The 8th Habit
by Stephen R. Covey
For individuals and organisations, excellence is no longer merely an option — survival requires it. But to thrive, excel and lead in our Knowledge Worker Age, we must move beyond effectiveness to greatness, which includes fulfillment, passionate execution and significant contribution. Accessing a higher level of human genius and motivation requires a sea change in thinking: a new mind-set and skill set — in short, an additional habit to those featured in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Most people in organisations today are neither fulfilled nor excited. They’re frustrated and uninvolved in their organisation’s goals. That’s why our high-pressure, 24/7 era requires more than effectiveness (the “7 Habits”). To achieve greatness, we need an “8th Habit”: Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.
Our basic management practices come from the Industrial Age.
As people consent to be controlled like things, their passivity only fuels leaders’ urge to direct and manage.
There’s a simple connection between the controlling, “thing” paradigm that dominates today’s workplace and the inability of managers and organizations to inspire people’s best contributions: People choose how much of themselves to give to their work, depending on how they’re treated. Their choices may range from rebelling or quitting (if they’re treated as things), to creative excitement (if they’re treated as whole people).
Most great organisations start with one person who first changed him- or herself, then inspired others. Such people realize that they can’t wait for their boss or organization to change. They become an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity. They learn their true nature and gifts, then use them to envision what they want to accomplish. They find and use their voice.
Greatness involves transcending the negative cultural “software” of ego, scarcity, comparison and competitiveness, and choosing to become the creative force in your life.
All of us can choose greatness — we can cultivate a magnificent spirit in facing a serious disease, make a difference in the life of a child, be a catalyst inside an organization, or initiate or contribute to a cause.
Discover Your Voice
We can discover our voice because of three gifts we’re born with. These gifts are:
- Gift #1: The Freedom to Choose. Our past, our genes, the way others have treated us — these influence us but don’t determine us. Between stimulus and response there is a space where we choose our response. In our choices lie growth and our happiness.
- Gift #2: Natural Laws or Principles. To use wisely that space between stimulus and response, we must live by natural laws that dictate the consequences of behavior. Positive consequences come from fairness, kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, service and contribution.
- Gift #3: The Four Intelligences. These are: mental intelligence, physical intelligence, emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence.
Express Your Voice
Great achievers develop their mental energy into vision. Vision is applied imagination. Everything is created first as a mental creation, then as a physical reality. Vision also means affirming others, believing in them, and helping them realize their potential.
Great achievers develop their physical energy into discipline. They don’t deny reality. They accept the sacrifice entailed in doing whatever it takes to realize their vision. Only the disciplined are truly free. Only a person who has disciplined him- or herself for decades to play the piano is free to create magnificent art.
Great achievers develop their emotional energy into passion — desire, conviction and drive. Passion appears as optimism, excitement, emotional connection, and determination, and is deeply rooted in the power of choice. Passionate people believe in creating their own future.
Great achievers develop their spiritual energy into conscience — their inward moral sense of what is right and wrong, and their drive toward meaning and contribution.
We must control our ego and let our conscience guide our moment-to-moment behavior. As we develop the four intelligences — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual — in their highest manifestations, we find our voice.