Friday, May 4, 2012

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: A Literary Review

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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

A Literary Review

Initially, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven R. Covey may have been viewed by some of us as “just another book assignment” needed to further our education; however, to our surprise, this insightful book brings forth a wealth of knowledge pertaining to our personal perceptions and ways in which one can make a “paradigm shift.” The book is broken down into four major parts describing the seven essential habits “Paradigms and Principles, Private Victory, Public Victory, and Renewal.” The sequencing of these parts is important in that one must first attain a “private victory” before making a “public victory.” As we begin to look deep inside of ourselves for this “private victory”, we can gain much insight on how we influence our surroundings, especially in our military careers.

The first habits discussed try to bring together how one should view his/her tasking. Having a set goal in a project, or in life, is the best way to go. All other achievements can be related to one goal, or many goals, that support one’s mission statement. Being pro-active instead of reactive, gets an individual more out of life. I always heard that attitude is 10% what happens to you and 0% how you respond. I really believe this is one of the points that were made. We can always sit there and wonder how things could have went or the what ifs that are always going to be there. Instead, focus on what you can do to make things easier and more efficient.

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As part of a military organization, there is always a bigger picture out there. We may not always see it, but our small victories are part of it, no matter how small. The same thing applies to our personal lives. We may have small goals set up in life, but all of them point us into one direction. Whether or not we see it, we have a big picture out there. Planning week-to-week and day-to-day are our small victories that will eventually show us our big picture.

Having one set goal or achievement in mind is better than having three to four scattered plans. Bringing all your goals into one plan make for better efficiency. Setting goals week-to-week is more effective than day-to-day in many ways. One, you do not put such a strain on yourself to get this or that done today. If something of urgency, not in our schedule, comes up; we have time to deal with it without upsetting our weekly plan. In the military, we all know that there are many monkey wrenches that find a way into all the most detailed plans around. We can only hope that our planning can manage to work around these, and carry us onto our set goals. This type of planning will work for daily plans, as well as long range life plans.

The last six habits have given a program of how to become “highly effective;” however, they still lack a cohesiveness that allows them to be forever integrated into your life. That element is what habit seven is all about. If your life were a brick wall, the foundation is your personal paradigm; the bricks are habits one through six. Habit seven, the habit of renewal, is the cement that holds the wall together. It is the process of “sharpening the saw,” as put by Covey. It is using wisdom and balance to exercise the four dimensions of human nature physical, spiritual, mental, and social or emotional.

You must do a renewal of all four; otherwise, you will see the rest crumble, as one will reinforce the others. I have used this principle in my own life. My spiritual renewal is to use my imagination with facts to philosophize about life, theories, the universe, the future, fate, and about my role in all of these. It reminds me how insignificant, and at the same time, how important my own personal goals can be. This renewal is reinforced by my mental renewal. By choosing what outside influences I am open to for entertainment, stimulation, and education, I broaden my awareness. This allows for a more effective spiritual renewal. Another example of this reinforcement is in my social or emotional renewal. By using what is gained from my spiritual renewal, I can willingly give of myself or of my services to a greater good. I can allow myself to release “self goals” and work toward the betterment of the community. As put by the late president John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address, I can “…ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Renewal is needed in our daily lives. As military members, we are devoted to a special calling. We willingly devote more of ourselves than many others would ever ask of, or give. This alone obviously requires a renewal to maintain. It is accomplished in many ways remembering why we are here (spiritual), getting back to our basic jobs as a war fighter (physical), or possibly revisiting old role models (emotional). All of these things serve to “re-motivate” us, or remind us of why we give so much. This process of renewal creates an upward spiral of development. It allows us to continue building on our “brick wall.” If your life were being typed as you lived it, habit seven is the return key that allows you to move on to the next line of your life.

Covey has surely opened our eyes in his teaching of the seven habits. I recommend “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” to anyone wishing to make a dramatic shift in one’s present habits and principles.

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