Rereading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Rereading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Approximately 23 years ago I was in the middle of the second of three process improvement program reboots brought on by another bank merger. During the stress of the scenario, I picked up a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.  I was not alone – the copy which I still have as in it 13th printing (Fireside Imprint), nor am I alone now – The 7 Habits sitting at #62 on Amazon’s Best Sellers as of September 15 2013.  The popularity is not only a reflection of timelessness and usefulness of the advice, but also its approachability.  I can pick the book up, and with a bit of reflection, derive value in excess of the effort.

Over the next seven Motivational Sunday entries of the Daily Process Thoughts I am going to provide reflections on my current re-read, habit by habit. I am aware that there have been additions to the original book (for instance, an eight habit), however like the original Star Wars, I think some things are just better “old school.”

For those who are not aware of the book, in The 7 Habits, Dr. Covey lays out seven behaviors of successful people (hence the title).  The book is based on observation, interviews and research; therefore the habits presented in the book not only make common sense, but also have a solid evidentiary basis. One of the reasons the book works is the integration of character and ethics into the principles.  I have written and podcasted on the importance and value of character and ethics in the IT environment many times.

The seven habits are:

  • “Be proactive” – We are responsible for our own lives.
  • “Begin with the end in mind” – Know what you want your life to really mean.
  • “Put first things first” – Exert the will to focus on what is important.
  • “Think win/win” – Seek mutual benefit.
  • “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” – Three words: listen and hear.
  • “Synergize” – Combine ideas and create new alternatives.
  • “Sharpen the saw” – Preserve, enhance and renew yourself.

I have revisited The 7 Habits a number of times as I have renewed and re-invented myself.  I suspect the urge to re-read the book is because it is time to sharpen the saw.  I am looking forward to sharing and discussing the impact with the Daily Process Thought community.