A few months ago I re-read Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I decided I needed a refresher since my first reading of it was almost 25 years ago. It is re-inspiring me with so many of its insights, and I thought it might be useful to you for me to share a few of those insights here:
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall.
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm—to forget to plant in the spring, play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest? The farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.
In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do. We all know it. There are people we trust absolutely because we know their character. Whether they’re eloquent or not, whether they have the human relations techniques or not, we trust them, and we work successfully with them.
Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. But, as the demonstration shows, sincere, clearheaded people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.
In the words of Thoreau, “For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.” We can only achieve quantum improvements in our lives as we quit hacking at the leaves of attitude and behavior and get to work on the root, the paradigms from which our attitudes and behaviors flow.
THE WAY WE SEE THE PROBLEM IS THE PROBLEM
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ARISTOTLE
Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase. Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.
There are dozens more great quotes, but these should be enough to stimulate you to dig back into the 7 Habits again (or for the first time). I know you’ll find it worth your time.