This week we read habits 6 and 7 to finish the book. I hope you all have enjoyed reading (or re-reading) the book as much as I have!
Habit 6 is Synergize. Covey describes it as “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Trust is needed in order to create synergy. Each person in the group needs to feel that their opinion matters and will not be ridiculed. Each person in the group recognizes that different perspectives may lead to a better outcome than originally planned. Synergy also practices the principle of Win/Win (Habit 4).
Synergy is the culmination of all the other principles – by seeking to understand (Habit 5) the differences in perspectives and by working with a Win/Win mentality (Habit 4), synergy can come naturally. I have experienced synergy at work when working on a project that lasted 10 months. It was a stressful project that seven of us in my department were involved with. Not only were we working full-time on the project, we also had to complete our normal jobs. It was a stressful time, but we all worked together so well that the project was actually enjoyable. The collective attitude of valuing each others’ opinions and recognizing the common goal really helped us to work really well together. The energy that we created together was powerful – it was like nothing that I had experienced before, and it also taught us how a group with different backgrounds, experiences, and skills can work together successfully. To a lesser degree, I still experience that same synergy in my current job…and I think it is because several of us that currently work together were on the same project team 4 years ago where we experienced great synergy. Can you think of how synergy can help you either personally or professionally?
Habit 7 is Sharpen the Saw. Covey explains that there are four dimensions of our nature:
- Physical – Exercise, nutrition, and stress management
- Social/Emotional – Service, empathy, synergy, intrinsic security
- Spiritual – Value clarification and commitment, study and meditation
- Mental –Reading, visualizing, planning, writing
He says that sharpening the saw is “exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in wise and balanced ways” (pg 289). It’s renewal or maintenance essential to our well-being.
Covey calls the renewal of your physical, spiritual, and mental dimensions the “daily private victory” and encourages us to spend an hour a day on working on these particular dimensions. He believes spending time in these dimensions every day affects every decision and relationship in our lives. How does this habit relate to personal renewal? How can you apply this principle in your life? Is there a dimension in your life that you feel like you are neglecting?
Covey wraps up the book by discussing inside-out again. Remember, this is the concept of working on ourselves first in order to improve our situations. Covey believes we all need to work on our deep communication skills with those we love. From personal experience, he has found two rules that improve deep communication:
- No probing – let the other person bring up their feelings in their own time
- If it gets too painful, stop.
Covey also believes there is great power in intergenerational living – an effective interdependent family (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) help us to understand who we are, where we come from, and what we stand for. This really helps us with working on the inside-out.
Covey also talks about becoming a transitional person – we are all empowered to change the internal scripts that we live with. If we have a habit that is not working for us, we have the ability to change that habit. Achieving unity — oneness — with ourselves, with our loved ones, with our friends and working associates, is the highest and best and most delicious fruit of the Seven Habits. Covey wraps up the book by reminding us that if we center our lives on correct principles and habits, “we become empowered in the task of creating effective, useful and peaceful lives” (pg 318)
I hope you’ve enjoyed the book as much as I have and are thinking of putting some of these habits into practice!
- Can you think of how synergy can help you either personally or professionally?
- How does this habit relate to personal renewal? How can you apply this principle in your life?
- Is there a dimension in your life that you feel like you are neglecting? What is it and what can you do to exercise this dimension?
- Are you thinking of applying any of the seven habits into your life?