The 8th habit

I must admit that the book of Stephen Covey the 8th Habit did not impact on me as much as the former the 7th habit. For quite some time I have been wondering the reasons for this lower impact of the 8th Habit on me, though I was a great fan of Stephen Covey, a keen disciple of his teaching and a certified trainer of the Covey Leadership centre.

First, the 8th Habit lacks the novelty effect on me. Way back in 1992, when I first read the 1st book, I was really impressed. I recalled that all through the 10 hours flight from Hong Kong to Mauritius, my eyes were glued to the book. I highlighted the parts of the book that was directly touching my life then and saw in the book possible avenues to better my life. The examples given in the text were so near the reality that I was then living and provided at the time the necessary thoughts that I needed. The benefits I could derived from the reading was so proximate and realisable. My enthusiasm was aroused at its peak to bring me to action. Secondly the direct and tangible benefit of reading the book is not so obvious.

The above reflection now has taught me a great learning which I am applying today.

The interest that one has in any particular subject is proportional to the use one can make out of it. If you want to get the attention of someone of a subject, present to the person the benefits he will be able to derive from it. WIFM stands for What’s in for me. Should I need to convince someone of something: talk of his needs?

Now I am reviewing the 8th Habit with a new perspective: in my present situation, WIFM in reading the book.

Here is a commentary of Ken Shelton which covers beautifully and succinctly Covey’s book.

Leaders often sense a painful, Grand Canyon gap between potential greatness and actual contribution. It’s one thing to be aware of problems and challenges at work and another thing to develop the personal power and moral authority to break out of those problems and become a force in solving them.

So asserts Stephen R. Covey, author of The 8th Habit. And his solution: “One word expresses the pathway to greatness—voice. Voice lies at the nexus of talent (your natural gifs and strengths), passion (those things that naturally energize, excite, motivate and inspire you), need (including what the world needs enough to pay for) and conscience (that still, small voice within that assures you of what is right and prompts you to take action).

“When you engage in work that taps your talent and fuels your passion—work that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet—you discover your voice.”

Take Four Steps

According to Covey, those leaders on this path to greatness find their voice and inspire others to find theirs. He notes that they often find their voice when they face challenges and take four steps:

1. Tap into your talent. “Tapping into your talents starts with understanding where you excel,” suggests Covey. “It involves recognizing your strengths and positioning yourself to leverage them. To tap into your talent, consider the question: What am I good at doing?”

2. Fuel your passion. “When you take part in activities that fill you with positive emotion, you are fueling your passion,” notes Covey. “Pursuits that spark your passion bring excitement, enthusiasm, joy, and fun. To fuel your passion, ask yourself: What do I love doing?”

3. Become burdened with a need. “When a problem in society lodges itself in your heart and won’t let go, you become burdened with a need,” he says. “Perhaps, the need is an injustice you wish to remedy. Maybe it’s a disease you would love to cure. Whatever the case, a burden gnaws at your conscience. To take stock of your biggest burden, wrestle with the question: What need must I serve?”

4. Take action to meet the need. Once a need has arrested your attention, you can find your voice by taking action, he continues. “A need compels you to do something besides criticize from the sidelines. To meet the need, think about this question: How can I align my talent with my passion in order to meet the need that burdens me?”

A Promise and a Challenge

Covey then extends a promise and a challenge.

The promise: “If you will apply these four capacities—talent (discipline), passion (emotion), need (vision), and conscience (spirit-directed action) to any role or responsibility of your life, you can find your voice in that role.”

The challenge: “Take two or three of the primary roles in your life, and in each role, ask yourself these four questions: What need do I sense? Do I possess a true talent that, if disciplined and applied, can meet the need? Does the opportunity to meet the need tap into my passion? Does my conscience inspire me to become involved and take action?”

Covey guarantees that if you answer all four questions in the affirmative, develop a plan of action and then go to work on it, you will begin to find your voice in life—a life of deep meaning, satisfaction, and greatness—and you will begin to inspire others to find their voice.

The choice to expand your influence and increase your contribution is the choice to inspire others to find their voice, he says. You unleash “latent genius, creativity, passion, talent, and motivation. Organizations that reach a critical mass of people and teams ex-pressing their full voice will achieve breakthroughs in productivity, innovation, and leadership. As you find your voice and inspire others to find theirs, you increase your freedom and power to solve your greatest challenge.”


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