you will increasingly find that principled solutions stand in stark contrast to the common practices and thinking of our popular culture. Most common human challenges we face:
- Fear and insecurity.
- “I want it now.”
- Blame and victimism.
- Lack of life balance.
- “What’s in it for me?”
- The hunger to be understood.
- Conflict and differences.
- Personal stagnation.
Part One - PARADIGMS and PRINCIPLES
We began to realize that if we wanted to change the situation, we first had to change ourselves. And to change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.
In stark contrast, almost all the literature in the first 150 years or so focused on what could be called the Character Ethic as the foundation of success—things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden Rule.
The Character Ethic taught that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.
But shortly after World War I the basic view of success shifted from the Character Ethic to what we might call the Personality Ethic. Success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques, that lubricate the processes of human interaction.
“Your attitude determines your altitude,” “Smiling wins more friends than frowning,” and “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.”
The word paradigm comes from the Greek. It was originally a scientific term, and is more commonly used today to mean a model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference. In the more general sense, it’s the way we “see” the world—not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, interpreting.
Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way things should be, or values. We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware that we have them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be.
And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of those assumptions. The way we see things is the source of the way we think and the way we act.
The term paradigm shift was introduced by Thomas Kuhn in his highly influential landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn shows how almost every significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavor is first a break with tradition, with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms.
But whether they shift us in positive or negative directions, whether they are instantaneous or developmental, paradigm shifts move us from one way of seeing the world to another. And those shifts create powerful change. Our paradigms, correct or incorrect, are the sources of our attitudes and behaviors, and ultimately our relationships with others.
Of course, not all paradigm shifts are instantaneous.
The power of a paradigm shift is the essential power of quantum change, whether that shift is an instantaneous or a slow and deliberate process.
Principles are not practices. A practice is a specific activity or action. A practice that works in one circumstance will not necessarily work in another,
While practices are situationally specific, principles are deep, fundamental truths that have universal application.
Principles are not values. Principles are the territory. Values are maps.
The more closely our maps or paradigms are aligned with these principles or natural laws, the more accurate and functional they will be. Correct maps will infinitely impact our personal and interpersonal effectiveness far more than any amount of effort expended on changing our attitudes and behaviors.
The way we see the problem is the problem.
Albert Einstein observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
This new level of thinking is what The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is about. It’s a principle-centered, character-based, “inside-out” approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness.
“Inside-out” means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self—with your paradigms, your character, and your motives.
THE 7 HABITS—AN OVERVIEW
Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits.
Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character and produce our effectiveness… or ineffectiveness.
we will define a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire.
Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why. Skill is the how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.
Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.
The Seven Habits are not a set of separate or piecemeal psych-up formulas. In harmony with the natural laws of growth, they provide an incremental, sequential, highly integrated approach to the development of personal and interpersonal effectiveness. They move us progressively on a Maturity Continuum from dependence to independence to interdependence.
On the maturity continuum, dependence is the paradigm of you—you take care of me; you come through for me; you didn’t come through; I blame you for the results.
Independence is the paradigm of I—I can do it; I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose.
Interdependence is the paradigm of we—we can do it; we can cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.
Habits 1, 2, and 3 in the following chapters deal with self-mastery. They move a person from dependence to independence. They are the “Private Victories,” the essence of character growth. Private victories precede public victories.
As you become truly independent, you have the foundation for effective interdependence. You have the character base from which you can effectively work on the more personality-oriented “Public Victories” of teamwork, cooperation, and communication in Habits 4, 5, and 6.
Habit 7 is the habit of renewal—a regular, balanced renewal of the four basic dimensions of life. It circles and embodies all the other habits.
The Seven Habits are habits of effectiveness. Because they are based on principles, they bring the maximum long-term beneficial results possible.
But as the story shows, true effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to produce (the goose).
Effectiveness lies in the balance—what I call the P/PC Balance. P stands for production of desired results, the golden eggs. PC stands for production capability, the ability or asset that produces the golden eggs.
Basically, there are three kinds of assets: physical, financial, and human.
Part Two - PRIVATE VICTORY
HABIT 1: BE PROACTIVE
While the word proactivity is now fairly common in management literature, it is a word you won’t find in most dictionaries. It means more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.
Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.
Because we are, by nature, proactive, if our lives are a function of conditioning and conditions, it is because we have, by conscious decision or by default, chosen to empower those things to control us. In making such a choice, we become reactive. Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment.
Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response.
Our basic nature is to act, and not be acted upon. As well as enabling us to choose our response to particular circumstances, this empowers us to create circumstances.
Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive. It does mean recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.
If you wait to be acted upon, you will be acted upon.
Our language, for example, is a very real indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as proactive people.
The language of reactive people absolves them of responsibility. “That’s me. That’s just the way I am.” I am determined. There’s nothing I can do about it. “He makes me so mad!” I’m not responsible. My emotional life is governed by something outside my control. “I can’t do that. I just don’t have the time.” Something outside me—limited time—is controlling me.
That language comes from a basic paradigm of determinism. And the whole spirit of it is the transfer of responsibility. I am not responsible, not able to choose my response.
Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.
Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.
The problems we face fall in one of three areas: direct control (problems involving our own behavior); indirect control (problems involving other people’s behavior); or no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past or situational realities).
Direct control problems are solved by working on our habits. They are obviously within our Circle of Influence. These are the “Private Victories” of Habits 1, 2, and 3.
Indirect control problems are solved by changing our methods of influence. These are the “Public Victories” of Habits 4, 5, and 6.
No control problems involve taking the responsibility to change the line on the bottom on our face—to smile, to genuinely and peacefully accept these problems and learn to live with them, even though we don’t like them.
One way to determine which circle our concern is in is to distinguish between the have’s and the be’s. The Circle of Concern is filled with the have’s: “I’ll be happy when I have my house paid off.”
The Circle of Influence is filled with the be’s—I can be more patient, be wise, be loving. It’s the character focus.
While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of those actions.
Our behavior is governed by principles. Living in harmony with them brings positive consequences; violating them brings negative consequences. We are free to choose our response in any situation, but in doing so, we choose the attendant consequence. “When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.”
It is here that we find two ways to put ourselves in control of our lives immediately. We can make a promise—and keep it. Or we can set a goal—and work to achieve it.
The power to make and keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the basic habits of effectiveness. Knowledge, skill, and desire are all within our control. We can work on any one to improve the balance of the three.
Knowing that we are responsible—“response-able”—is fundamental to effectiveness and to every other habit of effectiveness we will discuss.
HABIT 2: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.
If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster. We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.
When you begin with the end in mind, you gain a different perspective.
“Begin with the end in mind” is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation, to all things.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Proactive powerful leadership must constantly monitor environmental change, particularly customer buying habits and motives, and provide the force necessary to organize resources in the right direction.
No management success can compensate for failure in leadership. But leadership is hard because we’re often caught in a management paradigm.
I’m convinced that too often parents are also trapped in the management paradigm, thinking of control, efficiency, and rules instead of direction, purpose, and family feeling.
And leadership is even more lacking in our personal lives. We’re into managing with efficiency, setting and achieving goals before we have even clarified our values.
Try to win the war, not the battle.
The most effective way I know to begin with the end in mind is to develop a personal mission statement or philosophy or creed. It focuses on what you want to be (character) and to do (contributions and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based.
People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.
In the words of Abraham Maslow, “He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.”
HABIT 3: PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST
Habit 1 says, “You’re the creator. You are in charge.” It’s based on the four unique human endowments of imagination, conscience, independent will, and, particularly, self-awareness. It empowers you to say, “That’s an unhealthy program I’ve been given from my childhood, from my social mirror. I don’t like that ineffective script. I can change.”
Habit 2 is the first or mental creation. It’s based on imagination—the ability to envision, to see the potential, to create with our minds what we cannot at present see with our eyes; and conscience—the ability to detect our own uniqueness and the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which we can most happily fulfill it. It’s the deep contact with our basic paradigms and values and the vision of what we can become.
Habit 3, then, is the second creation, the physical creation. It’s the fulfillment, the actualization, the natural emergence of Habits 1 and 2. It’s the exercise of independent will toward becoming principle-centered. It’s the day-in, day-out, moment-by-moment doing it.
Leadership is primarily a high-powered, right brain activity. It’s more of an art; it’s based on a philosophy. You have to ask the ultimate questions of life when you’re dealing with personal leadership issues.
Management is the breaking down, the analysis, the sequencing, the specific application, the time-bound left-brain aspect of effective self-government. My own maxim of personal effectiveness is this: Manage from the left; lead from the right.
Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what “first things” are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Management is discipline, carrying it out.
in social development, the agricultural revolution was followed by the industrial revolution, which was followed by the informational revolution.
We usually call the activities in Quadrant I “crises” or “problems.”
There are other people who spend a great deal of time in “urgent, but not important” Quadrant III, thinking they’re in Quadrant I.
People who spend time almost exclusively in Quadrants III and IV basically lead irresponsible lives.
Effective people stay out of Quadrants III and IV because, urgent or not, they aren’t important. They also shrink Quadrant I down to size by spending more time in Quadrant II.
Quadrant II is the heart of effective personal management. It deals with things that are not urgent, but are important. It deals with things like building relationships, writing a personal mission statement, long-range planning, exercising, preventive maintenance, preparation—all those things we know we need to do, but somehow seldom get around to doing, because they aren’t urgent.
To paraphrase Peter Drucker, effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems. They think preventively. They have genuine Quadrant I crises and emergencies that require their immediate attention, but the number is comparatively small. They keep P and PC in balance by focusing on the important, but not urgent, high leverage capacity-building activities of Quadrant II.
You have to be proactive to work on Quadrant II because Quadrants I and III work on you. To say “yes” to important Quadrant II priorities, you have to learn to say “no” to other activities, sometimes apparently urgent things.
management follows leadership. The way you spend your time is a result of the way you see your time and the way you really see your priorities. If your priorities grow out of a principle center and a personal mission, if they are deeply planted in your heart and in your mind, you will see Quadrant II as a natural, exciting place to invest your time.
A Quadrant II organizer will need to meet six important criteria.
- COHERENCE. Coherence suggests that there is harmony, unity, and integrity between your vision and mission, your roles and goals, your priorities and plans, and your desires and discipline.
- BALANCE. Your tool should help you to keep balance in your life, to identify your various roles and keep them right in front of you, so that you don’t neglect important areas such as your health, your family, professional preparation, or personal development.
- QUADRANT II FOCUS. You need a tool that encourages you, motivates you, actually helps you spend the time you need in Quadrant II, so that you’re dealing with prevention rather than prioritizing crises. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
- A “PEOPLE” DIMENSION. You also need a tool that deals with people, not just schedules. While you can think in terms of efficiency in dealing with time, a principle-centered person thinks in terms of effectiveness in dealing with people.
- FLEXIBILITY. Your planning tool should be your servant, never your master. Since it has to work for you, it should be tailored to your style, your needs, your particular ways.
- PORTABILITY. Your tool should also be portable, so that you can carry it with you most of the time.
Quadrant II organizing involves four key activities.
- IDENTIFYING ROLES. The first task is to write down your key roles.
- SELECTING GOALS. The next step is to think of one or two important results you feel you should accomplish in each role during the next seven days. These would be recorded as goals.
- DAILY ADAPTING. With Quadrant II weekly organizing, daily planning becomes more a function of daily adapting, of prioritizing activities and responding to unanticipated events, relationships, and experiences in a meaningful way.
you simply can’t think efficiency with people. You think effectiveness with people and efficiency with things. I’ve tried to be “efficient” with a disagreeing or disagreeable person and it simply doesn’t work.
We accomplish all that we do through delegation—either to time or to other people. If we delegate to time, we think efficiency. If we delegate to other people, we think effectiveness.
Stewardship Delegation is focused on results instead of methods.
- DESIRED RESULTS. Create a clear, mutual understanding of what needs to be accomplished, focusing on what, not how; results, not methods.
- GUIDELINES. Identify the parameters within which the individual should operate. These should be as few as possible to avoid methods delegation, but should include any formidable restrictions.
- RESOURCES. Identify the human, financial, technical, or organizational resources the person can draw on to accomplish the desired results.
- ACCOUNTABILITY. Set up the standards of performance that will be used in evaluating the results and the specific times when reporting and evaluation will take place.
- CONSEQUENCES. Specify what will happen, both good and bad, as a result of the evaluation.
Part Three - PUBLIC VICTORY
Private Victory precedes Public Victory. Algebra comes before calculus.
The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are. And if our words and our actions come from superficial human relations techniques (the Personality Ethic) rather than from our own inner core (the Character Ethic), others will sense that duplicity.
Understanding the Individual
Really seeking to understand another person is probably one of the most important deposits you can make, and it is the key to every other deposit.
The Golden Rule says to “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
Attending to the Little Things
The little kindnesses and courtesies are so important. Small discourtesies, little unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals. In relationships, the little things are the big things.
Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal. In fact, there’s probably not a more massive withdrawal than to make a promise that’s important to someone and then not to come through.
Imagine the difficulty you might encounter if you and your boss had different assumptions regarding whose role it was to create your job description.
Showing Personal Integrity
Personal Integrity generates trust and is the basis of many different kinds of deposits. Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create high trust accounts.
Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty. Honesty is telling the truth—in other words, conforming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words—in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.
Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal
When we make withdrawals from the Emotional Bank Account, we need to apologize and we need to do it sincerely.
The Laws of Love and the Laws of Life
When we make deposits of unconditional love, when we live the primary laws of love, we encourage others to live the primary laws of life.
HABIT 4: THINK WIN/WIN
Win/Win is not a technique; it’s a total philosophy of human interaction. In fact, it is one of six paradigms of interaction. The alternative paradigms are Win/Lose, Lose/Win, Lose/Lose, Win, and Win/Win or No Deal.
Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win/Win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win/Win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena. Most people tend to think in terms of dichotomies: strong or weak, hardball or softball, win or lose. But that kind of thinking is fundamentally flawed. It’s based on power and position rather than on principle.
One alternative to Win/Win is Win/Lose, the paradigm of the race to Bermuda. It says “If I win, you lose.”
Most people have been deeply scripted in the Win/Lose mentality since birth. First and most important of the powerful forces at work is the family.
The academic world reinforces Win/Lose scripting. The “normal distribution curve” basically says that you got an “A” because someone else got a “C.” It interprets an individual’s value by comparing him or her to everyone else. No recognition is given to intrinsic value; everyone is extrinsically defined.
Often they develop the basic paradigm that life is a big game, a zero sum game where some win and some lose. “Winning” is “beating” in the athletic arena.
Most of life is an interdependent, not an independent, reality. Most results you want depend on cooperation between you and others. And the Win/Lose mentality is dysfunctional to that cooperation.
Some people are programmed the other way—Lose/Win.
Lose/Win is worse than Win/Lose because it has no standards—no demands, no expectations, no vision. People who think Lose/Win are usually quick to please or appease.
Win/Lose people love Lose/Win people because they can feed on them. They love their weaknesses—they take advantage of them. Such weaknesses complement their strengths.
When two Win/Lose people get together—that is, when two determined, stubborn, ego-invested individuals interact—the result will be Lose/Lose. Both will lose. Both will become vindictive and want to “get back” or “get even,” blind to the fact that murder is suicide, that revenge is a two-edged sword.
Win Another common alternative is simply to think Win. People with the Win mentality don’t necessarily want someone else to lose.
Which Option Is Best?
Of these five philosophies discussed so far—Win/Win, Win/Lose, Lose/Win, Lose/Lose, and Win—which is the most effective? The answer is, “It depends.” If you win a football game, that means the other team loses.
Win/Win or No Deal
If these individuals had not come up with a synergistic solution—one that was agreeable to both—they could have gone for an even higher expression of Win/Win—Win/Win or No Deal.
It begins with character and moves toward relationships, out of which flow agreements. It is nurtured in an environment where structure and systems are based on Win/Win. And it involves process; we cannot achieve Win/Win ends with Win/Lose or Lose/Win means.
- INTEGRITY. We’ve already defined integrity as the value we place on ourselves. Habits 1, 2, and 3 help us develop and maintain integrity.
- MATURITY. Maturity is the balance between courage and consideration. I first learned this definition of maturity in the fall of 1955 from a marvelous professor, Hrand Saxenian, who instructed my Control class at the Harvard Business School. The basic task of leadership is to increase the standard of living and the quality of life for all stakeholders.
- ABUNDANCE MENTALITY. The third character trait essential to Win/Win is the Abundance Mentality, the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.
The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit—even with those who help in the production. It’s difficult for people with a Scarcity Mentality to be members of a complementary team. They look on differences as signs of insubordination and disloyalty.
The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.
Public Victory does not mean victory over other people. It means success in effective interaction that brings mutually beneficial results to everyone involved. Public Victory means working together, communicating together, making things happen together that even the same people couldn’t make happen by working independently. And Public Victory is an outgrowth of the Abundance Mentality paradigm.
And the stronger you are—the more genuine your character, the higher your level of proactivity, the more committed you really are to Win/Win—the more powerful your influence will be with that other person. This is the real test of interpersonal leadership. It goes beyond transactional leadership into transformational leadership, transforming the individuals involved as well as the relationship.
Win/Win. They are sometimes called performance agreements or partnership agreements, shifting the paradigm of productive interaction from vertical to horizontal, from hovering supervision to self-supervision, from positioning to being partners in success.
Traditional authoritarian supervision is a Win/Lose paradigm.
Developing such a Win/Win performance agreement is the central activity of management. With an agreement in place, employees can manage themselves within the framework of that agreement. The manager then can serve like a pace car in a race. He can get things going and then get out of the way. His job from then on is to remove the oil spills.
Win/Win can only survive in an organization when the systems support it. If you talk Win/Win but reward Win/Lose, you’ve got a losing program on your hands.
You basically get what you reward.
There’s no way to achieve Win/Win ends with Win/Lose or Lose/Win means. You can’t say, “You’re going to think Win/Win, whether you like it or not.” So the question becomes how to arrive at a Win/Win solution.
They suggest that the essence of principled negotiation is to separate the person from the problem, to focus on interests and not on positions, to invent options for mutual gain, and to insist on objective criteria—some external standard or principle that both parties can buy into.
- First, see the problem from the other point of view. Really seek to understand and to give expression to the needs and concerns of the other party as well as or better than they can themselves.
- Second, identify the key issues and concerns (not positions) involved.
- Third, determine what results would constitute a fully acceptable solution.
- And fourth, identify possible new options to achieve those results.
HABIT 5: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
We have such a tendency to rush in, to fix things up with good advice. But we often fail to take the time to diagnose, to really, deeply understand the problem first.
Communication is the most important skill in life. We spend most of our waking hours communicating. But consider this: You’ve spent years learning how to read and write, years learning how to speak. But what about listening? What training or education have you had that enables you to listen so that you really, deeply understand another human being from that individual’s own frame of reference?
If you want to interact effectively with me, to influence me—your spouse, your child, your neighbor, your boss, your coworker, your friend—you first need to understand me.
“Seek first to understand” involves a very deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives.
Our conversations become collective monologues, and we never really understand what’s going on inside another human being.
When another person speaks, we’re usually “listening” at one of four levels. We may be ignoring another person, not really listening at all. We may practice pretending. “Yeah. Uh-huh. Right.” We may practice selective listening, hearing only certain parts of the conversation. We often do this when we’re listening to the constant chatter of a preschool child. Or we may even practice attentive listening, paying attention and focusing energy on the words that are being said. But very few of us ever practice the fifth level, the highest form of listening, empathic listening.
When I say empathic listening, I mean listening with intent to understand. I mean seeking first to understand, to really understand. It’s an entirely different paradigm.
Empathic (from empathy) listening gets inside another person’s frame of reference. You look out through it, you see the world the way they see the world, you understand their paradigm, you understand how they feel.
Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is a form of agreement, a form of judgment. And it is sometimes the more appropriate emotion and response. But people often feed on sympathy. It makes them dependent. The essence of empathic listening is not that you agree with someone; it’s that you fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually.
Communications experts estimate, in fact, that only 10 percent of our communication is represented by the words we say. Another 30 percent is represented by our sounds, and 60 percent by our body language.
This is one of the greatest insights in the field of human motivation: Satisfied needs do not motivate. It’s only the unsatisfied need that motivates. Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival—to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.
Although it’s risky and hard, seek first to understand, or diagnose before you prescribe, is a correct principle manifest in many areas of life. It’s the mark of all true professionals.
If you don’t have confidence in the diagnosis, you won’t have confidence in the prescription.
This principle is also true in sales. An effective sales person first seeks to understand the needs, the concerns, the situation of the customer. The amateur salesman sells products; the professional sells solutions to needs and problems. It’s a totally different approach. The professional learns how to diagnose, how to understand. He also learns how to relate people’s needs to his products and services. And he has to have the integrity to say, “My product or service will not meet that need” if it will not.
You may be scripted in the abundance mentality; I may be scripted in the scarcity mentality.
You may approach problems from a highly visual, intuitive, holistic right brain paradigm; I may be very left brain, very sequential, analytical, and verbal in my approach.
Our perceptions can be vastly different. And yet we both have lived with our paradigms for years, thinking they are “facts,” and questioning the character or the mental competence of anyone who can’t “see the facts.”
Even if (and especially when) the other person is not coming from that paradigm, seek first to understand.
Earlier we defined maturity as the balance between courage and consideration. Seeking to understand requires consideration; seeking to be understood takes courage. Win/Win requires a high degree of both. So it becomes important in interdependent situations for us to be understood.
The early Greeks had a magnificent philosophy which is embodied in three sequentially arranged words: ethos, pathos, and logos.
Ethos is your personal credibility, the faith people have in your integrity and competency. It’s the trust that you inspire, your Emotional Bank Account. Pathos is the empathic side—it’s the feeling. It means that you are in alignment with the emotional thrust of another person’s communication. Logos is the logic, the reasoning part of the presentation.
Notice the sequence: ethos, pathos, logos—your character, and your relationships, and then the logic of your presentation. This represents another major paradigm shift. Most people, in making presentations, go straight to the logos, the left brain logic, of their ideas. They try to convince other people of the validity of that logic without first taking ethos and pathos into consideration.
When you listen, you learn.
Seek first to understand. Before the problems come up, before you try to evaluate and prescribe, before you try to present your own ideas—seek to understand. It’s a powerful habit of effective interdependence.
When we really, deeply understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions and third alternatives. Our differences are no longer stumbling blocks to communication and progress. Instead, they become the stepping stones to synergy.
HABIT 6: SYNERGIZE
When properly understood, synergy is the highest activity in all life—the true test and manifestation of all of the other habits put together.
Synergy is the essence of principle-centered leadership. It is the essence of principle-centered parenting. It catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest powers within people. All the habits we have covered prepare us to create the miracle of synergy.
What is synergy? Simply defined, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Synergy is everywhere in nature.
so much potential remains untapped—completely undeveloped and unused. Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential.
The lowest level of communication coming out of low-trust situations would be characterized by defensiveness, protectiveness, and often legalistic language, which covers all the bases and spells out qualifiers and the escape clauses in the event things go sour. Such communication produces only Win/Lose or Lose/Lose. It isn’t effective—there’s no P/PC balance—and it creates further reasons to defend and protect.
The middle position is respectful communication. This is the level where fairly mature people interact. They have respect for each other, but they want to avoid the possibility of ugly confrontations, so they communicate politely but not empathically. They might understand each other intellectually, but they really don’t deeply look at the paradigms and assumptions underlying their own positions and become open to new possibilities.
In interdependent situations compromise is the position usually taken. Compromise means that 1 + 1 = 1½. Both give and take. The communication isn’t defensive or protective or angry or manipulative; it is honest and genuine and respectful. But it isn’t creative or synergistic. It produces a low form of Win/Win.
Synergy means that 1 + 1 may equal 8, 16, or even 1,600. The synergistic position of high trust produces solutions better than any originally proposed, and all parties know it. Furthermore, they genuinely enjoy the creative enterprise. A miniculture is formed to satisfy in and of itself. Even if it is short lived, the P/PC balance is there.
Seeking the third alternative is a major paradigm shift from the dichotomous, either/or mentality.
Valuing the differences is the essence of synergy—the mental, the emotional, the psychological differences between people. And the key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.
The relationship of the parts is also the power in creating a synergistic culture inside a family or an organization.
Synergy works; it’s a correct principle. It is the crowning achievement of all the previous habits. It is effectiveness in an interdependent reality—it is teamwork, team building, the development of unity and creativity with other human beings.
You can value the difference in other people. When someone disagrees with you, you can say, “Good! You see it differently.” You don’t have to agree with them; you can simply affirm them. And you can seek to understand.
When you see only two alternatives—yours and the “wrong” one—you can look for a synergistic third alternative. There’s almost always a third alternative, and if you work with a Win/Win philosophy and really seek to understand, you usually can find a solution that will be better for everyone concerned.
HABIT 7: SHARPEN THE SAW
Habit 7 is taking time to sharpen the saw. It surrounds the other habits on the Seven Habits paradigm because it is the habit that makes all the others possible.
Habit 7 is personal PC. It’s preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you. It’s renewing the four dimensions of your nature—physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional.
“Sharpen the saw” basically means expressing all four motivations. It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in wise and balanced ways.
To do this, we must be proactive. Taking time to sharpen the saw is a definite Quadrant II activity, and Quadrant II must be acted on. Quadrant I, because of its urgency, acts on us; it presses upon us constantly.
The physical dimension
The physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body—eating the right kinds of foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular basis.
A good exercise program is one that you can do in your own home and one that will build your body in three areas: endurance, flexibility, and strength.
Endurance comes from aerobic exercise, from cardiovascular efficiency—the ability of your heart to pump blood through your body.
You are considered minimally fit if you can increase your heart rate to at least one hundred beats per minute and keep it at that level for thirty minutes.
Flexibility comes through stretching. Most experts recommend warming up before and cooling down/stretching after aerobic exercise. Before, it helps loosen and warm the muscles to prepare for more vigorous exercise. After, it helps to dissipate the lactic acid so that you don’t feel sore and stiff.
Strength comes from muscle resistance exercises—like simple calisthenics, push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, and from working with weights. How much emphasis you put on developing strength depends on your situation.
The Spiritual dimension
Renewing the spiritual dimension provides leadership to your life.
The spiritual dimension is your core, your center, your commitment to your value system.
I find renewal in daily prayerful meditation on the scriptures because they represent my value system. As I read and meditate, I feel renewed, strengthened, centered and recommitted to serve.
Immersion in great literature or great music can provide a similar renewal of the spirit for some.
The mental dimension
Most of our mental development and study discipline comes through formal education. But as soon as we leave the external discipline of school, many of us let our minds atrophy.
In our family, we limit television watching to around seven hours a week, an average of about an hour a day.
Education—continuing education, continually honing and expanding the mind—is vital mental renewal.
There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature.
“The person who doesn’t read is no better off than the person who can’t read.”
Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context. Writing good letters—communicating on the deeper level of thoughts, feelings, and ideas rather than on the shallow, superficial level of events—also affects our ability to think clearly, to reason accurately, and to be understood effectively.
Organizing and planning represent other forms of mental renewal associated with Habits 2 and 3. It’s beginning with the end in mind and being able mentally to organize to accomplish that end. It’s exercising the visualizing, imagining power of your mind to see the end from the beginning and to see the entire journey, at least in principles, if not in steps.
The Social/emotional dimension
While the physical, spiritual, and mental dimensions are closely related to Habits 1, 2, and 3—centered on the principles of personal vision, leadership, and management—the social/emotional dimension focuses on Habits 4, 5, and 6—centered on the principles of interpersonal leadership, empathic communication, and creative cooperation.
The social and the emotional dimensions of our lives are tied together because our emotional life is primarily, but not exclusively, developed out of and manifested in our relationships with others.
Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.
There is also the intrinsic security that comes as a result of effective interdependent living. There is security in knowing that Win/Win solutions do exist, that life is not always “either/or,” that there are almost always mutually beneficial Third Alternatives. There is security in knowing that you can step out of your own frame of reference without giving it up, that you can really, deeply understand another human being. There is security that comes when you authentically, creatively and cooperatively interact with other people and really experience these interdependent habits.
There is intrinsic security that comes from service, from helping other people in a meaningful way.
Organizational as well as individual effectiveness requires development and renewal of all four dimensions in a wise and balanced way. Any dimension that is neglected will create negative force field resistance that pushes against effectiveness and growth. Organizations and individuals that give recognition to each of these four dimensions in their mission statement provide a powerful framework for balanced renewal.
This process of continuous improvement is the hallmark of the Total Quality Movement and a key to Japan’s economic ascendency.
Balanced renewal is optimally synergetic. The things you do to sharpen the saw in any one dimension have positive impact in other dimensions because they are so highly interrelated.
Renewal is the principle—and the process—that empowers us to move on an upward spiral of growth and change, of continuous improvement.
Moving along the upward spiral requires us to learn, commit, and do on increasingly higher planes. We deceive ourselves if we think that any one of these is sufficient. To keep progressing, we must learn, commit, and do—learn, commit, and do—and learn, commit, and do again.