I have decided to start with this text as simply far too many people have said to me I should - it clearly has an enormous following of people who found the message rang true for them.
In the introduction to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Covey talks about how we perceive reality based on certain beliefs or paradigm.
As an example, he tells the story of a ship in a fog, apparently on a collision course with another craft. The captain, having become quite agitated at the other crafts refusal to alter course, experienced a significant paradigm shift when it was realised that the other craft was a lighthouse. The captain then faced a situation in a new light(no pun intended). His reality and behaviour altered by the new understanding. The message is that often we forget that what we think is reality, is only what we see. Just ask any magician!!
A strong thread through this first section is that people don't do things to you. They are acting on their reality in the same way as you are seeing motives behind their actions based on what you can see. When the feeling of being "done to" rises we too often look to blame something external. What Covey is saying, is that only by understanding the perceived reality of the do'er, can we find the common reality necessary to both appreciate the true middle ground.
This is not easy. When I have been in the position where I was sure someone was doing something just to get back at me, I struggle to even consider their position in any unfiltered light. I have needed someone I trust to take me aside and say "Listen Steve, no matter what you think, this person is doing this because they truly believe it for the good of the group". This was something I would not even had heard from the person in question, and frankly was not that easy to hear from my then trusted coach. Covey has a great quote "What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot her what you say" -how many times has that been the case?
He speaks of an "inside-out" approach to problems, that means to start with ourselves and what?s happening on the inside. As an example this approach says that private victories precede public ones, that keeping promises to ourselves precedes keeping promises to others.
"Character is a composite of our habits"
"habits are the intersection of Knowledge, Skill and Desire."
These statements under pin the rest of the book.
Covey talks about three levels of maturity. Dependence where everything is about "you"(someone else) that we are dependent upon. Independence, where its all about I - I am responsible and I can do it. This is where I feel many leaders stop. With the confidence of only themselves they try to drive others to their dreams.
Interdependence is where its all about we. Being a natural introvert, this is something I have to learn. I am far more comfortable doing my stuff on my own. The thought of having to rely on others for part of my dreams does not feel natural. That may be a bit harsh, in fact there are a few individuals I have worked with where is has not been an issue of leadership, more of partnership. My issue is to expand these to a wider number of people.
Covey talks about how interdependence can feel like dependence and therefore not a step forward. Often phrased as "doing their own thing" or being liberated people move back from potential interdependence to independence.
The rest of the book is divided into three main parts. The first three chapters deal with taking people from dependence to independence. Now if you are like me, you think this is a step you have already taken. This maybe so, but these chapters are going to heighten our self awareness and cement us at or above the level of independence. Covey describes these as "Private Victories".
Habits four to seven are the "Public Victories" that will move us from independence to interdependence, and the last habit is about continuous improvement.
Covey then talks about efficiency as the necessary balance between return and investment. Or as he calls it Production and production Capacity (P/PC). An interesting quote here for me was "..always treat your employees as you would have them treat your best customers." He speaks of how you can employ people but the extra special part of the individual has to be won, passionate employees are there for more than the money, is the way I see it. This is where the interdependence and trusting those you work with all starts to come together.
The final message of the introduction is:
"No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside".
For me this is a moment of commitment. I feel that I have a choice here and now. I can leave the gate closed and go on as before, or open it and dive into the rest of this text... "and see how deep the rabbit hole goes" as Morpheus said.
Be brave, be famous.
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