by Steve Fawthrop, VP Agency Growth
Referencing an old file I saw a profile on Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, noting his death. Covey was severely injured when hit by a car, as he rode his bike, April 2012, and died in July.
Hard to believe it has been 10 years.
His 7 Habits book, when published, had a broad impact in business and in general, becoming a standard in the personal development field. Over 41 million copies have been sold and it has published in 40 languages.
In 2011 Time ranked it among “The 25 Most Influential Business Management Books of All Time.” While certainly nice to make such a selective list, Covey’s book was not explicitly about management or leadership in business, but focused on self-management in whatever role someone has in an organization, community and with family and friends.
To note, the columnist, whose file I kept, also made a nice reminder that the sub-theme of the book was “Restoring the Character Ethic.”
Reading the story I realized Covey did not publish the book until he was 57 years old. This gives me hope I still have a great book on business or personal development up my sleeve.
While top-of-mind let me make a brief revisit. The book, along with his related writings, will be referenced well into the future.
Let’s first start with how he defined a habit:
“For our purposes, we will define a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why. Skill is the how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.”
Covey added: “The 7 Habits are not a set of separate or piecemeal psych-up formulas. They work in concert with each other.”
Highlighting the Habits
HABIT ONE. Be Proactive – The habit of individual responsibility, the principle that while we can’t always control what happens, we can choose our response: we need not feel powerless, trapped or victimized.
HABIT TWO. Begin with the End in Mind – The habit of personal leadership, of discovering a personal mission and living out of a sense of purpose.
HABIT THREE. Put First Things First – The habit of personal management, of operating from priorities that flow from mission, roles and goals.
The first three focus on establishing your self-management while the next three focus on your external interactions.
HABIT FOUR. Think Win-Win – The habit of interpersonal leadership and mutual benefit.
HABIT FIVE. Seek First to Understand (and then to be understood) – The attitude and skill cultivated by all successful professionals as it is a key to influence.
HABIT SIX. Synergize – The habit of creative cooperation that comes from exploring constructive alternatives, valuing differences of opinion and seeking objective feedback.
HABIT SEVEN. Sharpen the Saw – The habit of self-renewal, of implementing a daily total fitness program that rejuvenates the mind and body and enhances capabilities.
Covey stressed that combining the habits and applying them with consistency, as noted in Habit Seven, creates the effect of an upper spiral of character development.
He added, “In harmony with the natural laws of growth, they provide an incremental, sequential, highly integrated approach to the development of personal and interpersonal effectiveness. They move us progressively on a Maturity Continuum from dependence to independence to interdependence.”
A Wikipedia summary adds:
“Covey coined the idea of abundance mentality or abundance mindset, a concept in which a person believes there are enough resources and successes to share with others.
He contrasts it with the scarcity mindset (i.e., destructive and unnecessary competition), which is founded on the idea that, if someone else wins or is successful in a situation, that means you lose; not considering the possibility of all parties winning (in some way or another) in a given situation.
Individuals with an abundance mentality reject the notion of zero-sum gains and are able to celebrate the success of others rather than feel threatened by it.
Since this book’s publication, a number of books appearing in the business press have discussed the idea. Covey contends that the abundance mentality arises from having a high self-worth and security (see Habits 1, 2, and 3), and leads to the sharing of profits, recognition and responsibility. Organizations may also apply an abundance mentality when doing business.”
A good summary in that I agree Covey had an abundance mindset. He did not coin the term, though. The “New Thought” movement has emphasized it in different writings since the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Covey mainstreamed the philosophy into the modern work environment at a time when the Baby Boomer generation was the core of the workforce, ages 25 to 43, when the book was published in 1989.
His points remain foundational and valuable for those who have entered adulthood since then because, as he emphasized, he was addressing timeless values.
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