yourself is an important part of staying sharp in the professional arena. Synergizing is a reference to working in groups or teams to accomplish more than what could be done as an individual. Covey noted that, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” But understanding others continues to be critical to building relationships whether with customers or colleagues. Of course there was an eighth habit. It was in his book, “From Effectiveness to Greatness.” This was all about finding your unique mixture of talent, passion and conscience and helping others to do likewise.

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