Inside-Out: The Change Starts from Within
Our character is a collection of our habits, and habits have a powerful role in our lives. Habits consist of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge allows us to know what to do, skill gives us the ability to know how to do it, and desire is the motivation to do it.
The Seven Habits move us through the following stages:
Dependence: the paradigm under which we are born, relying upon others to take care of us.
Independence: the paradigm under which we can make our own decisions and take care of ourselves.
Interdependence: the paradigm under which we cooperate to achieve something that cannot be achieved independently.
Much of the success literature today tends to value independence, encouraging people to become liberated and do their own thing. The reality is that we are interdependent, and the independent model is not optimal for use in an interdependent environment that requires leaders and team players.
To make the choice to become interdependent, one first must be independent, since dependent people have not yet developed the character for interdependence. Therefore, the first three habits focus on self-mastery, that is, achieving the private victories required to move from dependence to independence. The first three habits are:
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Change starts from within, and highly effective people make the decision to improve their lives through the things that they can influence rather than by simply reacting to external forces.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Develop a principle-centered personal mission statement. Extend the mission statement into long-term goals based on personal principles.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Spend time doing what fits into your personal mission, observing the proper balance between production and building production capacity. Identify the key roles that you take on in life, and make time for each of them.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Seek agreements and relationships that are mutually beneficial. In cases where a “win/win” deal cannot be achieved, accept the fact that agreeing to make “no deal” may be the best alternative. In developing an organizational culture, be sure to reward win/win behavior among employees and avoid inadvertantly rewarding win/lose behavior.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
First seek to understand the other person, and only then try to be understood. Stephen Covey presents this habit as the most important principle of interpersonal relations. Effective listening is not simply echoing what the other person has said through the lens of one’s own experience. Rather, it is putting oneself in the perspective of the other person, listening empathically for both feeling and meaning.
Habit 6: Synergize
Through trustful communication, find ways to leverage individual differences to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Through mutual trust and understanding, one often can solve conflicts and find a better solution than would have been obtained through either person’s own solution.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Take time out from production to build production capacity through personal renewal of the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Maintain a balance among these dimensions.