The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey is an eyeopening book that highlights the importance of taking the time to improve yourself, and your systems, for better results.
I did it! I read the book I set out to read this past month. I am not expecting any fanfare or a parade, but this is a huge accomplishment for me.
It took a lot of discipline to turn off the TV when the Blue Jays were on a huge winning streak or when the NBA finals were on. It was tough to find energy after coaching my son's and youngest daughter's baseball teams. It was difficult to find time while my business was starting to pick up more clients and my workload exceeded my expectations. But I did it. And I am happy that I did.
Although I will share insights into the things I have learned from reading, the purpose of this blog is not to give book reports or reviews. The purpose is more to document my experiences with becoming an active reader again, in the hopes of rekindling a love for reading.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey was a great read. It was very enlightening and encouraged me to evaluate my habits and how to replace them with better habits. But maybe I was a little over ambitious... Going from not really reading to setting a goal of reading one book per month isn't that difficult, but perhaps I could have chosen something that would not have kicked my "researching reader" into overdrive and over analysis. In this case, self analysis.
I feel like this isn't really a book that I could read and then move on to another but would rather re-read and review from time to time to see how I am doing with my self improvements. And after finishing the book, I feel like there are many improvements to make.
Here are three that really stood out to me:
Becoming more "Principle Centred"
Dr. Covey's discussion on Mission Statements and asking the reader to evaluate their centre has forced me to question what drives me to do the things I do. I want to be a good person, parent, spouse, etc. but why? Am I doing it for selfish reasons or to meet others' expectations? Am I really working from a solid, principle based foundation?
I have taken many courses that have used portions of Dr. Covey's work such as the "4 Quadrants of Time Management" or "Empathic listening", but without the focus on the core of the individual or their centre, these simply become tools that do not have their full effectiveness and can even be overwhelming to those not knowing how to properly use them. Much like a drill without power is just a really heavy screwdriver.
Really thinking "Win/Win"
I loved the concept of the "Abundance Mentality" vs. the "Scarcity Mentality" put forth in this book. Despite popular belief, there really is plenty out there for everyone and another's success does not take away from my successes. We are so deeply rooted in "Me vs. The World" that we miss out on so many opportunities for collaboration, synergy and real improvement.
As a business owner, I have to ask myself if my clients are winning as much as I am when they hire me. Are they getting as much out of the relationship as I am? I also have to make sure that I am not losing just to get the sale.
"Sharpening the Saw"
Again, this is a concept that has been presented to me in various seminars and training settings. You have to take time to improve your skills and yourself. Dr. Covey correctly points out that this is a key element of effective Quality Management Systems. It makes sense that it should be a key practice of an effective person.
The main point for me however, remains in being principle centred. Once you know what your centre is, you can focus on sharpening it. Until then you may be sharpening the wrong saw. I was happy when he suggested reading a book a month (I am doing that). Less excited when he talked about exercising regularly (not doing that so much). But that is something that I can work on. There won't be a blog on that.
So after the experience this month, I have decided to make a small modification in my goal. I will still read 1 book per month and blog about it, but this coming month I will not be reading a business-related book, but will instead read a novel. I think I need to give my brain a chance to read as a form of entertainment in order to "enjoy reading" instead of continuing to use reading as a way to research either for self or business improvements.
So this month, I will be reading W.P. Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe".
This book was the inspiration for one of my favourite movies, "Field of Dreams". I have seen many movies that are based on books. I can't say I have read too many books that were turned into movies. In fact, I picked this book up at a yard sale several years ago with every intention of reading it. I guess it is time to dust it off and finally put it to use.