“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Dr. Stephen R. Covey
Analysis by Bob Bugle
“Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character and produce our effectiveness…or ineffectiveness.” Dr. Covey
Dr. Covey defines a habit as the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do it) and desire (wanting to do it). Unless all three elements are involved, a good habit will never be formed. Merely knowing what to do and having the will to do it produces ineffective results if we don’t possess the necessary skills. Similarly, having the knowledge and skill but not the desire accomplishes nothing.
Habit 6: “Synergize-Principles of Creative Cooperation”.
As Dr. Covey states, “Synergy is the essence of principle-centered leadership. It is the essence of principle-centered parenting. It catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest powers within people. All of the habits we have covered prepare us to create the miracle of synergy.”
Simply defined, “synergy” means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We see this in nature all the time. Atoms of hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water, the basis for all life on Earth. The primary colors blue and yellow combine to make green, which in the hands of a skilled artist can become a masterpiece. People can live side by side in a neighborhood, but if they share common values and work to achieve common goals, they can develop a sense of community
In order for people to create “synergy”, they need to (1) “Be Proactive,” understanding that we are responsible for our own lives. Our behaviors, and the consequences of those behaviors, are a function of our decisions, not our conditions; (2) “Begin with the End in Mind,” i.e. have a goal; (3) Put “First Things First” by prioritizing actions and maximizing resources; (4) Think “Win-Win” and work collaboratively to achieve a common goal that’s mutually beneficial. (5) “Seek First to Understand, Then be Understood” by listening to other’s ideas, positions and opinions even if they don’t agree with ours.
So why is “synergy” so difficult to achieve for so many people? There are two (2) primary reasons:
- Popular culture claims to celebrate diversity, but in reality human nature fosters uniformity. People of similar race, ethnicity, education, religion and economic standing tend to associate with others who share similar traits or conditions. Research firm Claritas figured this out decades ago when they correctly correlated purchasing and recreational activity (Psycho-graphics) with Zip Codes. These zip codes were then grouped into “Clusters” with names like “Blue-bloods” and “Shotguns & Pick-ups” based on the predominant traits and activities within those areas. “Birds of a feather flock together”. We tend to live, work and play with others who we most closely relate to. We’re in our comfort zone when we surround ourselves with ourselves. This concept works perfectly fine at a sporting event where we’re all rooting for our favorite team, or if we’re attending a political event where we’re surrounded with others with like minds. But it does nothing to promote understanding between individuals with divergent viewpoints, nor does it allow for the type of collaboration that is required in order to create the new and unique solutions that are urgently needed in order to solve the major problems that have plagued society for decades, and in some cases generations. Repeating the same activities and expecting different/better results isn’t just a definition of insanity as offered by the late Albert Einstein. It’s a way for leaders (especially in government) to appear to be addressing issues and solving problems when in reality they’re simply “kicking the can down the road” for future generations to address.
- Our reluctance to venture beyond our comfort zones doesn’t just inhibit our access to knowledge of the latest trends and advances that have already been achieved. It stifles our ability to build the kind of healthy relationships that are required in order to build the trust that is the foundation of all human interaction. Without trust, compromise becomes a four-letter word, and a sign of weakness. Collaboration is non-existent because information critical to the process of finding solutions and creating new and better ways isn’t shared. Motives and opinions are questioned impulsively. Individual achievements may occur, but most of the potential remains untapped, undeveloped and unused.
Synergy can only occur in an atmosphere that fosters trust, where everyone understands that individual success is most quickly achieved as a result of group accomplishments. Sports teams win championships because the players trust each other and suppress their egos for the greater good. Businesses achieve success because employees collaborate within and across departments to achieve common goals. Families succeed when husbands and wives create an environment that is truly fulfilling for everyone, where self-esteem and self-worth are nurtured, and where members work together to solve problems and instill shared values and fundamental principles.
Where synergy is alive and well, all things are possible.