Hello SOTGC readers.
Last night I was watching the first of the Presidential debates. Several ideas for posts came to mind as I was watching it. However, yesterday’s post was a bit “heavy” so I wanted to lighten it up a bit. I was also inspired to write this as the candidates kept discussing their views and plans for taxes and business. President Obama was explaining his views on taxes and kept saying something along the lines of, “people like me, who have been very blessed to do well” got me thinking about what characteristics highly successful people possess.
One of the greatest things about this country is that it truly is the land of opportunity. That no matter what income level you were born into, you can write your own destiny. Hard work, tenacity, dedication, and vision can and has built millionaires who were born into relative poverty. While writing a previous post (Pressure Makes Diamonds) I referenced these seven habits below, and wanted to expound upon them.
Dr. Stephen Covey has been recognized as one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans. He dedicated his life to demonstrating how every person can truly control their destiny with profound, yet straightforward guidance. Below are his “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
Be proactive: Covey’s first habit is one you could apply to almost any successful leader. But the people who practice it have also been explained as those who “recognize that they are ‘response-able.’ ” Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was one of those leaders. In an interview with Katie Couric during the waning days of his tenure, he said the most difficult thing about his job was that “everything that I’ve wanted to do to try and help the men and women in the field I’ve had to do outside the normal Pentagon bureaucracy.”
Begin with the end in mind: Covey’s second habit “is based on imagination,” his Web site says, “or the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes.” Steve Jobs’ ability to imagine great, world-changing products — and then see every detail through to the end — made him one of the world’s most effective innovators
Put first things first: The third habit reminds leaders that “to live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay.” It’s about not only time management, but life management and setting priorities about the day to day and the long term. Sheryl Sandberg may have helped bring bottom-line focus to Facebook’s “hacker way,” but she’s also unafraid to say that she leaves the office each day at 5:30 p.m.
Think win-win: The phrase “win-win” may be ubiquitous today, but its likely popularity came from Covey’s fourth habit, which “means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying.” Most skilled negotiators and successful diplomats are good practitioners of the “win-win” habit, the most recent of whom is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. As Susan Glasser, the editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy who wrote the definitive recent profile of Clinton, told NPR, the message she sends is that “not only is America back in the world, but we’re willing to be partners. This is not unilateral cowboy diplomacy anymore.”
Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Covey’s fifth habit encourages good listening, which requires the intent to understand, not just respond. Former Procter & Gamble chief executive A.G. Lafley turned the consumer products giant into a listening machine, observing customers in their homes, championing the design process and bringing in external ideas to help make more consumer-focused products.
Synergize: Covey may have called the sixth habit “synergize,” but he could have just said effective people are good at bringing together groups of people and celebrating their diverse ideas. Whatever one may think of Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, he’s been able to build winning teams of all-stars at both the college and Olympic level, no matter what egos are involved.
Sharpen the saw: The final thing highly effective people do, Covey says, is to preserve and enhance “the greatest asset you have — you” and find ways “for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.” In other words, they’re well-rounded, balanced leaders. The manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, PIMCO’s Bill Gross, regularly finds ways to disconnect from communication and practices yoga on a daily basis. (“Some of my best ideas literally come from standing on my head,” he told Fortune in 2006.)