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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux: Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind

In order to achieve our goals, we need to know what we want the outcome to be. This habit asks us to look at what our goal is and then we can begin to figure out the necessary steps in order to achieve it.
Habit 2 - Begin with the end in mind
This post is part of my “7 Habits Redux Series” in which I take another look at the “7 Habits of Highly Effective people” 6 years after my first reading of it. All posts in the series are listed here, and you can read my 2008 take on the 7 habits here.

All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.
Earl Nightingale

Covey’s second habit states that in order to achieve our goals we need to know where we’re going so that the steps we take ensure we’re heading in the right direction. Knowing where we’re heading – and what the final destination is – helps us to realise what goals are important to us and how to attain them.

This roadmap that we create lets us know whether we are expending our energies in the right way and that what we are doing will ultimately enable us to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves.

Covey stresses in this habit that there is a difference between management and leadership – that is managing and leading ourselves and others – and this distinction is an important one:

“Management is a bottom line focus: How can I best accomplish certain things? Leadership deals with the top line: What are the things I want to accomplish?”

A good example of the differences between management and leadership is that management deals with “control, efficiency and rules” whereas leadership deals with “direction, purpose and feeling”.

In order to Begin with the end in mind we must concentrate on our leadership (rather than management) skills. Focusing on personal leadership will help us clarify the values we hold important and only then can we understand our goals and the path we need to take to achieve them.

Habit 2 is very introspective, we need to really examine ourselves in order to ensure that the goals we wish to achieve are not at odds with our deeply held values and beliefs.

Because we’re self-aware, we are able to either adapt our goals or beliefs in order to achieve the end we have in mind. Covey suggests that in order to do this we come up with a “Personal Mission Statement”. Because a Personal Mission Statement is, as the title suggests, “Personal”, it will vary for each of us but some examples include:

  • Never compromise with honesty
  • Plan tomorrows work today
  • Be orderly in person and in work
  • Listen twice as much as you speak

Your mission statement could be written in list form like the one above, or in more of an narrative form. Whatever format it takes, it should be whatever feels most comfortable and natural for you and encapsulate your goals and beliefs.

In order to write our personal mission statement, we need to start at the centre of our circle of influence. Here we can examine our existing goals and beliefs and put them into practice using the four factors of security, power, guidance and wisdom to create balance and harmony.

Along with our circle of influence there are other centres such as spouse, family, money, work, pleasure, possession, friend/enemy, church and self. These centres all have influence on our beliefs and goals and shape not only our circles of influence but our personal mission statements too.

Principle of Centredness

Dependant on the position we’re in will affect the centre we’re focused on. For example, you may have arranged to go to the cinema with your partner – this is spouse-centred – then your boss calls and asks you to come into the office to help with a last minute project. Depending on your goals and beliefs, this will dictate whether you move from spouse-centred to work-centred, or perhaps if you’re interested in the overtime pay money-centred.

Your personal mission statement will enable you to determine what your important centres are, and when to swap between them. Because of this, a mission statement is not a quick and easy thing to write, in fact, it’s a constantly evolving entity that needs to be revisited often.

Covey finally talks about the power of visualisation: how we can use our imaginations to picture and outcome that we desire and we can use this visualisation to help set the road maps in order to help us attain our goals. Visualisation also helps us reconnect with our basic principles and beliefs that form the very basis of our road maps.

Over to you

Do you have a personal mission statement or road map? If so, how often do you revisit it?

You can check out my original posts from 2008 here, or the list from 2015 which I’ll keep updated as a new post goes up.

On Wednesday, we’ll look at Habit 3: Put first things first.

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