I have had this book for years, but only recently have really decided to crack it open and read/study it. So far, I agree with the millions of people who have read it. Stephen R. Covey is truly brilliant. Therefore, I am going to go through each of the 7 habits and give a brief synopsis on the main lessons I took away from each habit. It would be impossible to put everything I learn into a single post, so therefore consider this a little spoiler…and go buy the book!
Paradigm–basically is the way that we “see” the world; “see” in terms of perceiving, understanding, & interpreting (not the visual sense)
Paradigm Shift–is that “Aha!” experience when someone finally “sees the composite picture in another way. The more bound a person is by their initial perception, the more powerful their Aha! experience is–like turning on a light bulb inside.
“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are–or, as we are conditioned to see it.”
“The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view.”
So, what Covey is saying is that the key to making huge, significant change, is to work on our basic paradigms. The only way to make huge change in your life is to start at the core. You can’t just focus at changing your attitudes and behaviors because that is not change at the core, which is not going to result in real, long-term change. The only real way to achieve amazing improvement in our lives is to focus on the core which is the paradigms from which our attitudes and behaviors actually flow. Once we change these paradigms, we can change the way that we see the world. Because you cannot separate paradigms from your character. “Being is seeing in the human dimension. And what we see is highly interrelated to what we are.”
Covey talks about the principle-centered paradigm, and says that we need to focus on the Character Ethic as opposed to the Personality Ethic. “The Character Ethic is based on the fundamental idea that there are principles that govern human effectiveness.” These principles are natural laws that cannot be broken, they are what governs human growth and happiness, and they are in fact the “objective reality.” Principles are not practices. Practices are situationally specific, but principles are deep fundamental truths that have universal application. “When these truths are internalized into habits, they empower people to create a wide variety of practices to deal with different situations.” They are also not values. Principles are the territory. Values are maps. “Principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have enduring, permanent value. They’re fundamental. They’re essentially unarguable because they are self-evident.”
On the other hand, the Personality Ethic is the “get rich quick” scheme that always promises you “wealth without work.” While it may seem to work, you are still the same person, and the scheme does not result in long-term success. This book instead focuses on a principle-center, character-based, “inside-out” approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness.
The inside-out approach says that private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to others. It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristotle
HABIT: intersection of knowledge, skill & desire; in order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all 3!