Book Review: The 8th Habit-Stephen R.covey

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Disclaimer: All the copyrights belong to the respective author/s of the book. The purpose of the book summary and review is to promote the book and share some of the great points from the work.

Cool Bluez Rating (8.5/10)

A must read for people who want to organize their lives and enjoy their work. Not only this book covers important aspects of management, leadership, team effort and skills involved but special emphasis has been paid to every detail of personal and professional aspects of life that if managed well can improve ourselves, our relations and increase our chances towards progress.

Selected Points From the Book

The fundamental reality is human beings are not things needing to be motivated and controlled; they are four dimensional : Body, Mind, Heart & Spirit.

Everyone chooses one of two roads in life- the old and the young, the rich and the poor, men and women like. One is the broad, well traveled road to mediocrity, the other the road to greatness and meaning.

The path to mediocrity straitjackets human potential. The path to greatness unleashes and realizes human potential. The path to mediocrity is the quick-fix, short-cut approach to life. The path to greatness is a process of sequential growth from the inside out.

Deep within each one of us there is inner longing to live a life of greatness and contribution; to really matter, to make a difference.

You have the potential within you. We all do. It is the birthright of the human family.

All of us can consciously decide to leave behind a life of mediocrity and to live a life of greatness- at home, at work and in the community.

To know and not to do, is really not to know. To learn and not to do is not to learn. In other words, to understand something but not apply it is really not to understand it. It is only in the doing, the applying, that knowledge and understanding are internalized.

Our most important gifts; 1. Our freedom and power to choose. 2. Natural laws or principles which are universal and never change. 3. Our four intelligences/ capacities-physical/economic, emotional/social, mental and spiritual. These four intelligences/capacities correspond to the four parts of human nature-symbolized by body, heart, mind and spirit.

Fundamentally we are a product of choice, not nature (genes) or nurture (upbringing, environment).

The essence of being human is being able to direct your own life. Humans act, animals and human ‘robots’ react.

If there is even a fraction of a second between stimulus and response, that space represents our power to choose our response to any stimulus.

For the body-assume you’ve had a heart attack, now live accordingly. For the mind-assume the half life of your profession is 2 years; now prepare accordingly. For the heart-assume everything you say about another, they can overhear; now speak accordingly. For the spirit-assume you have one on own visit with Creator every quarter; now live accordingly.

Conscience is the still, small voice within. It is quiet. It is peaceful. Ego is tyrannical, despotic and dictatorial. Ego focuses on one’s own survival, pleasure and enhancement to the exclusion of others and is selfishly ambitious. It sees relationships in terms of threat or no threat, like little children who classify all people as ‘He’s nice’ or ‘He’s mean”. Conscience on the other hand, both democratizes and elevates ego to a larger sense of the group, the whole, the community, the greater good.

I commend to you again this simple way of thinking about the whole person (body,mind, heart & spirit) with four basic needs (to live, to learn, to love, to leave a legacy), and four intelligences/capacities (physical, mental, emotional & spiritual) and their highest manifestations (discipline, vision, passion, conscience), all of which represent the four dimensions of voice (need, talent, passion and conscience).

 

Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.

Leadership Management
Leaders are people who do the right thing. Managers are people who do things right.
Leadership is about coping with change. Management is about coping with complexity.
Leadership has about it a kinesthetic feel, a sense of movement. Managing is about handling things, about maintaining order, about organization and control.
Leaders are concerned with what things mean to people. Managers are concerned about how things get done.
Leaders are the architects. Managers are the builders.
Leadership focuses on the creation of a common vision. Management is the design of work, it’s about controlling.


When you develop both strong character and competence, the fruit is wisdom and judgment- the foundation of all great and lasting achievement and trust.

The 4 roles of leadership are simply 4 qualities of leadership=vision, discipline, passion and conscience.

Modeling (conscience) : Set a good example.

Path finding (vision) : Jointly determine the course.

Aligning (discipline): Set up and manage systems to stay on course.

Empowering (passion) : Focus talent on results, not methods, then get out of people’s way and give help as requested.

No matter what issue, problem or concern you have, you can empower yourself by taking initiative in some way.

3 facets of personal character; integrity, maturity and the Abundance mentality.

   

  • The 7 habits of highly effective people:

    Be proactive: We are responsible for our own choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than on moods or conditions.

    Begin with the end in the mind: Shape future by first creating a mental vision for any project, large or small.. don’t just live day to day with no clear purpose in mind, identify and commit themselves to the principles, relationships and purposes that matter most to them.

    Put first things first: Living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the urgent agendas and forces surrounding you.

    Think win-win: Mutual benefit and mutual respect in all interactions.

    Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

    Synergize: Not my way, not your way but a third way that is better than either of us would come up with individually, you optimize and run with strengths and make individual weaknesses irrelevant.

    Sharpen the saw: Renewing ourselves in the four basic areas of life; physical, social/ emotional, mental and spiritual.

    Involve people in the problem and work out the solution together.


Your first job is to get your act together-to create FOCUS in your life, decide what matters most to you. What are your highest values? What vision do you have for your life? What about your work at home as a father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, cousin, son or daughter? What kind of service you would like to give to your community? How are you going to maintain and enhance your health? What about your mind, your growth and development? What about your work? What are your true talents? Where are the greatest needs in your organization and in the marketplace? On what projects and initiatives does your conscience inspire you to take action? How will you truly make a difference in your work?

Even more powerful than visualization, writing bridges the conscious and the subconscious mind. Writing is a psycho-neuromuscular activity and literally imprints the brain.

 Method should work to keep the individual focused on his or her highest priorities.

Identify your most important roles and set goals for the week that are aligned with those values and associated with the roles you have identified.

Put the big rocks in first. If you fill your bowl or your life with pebbles first, and then you have a major crisis with one of your children, a financial or health setback, or a significant new creative opportunity, what are you going to do?

Always think in terms of big rocks first. Determine what is most important in your life and make your decisions based on those very important criteria.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

What is communication like when there is high trust? It’s easy, it’s effortless, it’s instantaneous.

 When trust in present, mistakes are forgiven and forgotten.

 Trust is the glue of life.

Moral authority, trust and bonding can evaporate over time in the absence of making continual deposits, particularly with people we work and live around all of the time. This is so because their expectations are so much higher. With people we haven’t seen for years, we can often pick up where we left off. The trust and bonding and love are restored immediately because there are simply no expectations of continual depositing.

“Lying makes a problem part of the future, truth makes a problem part of the past”.

How you regard and talk about the one in that one’s absence or presence that communicates to the many how you would regard and talk about them in their presence or absence.

Giving negative feedback is the most difficult communication, although it is also one of the needed.

When you do receive feedback, you need to speak explicitly about it and express gratitude for it, however much it may hurt.

 Affirm people. Affirm your children. Believe in them, not in what you see but in what you don’t see- – their potential.

 Trust; is the highest form of motivation.

 Negative attitudes are really a symptom of deeper things going on. People need to feel understood.

 Sometimes you simply have to smile and not obsess about it.

  Be an example and a model and then affirm the worth and potential of other people.

Listening; we have had the least training in. To truly listen means to transcend your own autobiography, to get out of your frame of reference, out of your own value system, out of your own history and judging tendencies, and to get deeply into the frame of reference or viewpoint of another person.

Both people might be looking at the same object may see different things. Talk to your neighbor who sees things differently and to really listen to them until they understand their perspective.

To understand does not mean to agree with. It just means to be able to see with the other person’s eyes, heart, mind and spirit.

After listening to the other person, restate to him or her satisfaction.

Often new ideas are simply squelched by negative energy, self doubt and fear. 2nd problem can occur at production stage where the great idea is not properly executed. This is where new organizations fail. 3rd problems can occur at management stage when the producer either tries to do it all or he or she tries to clone himself or herself. 4th occurs when organization needs to reinvent itself to adapt to changing market conditions or new opportunities but gets so bogged down in it’s own bureaucratic life, rules and regulations that it can no longer meet and anticipate the needs of targeted customers.

Team must have a spirit of mutual respect so that the strengths of each are acknowledged and utilized, and the weaknesses are made irrelevant by the strengths of other.

Five metastasizing cancers; contending, comparing, competing, criticizing and complaining.

Helping people clearly understand and get committed to significant goals requires you to involve them in decision making. Together you determine the destination of the organization (vision and mission). Then everybody in the organization will have ownership in the path that leads to the destination (values and strategic plan).

How do people in your organization perceive market? What are your unique strengths? What are you really good at? What can you be best in the world at? What are you deeply passionate about? What will people pay for?

 Most people have never even decided what matters most to them.

 These questions must be clarified before you can focus.

For the body, the need and motivation is survival- economic prosperity; for the mind, growth and development; for the heart, love and relationships; and for the spirit, meaning, integrity and contribution.

Unless you run your enterprise in a way that produces consistent profits over time, eventually you lose your opportunity to deliver on your mission.

Most businesses focus on margin and meeting the quarterly numbers that they lose sight of the very vision that inspired them to get into business in the first place.

You have to pay the price to know what matters most to these people so that you can plan strategically in a meaningful way.

When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.

Most people don’t know where to focus their time and energy because top priorities aren’t clearly identified or communicated and measured on a compelling scoreboard.

Involve people in the problem and work out the solutions together. When you do, people become emotionally connected to the solution.

Over 90% of all organizational problems are systemic arising because of systems or structures and not caused by people.

The key to alignment is to always begin with the results.

While hiring people, ask what did they really like doing and did well?

 As long as people are contented and happy, they are not going to do much.

“ The best way to inspire people to a superior performance is to convince them by everything you do and by your everyday attitude that you are wholeheartedly supporting them”.

Suppose you have 80% chance of achieving any particular goal with excellence. Add a second goal to their first goal and research shows your chances of achieving both goals drop to 64%. Focus only on few crucial goals.

Distinguish between what is merely important and what is wildly important. A wildly important goal carries serious consequences. Failures to achieve these goals renders all other achievements relatively inconsequential.

 A wildly important goal must contribute to the overall economics of the organization in some direct or indirect way.

Human beings are wired to do only one thing at a time with excellence (or at best just a few), we must learn to narrow our focus. The reality is , far too many of us try to do far too many things.

When players start keeping score, things change. Without crystal clear measures of success, people are never sure what the goal truly is. Without measures, the same goal is understood by a hundred different people in a hundred different ways. Unless you can see the score, your strategies and plans are simply abstractions.

Create a scoreboard for each one with these elements ; current result (where we are now), the target result (where we need to be) and the deadline (by when).

Make the scoreboard visible, dynamic and accessible.

Post the scoreboard and ask people to review it everyday, every week as appropriate.

 Goals will never be achieved until everyone on the team knows exactly what they’re supposed to do about them.

 Unless everyone of the team holds everyone else accountable-all of the time-the process will be dead on arrival.

 Triage reporting: Everyone reports quickly on the vital few issues, leaving the less important issues for another time.

Effective leadership consist of clearing the path of barriers and aligning goals and systems so that others can achieve their goals.

We grow more personally when we are giving ourselves to others. Our relationships improve and deepen when together we attempt to serve our family, another family, an organization, a community, or some other human need.

Over 20% of the present workforce is becoming obsolete and that unless they rededicate and reinvent themselves within a few years, another 20 % will become obsolete.

The more you know, the more you know that you don’t know.

When a person is not dependent upon external judgments and comparisons for his sense of personal worth, he can be genuinely happy for the success of others. But those with a comparison based identity simply cannot be happy when others succeed because they operate out of an emotional deficiency.

Power and moral supremacy emerge from humility.

Moral authority or primary greatness is achieved through sacrifice.

 Exercise of true leadership is inversely proportional to exercise of the power.

When you borrow strength from position, you build weakness in three places; in self, because you are not developing moral authority; in the other, because they become codependent with your use of formal authority and in the quality of the relationship, because authentic openness and trust never develops.

Greatest test of parenthood is how we treat the ones who test us the most.

Sacrifice means to give up something good for something better.

Open your heart emotionally so that you are willing to involve people in the problem and work out solutions together.

 It’s not about “What’s in it for me”, but about “What can I contribute?”.

Life calls out to us to serve those around us whose needs we become aware of. It is in so doing that we find our true voice in life.

Most people passively obey to the authoritarian leader leading them to continue to command and control which in turn justifies the passivity of the followers.

Dysfunctional agreement; where people say yes when they really mean no. It eliminates healthy conflict and spawns resentment, anger, malicious obedience, low trust, low quality and low performance. Such unexpressed feelings never really die-they are buried alive and come forth later in uglier ways.

 2/3rd of all diseases are caused by lifestyle choices that people make.

Break down the presentations you hear or books you read into 4 areas; 1st purpose, 2nd main point, 3rd validation (evidence) and 4th application.

People have to look carefully where they are spending their time and how much time they are wasting, then become mentally disciplined.

People spend half of their time doing things that are not important, even though they are urgent.

 Seeking feedback from other people will fast track our growth and development.

Prayer also can give strength and courage to step back, admit mistakes to others, apologize, recommit and then get back on the track.

What is the impact on the spirit when we stop learning? The conscience first becomes numbed, then dulled and finally silenced. We find the wisdom literature boring and uninspiring, even irrelevant.

 Constantly nourish relationships with other people and with ourselves.

3 ways to develop spiritual intelligence; 1st integrity- being true to one’s highest values, convictions and conscience, and having a connection with the Infinite. 2nd meaning-having a sense of contribution to people and to causes. 3rd aligning our work with our unique talents or gifts and our sense of calling.

 The best way to develop integrity is to start small, make and keep promises, this is how your capacity to make and keep a larger promise increases.

What does my life situation ask of me now; what should I do in my present responsibilities, duties, stewardships, what would be the wise action to take?

Anyone can deliver results for a quarter or two. But the real challenge is to create an organizational culture that can deliver consistent results year after years.

 Sustained, superior performance is a function of two things; what is produced and the capacity to produce it. If organizations focus only on what is being produced (achieving results today) neglecting the capacity to produce it (building capacity for tomorrow) they will soon be without the asset that profits the organization.


The page is a part of Cool Bluez (2011)

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