As we progress through the ‘Seven Habits’, Stephen Covey takes us on a journey from dependence to independence and then on to interdependence. Covey calls this the ‘Maturity Continuum’. Dependence deals with the paradigm of ‘You take care of me’. Independence deals with the paradigm of ‘I take care of myself’. Interdependence deals with the paradigm of ‘We take care of each other’. Stephen Covey calls this the ‘inside-out’ approach. Starting with self.
Habits 1,2 and 3 take us from dependence to independence.
1. Be Proactive deals with taking control of your life, focusing on the things you can do something about not those things beyond your control and taking responsibility rather than blaming others or your circumstances.
2. Begin with the end in mind deals with knowing what you want to accomplish in life, organising and preparing in a way that reduces the need to work in crisis mode and beginning each week with a clear plan of what you want to achieve.
3. Put first things first deals with being disciplined in carrying out plans, not allowing the important activities to be lost in the busy activities of your days and doing things which are meaningful and allow you to accomplish your overall goals.
Congratulations! If you have managed all that you can officially call yourself independent.
I always thought that on the maturity continuum that I was at the very least independent and perhaps even interdependent in my work environment. Looking back at the details of the first three habits, I see that I am wrong!
I have somewhat taken control of my life in that I have found myself again and I’m doing the things I enjoy. I am no longer dependent on my partner and am doing most of the upbringing of the children. However I do still occasionally worry about things I can do nothing about such as my partner’s alcohol dependency. It took me a long time to realise that I could do nothing about it so old habits die hard. I am getting much better at this though. I do feel like I take more responsibility now but I do still hold quite a lot of resentment towards my partner and how his drinking has affected our lives but I’m trying to be more understanding.
I have real trouble with habit 2. I just don’t know what I want to accomplish in life. I never had a dream career and my interests and hobbies are constantly changing. I can’t seem to settle on one thing for long. I think about this too much and I think the answer is simple because all I want really is a happy, healthy family. There, I just answered my own question! I’m pretty good at organising and planning at work but at home I often feel swamped. I have a general idea what I want to get done each week but it doesn’t always happen.
Habit 3 – well I procrastinate a lot. Even my five year old tells me not to ‘crastinate! Sometimes I’m so busy at home that I never stop and sit and play with the kids. We definitely don’t spend enough time together as a couple.
Habits 4,5 and 6 take us from independence to interdependence.
4. Think win – win deals with caring about the success of others as well as your own, cooperating with others and dealing with conflicts by finding solutions which benefit all.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood deals with being sensitive to the needs of others, seeking to understand the viewpoint of others and when listening, seeing things from the other person’s point of view, not your own.
6. Synergize deals with valuing and seeking out the insights of others, searching for new and better ideas and solutions and encouraging others to express their opinions.
Congratulations! If you can do all that you are officially interdependent!
I do quite well at these in my work environment which is the area of my life that is most successful. I work hard and I’m very well thought of by my manager and colleagues. I generally train up the new staff who come in and as they get younger and younger and I get older I feel myself getting a slight twinge of jealousy when they start performing well. I guess it is inevitable that someone may overtake my accomplishments one day. They are so keen and motivated and I seem to have lost that as time has gone on. At home I’m not so good at resolving conflicts so they benefit all.
Habit 5 is tricky. I’m quite a quiet person so I’m a very good listener. I can be very sensitive to other people’s needs e.g. the people with PMLD that I support at work but I am not always emphatic towards everyone. I guess I see it that if you really are in need like the people I support then you are worthy of sensitivity but it is based on my judgement of your situation. That sounds terrible now that I have written it down, must change that! I guess it’s because I see the people I support surviving and thriving everyday when their needs are so high, that I think other people should be thankful that they are able-bodied, happy and healthy (in lots of cases). People sometimes live in a bubble and sometimes don’t think about the hardships of others compared to their own. But, I guess I’m forgetting we don’t always see the truth or real situation behind other people’s pain.
I am quite good at listening to other people’s opinions and coming up with ideas, but here again I need to improve on this at home.
Habit 7 is Sharpen the Saw and deals with renewal in the four areas of life, physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual. Doing this increases our capacity to live all of the other habits of effectiveness.
This is probably where I’m going wrong! I do not really do any physical form of exercise, although my diet isn’t too bad. Although I have a habit of skipping meals if my partner’s not about for dinner (quite a lot).
I don’t have many close friends and my work relationships are mostly professional. I don’t really go out much as I don’t like to leave the kids in case my partner drinks. So socially I’m not doing so well
I am doing activities I enjoy now and I’m reading about spirituality but I guess I could always be doing more.