#7–Sharpen the Saw

8-5-2011 7-10-18 AM

We’ve finally reached the end of our journey through Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Hopefully you have found these to be as helpful and useful in your lives as I have for several years.  We conclude with Habit 8 – Sharpen the Saw.

So we’ve learned how to better our personal actions, and we’ve learned how to improve our relationships and interactions with others.  So where do we go from there?  Practice, practice, practice.  We have to focus on remembering what we need to do when we need to do it.  But Sharpen the Saw requires us to pay attention to something else for this to work: ourselves.

If we don’t take care of ourselves, how are we going to effectively take care of the things we do, the things we say, or the things we act upon with others?  We have to take time to recharge and refocus in order to better serve the things we do in our lives.  Covey offers the notion that there are four key areas in our lives that we need to focus:  physical, spiritual, mental, and social (or emotional).

Physical is all about taking care of our body and physical well-being.  We easily neglect this notion in whole.  How many of us do all we can to stay in shape, exercising regularly, going to the gym, running miles and miles, and then we end up getting about four hours of sleep every night?  Along with health, we need to focus on resting and relaxing.

Spiritual renewal is about focusing on our center, or committing to the values we have established.  We all act on this renewal in different ways, but it involves finding our “happy place”.  It is important to take time to do things that give us a solitude for reflection.  It may be meditation.  It could be listening to music.  For those that are religious it might be prayer.  It’s that peaceful and tranquil state where we can separate ourselves from our surroundings and can examine the things that are living within our minds.

Mental is different than Spiritual in that it is more of a training exercise.  It could be reading or writing.  Maybe it our time we spend planning out the next day or week’s activities.  Mental is about allocating our time for preparation and focus as well as introducing ourselves to opportunities to learn.  Practice and train creativity, and make a conscious effort to ready yourself for things to come.

Finally, social and emotional renew takes a different direction.  You might notice that the first three elements of renewal focus on the first three habits in that they are personal renewal.  Social and emotional rejuvenation  focuses on habits four through six in that it is the exercise of social interaction.  This is about taking time to build and strengthen our relationships with others.  Build a circle of enrichment with good positive people around you.  This builds our inner and personal security.  This might also come in the form of service to others.  Unconditional love could be the most valuable gift we can give another person, and it provides an unparalleled deposit into someone’s emotional bank account.

Combining all of these elements and practicing them on a regular basis builds momentum.  It vitalizes and strengthens our resolve to keep progressing in our lives.  But it is important to balance all of these four areas.  Each provides a corner of our foundation, and without one, the structure of what we have built ourselves to be may collapse.

In a nutshell, Sharpen the Saw is continuous improvement.  It elevates us to levels that we never envisioned we could achieve.  It motivates us to be the person we always knew we could be.  Each and every one of us has a part to play in shaping our existence.  External factors will always play their part, but change starts with what we do and how regularly we do it.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this series on the Seven Habits as much as I’ve enjoyed revisiting them.  I’d love to hear from any of you that also follow the principles of the Seven Habits and how they have worked for you.  I also welcome any of you that have never been familiar with the Seven Habits and would like to learn more about the principles and ideas.  Discussion breeds insight and sharing spawns learning.

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~ by bfmooz on August 5, 2011.

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