Sunday, May 22, 2011


To focus on technique is like cramming your way through high school. You sometimes get by, perhaps even get good grades, but if you don’t pay the price day in and day out, you will never achieve true mastery of subjects you study or develop an educated mind. - Stephen R Covey.

Life as i knew it changed forever in the summer of 2009. What began as a casual read deeply influenced the way i saw “Life”. I do not mean that i read some book, and life was changed bang on! Nopes, far from it, reading the book made me realize that i was living in a “safe zone”. And that constant dwelling in the “safe zone” made me plain miserable. Miserable for me and of course there’s no denying that i was making people close to me miserable as well. Now, that was an epiphany of a kind for me, because for the first time ever, i was awakening to reality. Suddenly, here i was bombarded with infinite questions. Where am i going? Is this what i want? And so on. That is what the book did. It threw open the flood gates for effective change, and it also brought in “the law of attraction”. Before i knew it, i was attracting people, events and books that were eerily answers to the questions i was asking! No longer was i clinging on to a safe zone. The realm of the unknown was exciting. One of the best things that happened while reading the 7 habits was to teach another about them. Again, i was experiencing a feeling, i had long forgotten. Back in school or college, when we had learned some part of a subject well, there was this profound sense of satisfaction in explaining it to someone else. I was getting to do that again. So there i was, in my philosophical best, taking long walks in the twilight, around the sprawling Cochin university campus teaching what i had learned. In that sharing came about a fresh perspective about the things i was reading. Another human being’s priceless perspective. And that is what i intend to achieve by sharing the 8th Habit with you.

Before i get started on the 8TH Habit, let me just review the seven habits of highly effective people.

Habit 1: Be Proactive.

Being proactive is more than taking initiative. It is accepting responsibility for our own behaviour (past present and future) and making choices based on principles and values rather than on moods or circumstances. Proactive people are agents of change and choose not to be victims, to be reactive or to blame others. They do this by developing and using the four unique human gifts – self awareness, conscience, imagination, and independent will – and by taking an inside – out approach to creating change. They resolve to be the creative force in their own lives, which is the most fundamental decision anyone ever makes.

Habit 2: Begin with end in Mind.

All things are created twice – first mentally, second physically. Individuals, families, teams, organizations shape their own future by creating a mental vision and purpose for any project. They don’t just live day to day without a clear purpose in mind. They mentally identify and commit themselves to the principles, values, relationships and purposes that matter most to them. A mission statement is the highest form of mental creation for an individual, a family or an organization. It is the primary decision because it governs all the other decisions. Creating a culture behind a shared mission, vision and values is the essence of leadership.

Habit 3 : Put first things first

Putting first things first is the second or physical creation. It is organizing and executing around the mental creation. (Your purpose, vision, values and most important priorities). Second things do not come first. First things do not come second. Individuals and organizations focus on what matters most, urgent or not. The main thing then, is to keep the main thing the main thing!

Habit 4 : Think Win – Win.

Thinking win – win is a frame of mind and heart that seeks mutual benefit and is based on mutual respect in all interactions. Its about thinking in terms of abundance – an ever expanding “pie”, a cornucopia of opportunity, wealth and recourses – rather than scarcity and adversarial competition. Its not thinking selfishly (win – lose) or like a martyr (lose – win). In our work and family life, members think interdependently – in terms of “we”, not “me”. Thinking win – win encourages conflict resolution and helps individuals seek mutually beneficial solutions. Its sharing information, power, recognition and rewards.

Habit 5 : Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

When we listen with the intent to understand others, rather than with the intent to reply, we begin true communication and relationship building. When others feel understood first, they feel affirmed and valued, defences are lowered, and opportunities to speak openly and to be understood come much more naturally and easily. Seeking to understand takes kindness; seeking to be understood takes courage. Effectiveness lies in balancing the two.

Habit 6 : Synergize

Synergy is about producing a third alternative – not my way, not your way, but a third way that is better than either of us would come individually. It is the fruit of mutual respect – of understanding and even celebrating one another’s differences in solving problems, seizing opportunities. Synergistic teams and families thrive on individual strengths so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Such relationships and teams denounce defensive adversarialism. (hostility) ( 1 + 1 = ½). They don’t settle on compromise ( 1 + 1 = 1 ½) or merely cooperation (1+ 1 = 2). With synergy you go for ( 1+ 1 = 4 or more)

Habit 7: Sharpening the saw is about constantly renewing ourselves in the four basic areas of life : physical, social ( emotional), mental and spiritual. It’s the Habit that increases our capacity to live all other habits of effectiveness. For an organization, Habit 7 promotes vision, renewal continuous improvement, safe guards against burn out and entropy, and puts the organization on a new upward growth path. For a family, it increases effectiveness through regular personal and family activities such as establishing traditions that nurture the spirit of family renewal.

Emotional bank account.

The emotional bank account is a metaphor for the amount of trust in a relationship. Like a financial bank account, it something we make deposits into and withdrawals from. Actions such as seeking first to understand, being kind , making and keeping promises, and being loyal to the absent increase the balance of trust. Being unkind, breaking promises, and gossiping about someone who is absent decrease or even bankrupt the trust in a relationship.


A Paradigm is the way each person sees the world, not necessarily the way it is in reality. Its the map, not the territory. It’s the lens, through which we view everything, formed by our upbringing and cumulative experiences and choices.

I understand that each of us lead busy lives with full schedules. But i take courage to ask you to make time to read this material, because only when you do so, can we synergize to get the best out of this . I am told that there is a great spiritual practice in India that says one must not focus on the outcome of a technique , rather one must simply be completely involved in the process of the technique and look at the results as sense of feedback alone. I suggest we use the habit 8 notes in this way. Let us apply it , be completely involved in the application and then look at the results in each area of our lives as a feedback.

Best wishes.

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