One hundred posts – seven habits

We all have heroes, people who inspire us, role models or people we’d like to invite to a fantasy dinner party. One of mine is the writer and speaker Stephen Covey who died last month. His seven habits for personal effectiveness underpin a lot of what I believe in as a coach so for my one hundredth post (wow!), I thought I’d share them with you.

Well-used book on personal effectiveness

My rather well-used copy!
Photo by Sarah Jackson

Habit one: be proactive

Much of what makes our life a success is down to us. Habit one encourages us to notice this and then take responsibility for our decisions and actions.

Habit two: begin with the end in mind

If you know where you are now and where you’re going, it’s much easier to plan the route.

As part of habit two, you spend time digging into your deeply-held values, goals and how you’d like your relationships and roles to function.

Habit three: put first things first

I’ve written about the first things first principle before. In a nutshell, this encourages us to consider the importance of tasks, not just their urgency, as we plan our activity.

Having identified what values and goals are really important to us as part of habit two, habit three provokes us to consider those things we should put first in our lives if we want to live up to those beliefs and objectives.

Habit four: think win-win

Relationships are often a negotiation and as such, a mutually beneficial agreement is the ultimately the best result. Seeking to ensure this demonstrates the value we put on our family, friends and colleagues.

Habit five: seek first to understand, then to be understood

‘I never learned anything while I was talking’ – Larry King

When we set aside our own agenda and take time to really listen to another person, we often find it’s reciprocated. That mutual respect promotes understanding which leads to a healthier and more positive interaction – back to habit four’s ‘win-win’.

Habit six: synergize

Fifteen thousand volunteers made the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony an incredible spectacle. Could Kenneth Branagh have carried the whole thing on his own? Would a whole evening of Mr Bean have been so entertaining?

Habit six challenges us to work with the strengths of our team by encouraging their contributions and inspiring them as leaders. Together we achieve so much more.

Habit seven: sharpen the saw

‘If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe’ 

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln knew what he was talking about – chopping down a tree with a blunt axe is going to take a while. The saw to which Covey refers is us: our own energy, wellbeing, resources. Habit seven encourages us to find ways in which we can become refreshed, restored and renewed.

Strangely enough, there’s an eighth habit. I’ll write about that some other time.

Today’s pebble for your thoughts:

Which of the seven habits will you try out this week?

I’d love to hear from you,


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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3 Responses to One hundred posts – seven habits

  1. Philippa says:

    Congratulations on your 100th post. Each week is thought provoking and inspiring. Thank you.

  2. Pingback: Have you found your voice? | Turning over pebbles

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