This article is the 3rd in a series on the seven habits of highly effective people as outlined by Stephen Covey. This article covers habit numbers five and six, which are to think win/win and to synergize.
Habit Number Five: Think Win-Win
This habit is developing a pattern of choosing a solution that is beneficial for both yourself and your partner – whether that partner is your spouse or business client. Essentially, the habit is utilizing the gifts of life for everyone, not just for yourself.
This habit is closely related to the last habit of seeking to understand others. Without listening to the deeper communications, often unexpressed, needs of others, it’s hard to meet with that person authentically. When there is a true meeting of two people, there is a feeling of authenticity, connection, of being heard and understood. With this, there is a greater opportunity to recognize the greater picture and the people in it. A win-win solution is more accessible when each party understands the circumstances they are in.
Furthermore, there is often a tendency to feel as though we are successful when others fail. When you get the raise and your co-worker does not, it’s easy to believe that you must be more successful. However, thinking in those terms feeds a sense of lack. There is only so much pie to go around. There is only so much money to be had.
Yet, a different perspective than being competitive is being cooperative. According to Covey, win-win is having a mindset that seeks to be mutual beneficial in all human interactions. It means agreements and solutions that are satisfying to all. Everyone gets to eat the pie!
Covey further explains that someone with a win-win attitude likely possesses the following:
- Integrity – Staying with your true feelings, values, and commitments.
- Maturity – Expressing your ideas and feelings with courage while considering the ideas and feelings of others.
- Abundance – Believing that there is plenty for everyone.
It’s common to think in terms of either/or, lack, and competition. This habit aims to transform those patterns of thinking into win-win thoughts, such as those that are of cooperation, shared benefits, and abundance, that there is enough for all.
Habit Number Six: Synergize
When you’ve got the other five habits in place and your life is beginning to look like a reflection of them, perhaps you can then call in others to join you. This habit is based on the idea that two minds are more powerful than one.
Synergy means the interaction or cooperation between two or more people or organizations to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of its parts. To synergize is to do just that. It is the habit of creatively cooperating with others to achieve the desired outcome. It is the pattern of working together, building teams, and accessing the power of a group working towards a certain endeavor.
To synergize it to intentionally engage in a process where people bring their expertise and personal experiences to the table. Synergy isn’t something you can plan; it’s a process, however, that you can build. In other words, you can bring all the ingredients together to create a synergistic experience, such as inviting friends, family, co-workers in one room to discuss solutions. The genuine interaction among participants can eventually create that experience of synergy. The differences between everyone in the room are precisely what feed a synergistic experience.
It’s easy to want to keep things simple and manageable by keeping things the same. The habit to build is to allow the differences among people to flourish rather than fearing them and as a result managing them into sameness. As Stephen Covey puts it, “Many people mistake uniformity for unity, sameness for oneness.” He continues, “Differences should be seen as strengths, not weaknesses.”
As mentioned at the start of this series, habits grow character and to cultivate a character of excellence, weave each habit into your life to develop and grow a personal and professional life of excellence.
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