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About the Pocono Mountains
During the months of March and April, the entire staff of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau will be engaged in an eight week, Stephen Covey "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" training. The course is being facilitated by staff from East Stroudsburg University and conducted at the newly constructed ESU Research Center.
Over the next several months, various staff members will share their perceptions and experiences in this newsletter as we go through this process. I encourage you to engage PMVB staff members in a conversation about the "7 Habits" as their explanations will only enhance their own learning. If you have any questions or inquiries about the program, you can contact me on my cell at 570.620.7350 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act. but a habit."- Aristotle
Far too often we hear the phrase, "it's not personal, it's just business." That is the approach I took when our president Carl Wilgus informed our staff that we would be participating in an eight week course entitled Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. That philosophy of not making it personal didn't last long. We were asked to create our own personal mission statement. A personal mission statement reflects your vision and values while providing purpose and direction to your life. How can you not take that personally?
I challenge anyone who has never attempted to script their own personal mission statement to do so. Simply, write for five minutes without stopping. Don't worry what it looks like. Get your thoughts down on paper. You will be amazed at what comes out of your mind and heart. You will see what is truly important to you and how you wish to be seen by the world. Sometimes it's not just business, it really is personal.
I don't think any of the PMVB employees was more excited then I was when I heard we would be participating in Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" training offered through ESU. I am a huge proponent of continuing to learn and grow as an individual and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Habit One - Be Proactive and Habit Two - Begin With the End in Mind, were easily digested by both my heart and mind, then came Habit Three - Put First Things First. WHAT?
The facilitators had asked us to bring in our planners for this session and I eagerly put both my yearly planner along with my iphone in the air when we were asked to hold up the tools we use to help us plan our weeks. It wasn't long before I realized that I use neither of those items to plan anything. They simply keep track of where I have to be and why I have to be there. I was spending ZERO time actually planning my life.
I love a challenge so I embraced the idea of taking 20 minutes on a Sunday to sit in a quiet place and PLAN my week. I located one of the many notebooks I have accumulated over the years to keep track of my "Big Rocks", identify the roles I play and to schedule the week around the most important and urgent tasks at hand. Armed with my yearly planner, iphone and my notebook I sat down on Sunday evening and... fell asleep! Challenge One - enormous fail. I am not disheartened or defeated. I intend to schedule my 20 minutes of quiet time early on Sunday this week! Take Two!
I chose habit number four, think win/win-the principles of interpersonal leadership. Whether you are the CEO of a company or the office clerk, the moment you step from independence to interdependence in any capacity, you step into a leadership role. You are then in a position of influencing other people.
After my class on Tuesday, I tried a few of the exercises from this chapter, and the one that really stood out to me was thinking about a relationship in my life that I wasn't getting the "win/win" results I desired. I wrote down everything I could think of regarding the situation from my perspective, and then tried to do the same from my co-workers perspective. Doing this brought me reasonably close to seeing a win/win solution. We both discussed the issues and things have improved significantly.
Win/Win is not a technique; it's a total philosophy of human interaction. It is one of the six paradigms of interaction (Win/Lose; Lose/Win; Lose/Lose; Win; and Win/Win or No Deal). Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. It means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. It is a belief in a third alternative. It is not your way or my way; it is a better way, a higher way.
Take a few minutes and try it .... It really works!
We are on the home stretch with habit number 5. Do you listen to your family, friends and colleagues? Truly listen? I quickly found out that I have a lot to learn.
Usually, I express to someone that I am really listening by sharing advice and solutions to problems and issues. I also relate what I am hearing to an event or issue in my life, and how I dealt with it. In the back of my mind I would begin to formulate my response to what was being discussed, keeping a flow of discussion back-and-forth....WRONG!
The goal to this habit is to shut down all of those typical behaviors and REALLY focus on what is being said. Try to acknowledge how the speaker may feel and what they just said. You do not need to regurgitate what they said, but you should express back to them how you think they feel by the words they used. It is NOT about YOU, but about THEM. Stay silent and take in all that they give you, both verbal and non-verbal, this will help you understand. Empathic listening enables you to have a deeper connection. Mutual respect will be gained.
Dr. Dillman, President of ESU, had a great saying during this class. "You were given two ears and one mouth, keep communication in the same proportion." Now, that is someone worth listening to.
Synergize, by Nicole Krieger, Director of Human Resources
Habit number 6 is synergize. Synergize means working together right? So I immediately think that this habit is going to be a snap. The best way to be able to work together when different people want different things is to work out a compromise. Everyone gives a little, takes a little and walks away satisfied. Turns out I was completely wrong in my thinking. Compromise is not the best way....apparently there is a third solution. Well now I'm listening.
I've always been pretty confident in my math skills so when we were asked what 1 + 1 = I immediately thought 2. Wouldn't you? Nope, when you compromise you are only getting 1 1/2. Why, because no one is completely happy, each person had to give up something from their wish list in order to create a solution. The better way is to synergize and to come up with a different solution than either person came to the table with. In order to do this you really need to have mastered the previous habits, especially habits four and five of thinking win-win and seeking first to understand and then to be understood. Without the foundation, synergizing will never happen.
So I challenge you, next time you are about to compromise, take a step back and see if there is a third solution that would be beneficial to all parties and eliminate the need for each person to give a little. You will know you have succeeded when all parties have had a change of heart and feel new energy and excitement. When you succeed the amount of innovation and invention will be astounding and your relationships will transform. I would love to hear about your experiences.
Our last habit in the Stephen Covey training program, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.
This one is the habit of renewal and I must confess this lesson resonated with me on numerous levels as I continue to be challenged to find a healthy work-life balance. Remembering to take time to Sharpen The Saw is one of the most important habits on the Seven Habits paradigm because it is the habit that makes all the others possible.
In order to be more effective, have improved capacity, build stronger relationships with our family, friends, and colleagues, and to continue to improve we must renew ourselves in four dimensions: physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual.
Simply stated, the greatest asset you have is you! Investing in your body, mind, heart and soul is the single greatest investment in life we can ever make. Vinyasa yoga is my favorite approach to sharpening the saw. The word yoga means "union" in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. We can think of the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit. After a 90 minute class, I feel completely RENEWED! Renewal comes in many forms from a refreshing glass of water for hydration, to a few minutes of journaling, or socializing with friends.
We have 168 hours in each week and I know your calendar is filled with meetings, appointments, and social obligations, but I do encourage you to take a few hours to Sharpen The Saw by scheduling some YOU time!