When a colleague loaned me Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People many years ago, it took me about three months to get round to reading it. I now realize that I wasted those three months. In fact, I read it three times in order to ensure that I had fully digested the wisdom therein.
While I cannot claim to have experienced an epiphany of epic proportions, it did cause me to make fundamental changes in the way I conduct business. In reality, I was practicing much of what Covey suggests, but I was doing so in a fairly unstructured and ill-disciplined way. However, in what I now term my “post-Covey” period, I do ensure that I audit myself regularly and I would urge you to do the same.
Covey is also responsible for the book Principle-Centered Leadership and many of his ideas and approaches relate to the management of people. Covey’s view focuses on interdependence, on what he calls “mature interaction.” When we are truly interdependent, then we have achieved and are practicing all seven habits. The habits are in fact steps, leading us from dependence through independence to interdependence and making use of our innate human characteristics—moving us in effect from what Covey terms “private victories” to public victories.
In any situation, our natural human response is to look for similarities to situations we have previously encountered. In doing this, we fail to recognize the situation we are actually in and the unique opportunities and challenges presented to us. In effect, “the way we see the problem is the problem,” which accounts for why we find ourselves repeating patterns of frustration and feeling unable to respond appropriately to situations facing us.