In conclusion, for our series reviewing The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, let us discuss habit no. 7:
SHARPEN THE SAW
Covey’s seventh habit is as straightforward as it could be. When he encourages us to ‘sharpen the saw,’ he’s recommending that we work to enhance and protecting ‘you,’ which Covey states is our greatest asset.
In order to be the most effective in all we do, we ought to be dedicated to making regular improvements to our mental, physical, emotional, and even spiritual state. It is through our work toward improving ourselves in these areas that we are able to promote growth and embrace change in our daily lives. As we explore what Covey references as these four states, we should determine how we might apply this practice to the professional realm.
To make improvements to our physical state, our focus is an obvious one. We should incorporate into our regular routine, time to exercise and maintain awareness on relying upon a nutritious diet. Rest is also an important part of this element or practice. As the owner of your company or the manager of your office, consider the option of introducing a workout or wellness program, or verbally encourage your team to take time out of the day to prioritize healthy practices.
The emotional state could also be considered, ‘social.’ Remember the importance of keeping a work/life balance. Prioritize non-work hours to spend time with family and friends and make those moments count. Also, take note of the networking events happening in your community, whether specific to your industry or not, and take time away from work, (if necessary) to attend these types of events and meet new people. Not only will it contribute to your emotional enhancement, it will also help hone your small talk skills while building your business connections.
Improving our mental state also seems simple; although it’s not often that busy individuals really spend time doing so. During your commute, try listening to public radio or an educational or informative audio book, rather than the hottest Top 40 station. If music is your preference, classical music can stimulate areas of your brain that typically receive little attention through other activities. Other options to keep sharp in this area would be to take time during your week to help teach your colleagues a new skill, or set aside time to learn a new skill yourself. And, shave out a few minutes each morning to catch up on the news via paper or online magazine, rather than by television broadcast.
Finally, Covey encourages us to focus on the spiritual side of our being as well. Consider taking up a new practice, whether it be walking or spending time in nature through other, more passive activities, or try a new yoga or Pilate’s class. Even meditation is a great way to draw your attention within and free your mind from all external stimulation, which tends to drain us after awhile, anyway. Find others in your community who are giving back on the weekends and ask to take a place on the volunteer team. Embracing your spiritual side could even be finding some new music to listen to. Accomplish improvement, both spiritually and mentally, by trying out that Classic station on your car radio, even if you’re a little unwilling at first.
To be a well-rounded individual, and to maintain dedication to all previous six habits and find true effectiveness in all aspects of life, we must focus on all these elements. For more detail on habit no. 7 or the previous iterations of this series, check out Stephen Covey’s full text online.
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