When I got on Facebook yesterday (after spending the weekend “sharpening my saw”), I was surprised to see that Dr. Stephen Covey had passed. I plan on making a list of the most influential people in my life at some point and Dr. Covey will definitely be on that list. I’ve read, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, “Principle Centered Leadership” as well as “The 8th Habit.”
I think that “Seven Habits” is the book I have read more times than any other book. Although I’m not sure I’ve ever actually read it cover to cover, I have read every word many times.
I wanted to write something about Dr. Covey and his influence on me, so I decided to write about the three habits that have been most influential in my life. It was hard to pick just three, because I sincerely believe in all seven, but these three have really influenced me.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
I learned in the corporate world how to successfully manage large initiatives and managed many of them very successfully. The biggest thing I learned was to ASSUME NOTHING. Never make assumptions that “Henry has it” or “Suzie will figure it out.” That doesn’t work. You have to BE PROACTIVE. That is the only way you can be successful at anything.
I’ve taken this lesson from my corporate experience and applied it to my business. There is such a tendency to say, “This didn’t work because Frank didn’t do his part.” Forget that. Don’t blame. MAKE SURE that Frank does his part. That’s what being proactive is all about. You can’t wait for others to take action or notice something, or do something, you have to MAKE IT HAPPEN.
When I mastered that, I mastered management of projects in the corporate world and I mastered DOING STUFF in general.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
I am building a lifestyle, not a business. That means that everything I do has to be in alignment with the lifestyle I want. For instance, I would never build anything into my business that requires me to be present or do something personally on an ongoing basis. I do plenty, but everything I do is about building my business, not working in it.
There is simply no way I could do this if I didn’t “Begin with the End in Mind.” The END in my mind is what drives every decision I make. It makes me think a lot less about today and a lot more about tomorrow, allowing me to make the decisions that take me to the place I want to be tomorrow. Without that perspective, each decision you make is arbitrary and probably just reflects how you feel or what you want at that very moment.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
I cannot put into words how well “shutting up” has served me throughout my life. There is so much perspective to gain and so much to be learned by simply keeping your damn mouth shut and listening. This is hard one to learn (especially in your late teens or early 20’s) but a really important one.
At some point early in my corporate career, I really learned how to listen. I learned how to be open to what people say and really understand what they are saying. That all starts with listening. I’ve found that when you really listen and understand what people are saying, you eliminate arguments and disagreements. What happens is that you discover that frequently a disagreement is actually just two different perspectives, values, or goals regarding the situation. Understanding that certainly doesn’t solve all disagreements, but there will never be a solution until you have mutual understanding.
Thank you, Dr. Covey
Thank you Dr. Covey for sharing your experience and insights with the world and affecting so many lives in a hugely positive way. I build Braveau Experts to unite people like you with the people who can benefit from their teachings. I hope to, in some small way, honor your great influence on the world by enabling experts to get their teachings into the hands of people who can benefit from them.
Tell me in the comments below how Stephen Covey has affected your life.