In Stephen R. Covey
's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
are laid in place to provide for the betterment of oneself through the adoption
of new and prosperous habits as well as the shattering of old and complacent ones.
The author stresses the value of change as a means of self-improvement
on the kind of change that would bring rise to the cultivation of an effective
leader and/or valuable team player in the reader.
He describes habits as the intersection of knowledge, skills, and desire. Knowledge
here encompasses the mental/intellectual capacity a person has for a task -
the "what" or sometimes even the "why". Skills envelop a
person's physical abilities that can be used to accomplish that task - the "how".
Desire represents his or her inward compulsion or need to execute such a task
- the "want". When these three different disciplines come together,
they form habit, "unconscious patterns... that ...constantly express
our character and produce our effectiveness." Certain habits are great
and beneficial to the individuals that possess them. Others, however, do not
provide nearly as much benefit.
In order to start down the road for self-growth, Covey suggests that one must
discover what their bad habits are and break them. This is no easy task. The
first step is to identify what the problem is. Often at times, one may be completely
unaware of there being a problem in the first place but only with this knowledge
can change take place. Secondly, one must determine what actions are necessary
to counteract said problem. If the individual does not have the skill to negate
this vice, then a need to develop one is now presented. The third and most difficult
step involves the agent actually wanting to affect this change. Armed with both
the knowledge and the skill to defeat it, he must also demonstrate the desire
to take the actions necessary to combat his inner demon of a habit.
As such, it is difficult to allow for change to enter our lives, let alone
The nature of change Stephen R. Covey details in his book is illustrated as
a progression through what he refers to as the Maturity Continuum. He
describes it as moving forward through (or growing from) dependency to independency
to interdependency. It is best articulated as the you, I, and we paradigm.
He describes human nature as it develops in the process of aging both mentally
and physically. At first, as a child, there is reliance on a second party to
do things for the individual - a need for you to get things done. Accomplishing
tasks without the assistance or the execution of it by someone else is more
or less out of the question. Then, with adolescence, comes along the ideal of
accomplishing things by oneself - a need for me to get things done. No longer
relying on others to do things for him or her, the departure from complete dependence
on someone else is a marked progression and separation from the previous childish
state. It is a move to adulthood. Though it seems logical for the advancement
scheme to end just there it continues to the stage where the realization is
made that greater things can be accomplished through a cooperative effort -
a need for us to get things done. As we advance in age, it becomes apparent
that, alone, one can only achieve so much; but together, so much more can be
The author of the book presents the seven habits paradigm as a means to continue
along the Maturity Continuum. The first three habits make up what he refers
to as the Private Victory, the logical progression one must undergo in order
to attain some semblance of independence. Covey writes the three habits as "Be
Proactive", "Begin with the End in Mind", and "Put
First Things First." Essentially, he describes independence as the
adoption of the habit of living one's life actively and taking responsibility
for it. Shifting blame and waiting for someone else to do something about one's
own life is demonstrative of the kind of dependence from which one needs to
free him or herself. Be goal oriented, he says. Embracing a purpose and gearing
one's activities towards that objective provides meaning and direction in one's
life. In addition, Cover instructs the reader to go out and do what was set
out to do. Prioritize. Manage time, resources, whatever. Just do it.
The second trio of habits comprises what he calls the Public Victory, moving
forward into the realm of interdependence and working with others. He identifies
these habits as "Think Win/Win", "Speak First to Understand...
Then to be Understood", and "Synergize". The first
habit indicates the importance of thinking of things in terms of mutual benefice.
Good things happen when everyone wins. This is key to an interdependent relationship.
However, what is more important than this is the ability to listen to other
people. Covey goes beyond merely suggesting to the reader the significance of
listening to the other party but also instructs the reader to value what he
or she has to say. Respecting the other's input and comprehending the breadth
of what he or she has to say imparts equal importance on them, which, in turn,
imparts that same importance upon the first individual. Lastly, in attaining
the public victory, the author makes mention of synergy, the rise of a whole
much greater than its component parts. It is of great worth to the individual
(not to mention team) to not only recognize this phenomenon when it occurs but
to allow for it. Creating an environment that can foster synergy is something
that can greatly assist in the developing of healthy and prosperous interdependence
even if it means simply opening the channels of communication.
The last habit that contributes to the seven so celebrated in Covey's work
is what he calls "sharpening the saw". Making sure to take
care of all of the things that go into attaining that interdependence is the
final habit that the author prescribes. It is what he refers to as "personal
PC", alluding to the "P/PC Balance" model of maintaining
the means that provides the ends (presented in the earlier part of the book).
This is demonstrative of his belief that one should not place significance on
the production alone but instead pay equal attention to the production capability
It is not just the bottom line that matters, he says in a manner of speaking.
It is the getting there as well.