This is the last article in a series on the seven habits of highly effective people. These habits were outlined in a book written by Stephen Covey, which was a large success for people all around the world. This article will provide a description of the last habit, which is to Sharpen the Saw. But first, below is a brief summary and review of the first six habits.
Habit One: Be Proactive – Proactive people work on those conditions in their life that they can change. They focus on a circle of influence, those people and things that they can reach. Proactive people spend little energy on worrying about those things they have no control over.
Habit Two: Begin With the End in Mind – Having a vision, developing a plan, and writing out a mission statement – even a personal one – can provide you with a sense of where you are going compared with where you are now. Then, you can move in the direction you want to go by taking small steps everyday.
Habit Three: Put First Things First – The third habit is a form of self-management. It’s having the ability to organize your life and set priorities. Covey makes the point that it’s easy to think that we need to manage our time. Yet, we all have the same amount of time and it remains constant, no matter the choices we make. Instead, the deeper challenge is to manage us.
Habit Four: Seek to Understand versus to Be Understood – Covey points out that empathic listening is putting money in the emotional bank accounts of others. The main point to empathizing is to deeply understand and feel the reasons why your business partner or spouse or child or client is responding the way he is. When you can feel and understand his or her point of view, you meet a deep psychological need and you fill the emotional bank account that so many people have empty. Furthermore in business, it’s important to keep in mind that if you want someone to seriously consider your point of view, be certain he feels you have seriously considered his.
Habit 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.
Habit Six: Synergize – 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.
Habit Seven: Sharpen the Saw – This could be the most important skill – tending to your own needs. Just as you would tend carefully to the needs of your children or even to an old, antique and valuable car you have in the garage, the same is true for yourself. Covey suggests that you keep in mind the four major areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. “As you renew yourself in each of these four areas, you create growth and change in your life.” Physical renewal means eating right, exercising, and resting. Social and emotional means making connections with others; mental means learning, reading, writing, and teaching; and spiritual means spending time in nature and having a practice that supports your spiritual expansion.
You might see how all of these together can create a life of excellence, and that’s exactly the aim of these seven habits. They’re not only meant to make you effective; they’re meant to build a character of brilliance, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
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