The only person over whom you have direct and immediate control is yourself. The most important assets to develop, preserve, enhance, therefore, are the capabilities. You must cultivate the habits of leadership effectiveness for your - self and doing so will be the single best investment you'll ever make. - Stephen Covey
Every now and then I revisit "The 7 Habits" to be reminded of tools I have used with situations that happen every day in the life of a business owner. It is my intention to help you remember their importance.
Habits 1, 2, and 3 deal with self-mastery and are referred to by Covey as "Private Victories" as they move a person from dependence to independence and are the essence of character growth.
We must become independent before we can fully participate in effective interdependence - (dependent on each other) as the ultimate goal.
Let's explore Habit 1 - Be Proactive
Proactivity is defined as "the power, freedom and ability to choose responses to whatever happens to us, based on our values."
When we are proactive, we recognize the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility and do not blame people or circumstances for what happens to us, who we are, what we have, and what we do.
Proactivity is an internal strength, it is not aggressiveness. It is the combination of integrity and the simple commitment to value or principle that determines your reputation.
We develop our Proactivity in our ordinary day-to-day activities where our values are called into question.
How we respond to events, whether they are simple annoyances or real crises forces us to examine our values.
Proactive people focus on the things they can do something about.
Our circumstances are what we make of them. If life takes a proactive person down a path he does not want to go, he will look around and find this new place as fascinating as the one he left behind.
Stephen Covey suggests for 30 days we practice being a "light, not a judge." Being a light means being an example, a model. Being a judge means being a critic, a faultfinder.
In our every day handling of traffic, insensitive supervisors, or late employees, we can determine where our energies are focused and how effective we are. No blaming, accusing - just work on YOU.
Habit 2 - Begin with the End in Mind
To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. Covey suggests we:
Prepare a Personal Mission Statement which encompasses your personal beliefs and answers questions such as:
What do I want from my life?
What do I value?
What are my talents?
At the end of my life, what do I want to accomplish?
A Personal Mission Statement can be divided into roles we assume in life - work and home.
And then further divided into goals, which Covey believes, are "the building blocks of our mission."
A Personal Mission Statement will ensure the balance between Production and Production Capability, which impacts the effectiveness of every aspect of our lives.
You will become self-aware and unlike the farmer in Aesop's fable of the goose and the golden egg, you will not sacrifice one for the other.
Your visualization of your unique talents and areas of contribution you will become self-aware and unlike the farmer in Aesop's fable of the goose and the golden egg, you will not sacrifice one for the other.
Your visualization of your unique talents and areas of contribution will enable you to create the end you desire.
Covey encourages us to begin today to visualize "the image, picture or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criteria by which everything else is examined."
This will help us to keep on track and ensure that our daily activities contribute to the vision we have of our life as a whole.
Habit 3 - Put First Things First
The last Habit of the "Private Victories" involves personal management and organizing our efforts and the efforts of others.
Our author believes that when we-Put First Things First, we use our independent will to achieve our goals and fulfill our mission.
In promoting Habit 3, Covey focuses on the demands of our time and how we can better understand and utilize this precious commodity. While using a Time-Management Matrix, he breaks down our time demands in to four categories:
Important (things that serve our mission);
Unimportant (things that do not);
Urgent (things that have a pressing deadline);
And Non-urgent (things that do not).
From here we determine what activities we perform that will keep us proactive, productive, and in control of our life.
Stephen Covey has dedicated his life to making us effective in every role we play. Through two Principles of Organization, he has shown us the way to greater effectiveness. Let's review them.
The first principle of organization is scheduling and Covey suggests:
Organizing and executing our time and efforts according to priorities.
The key to scheduling is weekly planning.
Planning is most effective when we move from the "top-down." From general to specific, from values to daily activities.
The second principle of organization is delegation, where we enroll the efforts of others.
Covey recommends what he calls, "Stewardship Delegation", where the parties have a clear, up-front, mutual understanding and commitment to:
Desired results: allowing them to determine the best methods and means within established guidelines.
Guidelines - correct principles summarized in the form of standardized procedures.
A clear, up-front, mutual understanding and commitment to:
Resources - human, financial, technical, or organizational that can be drawn upon to accomplish the desired results within the specified guidelines.
Accountability - a performance plan developed by all parties.
Consequences - upfront positive and negative results of an activity.
When you begin to put these principles into your life, you will have what Covey calls an "Aha!" experience when things begin to click into place.
Next month we will revisit Habits 4, 5, 6 & 7, Public Victories. Until then I leave you with this:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
Barbara Hickey of Mableton is a community volunteer and owner of The Etiquette School of Atlanta.