A journal of my adventures in learning and growing personally and professionally
A long time ago, at my first consulting job, as part of what I can only guess now was a self improvement effort sponsored by the company two books were handed to each consultant. One was "A discipline for software engineering" a very typical and dry text book on the subject. The second book was "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", also a relatively dry and tough read on the subject. Oddly enough, I still own both books and over the last 10 years have carted them around and made them a permanent part of my library. I can't recall at any point having actually cracked the cover of either book. Ever.
Anyway, I figured that if I was going to start seriously making an effort to make a career shift I should make sure my fundamentals are good. To that end, I consider the concepts of the seven habits to be part of that foundation. I still can't really bring myself to read it but I have gotten the audio book version and in going with the practice of reinforcing things you learn through teaching, I'll share my notes and thoughts on the course with you here virtually and later this week with my wife.
My understanding of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Paradigm - A perspective or role
Habit - An internalized principle; an overlapping of knowledge, skill and attitude or knowing what to do, how to do it, and why to do something and wanting to.
Changing habits involves dealing with the chronic issues as opposed to the acute instance of a problem. The only way to effectively change your habits is to treat the chronic problems. Attempts to only treat the acute issues can result in other chronic issues.
Effectiveness - The P PC balance. P stands for is the production of desired results, PC stands for production capability. Effectiveness is leveraging PC to achieve P.
In any organization there are three basic resources - Physical, Financial, and Human.
If you don't maintain the production capability, short term results of production can not be sustained over time.
Production problems are production capability opportunities.
To improving relationships utilize the following six ways to build the emotional bank account with people:
1. Simple kindnesses
3. Making and Keeping Promises
4. Managing Expectations - Problems come from conflicting role and goal expectations
5. Loyalty - Greater to be trusted and respected than liked.
6. Apologize when you fail in any of the first 5
However, if you focus too much on the PC, this can be a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. There still needs to be a touch point with reality and the goals that you're trying to achieve.
The maturity continuum is visualized with dependency at the low end, independence in the middle, and at the upper end interdependency.
Dependency – This is the attitude of you. Dependant people need others to get what they want.
Independency – This is the attitude of I. Independent people only need themselves to get what they want.
Interdependency – This is the attitude of We. Interdependent people need themselves and others to get what they want.
You can not be effectively interdependent on a team without first being successful at being independent. A dependant person can not effectively communicate if they feel at risk of obtaining their needs or goals due to the dependency on others.
Being independent provides the confidence and foundation to effectively work interdependently with others.
The habits are grouped as character habits (1-3), personality habits (4-6), and reinforcement (7). The habits taken together when applied will take you from dependency to independence, and on to interdependency. This is done through building the foundation of character.
Habit 1 - Be proactive
Take responsibility for yourself. Being proactive allows you to adapt and achieve your desired results regardless of external forces. Being reactive can obscure your goal through the external events that derail your progress.
By keeping the goal or desired end result in focus, you can choose how to respond to external events that would normally stop you in your tracks and keep you from your desires and needs and take control of events rather than let events control you.
Being proactive means having the freedom to exercise the options of liberty. The difference being that liberty means you have many options where freedom is an internal condition that gives you the power to choose.
The first habit, be proactive, is the habit of being aware of your control of how you react and respond. Using the goal or end result as your focal point, you exercise your values and principles to achieve those results.
Habit 2 - Begin with the end in mind (Leadership)
How do you foster being proactive? Develop the mission statement and set up the reward and information system to reinforce your desires identified in the mission statement. Applying principles of leadership focuses you on the goals you want to achieve and provides the feedback loop from the day to day activities so that you can validate that your actions are contributing to your goals.
The mission statement is used as the criteria by which all decisions are made. The mission statement should pertain to your organization and your situation. It centers you around a set of principles, values, and purposes that transcend the day to day.
Two basic ways to get in control of your life:
1. Set a goal and work to achieve it
2. Make a promise and work to keep it
Control of your life builds self confidence which is the first step to independence.
If you were to write your own eulogy, what would you want said about you on in the following aspects of your life:
3. Working Associate
4. Public Servant
Habit 3 - Put first things first (Management)
Taking the results of habit two and making it happen. This habit is your scheduling around your roles and goals to make them happen.
Time Management Matrix:
Quad 1: Important & Urgent (Problems or Crisis)
Quad 2: Important & Not Urgent
Quad 3: Not Important & Urgent
Quad 4: Not Important & Not Urgent
Important means it attaches to habit 2, your mission statement, your roles, and goals.
Urgent is things that are pressing upon you, gives a sense of urgency. For example a ringing phone that demands your attention, may not be important.
I can't think of one activity in my life that if I did superbly well and consistently that would produce 'marvelous' results. This goes for my personal life, work life, or public life.
80% of the results flow from 20% of the activities -- Plato
The fundamental capacity to be able to work in quadrant two is being proactive.
You don't think efficiency with people. You manage things, but lead people.
Habit one (vision) requires self awareness
Habit two (leadership) requires imagination and conscience
Habit three (management) requires willpower
These endowments make up the concepts of character that generate a sense of independence and self reliance. You will build your security off of your integrity to your value system.
Habit 4 - Think Win, Win
The attitude of seeking mutual benefit through communication
This is a philosophy of life that you apply to conflicts, especially when it involves the things that are very important to yourself and/or the people you are interacting with. When you can't achieve a win, win solution, there is another option besides win, lose or lose, win. This other option is the "no deal" solution where both parties agree to disagree.
The basic elements of the win, win agreement:
1. Desired results
5. Consequences (positive and negative results from achievement or failure)
Habit 5 - Seek first to understand, and then to be understood
This is the habit of communication.
Only the unmet need motivates. The key to effective communication is meeting the unmet need of understanding and being understood.
To be able to create the win, win outcome, you must first be able to listen. Really, really listen and understand the perspective of the person you're interacting with. Using what you heard and clearly understood you can then express your feelings and perspective to your target. Once both parties have achieved understanding, you can then develop synergies.
Most people see the world as they are, rather than as the world is. Individuals are not wrong in this view because it is a matter of perspective.
By meeting the need to be understood you are also meeting the need to be appreciated, and people feel validated in their position which opens them up to change win, lose or lose, win situations into win, win opportunities.
Habit 6 - Synergize
Produce new solutions to the differences between us, better than the individual proposed solutions.
Compromise means 1+1 = 1 1/2, when you compromise something is lost from the sum of the parts.
Synergy means 1+1 = 3, 4, or more. When you synergize the result is greater than the sum of the parts.
The significant problems we create can not be solved by the thinking that created them - Albert Einstein
Habit 7 - Sharpen the Saw
This is the habit that is implemented by exercising the four dimensions of human personality to maintain the first six habits.
Four dimensions of human personality:
2. Spiritual (value system)
The key to maintaining these four dimensions is finding a balance to building on each of them consistently.
Some things to remember
The whole history of institutions can be summed up in the following formula:
Challenge is external, Response is internal. If the response is equal to the challenge then you will have success. If the response is obsolete it will lead to failure.
Principles remain, practices change to address different situations. Practices can become obsolete. However, principles are the foundation used to develop practices and can not become obsolete.
Imagine two circles on a page, one circle within the other. The inner circle is representative of your circle of influence, or the things in which you can have a direct affect. The outer circle (which is generally much larger) is your circle of concern. These are things that affect you, but that you do not have any direct control over. The seven habits when applied correctly will focus your activities within your circle of influence.