The late Dr. Stephen Covey synthesized the common patterns in the leaders he studied and worked with in his 1989 best-seller, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
At the core of his message is the belief that the way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions. In order to change any given situation, we must change ourselves. And, in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.
Put simply, in the context of this crisis:
In order to change/improve the state of things during this crisis, we must change/improve ourselves first.
In order to change/improve ourselves, we must change/improve our perceptions.
“The way we see the problem is the problem.”
To undergo a paradigm shift and upgrade ourselves fundamentally, we must go beyond the surface level and alter our behavior for the long-term.
This is where the habits (7) come in:
- Be Proactive
- Begin with the End in Mind
- Put First Things First
- Think Win-Win
- Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
- Sharpen the Saw
2. Begin with the End in Mind
Start with a clear destination in mind.
It is easy to fall into the hamster wheel of busyness – working hard to achieve small successive victories: promotions, higher income, more recognition. It is more difficult to evaluate where all these victories are leading us.
Beginning with the end in mind, starting with a clear destination allows is to make sure the steps we are taking are in the right direction we have charted out ourselves.
“It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”
When we have the end in mind at all times, this newfound self-awareness empowers us to shape our own lives, instead of living by default or according to the standards and preferences of others.
Management is about optimizing for efficiency. Leadership is about setting the right strategic vision for your organization in the first place, and asking, “What are we really trying to accomplish?”
Covey explains that our own personal values guide most of our actions and will be at the heart of what end-destinations we chart out and how we get there.
Our values are greatly influenced by whatever we have placed at the center of our life. The center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
Family-centered – Your security is founded on family acceptance and fulfilling family expectations; your actions are limited by family models and traditions.
Money-centered – Your personal worth is determined by your net worth; profit is your decision-making criteria.
Pleasure-centered – You make decisions based on what will give you the most pleasure; you see the world in terms of what’s in it for you.
Faith-centered – Your security is based on your faith/religion activity and the esteem in which you are held by those in authority and influence in your religious community; you find identity and security in religious labels and or the religious values of your faith.
Self-centered – Your security is constantly changing and shifting; you view the world by how decisions, events, or circumstances will affect you.
Because our centers are so fundamental to our daily decisions, actions, motivations and interpretations of events – the optimal life centers must be principle-based (unchanging principles) – to give us the guidance we need to align our behaviors with our beliefs, values and actions.
The crisis has slowed down, if not stopped, all the busyness. This is the time to chart out a new course – one of your choosing.
Start with the end in mind – Visualize your own funeral and answer these questions:
Who is there?
What are they saying about you?
About how you lived your life?
About the relationships you had?
What do you want them to say?
How would your priorities change if you only had 30 more days to live?
Start living by these priorities.
Break down the different key roles in your life (Father, Husband, Leader etc.). These are the basis for your life-centers – now identify the timeless principles you will live by for each one of these roles.