I think most people have read or heard of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It was an awesome book for sure. My review of Seven Habits is here Seven Habits. Stephen Covey followed that up with the Eighth Habit which I found to be good and illuminating. He said he wrote this book because in 1989 the need was for being effective but in 2004 when he wrote this book the need was for greatness. This is a tougher read for sure but it is worth the effort. The eighth habit is all about finding your voice and helping others find their voice. Voice is where your talents, a genuine need, passion and conscience intersect. Your voice is all about unique personal significance.
Find your voice
Once you find your voice life will never be the same and every day you might find it exciting. There are two roads in life one is the well-traveled road to mediocrity and another path towards greatness. The path to mediocrity stifles human potential whereas the path to greatness unleashes it. Stephen says at any point of time we can decide to move from mediocrity to greatness. He believes all of us have the capacity to live a life of contribution and greatness.
There are three birth gifts
1. Freedom to Choose – You have enormous power within you and you have control over your choices. Your choices determine your decisions which in turn determines your actions. Marianne Williamson’s quote is awesome “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.” So, make wiser choices to have a better life.
2. Natural laws and principles – You must be principled in your approach to life. Principles are like light houses they don’t change. You can decide to jump but then you can’t control what gravity does to you.
3. Four Intelligence – This is the part that is good for all of us.
a. Mental Intelligence – Currently this is also called mindset. You can keep it great by reading broadly and having high self-awareness.
b. Physical Intelligence – Of course if we take care of our body through regular exercise, wise nutrition and stress reduction we will be happier and possibly live longer.
c. Emotional Intelligence – This is all about self-awareness, personal motivation, self-regulation and empathy.
d. Spiritual Intelligence – Stephen says this is about integrity, voice and meaning.
Here are the four keys to find your voice which is uniquely significant to you.
1. Vision – Vision is the first creation. It is about having the big picture of what your life should stand for. This requires thorough soul-searching and understanding what you really want your life to stand for. Of course, all the great leaders we know had an audacious vision but they make sure it also serves a larger cause.
2. Discipline – This is all about making the vision a reality. Converting dreams into reality can only be done through systematic discipline.
3. Passion – This is about being enthusiastic about your vision and bringing it to reality.
4. Conscience – This is all about morality. You have a still small voice within which knows your true north. Follow your conscience and direct your leadership accordingly.
Help others find their voice
There are four keys to do this
1. Modelling – Lead by example and trust worthiness
2. Path finding – Bring others to buy into your vision
3. Aligning – This is all about strategy and structure
4. Empowering – Make sure everyone is singing to the same tune
The first two are all about focus and the other two are about execution.
Finally, there are four steps which are absolutely needed to make individuals and organizations effective.
Focus on the wildly important — This is the essence of time management. There will never be enough time to do everything but always enough time to do the important things. It is important to focus on the top 20% of your items which will result in 80% of your results. This is the Pareto Principle in action. Learn to say no to the things which are not aligned to your priorities. As Stephen Covey says you can say no to a lot of unimportant things if you have a more important burning yes. Multitasking is a productivity killer. According to experts “If you are trying to accomplish many things at the same time you will get more done by focusing on one task at a time, not by switching constantly from one task to another.” I read an article in Inc. magazine which said, “In one survey, people confessed to spending 40 percent of their time on things that are unimportant or downright irrelevant.” The key is to reverse this and focus on the most important things to be done. As Stephen Covey sanely observed “The key is to schedule your priorities and not prioritize your schedule.” Focus on what is the most important and say no to everything else.
Create a compelling scorecard – He encourages organizations to create a scorecard with the following
· What is current result meaning where you are? For example, 50M revenue
· Expected Result – For example 60M Revenue
· Create a deadline on when it is to be achieved – by Dec 30th, 2020
· Communicate this goal throughout all levels of the organization
Translate the goals into action -Keep taking daily steps towards your goals is what gets your organization to greatness.
Finally hold everyone in the team accountable for results.
I hope you enjoyed reading this review. It is a big book and I really liked the impact it has had on me. My voice is maximising my potential and helping others maximise theirs. Stephen Covey says you learn only by teaching the material to others. I hope you found this useful and wish you all the best to find your voice.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.