How do I approach The Seven Habits?
Remember to implement and motivate
The Habit Equation
Based on Stephen Covey’s definition of “habit,” we can write an equation like this:
Habit = Knowledge x Skill x Desire
What’s interesting is the use of multiplication instead of addition in the equation. It means that if any of the variables is zero, no habit will form.
Much more than Knowledge
Although knowledge only accounts for one-third of the story, there are many of them in the book. For example, the goose and the golden egg principle alone dramatically reframed my own effectiveness, and it is the foundational knowledge that gives rise to the book’s existence.
I had this feeling of passion and excitement when I first found out about The Seven Habits. Life is full of hope, and the future is bright. Frankly, it still is to this day. So if you do feel the same, I want to cheer for you.
But while absorbing knowledge is great, don’t forget about the other two equally important variables — Skills and desires. This brings us to the second contributor of any habit.
The Skill of The Seven Habits
The skill required for a habit is how you execute any new learning. You need actual hands-on experience. This is when the focus shift from theoretical understanding to real-world practice. For example, I’ve been practicing the skill of listening. The concept was easy to understand but really difficult to execute. I have an impulse to give opinions. After a few trial-and-error, I found that having a curious mind is the key to listening. The actual practice helps me experience the benefit of an interesting conversation and a bonding relationship. This doesn’t work on paper.
Stephen Covey suggests that if you decide to go through the book to gain a sense of the whole, remember to come back for the application and suggestions at the end of each chapter. Moreover, he suggests you read with an intent to share. Sharing not only deepen your understanding but help others recognize your change and purpose. As a result, they are more likely to help you and form a learning atmosphere that is beneficial to all.
But knowing what to do and how to do it doesn’t form a habit yet. You must want to do it.
The Desire of The Seven Habits
The desire has to go beyond the superficial of you saying, “This idea is good for me, so of course I want to do it.” Many people struggle here because while they want to change, they have an even stronger desire to ‘stay comfortable.’ You have to look at both sides and face what’s stopping you.
Sometimes I find myself having too many expectations of others and giving more suggestions instead of doing what I think is right — simply listen. So I re-examine myself. I want to find out what disturbed my desire to do the right thing. To my surprise, there’s an underlying belief of mine that goes like this, “The most valuable thing I can do is to help others live a meaningful life, and what’s meaningful to me must be meaningful to them” This is how, subconsciously, I justify giving suggestions all the time. After I discover this about myself, I change the belief to something like this, “The most valuable thing I can do is to help others live a meaningful life. Although what’s meaningful to me may become meaningful to them in the future, that will be a choice of theirs. What concerns them now, instead, is the key to their wellbeing at the moment”. When I think in this way, I naturally want to listen. In this paradigm shift, I align my core values to listening, so I actually want to do it. The desire became clear, and the obstacle was removed. You have to cultivate your desire because only you can open the gate of change. No one else can.
Stephen Covey listed several benefits of The Seven Habits to get your desire all hyped up, and I want to share them with you now.
If you open yourself to the first three of the habits, you become independent. You will become confident because you define yourself from within. Your worth will have nothing to do with people’s opinions and comparisons.
If you open yourself to the next three habits, you will improve your important relationships, no matter how good or bad they currently are. You will have the resources now to see new possibilities you have never seen before.
If you internalize the seventh habit, you will be replacing your own batteries and constantly sharpening your understanding of the first six habits. Then, you are well on your way to self-growth and self-renewal.
Open The Gate of Change
The three pillars of any habit are in your hand. You can open yourself to The Seven Habits, or you can turn away. The choice is yours to make. While this approach is not a quick fix, meaning that it does not work on a superficial level, the results sometimes can be immediate. Nevertheless, determination and curiosity toward yourself do help. The more hard-earned the result is, the more likely it will last and be cherished.
I have decided to work on the knowledge, skill, and desire of these habits like they are the most important things in my life. And I hope you can join me to get the effectiveness and happiness you want.
If you find articles like this helpful, I hope you will apply them in your life and let me know how it goes. That helps me view the wisdom in a new light.