Habit 7 is the habit that makes all others possible (Er, so why isn’t this the first one then or am I being picky?). Basically “Sharpening the saw” is the process of learning, evolving and building on the habits that we’ve mastered; It’s self-improvement and self growth in all areas of our lives.
This habit sees us applying learning and growth over 4 main areas:
- Physical (exercise, nutrition, stress management)
- Social/Emotional (Service, Empathy, Synergy, Intrinsic Security)
- Spiritual (Value Clarification & Commitment, Study & Meditation)
- Mental (Reading, Visualising, Planning, Writing)
In order to “Sharpen the saw”, we need to practice improving the Physical, Social/Emotional, Spiritual and Mental aspects of our lives. Covey breaks this down into sections and gives us pointers on what we could be improving in each of these areas:
Looking after ourselves
Exercise – Covey puts a lot of emphasis on this, tying mental and physical activity together.
This is highly related to Habit 2 (Start with the end in mind)
Self Examination of our inner selves and motivations
This links back to our “Personal Mission Statement”, we use this time to review and renew ourselves.
Growing rather than stagnating
Continuing to learn – doesn’t necessarily mean a classroom or in a formal setting
Trying new things – pushing the boundaries, going past our “comfort zone”
Keeping a diary
Bringing together the first 6 habits not only helps us to improve ourselves but other as well. Covey calls this “Scripting” which sounds a lot better than Covey’s previous use of the term “Influence”. When we “Script” people, we can begin to start moulding their outlook on life, giving them “Psychological Air” and building up our emotional bank balance with them. This moves the other person into our Circle of Influence.\
Covey begins to wind down the chapter with a quote from Goethe which I think is quite an apt way to illustrate his points:
Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.
We need to ensure that we balance our self-renewal and growth across all four aspects, negativity in one area impacts all of the other areas. Improving one aspect should have a positive impact across the other areas but we need to ensure that we don’t ignore other aspects that we may not feel comfortable with. Covey calls this process a “Private Victory”, which ideally should be practiced an hour a day, this then creates an “Upward spiral of “Learn – Commit – Do”.
What I learned from Habit Seven
I have to admit, not a lot. I think the only thing that I don’t look after properly in this habit is Exercise – I know I could do more but never seem to have the time or inclination!
What am I going to do about it?
Not a lot really! I think I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing and maybe think about exercising a bit more!
Interested in this book? Buy the 7 Habits of highly effective people from Amazon today
Why Not Read The Updated Version?
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux : Overview
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux: Habit 1 – Be Proactive
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux: Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux: Habit 3 – Put First Things First
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux: Habit 4 – Think Win/Win
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux: Habit 5 – Seek first to understand then to be understood
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux: Habit 6 – Synergize
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux: Habit 7 – Sharpen The Saw
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