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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Want to Join our Book Club? The 7 Habits, 25 Years Later.

Last month I attended my annual work conference.  I work for FranklinCovey, a company firmly focused on enabling greatness in people and organizations everywhere.  Yes, that's our mission and unlike most companies, we mean it.  We work diligently to live it out with each and every employee across the world.  Sometimes it's a daunting task burdened by sales goals that keep investors investing because as the late great teacher, Dr. Stephen R. Covey taught us, "No margin, No mission". And sometimes the task of enabling greatness isn't really a task at all, it's pure joy and satisfaction rolled up into a career that I love.

Next year will be the 25th anniversary of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Twenty Five Years.  The most influential business book of all time according to The Wall Street Journal. Still in the top 10 of business books on  Read by Kings, CEO's, Oprah and Jim Collins and also read by millions of every day people like you and me.

We at FranklinCovey were asked to each re-read our copy of The 7 Habits and some of us were assigned to lead book clubs to talk and share our experiences revisiting our roots.  I thought maybe you'd like to be a part of our club so I'll be sharing some insights here as we move through one of the classics and continue to see things differently so we can do them differently and ultimately lead a more effective life.

Part One: Paradigms and Principles

Inside Out
In my twenty years of studying The 7 Habits this is the "secret sauce".  This is what makes this book and this approach so special.  Dr. Covey took us away from just looking at our personality and asked us to look in the mirror and really look at our character.

A quote from Emerson, "What you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you say."

And one of the most profound, "Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or evil - the silent, unconscious, unseen influence in his life.  This is simply the radiation of what man really is, not what he pretends to be."

We have a lens through which we see the world.  Our lens was shaped by our upbringing, our experiences with parents, teachers, coaches, peers.  Every experience shaping the lens that we now use to see the world.  This lens is called our paradigm.  A paradigm is our map, our lens, our perspective.  We each have many maps of the way we think things should be.  These maps become the source of our attitudes and behaviors.

When attempting to make changes in our lives, people want the "to do" list, the "how to" book. Dr. Covey reminds us, "To try to change our outward attitudes and behaviors does very little good in the long run if we fail to examine the basic paradigms from which those attitudes and behaviors flow."

My personal favorite about paradigms:  We see the world, not as it is, but as we are-or, as we are conditioned to see it.

In order to create real change in ourselves, we must understand that not all of our paradigms are accurate.  Luckily we have this great power as humans that allows us to step back and examine our paradigms and remove those that are not really accurate.  Some of us were raised that the world was out to get us, that we must constantly protect ourselves from our boss, our teachers, or our neighbors.  Over time we may struggle with relationships and opportunities.  We can stand apart from our current perspective and say, "Is this really serving me well?" and if the answer is no, then we can go about the hard work of changing how we see the world.

The opposite can also be true, we could have been raised to believe that the world is a place of infinite opportunity, ours for the taking.  And when troubles and challenges arise, we cower under their weight because we hadn't prepared or believed that the challenges would come to us.  We can believe our inaccurate paradigms or we can change them.

Here are a couple of videos that illustrate the power of our paradigms.  Next time we'll explore principles.  Not the head of school kind, the gravity kind.

So what do you need to see differently?  Your husband, your teenager, your weight, your challenging project at work?  

I would absolutely love to hear your comments and stories about The 7 Habits.  Please place them in the comments.  And if you're so inspired, dust off your copy of the book, or put it on your Kindle and join the book club.  I promise that the habits are more important today than when Stephen wrote the book 25 years ago.  Yes, that's Stephen with a ph, not a v. : )