Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These examples were very helpful, 22 Oct 2003
This review is from: Living the Seven Habits (Paperback)
I have to admit that when I first read "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" I recognized its value but was not highly enough motivated to incorporate it into my daily life. Then with the passage of time and particularly after reading Covey's "Principle-Centered Leadership" I came back to it. Yet there was still something holding me back. The missing something was "Living the 7 Habits: Stories of Courage and Inspiration" with its multitude of examples of successful application in real world situations. I needed the encouragement of others to tell me "Hey this is how I applied it; it worked for me; you can do it, too." I feel that I will be most effective by referring to all three books because there is a multiplier effect - the three together are greater than their simple sum.
"Living the 7 Habits: Stories of Courage and Inspiration" is a collection of personal statements in four broad contexts: individual, family, community and education, and workplace. This synopsis is about the person who was appointed change agent of a major company that, with an annual growth rate of 40%, was one of the fastest growing companies in the world. " My goal was to create an organization of fifteen thousand exceptional businesspeople. We assumed that everyone wanted to be an entrepreneur within the company, and we gave them credit for having the brains and initiative to do it. My mission was to change the culture within what is essentially a virtual company. Our corporation had more territorial rivalries than the Middle East. Information was hoarded. Communication was disjointed. Trust and synergy were virtually nonexistent. Suddenly, the competition was all over us, undercutting our prices and courting our customers. One of my directives was to make the company more competitive and to learn faster than our competition. My job was to help create among the company's widely scattered population a sense of shared purpose (Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind). After recruiting the best, brightest, and most highly motivated people, we gently immersed them in the realities of our business, presenting them with information on profit margins, the marketplace, and the influences impacting the decisions of their customers (Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood). They were also introduced to a specially designed 7 Habits course to provide them with foundational principles and context for the other materials. There were only three rules: Take care of yourself. Take care of each other. Take care of this place. It wasn't long before mission statements began appearing on cubicle walls, and the conversations among employees were marked by references to making deposits into Emotional Bank Accounts. It was an experience of self-discovery for many people. They realized that the company valued them. I had spouses come to me after their husbands or wives had been to a session and say, 'This changed my life because it changed our family.'"
Not all the stories relate specific actions against a specific habit. This is a synopsis of a story by a person from Indian stock whose grandfather was cheated out of 160 acres of oil-rich land. "It was only after he died, when we were going through his papers and correspondence, that I realized what a phenomenal man my simple, unassuming grandfather actually was. The Washington my grandmother referred to was actually Washington, D.C. In his papers, we found letters from governors, senators, U.S. representatives. Some congratulated him on his fiftieth wedding anniversary; others thanked him for his help with legislation issues and for his community service. I sat there thinking, "Did they know the same man I did?" He had no eloquence, no wealth, not even his own home. Yet here were famous, powerful people corresponding with him. I realized that his life had been lived not to acquire things for himself, but to help other people. He had lived a life of integrity, honesty, and dedication to family and community all the while toiling in relative obscurity and humility. Once, before he died, he told me that there are two reward systems: people who will be rewarded here and people who will be rewarded later. 'These are not the same people,' he said. He continued, 'For all that you don't see in a reward system now, you will see some other time.' We debated long and hard what to do about the situation. Should we sue him to take back the land? Should we let it alone? Shouldn't he have to pay for his wrong doings? In the end, we knew. We knew what he would do. He would let it alone and allow the taxpayer to reap whatever rewards his behavior would cause him to reap, whether here or later. My grandfather might not have been able to leave us 160 acres of oil-rich land in Oklahoma but he left us something far more important. His insistence on humility, on compassion, on spending his life trying to help those around him with no thought of reward or praise is now our family legacy. He has changed generations of people with the help he gave. Can you put a dollar-and-cents value on that? I say absolutely not. We now have a value I try to instill in my own family to continue the legacy started by the Choctaw preacher who never owned his own home."
I think there is a maturity continuum. It is as though most other books address the nuts and bolts of doing business well - and of course that is important - and then we discover that there is something more to business than just that. Then we are ready for Stephen Covey.
dwillis@afs.edu.gr
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