Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Habits of CHOICE

Every time I meet a young person at work who asks me what they should read - err they occasionally do :) - I check with them "Have you read 7 Habits?".

This is not only because when I started out at P&G in the 90s, the charismatic Stephen Covey's videos (they were called "tapes") and the 7 Habits trainings were the officially blessed truth. Yes, we all do get kind of  stamped by our early "damn good yaar" experiences. But there is more to it.

I truly think it's the most useful book written on self improvement.

This month when Stephen Covey died, I think the world lost a sensible straight talking person. He will be remembered for many things, but to the world at large this awkward looking diagram (above) is his epitaph in summary.

What was refreshing about Covey's message was that for a brief period of time he actually threw out of the window of public discourse, the clawing dominance of the unchangeable past of our life i.e. personality, genes, upbringing etc. He said what mattered was character, and that can be built. How? Learning the seven habits was the simple and difficult answer.

This matter of choice i.e. you have a choice in how you see things, how you do things, how you live your life etc, can be quite liberating. His books and lectures are full of engaging real life anecdotes,  clever pictures, and thoughtful looking diagrams. Famous ones include the URGENT-IMPORTANT matrix which illustrates the how we may be wasting our time on urgent stuff thats not very important; or the trick-picture which sometimes looks like an old woman and sometimes like a young lady - depending on how you look.

However, one of the things I found most useful was the table at the back of the book. It illustrates the 15 or 16 different "types of lives" you could be leading ranging from family-centered, work-centered, money-centered, spouse-centered all the way to a principle-cenetered-life, for which he makes a strong case. Interestingly it predicts the choices you (will) make everyday in all aspects of your life, based on the "center" you have knowingly or unknowingly chosen. Can be very revealing.

The "unchangeables" are back, personality theory and genetics rule again; but thankfully his message is there for who want to practice it. Go character!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8LM4C1l70U

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