Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Habits, Good and Bad

I am in the habit of collecting quotes. Whenever I come across one that I like I write it down, sometimes in a running Word document that I created for that purpose, but more often than not on a yellow sticky note. My computer screen at work is literally framed in yellow sticky notes.

I've been doing some thinking lately about what I want to be when I grow up (hey, I'm only 48!) which has made me think of the silly concept of planning and goals. I've also been spending a lot of time on the computer/internet and, as all of you who read/write blogs know, the internet while a wonderful and useful tool is also a major time sucker. And it can become a pretty bad habit.

My eye was drawn to one of the yellow sticky quotes on my computer monitor. It's a quote by one of my favorite Sci-Fi authors, Robert Heinlein.

"In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it."

That got me to thinking about effective use of time, goal setting and another set of habits that I've learned and try to follow with varying degrees of success (lately, less rather than more). The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Now I know what you're thinking, stop groaning. I am so NOT into business systems, fads, and buzzwords. I worked for an aerospace company in the early 90's that was hip deep in Total Quality Management and I almost drowned in the bullshit. To be honest when I was first introduced to the 7 Habits it was through an employer-sponsored training class and I was very skeptical. Durng the class I became interested enough to get Covey's book on tape and what he had to say made sense to me. I realized that it wasn't a business system focused on quick techniques, productivity and buzzwords. It's really common sense (why do they call it that? it's so not common) and it's focused on character, principles, creating a balanced life, and being a better person.

What are the habits?

  1. Be Proactive. As opposed to reactive. Become responsible for the course of your life and choose how to respond rather than following a script written by someone else. A change in attitude.

  2. Begin with the End in Mind. Visualizing the person you want to be at the end of your life. Setting long term goals based on your principles.

  3. Put First Things First. Prioritizing based on a moral compass rather than a clock. Aligning all the short term goals to the long term. Avoiding getting buried in "the thick of thin things". (This warrants more time and I'll blog about it separately)

  4. Think Win-Win. A mindset of mutually beneficial solutions. For one to win doesn't mean another has to lose.

  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Listen empathetically without measuring the information against your own yardstick. Actually listen without using the time to plan what you're going to say when they're finished.

  6. Synergize. More than just compromise. Thinking creatively so that the outcome is more than anyone could have done individually. One plus one equals a thousand.

  7. Sharpen the Saw. Seeing to your personal health. Physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Illustrated by the story of the guy cutting wood. There was too much wood to cut and he was working too hard to take the time to sharpen the saw which would have made him more effective.
One, two and three are personal and are for self-development. Four, five and six are about interacting with others. Seven is about recharging, re-energizing, and providing perspective.

Here's a Seven Habits self assessment profile to see where you stand, if you're interested. And here is a link to a library of articles that provide some insight to Covey's ideas. Both of these links take you to the FranklinCovey website. I'm not affiliated with them and I'm not selling anything. I just think it's a good tool that's worth checking out if you're not familiar with it. If you've seen it before then maybe it's worth taking another look and refreshing your memory. As with anything I say, take it for what it's worth and have a great day.

Note: I'm sorry about the spacing problems. There's something screwed up with the formatting on today's post that I haven't been able to fix. I'm working on it.


Mike said...

There really isn't enough common sense in the world anymore. It's almost like it is being bred out of our genes or something.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

You can say that again Mike. Sense and courtesy, two things that are supposed to be common. Growing less and less common every day.

Ben O. said...

Excellent words to live each and every day with.

I feel better already - thanks.

Ben O.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever noticed that some of the smartest people severely lack in common sense?

Crashdummie said...

Wohow, glad to see there are more quote-o-holics out there. Btw, I adored this post – very inspiring. Definitely something I’ll try to think abt and learn something from.


Tequila Mockingbird said...

that robert heinlein should start a religion like the scientology guy did. his might be less nutty and might also lead to productivity

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Ben, thanks. I'm glad I made somebody feel better today.

Prepon, I notice that every day. I work at a Govt. research facility. We have Nobel prize winners here. Can't tie their damn shoes. Try doing safty around here.

Yeah, Crash, I'm a little quote crazy too. I've taken note of some of the ones on your blog, don't worry. Glad you liked it. Happy birthday again, thanks for choosing to spend a couple of minutes of it with me.

TM, actually he inadvertantly did start a religion. Sort of. It was actually some of his fans after "Stranger In a Strange Land" came out in the 60's. He was never crazy about the idea. He was an interesting guy, an odd mix of conservative and liberal depending on the subject.

Colonel Colonel said...

Every once in a while business books will give you great insight. For me it was Drucker's 'Innovation and Entrepreneurship', which at the time (and still today) points the way to success in my own rather odd business (rare books -go figure).

I love quotes. I don't keep sticky notes in the house, but have a pile of pieces of paper building up beside the computer.

A few years ago (when I was a bit over extended) I heard someone say that there is a limit of 3 things that you can be successful in at any one time, and if you try to focus on more, you'll fail at them all. I followed that advice and it worked out well. Your quotes sound interesting and I'm going to copy them and do some thinking...

BBC said...

"I am in the habit of collecting quotes. Whenever I come across one that I like I write it down, sometimes in a running Word document that I created for that purpose,"

Yes, me also, I have two documents full of them.

BBC said...

"I'm sorry about the spacing problems. There's something screwed up with the formatting on today's post that I haven't been able to fix. I'm working on it."

Why? Do you really think it will make a difference in the big picture of the world? Hey, just asking.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Col. thank's for your comment. If I can give someone a reason to smile or an occasion to pause for thought, well then, I'm doin' okay.

BBC, sir you are correct. It doesn't matter worth a darn. Thanks for the reminder.