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Book Summary:7 Habits Book Summary


Paradigms And Principles

The Power of a Paradigm Shift: Part 1: Paradigms And Principles

A paradigm shift takes place when your perception of a situation changes. For example; if a guitar instructor were to ask a student to reverse rolls and teach them the scale they’d been working on, as if the student were the one giving the lesson, this would encourage some students to become better learners.

Sometimes in a frustrating situation, all that is needed is a shift in perceptions. Once this perception/paradigm shift takes place the frustration experienced just prior to the shift can evaporate or morph into something far more positive, depending upon what the new perception is.

It is pointed out here that the USA was founded on the premise of a paradigm shift. Rather than Kings running the country the change in paradigm came in the form of a government set up by the people for the people. As we know today; this shift in the paradigm brought about by America’s founders has resulted in an environment of endless opportunity within the borders of the United States, even today!

The Power of a Paradigm: Part 1: Paradigms And Principles

“So “what is a Paradigm,” you may ask? Under this heading, we discover that it is a model or map. With regard to people, Paradigms are internalized maps or models based on our own life experiences.

Mr. Covey writes that our internalized maps are based on what we perceive the world around us to be. Depending upon how your experiences have caused these maps to be written will determine your reactions and interactions with the world around you.

Under this heading, it is pointed out that, because our internal maps/paradigms are merely perceptions shaped by experiences rather than actual facts, we are really subjective most of the time. Stephen tells us here that this holds true even though we may feel that we are viewing things in an objective fashion. “Yes,” there are facts in every situation but our own life experience can have a greater influence over the interpretation of what the sum of the facts really are more than we realize. A suggested way of compensating for this is to expand our horizons by talking to as many other people about a topic as we can. If we do this we will, at the very least, have a wealth of input from other people about that topic, based on their perceptions of it, if not a greater depth of understanding of it for ourselves.

Primary and Secondary Greatness: Part 1: Paradigms And Principles

The philosophy here is that the personality-based teachings of the past fifty years, although useful and important to some extent, are only secondary and short-term solutions that do not work over a long period of time. Thinking positively, knowing how to manipulate people into liking you or doing what you need them to do for you (or even each other) is certainly useful, “Yes.” However, when it comes to enjoying long-lasting relationships it is who you are (your character) that will make for far greater Cinergy in a relationship between two people of quality integrity than any teaching based upon personality or social imagery could ever hope to achieve.

The Personality and Character Ethics: Part 1: Paradigms And Principles

Under this heading, Stephen Covey explains to us that he had studied successful material that had been published in the United States of America from 1776 forward. He tells us that he noticed in this material that up until World War One the material taught success principles that were based on things like, integrity, humility, loyalty, and patients. Prior to World War one; we are told by Mr. Covey that other things along those lines were emphasized, which would be considered traits of character rather than personality, as well.

However, Stephen shares with us here that, by the time World War Two was over, things were changing to a more artificial concept of success. This change was geared more towards manipulation of others and using techniques to get out of other people the things one wants. And, “When you stop and think about it,” he certainly does have a point. These days, when you read a lot of the available material teaching principles of success; the more honest universally acceptable approach of working on one’s own character and moving towards success with integrity isn’t too heavily emphasized.

Stephen points out that if one is taught to conduct themselves based on positively instilled character traits and principles they tend to move through life more freely because their image of self is more solid. Can you imagine for a moment that what you do is good enough based on what you feel you want to accomplish rather than what someone else feels you ought to accomplish? If you can then you are on the right track to understanding what Mr. Covey is saying here.

A person who has a strong character ethic can move ahead of the crowd more easily because it matters not what the crowd thinks of them. Their own satisfaction with the accomplishments they achieve in life is the only true thing that does matter. “The crowd’s opinion is just senseless noise!”

We Will Start With The Inside Out Approach: Part 1: Paradigms And Principles

Right off the bat; Mr. Stephen R. Covey tells us in his book, “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People,” that it’s never really a question of changing other people and their behaviors but more a question of changing ourselves. Is your career going well while your social or family life suffers? Is your marriage falling apart or perhaps your kids aren’t willing to listen to you? Perhaps; no matter what you do, nothing you do or say seems to help a loved one in a difficult situation?

In Short; are you living with the feeling that life could be so much better if the people around you would change?

Mr. Covey suggests in this first little section, of many in his book, that things certainly would be better if the people around us weren’t the ones we were wishing to change. That’s right! You’ve just read that correctly!

Stephen suggests that the best way to effect change in our environment is to seek to change ourselves. As a good first place to start; he tells us that we can start by checking our motives plus current actions to see if they are in line with our values and principles.


Public Victory
The Habits Of Interdependence: Part 2: Public Victory

At this point in his book; Mr. Stephen Covey tells us that we need to keep emotional bank accounts in mind as we move on to read more about public victory. He explains that this will play an important part in our interactions with other people as we move forward, starting with Habit Four! Are you ready? Get set! Ok! Let’s Go!

The P Problems Are PC Opportunities: Part 2: Public Victory

Mr. Covey writes; if people learn to see problems with other people as opportunities to further build a relationship, the whole dynamic of the interaction changes. In short; if one approaches a problem with another person from the angle that it’s just another situation that needs to be solved, rather than seeing it as an opportunity to build a relationship, the results are mediocre at best, if good at all. Stephen tells us that this is true in both business and personal life.

The Laws Of Love And Life: Part 2: Public Victory

We have all been in the situation where people do things through action or decision that displeases us. However, I’m pretty sure that we can all agree that the action doesn’t always make the person. Unfortunately, however, the natural tendency is to base our feelings about a person upon the action they have made that caused us so much disquiet. Hence the term, “Conditional Love,” is born.

Mr. Covey points out under this heading that we can separate how we feel about the negative action from how we feel about the person who performed it and still preserve feelings of love (unconditional) in this way. If they are doing things that are way out of line we can set boundaries, we can talk to them about what they are doing, and perhaps even make the decision to step away from them in a loving positive manner without degrading them as a person. Hence the term; Unconditional Love! Pretty cool huh?

However, please do keep in mind, not everything people do that we dislike is bad. We just don’t agree with what they are doing. If we can allow them to go about their business without projecting judgments onto them we will have earned a good amount of credit once again in the emotional bank account we have with them.

Deposit Suggestions: Part 2: Public Victory

Understanding another person is certainly one of the most important emotional deposits we can all make into the emotional account we have with another person. It’s not just getting to know them that is going to do the trick. It is really knowing them and being interested in what is important to them that does it. However, Stephen writes here that what they are interested in has to be as important to us as what they themselves are to us. It’s not enough to simply show interest in their interests. It needs to be just as genuine as our interest in them as a person.

The Emotional Bank Account: Part 2: Public Victory

We all know about the kinds of bank accounts one can open at a bank. However, Mr. Covey is writing here about the type people have with us and we with others.

An emotional bank account is filled with things that one person can do for another that is good. These are things like listening; offering help, empathy, courtesy, reliability, etcetera.

People we have a full account with along these lines are less likely to nail us to the wall if we make a mistake, which registers as an account withdrawal. “Therefore,” it is important to make sure that we continually make contributions to the emotional accounts we have with others. “Otherwise,” we can expect our relationships to fall apart.


paradigms Of Interdependence: Part 2: Public Victory

Before getting into Habit Four; Stephen R. Covey writes that people who are proactive and independent will not have a problem establishing a quality and long-lasting relationships. He indicates that if we’ve gotten ourselves into a relationship that we’re unhappy with; it might be because we were not working from a solid core of values and principles, behaving our way into a relationship that was doomed to fail from the get-go because it went against natural universal principles. He reminds us here, too, that we first need to learn to be independent before we can be interdependent; sharing our lives with other people.

Stewardship Delegation: Habit 2: Put First Things First

Mr. Covey explains to us that Stewardship Delegation is focused upon results; not telling someone what method to use in order to get a job done. “Yes!” When delegating a task to someone we will want to point out a few things which might take time in the beginning. But the overall end results are usually much better when all is said and done.

For Stewardship Delegation to be effective; the person performing the task for us must have a clear picture of what we want. They will need a few parameters to follow so the quality of the end result is protected. But we don’t want to set up so many parameters that their own creative thinking is taken out of the process.

Of course, they will need to be informed; knowing the resources they will have access to in order to perform the task you are asking them to accomplish for you. Make them accountable for how the task is done by way of timed progress reports and have them tell you when the task will be completed.

If the task is to be done by a certain time; go over with them what the rewards will be. But also make sure they understand any possible consequences that may arise if things aren’t done at a specific time.

Gopher Delegation: Habit 2: Put First Things First

Ever heard of Gopher Delegation before? If you are thinking it’s basically dictating to someone else their every move in working on something for you, “You’d be one hundred percent correct!” Have you ever been the Gopher being delegated to? Did you like it? I know I don’t when people try to make a Gopher out of me! Thankfully there are better methods of delegation out there and a few people actually know how to use them.


Delegation: Increasing P And PC: Habit 2: Put First Things First

Mr. Covey writes under this heading that, if we want to get a lot of stuff done, we need to learn to delegate things to other people. He tells us that if we continue to delegate work to time (in other words continually stick to rigid schedules) we are only efficient; losing sight of what is more important and meaningful in our day-to-day transactions. If we could simply accept that we are not able to do it all; we would be much better off and get a lot more done.


Advances Of The Fourth Generation: Habit 2: Put First Things First

Stephen R. Covey tells us here that the main thing that this new fourth generation of personal time management does for us is to put people at a higher importance than things. It also focuses upon results rather than time. It gives us the opportunity to be effective rather than just efficient. Stephen says this is because we are living a planned out week that is value and principle-driven, which Mr. Covey assures us is something far better than if we were to simply stick to the first, second, and, now popular, the third model of personal time management.

Living It: Habit 2: Put First Things First

So! Now we’ve got our week planned out. Now! What do we do? “Live it!” How? By making the changes we need to make based upon our mission statement and goals, plus principles and values. Mr. Covey points out here; living a life that is more in line with our innermost values is far more meaningful than a life that is simply driven by reacting to impulse and schedule-driven demands.


Think Win-Win
Win-Win Management Training: Habit 3: Think Win-Win

Not everyone is easily sold on the concept of win-win approaches or attitudes. Many people find it difficult to believe that approaching personal or even business matters in this way are reasonably possible, let alone acceptable; tending to really put up a fight. However, once you (assuming you’ve adopted win-win as your personal philosophy) have demonstrated to them that you are sincere in working out a common goal, or solution, that is beneficial to both of you; a major contribution to your emotional bank account with them will have been made. Also, because of this, they will more than likely begin working with you rather than against you in the end.

Character: Habit 3: Think Win-Win

As we’ve just talked about; Character is the main foundation of having a successful win-win attitude. If you’ve got serious character flaws win-win being a successful principle in your life to operate from is going to turn out to be, simply put, “No Deal!”

Mr. Covey explains to us here that born out of the character we have are effective relationships which are the second dimension of win-win. The building of trust with other people and proper management of the emotional bank accounts we have with them all play a part here.

From the relationships, we’ve developed as a part of the win-win process come agreements which are the third dimension of win-win. These agreements are not your typical traditional types because they are borne out of a mutual desire to reach a common goal that is beneficial to everyone and not just one party or another. They are not just contracts written out on paper as to what tasks each party will perform in order to reach a goal. Agreements are actual accords in mind and being of all parties involved in a win-win situation.




Five Dimensions Of Win-Win: Habit 3: Think Win-Win

Stephen Covey explains that a successful win-win attitude rests on the foundation of character. However, a component of character, maturity, is highly crucial to an effective win-win attitude type approach.

This is because you need to be highly considerate of others; having an equal amount of courage to go along with the consideration you give. Approaching situations with the attitude that there is plenty for everybody also goes a long way to developing agreements that are mutually beneficial to everyone.

If one approaches things with an attitude of abundance they will find themselves to be functioning at a more productive level of human interaction; something one just isn’t going to experience when looking at everything through the lens of lack.

Win-Win Or No Deal: Habit 3: Think Win Win

Mr. Covey tells us; although it’s not always a viable option to be able to deal with situations via the win-win or no deal approach; it can be very freeing emotionally. Basically what one does in this scenario is approach a situation with the frame of mind that there will be a decision made in that particular circumstance that is agreeable to everyone involved, or there will be no deal at all.

Mr. Covey tells us we can let the other parties involved know that we are doing this and make it clear that if it turns out to be no deal in the end, “It isn’t the end of the world.” Thus freeing them from any negative emotional baggage that some might perceive as being the end result of a no-deal type resolution. Mr. Covey tells us; although it’s not always a viable option to be able to deal with situations via the win-win or no deal approach; it can be very freeing emotionally. Basically what one does in this scenario is approach a situation with the frame of mind that there will be a decision made in that particular circumstance that is agreeable to everyone involved, or there will be no deal at all.

Mr. Covey tells us we can let the other parties involved know that we are doing this and make it clear that if it turns out to be no deal in the end, “It isn’t the end of the world.” Thus freeing them from any negative emotional baggage that some might perceive as being the end result of a no-deal type resolution.

Which Option Is Best: Habit 3: Think Win-Win

Well… In a lot of games and sports, the Win-lose option may be the best thing because in that area someone does have to win in order for someone else to lose. It can be no other way. In other situations you may take the lose-win option (by letting them win) just to affirm the other person’s importance to you if something is not able to be worked out that’s agreeable to both of you; like in a marriage for instance.

Principles Of Interpersonal Leadership: Habit 3: Think Win-Win

Thinking win/win is a key component when it comes to interpersonal leadership abilities. Mr. Covey explains to us that win/win doesn’t set up situations where the rewards for cooperating with others invite the competition. Actually, based on what’s written under this heading it is clear that encouraging competitive behavior at home or at work isn’t going to bring unity and togetherness.


Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood
Habit Five Application Suggestions: Habit 4: Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood

Mr. Covey has a few suggestions as to what we can do with habit five. One is to focus on a relationship where we sense that our emotional bank account with that person is overdrawn. He suggests writing out the details of our situation with them from their perspective and reflecting upon whether or not we really had reached an understanding of them; how they see things.

Other suggestions include having someone keep tabs on you as you work with the concept of empathy. If they could report back to you how they felt you did in a week you might just find their feedback to be beneficial, as you strive to improve in this area.

Here’s a fun idea to practice: Cover your ears when you have the chance to watch other people communicate and see if you can’t spot what’s being communicated by body language. If you catch yourself using one of the four autobiographic responses written in this summary inappropriately, acknowledge it with an apology. Then ask for a do-over so that you can better understand what they are communicating to you.

His last suggestion here is pretty cool, too! He recommends that the next time we do a presentation we should seek to clarify the concerns and needs of the folks we are presenting to. This way we are sure that we fully understand the audience we are sharing with. The second part of our presentation, Mr. Stephen R. Covey writes, should contain our concerns and needs, etcetera.

Pretty nifty way to be, don’t you think?

Understanding And Perception: Habit 4: Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood

In order to seek true understanding of another individual; Stephen writes, under this heading, that we need to learn how to listen in such a way as to see things through the eyes of that individual. If we are willing to take the time to do this there will be way less confusion of what it is they are saying. He says in his book that this is because we will have a clearer understanding as to how they perceive things related to what they are talking to us about. If we make it our habit to seek understanding before giving one solitary thought to making ourselves understood; we are in an excellent position to fully enjoy all of the wondrous benefits of synergistic relationships!

Four Autobiographical Responses: Habit 4: Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood

Mr. Covey tells us that the four autobiographical responses (listening to people through the lens of our own experience) that most people use have their place in the world. But they alone do not cut it when it comes to effective communication.

Agreeing or disagreeing with others when they talk to us about things isn’t always what they’re after. Probing and playing twenty-questions is more than likely to cause people to shut down more rather than open up.

People don’t generally like receiving advice when they know that you don’t really understand their problem. Playing interpreter; trying to figure people out based on what your own motivations in life are isn’t going to earn you points either.

All of these things we naturally do. But Mr. Covey writes that we really should only offer these responses “when invited to” rather than automatically.

Covey indicates here that it really is better to absorb what’s being said, plus the emotion behind it. After we’ve reflected upon what we are sensing emotionally, as well as hearing from that individual, only then should we respond to what’s being said.

Diagnose Before You Prescribe: Habit 4: Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood

If you attempt to come up with a solution for a person’s dilemma before you fully understand it do you honestly think they are ever going to fully trust you? Would you trust your mechanic to bill you for parts for your car that he only thinks are broken based purely on what you are telling him is wrong? Maybe Unless you know for a fact that the person is an automotive psychic You would expect him “or her” to take a look at your car and do some work on it “first” before requesting payment, “Right?” The point here is; if you are the one playing mechanic when someone brings a problem to you; the only really good way to ensure that they will trust you and what you prescribe as a solution for them to work with is through your practice of empathetic listening.

Empathetic Listening: Habit 4: Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood

Empathetic listening doesn’t mean that you listen with the intent to reply. It doesn’t mean using reflective listening techniques, or attentive listening, as if you really wanted to hang on to someone’s every word.

What empathetic listening means is that you listen to another person speak with the sole intention of understanding the words they say. But it also means that you listen visually, as their body language conveys about forty percent of the message they are trying to express.

Of course, Mr. Covey says that paying close attention to the sound of their voice is important too. This, he says, is because the tone of voice conveys feeling; making up thirty percent of the message they are attempting to express.

“Yes,” keeping your own personal autobiography out of your mind so you can fully absorb what they are saying “from their perspective” certainly will help you to take in all of the auditory and visual cues. So, “Yeah,” empathetic listening is a left and right brain activity that engages sight, intuitive sense, and hearing when properly done.

Character And Communication: Habit 4: Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood

There are four basic types of communication that we use from the time we wake up until the time we go to sleep. They are reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Most people have been taught to use three of these methods very effectively. But when it comes to listening; very few people do it well.

Stephen tells us that through listening we can understand people better and actually get them to open up and trust us. This is because we are doing it from the position of the character and not simply because we want something from them. So, “Yeah,” what we’re saying here is that the only way folks will ever trust us is if they sense from us that we truly care about what they are saying and understand them.

The bottom line is what Mr. Stephen Covey is saying here? “Talk less and listen way more!”

Principles Of Empathetic Communication: Habit 4: Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood

Looking to understand before attempting to be understood is something
Mr. Covey writes in, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” is the
key in all interpersonal relationships. He tells us that when someone
attempts to talk about an issue or problem they are having; we are doing
more damage than good a lot of the time if we just rush in and try to
fix things without first fully understanding the situation.


Force Field Analysis: Habit 5: Synergize Under this heading in The 7 Habits of highly effective people; it is written that synergy pushes back negativity in interdependent situations. The force field analysis described here says that a state of being at any level has a balance of both driving and restraining forces. It is these forces that really do need to be taken into consideration, especially if folks are serious about inspiring real change.

Driving forces to consider are ones that are usually economic, logical, conscious, positive, and reasonable. The restraining forces are usually unconscious, social, psychological, unreasonable, and negative.

The stronger the restraining forces are the more unbalanced things become. In this situation; any positive progress to be made under such circumstances is going to be short-lived at best; a tremendous expenditure of resources and energy being the end result. Mr. Covey tells us that all of the seven habits in his book can really make a huge difference in counteracting these restraining forces. Habits one, two, and three help us to effectively use habits; four, five, and six, which are essential to the Counteraction of restraining non-synergistic forces.

But what about Habit Seven? Let’s talk about habit seven now then and see! Valuing The Differences: Habit 5: Synergize
Can you imagine talking to people that agree with you all of the time? What? You would? Wouldn’t that make life rather routine and boring? There certainly would be little hope of expanding our horizons, “Don’t you think?”

However, it is the differences we have between one another that are the food for thought when we take the approach of seeking to understand during conversations. “True!” Differences can become stumbling blocks if we let them. “Yet,” if we learn to look at the potential complementary aspects of the differences between ourselves and those around us, real synergy can take place.

Mr. Covey tells us that synergy doesn’t happen when we are around people who are going to agree with us on everything. It is actually the differences between us that can truly help to create win-win situations and a better outcome to a problem. Negative Synergy: Habit 5: Synergize Based on what one reads in The 6 Habits of Highly Effective People it’s fairly safe to conclude that what Stephen Covey is trying to tell us here is, “Negative synergy isn’t synergy at all.” People playing politics, not being willing to seek to understand others before rolling along with their own personal scripts in life, and using social techniques to manipulate others doesn’t create anything close to synergy. What it does create is a high-stress environment where there is little creativity and a lot of miss-trust; all because of poor communication between everyone involved. Synergy And Communication: Habit 5: Synergize
So, what does it take to be able to enjoy a positive level of synergistic communication? Mr. Covey explains in his book; having a good balance in the emotional bank account of each party involved in a discussion about a problem is a good first step. Communicating with a win-win mentality plus empathy, seeking to understand where others are coming from in the discussion, puts everyone on the same side of the problem rather than on opposite sides of a very high fence.

There is respect and appreciation for the differences in viewpoints of others. Trust continues to build even as the discussion of a particular problem progresses. Why? Because all involved understand clearly the needs and desires of all others they are having the discussion with. Synergy In Business: Habit 5: Synergize Even in business synergy works! One does not have to be disrespectful of other people to be open and honest. In fact, when the other people are mature enough to accept the different viewpoints individuals have, the ideas flow more freely and can even build upon one another to the benefit of the company as a whole. Having a group of people involved in this process who are empathetic listeners certainly does help because the environment is none threatening. Furthermore; it doesn’t require anyone involved in attempting to tap the synergistic process to be on the defensive about their views in a group setting. Principles Of Creative Cooperation: Habit 5: Synergize Mr. Covey explains in his book, “The 6 Habits of Highly Effective People,” that synergy means the sum is greater than all of its parts. Another way of thinking of synergy, which might help clarify things, is to consider how nature works. The basic components for life are in place at its foundation. But, as time progresses, (sometimes quickly and other times not so quickly) it evolves to be greater/larger than what the original components could have produced in theory/on paper.

Mr. Covey explains to us, too, that it is the differences in people that can create synergy in a group. So long as there is a high level of maturity in the group a tremendous amount of synergy can take place, which results in great things being accomplished. This accomplishment is usually far greater than the wildest dreams and fantasies of every person involved in this synergistic process.

Stephen writes that synergy is a celebration of differences and the combination of these things, which makes the sum of the whole far greater than each and every one of its parts.


The Final Chapter
Becoming A Transition Person: The Final Chapter

If your parents beat you when you were a kid does that mean that you have to beat your kids? Obviously, the answer is, “No!” However, Mr. Covey tells us that the tendency of those who grew up in that situation will be to act out the script upon the next generation, in other words, their own kids. It’s not written in stone that this is what will happen but chances are pretty good that it may, particularly during stressful times.

However, Stephen tells us that by being proactive and changing the negative scripts we’ve learned from prior generations we can very easily pass the new positive scripts along to our children. It is the ability to change a negative script/behavior into a positive script, before passing it along, that makes us transition people!

Intergenerational Living: The Final Chapter

Stephen Covey says that what happened between his wife and himself over the course of the year in Hawaii worked best because they were communicating with each other from the inside out rather than using external people management techniques which don’t last very long in a marriage, or, any other kind of long term relationship. And this applies to intergenerational living how?

In a family that is operating from a sound base as described in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; Stephen Covey explains that parents and even grandparents can pass down scripts/paradigms to their children and grandchildren, making it easier for them to move ahead in the future. Stephen also points out here that even if we weren’t fortunate enough to come from such families, by learning the 7 Habits we will find that not everything inside us needs to change. He says that we will find some behaviors that have been handed down to us that are quite good to have. He suggests that, until we begin the process of self-awareness, we might not have even been aware that they were there.

However, like with many things, once one finds something good they’ve either been taking for granted without knowing it or have only just discovered it for the first time, it becomes more valuable and appreciated. Are you aware of and appreciative of all the good in you? Can you appreciate the generations before you that taught it to you in the first place? If you can then you get the idea behind what Mr. Covey has written in this part of his book!

Inside Out Again: The Final Chapter

Basically what Mr. Covey tells us here is that we have the choice to allow the world to change us from the outside in, or, we can allow our belief in a higher power to assist us in changing from the inside out. He also explains that between stimulus and response there really is a gap. In this gap, we are free to choose how we want to react to the stimulus. We are free to act and do not have to just let automatic responses take over unless we choose to.

He tells a story here about how, while he was writing a book for a year in Hawaii, he spent about two hours a day with his wife and small children. During this time (while the kids were somewhat preoccupied) he and his wife would talk about things that were going on, along with those things that had happened to them in the past. They were clearly, from the way he tells the story, seeking to understand each other at a deeper level through empathic listening.

Stephen writes in so many words that he felt that over the year the relationship he had with his wife had grown in a good way and that they certainly had a better feel for each other’s viewpoint. Not only that but he indicates that they were able to see things differently because of the differences each of them had. He indicates that these differences between himself and his wife opened the eyes of both of them about things they could stand to change about themselves which would make them better people!

The Upward Spiral: Habit 6: Sharpen The Saw

The process of renewal will naturally cause us to move along the path of self-improvement in an upward spiral. This is, of course, so long as we do not ignore our conscience. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey writes that our conscience needs to be constantly educated.

We simply educate our conscience by constantly reading inspiring material, thinking noble thoughts, and engaging in such activities which promote healthier living with good moral values. Stephen tells us that by doing this we will then be able to fully live in harmony with the still quiet voice that resides within each of us. Educating our conscience helps our conscience then guide us to this end.

Synergy In Renewal: Habit 6: Sharpen The Saw

Mr. Covey goes on here to say that if you improve upon/renew any of the four dimensions that make up your being that dimension will have a positive effect on the others as well. So by focusing on the renewal of all four dimensions is going to create a sum result that is greater than all of its parts!

The same holds true for The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey tells us that we cannot improve in one of the seven habits without improving, at least in part, one or two others. So if one improves in all seven the end result is something that is far more synergistic in nature.

Balance In Renewal: Habit 6: Sharpen The Saw



In all four dimensions of our lives, there must be equal renewal. Focusing on just the Social/Emotional and forgetting about the physical, spiritual, and mental, for instance, is going to lead to problems. The only way we can experience synergy in our lives and enjoy a true state of interdependence with others is by paying balanced attention to the renewal of the four basic dimensions, just mentioned, which make up who we are.

Is this only true for us as individuals? “Hell No!” It’s true for business as well. “Yes,” even in the operation of an organization, the four dimensions of Mental, Physical, Spiritual, and Social/Emotional still exist. Why? “Companies do not exist without people!” So even an organization will want to consider renewal and balance of renewal where the four dimensions of a human being are concerned. But only if they wish to keep their business viable!

Scripting Others: Habit 6: Sharpen The Saw

Covey tells us that most people are highly influenced by the social mirror. He tells us that we can help to positively influence them by mirroring a true reflection of who they are without the distortion that they would otherwise get from other people. We can help to affirm their proactive nature and validate them in all their other positive qualities.

If you’re not sure how this works; simply think back to a time when you’re life or situation turned around because someone believed in you when you didn’t believe in yourself. Now, imagine you are doing the same thing for someone else. You aren’t encouraging anyone to be lazy or irresponsible. You are encouraging them to become proactive and take charge of things. Now, that’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

The Social, Emotional Dimension: Habit 6: Sharpen The Saw

Stephen Covey has written under this heading that renewing the social/emotional aspect of ourselves is fairly easy to do. This is because, in a sense, we don’t have to push ourselves to really set time aside for it. All we have to do is to practice habits four, five, and six as we go through our day, interacting with people. Of course; if folks aren’t really strongly grounded inhabits one two and three, Mr. Covey tells us that using four-five, and six will more than likely be a bit of a challenge. However, he does suggest that commitment can work.

“And,” what does happen to cause a renewal of the Social/Emotional dimension of our nature? Well, we gain a sense of where other people are coming from, which gives us a bit of security in the knowledge that we can interact interdependently with them because we’ve made the emotional deposits in our account with them, understand them, and know that our greatest service on earth is to others!

The Mental Dimension: Habit 6: Sharpen The Saw

Mr. Covey tells us that TV watching is a very powerful social influence and that it can affect us in very subtle ways if we aren’t careful how we use it. He tells us that the TV in the average home is on about forty-five hours a week, which is far too much time because it takes away from more mentally challenging self-improvement exercises; letter writing, analytical thinking, and reading, just to name a few.

Mr. Covey suggests that if we can read at least one book a month on topics that will expand our cultural awareness we’d be in pretty good shape. However, Stephen suggests that reading a book a week would be ideal; enabling us to learn more over time.

Mr. Covey suggests here, too, that educating ourselves beyond just reading books; learning how to do new things, is an excellent way to renew the mental aspect/dimension of our being. You’ve heard the expression, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” right? Well, renewing a mind doesn’t mean letting it go to sleep. It basically entails giving it new directions to work in or, at the very least, new things to think about.

The Spiritual Dimension: Habit 6: Sharpen The Saw

Renewal of the spiritual dimension gives us a solid center from which to work. Stephen points out here that if what we do is not working for us then perhaps the reason behind it is that it’s only because we are doing it for ourselves. He suggests that focusing on service to others is more than likely going to bring us more of what we want in life in the area of success; bringing a much better quality of life.

Mr. Stephen R. Covey tells us that spiritual renewal can also take place through prayer or meditation at home or any other place where one feels happy and at peace. He also points out that there is no right way of meditating or praying, as these things are unique to the individual.

Four Dimensions Of Renewal: Habit 6: Sharpen The Saw

Stephen tells us that the greatest asset we will ever have is ourselves. He tells us that if we don’t take the time to renew/work on ourselves then we’re going to run into problems.

The four dimensions spoken of here are said to be the basic four parts of our nature. They are: spiritual, mental, physical, and social/emotional.

Physical renewal involves things along the lines of nutrition and exercise. Renewing spiritually may involve activities like meditation plus the clarification of values and commitment. Renewing mentally may involve things along the lines of reading, writing, planning, and visualizing. Social/emotional renewal would entail things like providing service to others, being a good friend, listening with empathy, and maintaining intrinsic security.

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Principles Of Balanced Self Renewal: Habit 6: Sharpen The Saw

Mr. Covey tells us here that taking time for renewal is important and makes all of the other habits possible. If we don’t take time to refresh ourselves everything else becomes that much harder to do and may even take longer.
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