Tammy Sassoon, M.S. ED
In last month’s column we discussed the first 3 habits in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which are about taking control of your own life. Habits 4, 5, and 6 are about enjoying healthy relationships with others, and habit 7 is about taking care of yourself so you can live habits 1-6 with strength and joy. Below is a brief summary of habits 4 through 7.
Habit 4: Think WinWin
Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing – that is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Like, as if there is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me;
it’s not fair, so I’m going to make sure you don’t get any more. We don’t have to play life’s game that way because we know that Hashem has enough resources and success for everyone.
Win-win sees life as a cooperative game, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are satisfying to you AND to the other person.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Communication is one of the most important skills in life. We spend years learning how to read and write, and years learning how to speak. But what about listening?
Most people seek first to be understood; they want to get their point across. And in doing so, they may unintentionally ignore the other person completely, pretend that they’re listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation, or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. We listen to the other person as we prepare in our minds what we are going to say, the questions we are going to ask, etc. And consequently, we decide prematurely what the other person means before he/she finishes communicating.
People who seek first to understand have much better communication skills and learn much more than most people who seek first to be understood.
Habit 6: Synergize
To put it simply, synergy means “two heads are better than one.” To synergize one must make a habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. Synergy lets us discover jointly things we are much less likely to discover by ourselves. It is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. One plus one equals three, or six, or sixty – you name it.
When people begin to interact together genuinely, and they’re open to each other’s influence, they begin to gain new insight. The capability of inventing new approaches is increased exponentially because of differences.
Valuing differences is what really drives synergy. Do you truly value the mental, emotional, and psychological differences among people? Or do you wish everyone would just agree with you so you could all get along? Differences should be seen as strengths, not weaknesses. They add zest to life.
Habit 7: “Sharpen the Saw”
If you take the time to sharpen your saw it obviously works more efficiently. This means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – yourself. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in all areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.
As you renew yourself in each of these areas, you create growth and change in your life. “Sharpen the Saw” keeps you fresh so you can continue to practice the other six habits. You increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you. Without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish.
Study and practice these 7 Habits in order to help you reach your goals, and enjoy the process as you are on life’s journey.