So we’ve been discussing Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the past four Mondays, as part of the #MotivationMonday series, and this week we take on the last two routines – synergise and sharpening the saw. Feels like a book-club and I love it sans the tea and mommy golf t-shirts. 🙂
If you’d like to be a highly effective person who gets the job done, you need to form all the seven habits, especially because they will help us better understand our goals for #Mission and how to adjust daily routines, to achieve those goals.
Habit 6 – Synergise – is the habit of combining habits 1 to 5. In his book, Covey states that by understanding and valuing the differences in another person’s perspective, we have the opportunity to create synergy, which allows us to uncover new possibilities through openness and creativity. In other words, when one plus one equals three or more, then the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
For example, if you plant two flowers close together, their roots will co-mingle and improve the quality of the soil, enabling them to both grow better than they would have on their own.
To synergise allows us to create new alternatives and open new possibilities. It allows us as a group to collectively agree to ditch the old scripts and write new ones.
Without doubt, you have to leave the comfort zone of base camp and confront an entirely new and unknown wilderness. – STEPHEN COVEY
So how can we introduce synergy to a given situation or environment? In combining the habits, begin with habits 4 and 5 – think win-win and seek first to understand.
Once we have these in mind, it becomes easy to pool our desires with those of another person or group. And then we’re not on opposite sides of the problem – we’re together on one side, looking at the problem, understanding all the needs, and working to create a third alternative that will meet them.
What we end up with is not a transaction, but a transformation. Both sides get what they want, and they build their relationship in the process.
Note that by putting forth a spirit of trust and safety, we prompt others to become extremely open, and feed on each other’s insights and ideas, creating synergy.
Achieving synergy is often exciting, and is often felt so strongly when it happens that some people attempt to recreate a particular synergistic experience. This can’t often be done; however, we can seek new synergistic experiences around new and different purposes.
The real essence of synergy is valuing the differences – the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between people. As Covey puts it; “the key to valuing differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”
After all, if two people have the same opinion, one is always unnecessary. When we become aware of someone’s different perspective, we can say, “Good! You see it differently! Help me see what you see.” It means, we’re able to seek first to understand, then find strength and utility in those different perspectives in order to create new possibilities and win-win results.
Synergy allows us to:
- Value the differences in other people as a way to improve our point of view and expand our perspectives
- Sidestep negative energy and look for the good in others
- Exercise courage in interdependent situations by being open and encouraging others to be open too
- Catalyze creativity and find solutions that would be better for everyone by looking for a third alternative
Practice Success Habit 6:
- Make a list of people who irritate you. Now choose just one person. How are their views different? Now put yourself in their shoes for one minute. Think and pretend how it feels to be them. Does this help you understand them better? Now next time you’re in a disagreement with that person, try to understand their concerns. Why they disagree with you. The more you can understand this, the better you can make them agree.
Tip: Sometimes this is as simple as maintaining your own personal energy.
Habit 7 – ‘Sharpen the Saw’ – is where Covey explains that to be effective, we needs to devote the time to renewing ourselves physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially. Continuous renewal will allow us to systematically increase our ability to practice each habit.
That said, ‘sharpening the saw’ is based on renewal from the inside out. It surrounds all of the other habits and makes each one possible by preserving and enhancing our greatest asset – self.
There are four dimensions of our nature, and each must be exercised regularly, and in balanced ways.
- Physical Dimension
The goal of continuous physical improvement is to exercise our body in a way that will enhance our capacity to work, adapt and enjoy.
To renew ourselves physically, we must:
- Eat well
- Get sufficient rest and relaxation
- Exercise on a regular basis to build endurance, flexibility and strength
Focusing on the physical dimension helps develop habit 1 muscles of pro-activity. And as Covey puts it, “we act based on the value of well-being instead of reacting to the forces that keep us from fitness.
- Spiritual Dimension
The second dimension is the spiritual – the goal of renewing our spiritual self is to provide leadership to our life and reinforce our commitment to our value system.
According to Covey, a focus on our spiritual dimension helps us practice Habit 2, as we continuously revise and commit ourselves to our values, so we can begin with the end in mind.
- Mental Dimension
The goal of renewing our mental health is to continue expanding our mind. Therefore, to renew ourselves mentally, we need to:
- Read good literature
- Keep a journal of our thoughts, experiences, and insights
- Limit TV watching to life and mind-enriching content
Focusing on our mental dimension, Covey emphasizes, helps us practice habit 3, by allowing us to effectively manage ourselves while maximizing the use of our and resources.
- Social/Emotional Dimension
The goal of renewing our social and emotional selves is to develop meaningful relationships. To do that, however, we need to:
- Seek to deeply understand other people
- Make contributions to meaningful projects that improve the lives of other people
- Maintain an “Abundance Mentality”, and seek to help others find success
Renewing our social and emotional dimension helps us practice habits 4, 5 and 6 by recognizing that win-win solutions do exist, seeking to understand others first, and finding mutually beneficial third alternatives through synergy.
“Not one day goes by that we can’t at least serve another human being by making deposits of unconditional love.” – Stephen Covey.
As we focus on renewing ourselves along these four dimensions, we must also seek to be a positive ‘scripter’ to and for other people. We must look to inspire others to a higher path by showing them we believe in them, by listening to them in an empathetic manner and encouraging them to be proactive.
The more we see people in terms of their unseen potential, the more we can use our imagination, rather than our memory.” – Stephen Covey
The real beauty of the 7 habits is that improvement in one habit systematically increases our ability to improve the rest. Renewal from the inside-out is the process that empowers us to move along an upward spiral of growth and change, of continuous upgrading.
As they say, the only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday.
Practice Success Habit 7:
- Make a list of activities that would help you renew yourself along each of the four dimensions. Select one activity for each dimension and list it as a goal for the coming week. At the end of the week, evaluate your performance. What led you to succeed or fail to accomplish each goal?
- Commit to writing down a specific “sharpen the saw” activity in all four dimensions every week, to do them, and to evaluate your performance and results.
Free Resource: A journal can actually boost productivity.