Steven R. Covey

One of the all-time popular self-help books, published in 1989. And for good reasons. One is that Mr Covey is a good writer. This book is helping me get into a productive mindset, but not in a selling or preachy manner. Just by being grounded and convincing. I can imagine picking it up once in a while to be inspired by the words again.

If I was asked to boil the book down to two messages, it would be this:

  • Choose and live your personal objectives based on principles (Independence, habits 1-3)
  • Serve others to create higher value for everyone (Interdependence, habits 4-6)

Here are the habits:

  1. Be proactive ― Discover that you are free to choose and how to react. Focus on what is inside your circle of influence. You'll expand it later. Begin to understand that you should build production capacity (PC), not only production (P).
  2. Begin with the end in mind ― What do you want to be remembered for? Write a personal mission statement, including all/most of the roles you perform. Recognize where your center is now, looking into security, guidance, power and wisdom. Visualise and affirm your mission.
  3. Put first things first ― Don't forget doing what matters most (the quadrant of important, but non-urgent tasks). In fact, plan your week and prioritise these tasks. Say no to others, so you make room. Delegate, but to stewards, not gofers.
  4. Think win-win ― It sounds logical, but most of us are actually stuck in (I)win-(you)lose or (I)lose-(you)win thinking. Win-win takes empathy, an abundance mindset and courage. Go for win-win or for No Deal. Specify results (not methods).
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood ― Practice empathic listening with a sincere desire to understand (mirroring without the desire is manipulation), setting autobiographic interpretations aside. Your negotiations will have the right order: ethos (-> credibility), pathos (-> empathy), then logos (-> your reasoning).
  6. Synergize ― Win-win (habit 4) can lead to high-value solutions, but you need to find them in a creative process. Value the differences (for which you need habit 5).
  7. Sharpen the saw ― Working on yourself matters (give this attention in habit 3). Four dimensions: Physical, mental, social and spiritual. As we practice all habits, we continuously cycle through learning, comitting and doing (this really sounds like the Lean Startup approach).

What I did / want to do:

  • I wrote a first draft for a personal mission statement.
  • Since two months, I'm practicing weekly planning.
  • I want to practice thoroughly understanding somebody's position first before mine comes in.
  • In my relationships, I want to develop a practice of servitude, from a strong & grounded center.

It is a long road, as it begins with & is based on principles.

Habits take time to learn. My week planning needed two months of practice to even begin to see how I can make it more useful (limit goals, check back mid-week, evaluate & reflect). My personal mission statement is not convincing me yet.

But somehow I'm still on it and I believe in the approach.


# lastedited 11 Dec 2021
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