Stephen Covey is a widely respected speaker on management and personal development issues. His book, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, published in 1989 was touted as a best seller, and resulted in the author being sought after to conduct workshops and lecture tours. Based on principles he adapted from his own life experiences Covey explains to the masses that being successful is a goal anyone of us can attain, if we follow certain “habits”.
The seven habits highlighted in the book are, 1) being proactive; 2) beginning with an end in mind; 3) putting first things first; 4) thinking win-win; 5) seek first to understand and then to be understood; 6) synergize and 7) sharpening the saw. While some of these habits are self-explanatory, some require a bit more detail before the nature of the step becomes clear. For example while a person might readily understand that to be more proactive a person needs the ability to control, rather than be controlled, by their environment and that “putting first things first” would mean to complete tasks either when or before they need doing; they might not be so understanding of “synergize” or “sharpening the saw”.
“Synergize” in Covey speak means to create an environment of creative co-operation. Based on the ideas that any whole is greater than the sum of its parts, Covey shows how the synergy between team members for example can enhance the productivity and skill level of the team as a whole.
The seventh habit, “sharpening the saw” is perhaps the one habit least understood. Covey explains that this last habit is about self-renewal where his definition of self encompasses four different parts – the spiritual, mental, physical and emotional self. Covey believes that each one of these parts is subject to renewal, and the way to facilitate that growth in all areas of self is by recognizing the “dead wood” and by improving the positive skill base that the individual is cultivating.
Stephen Covey has gone on to write many more books since this first success, including the more recent 8th successful habit. While his earlier ideas may appear dated to 21st Century readers who thrive on leadership and management self-help books, Covey’s is still an author that commands respect in the field of management and should not be ignored by any new student who aspires to business and personal success.
Covey, S.R., (1989). The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, Free Press: New York