I’m a big fan of the late Dr. Covey and my life and work have been heavily influenced by his words and perhaps even more by his manner of teaching.
In his groundbreaking work “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” he thoughtfully laid out a path and plan whereby anyone who desired might learn, understand, practice and ultimately adopt the 7 Habits that would result in their becoming more effective people and leaders.
Towards the end of his remarkable life one of his final books, “The 8th Habit”, detailed how to move from effectiveness to greatness and illustrated how part of the legacy of the truly principle centered person almost always reflected in a significant legacy component of giving back or paying forward, in some way, all that feel they have been given in an effort to help others improve their lives.
There is no book or reference in his teachings to a “9th Habit” (at least that I am aware of). The Picture above featuring the “9th Habit” is simply a tribute to Dr. Covey, his life and his previous book titles featuring numbered “Habits”.
He taught that “First a person forms habits in their lives, then those habits in turn form and shape the kind of person we then become.”
The reason for my Covey celebration is a conversation I had over the weekend that reminded my of a very simple and profound teaching by Dr. Covey that has significantly impacted the relationships in my life.
At a public forum where he was teaching and I was taking notes… He was asked this question….
The Question;. “Dr. Covey of all that you have taught people of principle centered leadership and in the 7 Habits, if you could emphasize one teaching above all the others what would it be?”
In short he was asked if you were able to just pull the most important singular principle from all of your life’s work what would it be?
His Answer was simple and profound to me…. He replied without hesitation…. “It would be to Remember that… a person’s greatest need is to feel and be understood.”
I love it… But let’s reflect just briefly on why this principle might trump all others.
He went on to explain that at the heart of all human conflict is an individual or group who feels misunderstood.
So what can happen when a person gives understanding to another or a group?
When people feel understood and they have been truly heard the conflict often dissipates completely or is at least diminished enough that now crucial conversations can take place towards compromise, change or resolution. Often times once a person truly feels understood and cared about nothing else is required.
So seldom in life’s journey do we actually feel deeply and completely understood by others that when we do, it’s quite a remarkable and wonderful feeling. And anyone who can give us that feeling seems to invite and inspire in us a desire to reciprocate in some way. It seems to put the Golden Rule in motion… what we are so generously given and how we are so respectfully treated, we now desire to give in return.
It is no wonder that Dr. Covey frequently began his seminars teaching the habit of “Seek first to Understand, then to be understood.” It seems like the most logical place to start any relationship where respect is wanted and trust is needed.
A fun fast summary of the 7 Habits video that I love to use in my work when introducing or refreshing people with the material….
Thank you Dr. Covey – in my estimation you left this world better than it was… certainly my World is better.