Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sharpen the Saw

Last week I had the opportunity to meet face to face with a group of colleagues from around the world, after a period of working together as a virtual team. I had the privilege to share some ideas I learned in the past few years. During my preparation I noticed some interesting overlaps and touch-points between these ideas. Here is a sketch these relationships between ideas, using Stephen Covey's 7 Habits wheel diagram as an underlying structure, while other books, concepts and disciplines as elaborate and enrich certain parts of it.
Stephan Covey's 7 Habits mapped to other, overlapping ideas
Covey's 7 Habits, and Friends

Here is the textual version:

1. Be Proactive

The first habit is all about learning to choose your reactions overcoming automatic patterns of behaviors based on emotional triggers. I think Christopher Avery did a great job modeling our typical emotional transitions when we deal with problems with his "Responsibility Process". 

2. Begin with the End in Mind

Covey's most morbid habit urges us to explicitly craft our own personal mission statement. We have one life, make it count. Well, having one life is sometimes used to justify some questionable actions (YOLO), but lets say the message is - make your life matter, don't waste it watching TV. Memento Mori rather than Carpe Diem.
Having read "Drive" by Dan Pink, it seems there's a virtuous cycle at play - tuning to a purpose in what you do, kindles your intrinsic motivation, making you more engaged and therefore likely to succeed.

3. Put First Things First

Covey's quadrants, categorizing tasks on dimensions of importance and urgency have been a corner-stone to any time management system. Notable in that area:

4. Think Win-Win + 5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Both relate to NonViolent Communication: seeking first to understand is all about emphatic listening, while thinking win-win could be thought of as aimed to address the needs of both parties assuming abundance rather than regard realty as a zero-sum-game (in which for me to win you'll just have to lose).

6. Synergize

A Hyper-Performing Team is a whole, being more that the sum-of-its-parts. To boost your team coaching skills, here are quite a few good sources of inspiration:

7. Sharpen the Saw 

This diagram and blog post is a result and a part of an ongoing, continuous search for new ideas and deeper understanding.

I suppose this may be over simplistic, and based only on some of the things I personally encountered so far. How would you improve it? What are you missing here?

Update: I started A post series introducing Covey's 7 Habits.


  1. Hi Guy,
    I do not think this blog is oversimplistic. I see this as a very condensed summary.
    The hard part is to follow the seven habits daily and to work with people not following these habits. Adding information how to follow the habits would be very beneficial, however this may exceed the scope of a blog post.

    Thanks for this summary. I like it very much.
    Best regards,

    1. Thanks, Michael.
      It is definitely not easy to live by, and one can always improve. The purpose of this post was to propose some further reading and learning for anyone who wants to deepen their learning and practicing of any of the seven.
      I'll keep your request in mind - perhaps this could be a series of 7 posts, which would help me focus on one each time and get better at them.
      I'm not sure I got the point of working with people not following the habits - as far as I see it, others can't really hold you back from being a leader. If you care to expand on this specific difficulty perhaps I can understand better what kind of hardship you meant.

    2. Check it out:

  2. This may be an over-simplistic comment, but how does one really follow a habit - one may follow a rule, but once it's a habit, you just do it automatically. Habit is second nature, isn't it?

    Great post Guy, goes directly into my book of wisdom (and stuff to read).

    - Stefan

    1. Stefan - I think the intention was that the hard part is turning those into "habits" in the sense you meant. It might take years of dedicated intention to turn these into a second nature.
      Thank you, I hope you benefit from what you plan to read.

  3. Hi Guy, I always appreciate you and your mind. And I'm humbled that you would recognize two selections from my work. Thanks.

    I'm a bark-eater when it comes to responsibility -- so to me it tracks to all the habits, and I think where you have it is illustrative for your purposes.

    I love Stefan's question about habits -- having just been away from a 25-year habit for 6 weeks due to an injury, I'd say one value of a true habit is how conscious you are of it when you step away -- like withdrawal.

    Keep sharpening!

    1. Thank you, Christopher, for your kind words and for taking the time to respond.
      I believe I know Responsibility just enough to know why you'd say it maps to all the habits, and I think by saying it is illustrative to my purposes you mean what I partially meant saying the post might be over simplistic.. I went for the stronger and more obvious overlaps.

      I wish you full and quick recovery from your injury, Christopher!

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