I was reading Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” around 2 am in 1992. A 3rd Shift supervisor at the time, I was on lunch break and reading about beginning with the end in mind and wondering where my life was going. Will we finish the year by hitting our production goals? Where will I be in 5 years? How do I want my kids to remember me?
Covey teaches to start with the private victories then move on to the public victories. The private victories are the first three of the seven habits taught to make you a more effective leader:
Habit 1: Be Proactive– Principles of Personal Vision
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind– Principles of Personal Leadership
Habit 3: Put the First Things First– Principles of Personal Management
There are several challenges for the reader in the chapter on Habit 2. You cannot begin with the end in mind without looking forward to how do you want to finish your project, your year, and even longer term plans. What are your career aspirations and how will you get there? Your personal vision for your life outside of work could make an even more significant impact on your life. What kind of parent, sibling, son or daughter do you want to be? What organizations will you support? How do you want to be remembered? You need a clear understanding of your destination to be a highly effective person or leader.
The author also reminds you of the Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis quote on leadership v. management: Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. That is a powerful message. There are a lot of good things you can do both on the factory floor and away from the plant. Don’t let good get in the way of great. Get that clear vision of where you are going and focus on the activities that will get you there. This probably includes doing your job well but should also bring some balance to your life as you focus on other important goals. You need to be doing the right things personally and professionally to support where you want to end. Developing a principal centered life will help you establish that vision.
Beginning with the end in mind made a huge difference in my life. It has helped me professionally but has made an even bigger impact with my family. This book along with encouragement from friends and family motivated me to invest in relationships then which is paying dividends today. My challenge for you is to establish a clear understanding of where you want to go on your journey and you will be taking the first steps to getting there.
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