September 1, 2008

Quotable Quotes: The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

Sow a thought, and you reap an act.
Sow an act, and you reap a habit.
Sow a habit, and you reap a character.
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
— Charles Reade

The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People changed my life. I saw Stephen R Covey's book in the library in December 1997. I rarely read one book a year but I liked the title and had time during the holidays. This was the right book at the right time. I gave copies to my staff and we discussed the content as a team. Over the years, I took two 3-day seminars (Seven Habits and Principle-Centered Leadership) and saw Covey live twice in daylong seminars. I even got an autographed copy of the The Seven Habits through a connection. I've used a Seven Habits organizer for years. I'm only missing the t-shirt!

Rather than summarizing the Seven Habits, I'll give you an overview using quotations I've collected over the years.

The Habits
Successful people have the habit of doing things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either, necessarily, but their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.
— Albert E Gray

In sequence, the habits are
  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win/win
  5. Seek first to understand, then be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw
Habits 1-3 make you independent. The next three (4-6) make you interdependent (dependent on others). The seventh makes you whole. More recently, Covey added an 8th habit: Find your voice and help other find theirs.

#1: Be Proactive - The Habit of Personal Vision

We have the opportunity to choose who our children's parents will be
Between a stimulus and our response lies our power to choose based on four unique human endowments
  • self-awareness: our capacity to look at ourselves
  • imagination: our ability create with our mind hings we cannot see with our eyes
  • conscience: our internal guidance system
  • independent will: as Mahatma Ghandhi said, "I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet"
Since we can choose our response, we have response-ability.

#2: Begin With The End In Mind - The Habit of Personal Leadership

Plans are worthless, but planning is invaluable
Peter Drucker
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Albert Einstein
When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.
Stephen R Covey
He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear with almost any ‘how’.
--- Friedrich Nietzsche
We create everything twice. A mental creation becomes a physical creation. A blueprint becomes a building. Athletes call this visualization. They see, feel and experience in their minds before doing.

You ask two questions:
  1. What you want to be (your character)?
  2. What do you want to do (your contributions and achievements)?
You develop a creed, philosophy or mission statement to focus on matters (separately) to yourself, your family and your work unit (e.g., department or company). Many mission statements are boring and unmemorable — they look impressive but don't guide daily decisions. Here are better examples:
  • We just try to build and sell the best cares we know how. Then back them up with the kind of service we'd like to get ourselves — Saturn Cars
  • IBM stands for three things: the dignity of the individual, excellence and service.
  • To seek out New Life and New Civilizations — Starship Enterprise (1966)
  • We share. We care. And we wear underwear. — Sharma family with son was age 3
#3: Put First Things First - The Habit Of Personal Management

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.
We are a society of notoriously unhappy people — people who are glad when we have killed the time we are trying so hard to save.
Erich Fromm
You can say ‘No’ and smile only when there is a bigger ‘Yes’ burning inside of you.
Stephen R Covey
It is useless to desire more time if you are already wasting what little you have.
James Allen

#4: Think Win/Win - The Habit of Interpersonal Leadership
If I give you a pfennig, you will be one pfennig richer and I'll be one pfennig poorer. But if I give you an idea, you will have a new idea, but I shall still have it, too.
Albert Einstein

The road is better than the end.
— Cervantes

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?
George Eliot
If you have a scarcity mentality, you think that if someone gets more, you get less. That's true with pizza and Belgium chocolate, not with life itself. With an abundance mentality, you see there's enough for everyone and there's more for all if we work together.

#5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood - The Habit of Communication
He who thinks all mankind is vile is a pessimist who mistakes his introspection for observation.
William George Jordan
Judge men not by their opinions, but by what their opinions have made of them.
— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
If you don’t have confidence in the diagnosis, you won’t have confidence in the prescription.
Stephen R Covey
Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from a corn field.
Dwight D Eisenhower
#6: Synergize - The Habit Of Creative Cooperation
Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization.
Mahatma Gandhi
Simply put, synergy means that 1+1 > 2: the result is more than the individual contributions.

#7: Sharpen The Saw - The Habit Of Self-Renewal

To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.
Mother Theresa

I've been in this business 36 years. I've learned a lot, and most of it doesn't apply anymore.
Charles E Exley
The richest soil, if uncultivated, produces the rankest weeds.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
Joseph Addison

If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
Benjamin Franklin
Sadly, it's often easier to work longer hours than to take time for preventative maintenance, and to keep doing what we're doing rather than to learn a different way.

Will you learn anything radical in the Seven Habits? Probably not. You'll find similar ideas in the works of predecessors like Dale Carnegie and Napolean Hill and contemporaries. I like the way Covey packaged the ideas and explained them in ways that are easy to remember.

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Anonymous said...

I am indebted to Mr Rocky Sombe for Introducing me to the Book it has inspired me to think differently about life ,people and attitudes.Further it has improved my people skills and widened my circle of influence.
Emmanuel Hamatwi Choma Zambia

Anonymous said...

Just finished the course today! Thanks for this summary. Amazing feelings of inspiration upon completion. Excited for the real work to begin! :)