7 Habits….what stayed with me

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, died last week at 79 from complications of bike accident.

The 7 Habits: With notes by me still inside

I’ve been a “low performer” in the reading of business books but I read the 7 Habits some 20+ years ago and a number of Covey’s points have really stayed with me.  I’d like to share a few that really stand out:

  • In Habit 1, Be Proactive, he wrote about the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence.  I took away from this that you can’t fret every item in your Circle of Concern.  Especially if your Circle of Concern is huge, compared to what you could influence in your Circle of Influence.  This proved very useful with bright, junior team members who worried about other departments, overall strategy etc. when what we could really control was what was in our Circle of Influence.
  • In Habit 3, Put First Things First, I was very struck by his sorting of your day in the office by Urgent/Non Urgent and Important/Not Important.  About how much time could be sucked up by Urgency overall…..including Urgent things which really weren’t that important.
    • Covey’s book came out in 1989 before we were all swamped by email, smartphones etc.
    • I ask myself if I’m as good today at focusing on Important/Not Urgent matters.
    • In my copy of 7 Habits, there’s notations by me making the point about getting organized on a weekly basis.  And I’m sure I was thinking about organizing against Important but not Urgent matters.  We’re all going to get the Urgent stuff done.  Note to self – am I organizing on a weekly basis on what’s important?
  • Under Paradigms of Interdependence, I continue to be struck by the notion of the Emotional Bank Account.  That by doing little kindnesses, you build a reserve that you can draw on when things go awry.  That deposits into the bank account when helping or caring for others pay big dividends over the long run.
    • Habit Four, Think Win/Win, goes hand in glove with this.
    • And Habit 5, Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.  To this day, I try to take a breath and apologize when I cut someone else off in my enthusiasm to “say something”.  I hope I have put a few credits in the Emotional Bank Account along the way.

I know that Covey went on to write more books, sell time management tools via Franklin Covey, and influence management thinking further.  But I’d say that these above lessons (and more) have stood the test of time for me and are worth some further contemplation as I manage my business and engage with friends and family.

How about you?  Were there lessons that stayed with you?  Or did I interest you in picking up The Seven Habits?

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