The seven habits • Be proactive: Taking responsibility for every aspect of your life is being proactive.

After this, initiative and action will follow. Covey says this separates us from animals, as we have the ability to detach and observe ourselves. We can think about our thoughts, and this attribute gives us the power not to be affected by circumstances. At the opposite end, being reactive is blaming other people and circumstances, for obstacles or problems. • Begin with the end in mind: This is about setting long-term goals. Covey recommends formulating a ‘personal vision statement’ to document one’s perception of one’s own vision in life, with visualisation as an important tool to develop this. This is also true for, and applicable to organisational vision statements. They can be more effective if developed with the support of all members of an organisation rather than prescribed. • Put first things first: This is about developing a framework for prioritising work. Tasks that are not urgent, but are in fact, very important, should not be sacrificed for short-term goals. Delegation is an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks, agreed upon in advance, rather than prescribed as detailed work plans. • Think win-win: This is an attitude, which results in mutually beneficial solutions that satisfy the needs of oneself, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved. Covey also warns of the consequences of thinking winlose, or lose-lose. • Seek to understand others first, and then seek to be understood by others: Giving advice, before having understood a person, and his situation, generally results in rejection of the advice. A monologue of the story of your life, will decrease the chance of establishing a working communication. • Synergise: This is a way of working in teams by applying effective problem solving, collaborative decision making, valuing differences, building on divergent strengths, encouraging creative collaboration, and embracing innovation. When synergy is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved individually. In short, it is the principle of “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” • Sharpen the saw: This focuses on expressing all four motivations – physical (exercise, nutrition,stress management), mental (reading, writing, visualising, planning), social/emotional (service, empathy, synergy and intrinsic security), and spiritual (value clarification and commitment, study and meditation). In 1991, I bought Covey’s book, went through it, and put it on my bookshelf. I confess that I did not practice it. Now, almost 18 years later, I picked up his chapter on Renewal and read it seriously. So, what exactly is Renewal? For Covey, it is Habit 7 or taking the time to ‘sharpen the saw’. It is preserving, and enhancing the greatest asset we have – us. It is renewing the four dimensions of our nature – physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional. This is the single most powerful investment we can make in life – investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have to deal with life, and to contribute. Covey calls it ‘sharpening the saw’ or expressing all four motivations, exercising all four dimensions of ournature regularly and consistently, in wise and balanced ways. The four dimensions I like what writer Rumer Godden says, “Everyone is a house with four rooms: Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.” I can relate to this. Since I became an adult, it has been difficult for me to go to each room every day, even just to air it. I did not know, there were rooms, the precise nature, and the importance of visiting each one, even if to air it. I was in one room or another. While I enjoyed being in the room I was in at that time, I knew I was missing something. It took me a while to get to this point. While there were signs – poor physical and mental health, unhappy relationships – I could not make the connection. I attempted renewal (as I reflect back now) in small ways. About ten years ago, I realised that I needed serious and balanced intervention. How do we renew ourselves in the four dimensions? According to Covey: • Renewing the physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body, by eating the right foods,

learn. the conscience. Over a period. Our emotional life is primarily. Self-renewal The self-renewal process must include balanced renewal in all four dimensions of our nature: physical. reading. and reach out to people I do not know once or twice a week. create and adapt. but not there. Covey speaks of one more aspect of renewal. change. People find various things useful to them – prayer. and management (Habit 3) in our life. In the final analysis. the more effectively we can exercise personal leadership (Habit 2). 3). our centre. • Renewing the mental dimension is learning to be a lifelong learner. and had work that made me happy. It is primarily a matter of emotion highly related to our sense of personal security. I call this ‘listening to my voice’. Success does not come easy. as it is not a product of intellect. but not deliberately or mindfully. The social and emotional dimensions are tied together. the more renewing activities you can do (Habit 7). It comes from service. or helping people in a meaningful way. I pretended I did not. developed out of and manifested. and people. had a good circle of friends. cooperatively interact with people. the more effectively we are in the synergetic Win/Win solutions (Habits 4 and 6). share and use them). Nevertheless. but not exclusively. from our principles. The more we seek first to understand (Habit 5). I was there. mental and emotional. • Renewing the spiritual dimension is providing leadership to our lives. which is essential to this movement upwards. Endurance comes with aerobic exercise – the ability of your heartto pump blood through your body – with rapid walking. I keep track of my family and friends. What is this? Balanced renewal is optimally synergetic. I had a hard shell around a rather soft interior. This could bework or anonymous service. contribute to organising and planning – beginning with the end in mind. it lies in my power to produce – to think. in our relationships with others. and exercising on a regular basis. What then. I write – almost daily – a blog on a site. I have felt that I cannot take time out for renewal as I have responsibilities in the economic sphere. swimming. and continuous improvement. siblings. I try to do water colouring several times a month. For example. Very often. I select activities in my personal life such as writing. which will build your body in three areas: endurance. It is our core. When I hurt. I smiled when I felt like crying. Covey points out that improvement in one habit synergetically (combined effort being greater than the parts) increases our ability to live the rest. I soon learned that my economic security does not lie in my job or career. exercising. meditation. Indeed. Flexibility comes through stretching – yoga and simple exercises to stretch various muscles. I did everything. guilt at being away from my parents when they needed me. It comes from living a life of integrity in which our daily habits reflect our deepest values. flexibility and strength. Renewal (Habit 7) is the process of renewing all the habits. creatively. I tended to be more reactive than proactive. and take a trip to renew myself (to the hills) once in two months. I learned that what I needed was balanced renewal. where influence. not recognition becomes the motive.getting sufficient rest and relaxation. and creative cooperation. doing yoga. is one that you can do in your home. running. and commitment to our value systems. We need to spend one hour a day every day on this. spiritual. It comes from effective interdependent living in which we authentically. and experience these interdependent habits. What was I doing wrong before I moved towards getting it right? I was eating healthy since the mid ’70s. listening to music that elevates them. I have made a commitment that my renewal lies in daily activities that keep me in good physical shape (the tread mill. listen to music. Reading and writing. and I have attended to all such voices. organise. swimming and jogging. biking. was missing from my life? I had not made peace with unresolved issues and conflicts – parents. reading a good book. take photographs. 2. empathetic communication. the more effective we are in interdependent situations (Habits 4. which empowers us to move on an upward spiral of growth. 6). 5. The more we improve in any of the habits that led to independence (Habits 1. A good exercise progamme. Intrinsic or personal security comes from within. Neglect of any area affects the others negatively. the more proactive we are (Habit 1). When I cried. even I did not want myself to see it. write. communing with nature. Over the last decade. The more effectively we manage our life(Habit 3). walking and swimming). sit-ups and simple calisthenics. • Renewing the social/emotional dimension is centred on the principles of interpersonal leadership. and commune with nature. renewal is the principle and process. I used to read. Strength comes from muscle-resistant exercises – push-ups. which I did not want people to see. it was alone. learning a new skill (for me learning to upload photos into the computer. .

Training and education of the conscience requires great concentration. are you ready to sharpen the saw. balanced discipline. and consistently honest living. It is about living in harmony with ‘our little voice’. So.in my adult life. and renew yourself in the house with four rooms? .