Covey habit #3 – put the first things first...

Putting first things first Everybody has tasks s/he does not like. Recognizing when these tasks are so important they have become ‘the first thing’ and doing them first is what disciplined people do. But being disciplined is also about not doing tasks when they do not have priority. Covey thinks we should discipline ourselves. Does being disciplined make the tasks more fun? No! Only with a clear direction in mind will we find the strength to do the things we do not like and create time for those things we actually want to do. Climbing the right ladder is the first step. Once we are on the right ladder, the right technique might help us move faster. Habit number three is about how to climb once we know for certain we are climbing the right ladder. It is about living habit one and two every day. The urgent versus the important You should question yourself regularly whether the matter you are turning your attention to is urgent or important, or maybe both. Urgent matters are usually visible, they press on you. They are calling for action. You should wonder if the matter is urgent to you, or to other people. And if it is urgent to other people, do you want to put time and effort into it? Important matters are directed to your goals and values. Goals and values are less visible and hence less pressing. That is why you need more proactivity to get closer to your goals. It is about preparation and being prepared. It is about looking for opportunity instead of solving problems. Time management According to Covey the first generations of time management tools (notes, checklists, calendars and prioritization) are focused on those things...

Covey habit #1 – Why you should be Proactive...

“… Give me the courage to change the things which can and ought to be changed, the serenity to accept the things which cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Covey) Unlike animals we are not our feelings, nor our moods, nor our thoughts. The fact that we can reflect on our feelings, moods and thoughts separates us from all other living creatures on this world. This ability to be self-aware gives us the opportunity to be proactive. Because we are self-aware we can look at ourselves and reflect on our way of looking at and interacting with the world. How your behavior is determined According to Stephen Covey behavior is determined by three main factors. These factors create your ‘Pavlov reaction’ through many repetitions. Genes: you inherited the character of your family; Nurture: you got your character from how your parents brought you up; Environment: you are influenced by everything in your environment (people, situations, economic and natural policies).   Our standard behavior can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yet we all know the feeling of escaping our normal reaction and surprising ourselves with personal growth. We experience this as having the freedom to determine our own behavior. Liberty and freedom Some people have more liberty than others in creating and choosing their environment. To give an extreme example we compare a free man to a man in chains. The man in chains has less liberty: he cannot position himself everywhere in the room, let alone somewhere else. He is restrained in the movements he can make. How much liberty we have does not influence our freedom. This might sound contradictory, but I will explain. We always have the freedom to choose how we respond...

A habit called personality – Covey introduction...

“A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step and can only be taken one step at a time.” This was written by Stephen Covey, in ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Efficient People’. The book is more than twenty years old, but still very high on management lists. Many people ask for his advice; even Bill Clinton wanted to know how he could use the seven habits in his presidency. In this book Covey conflates character and habits in an atypical yet interesting fashion. I think Covey has a valid point about our character: for a big part we are what we did and thought in the past. But, when we try to think about changing – our personality or our more direct habits – Covey’s focus is not always helpful. This blog is about his perspective on human beings, how we try to do the right thing and were our behavior comes from. See this blog as an introduction to a further series of blogs in which I go through Covey’s ‘seven habits’ and apply my own ideas about habits to his theory. Quick fixes versus character ethic Stephen Covey talks about two ways of fixing the problems we encounter while trying to live a happy and successful life. One is to think about our appearance and how to make a good impression on others. This approach is focused on trying to fix things quickly. It makes use of our knowledge about social appropriateness and creating a social image through techniques and knowledge of human interaction. Deeper problems that might be present are ignored (and resurface time after time). This approach is called the ‘personality ethic’. The opposite option is to work on our integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage,...