7 Lessons We Can Learn From Stephen Covey
Recognised as one Time Magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, Stephen Covey was one of the world’s leading leadership authorities, organisational experts and thought leaders. He traveled the world teaching people the messages found in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, selling more than 25 million copies worldwide in over 40 languages. As described by his own website, “These universal, timeless principles have stood the test of time with millions of people around the world and will continue to do so in the future”. There are a number of lessons which can be taken away from the work of Stephen Covey, but in the spirit of his book, we’ve narrowed it down to just seven:
1. Being proactive is key to success
As the first of seven habits discussed in his book, Stephen Covey notes that life is what we choose to make it. We choose to be happy, we choose to be organised, and we choose to be courageous. He encourages readers to be positively proactive in their life, both at work and personally, and as such success will follow.
2. Priorities must be scheduled
In order to get what you want in life, both out of yourself and your employees or colleagues, prioritising is essential. You must know and understand your priorities, and ensure that you follow through on tasks that you would like to see completed.
3. Use your imagination
Stephen Covey was once quoted to say “live out of your imagination, not your history”. He encourages people to imagine the direction they would like to head in, and keep that as a primary focus. Focusing on positive results allows us to work effectively towards them, and in turn, achieve more.
4. Prioritise understanding others over being understood
As the fifth habit in his book, Stephen Covey emphasises the importance of listening before trying to convey your point. Often we are fixated on getting our own point across and being understood, however a great deal of benefits can be experienced from listening first. If you try to make this a habit, you will find the communication process to be significantly easier, as well as becoming a more effective leader in the long-term.
5. Learn from your mistakes
As humans, we will of course make mistakes. What is important in this is recognising mistakes when they happen, and ensuring they do not occur again. Actively making an effort to learn from mistakes makes us grow as a person, as an employee and as a leader. It is imperative for personal growth, as well as staying on track to success.
6. Question assumptions
Whilst it is not advised to question every decision you make, taking the time to question already established assumptions within an organisation is a great way to innovate. Ask yourself why things are done a certain way? Could they be done more effectively? Don’t just assume that things are always done for a reason; ask questions, and you’ll be more inclined to make positive change.
7. Don’t be afraid to speak up
Finally, Stephen Covey advises people to speak up and not be afraid to say so if you disagree. Positive progress is made when ideas are debated and analysed in a team environment. If everyone continually agrees with each other, it will be very difficult for organisational change to occur.
What do you think?
Do you think that the work of Stephen Covey is to be admired? Which of the above lessons do you feel is most valuable? Feel free to comment your views and join the conversation!
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Stephen Covey and 7 Habits.