Maximize Your Productivity: Begin With The End In Mind

This is the second habit which is given by Stephen Covey in his best selling book, “The Seven Secrets Of Highly Effective People” The first habit as you know was “Be Proactive” which we discussed on our previous blog. Whenever we begin any task or project, we should have a vision and clarity about where we are going and what is the exact purpose of doing the things which we are trying to accomplish. We have to be crystal clear whether the things which we are doing are aligned properly to the task which would ultimately lead us to our destination.

Too often in our life, we do things that will not help us achieve our real long term goals. And to make matters worse, many of us do not even know what the true purpose of our life is. Stephen Covey gives a wonderful exercise which will help us make aware of the processes we are adopting in our lives and how much sense they make.

Through this little exercise, we can also validate our current methods of living and can reflect deeply about our lives. Imagine that you are going to a funeral of a person. When you reach near the dead body, you find that it is the body of nobody else but yourself. Now there are 4 people who have come to visit the funeral. One of them is your family person, your father, mother, or child. The other person is one of your close friends. The third person would be a colleague in your office. And the final person is from your community or Church organization.

Now imagine what would be the things they would be saying about you and the feelings they would have when they look at you for the final time. Would your parents and child be glad that you fulfilled the responsibilities of a father or a mother? Would they feel that you gave them quality life and ingrained them with good habits at the same time you were polite and friendly? Or rather they would have a grievance that you did not live life according to their expectations and did not live life as they wished you would have?

Also, analyze what your friend would be thinking about your funeral. Would he be proud of your life and glad that you helped him whenever he required your support? Or would he feel that you just asked for things but were never willing to help? Would your office colleague feel that they lost a true team person who would help and guide everybody or would they be glad that finally they got rid of you? Also, picture what the person coming from church would speak about you. This exercise is a classical example, which will help you understand whether you are living life with an end in mind or you are just going haywire.

All things are created twice.

All things are created twice. First, they are created in our minds then it is actually created in the physical world. Take the example of an architect who is going to start building a new house. First, he will create a solid design, do all the homework only then he will begin his work. Otherwise, if there is any problem in the design and he begins his construction, he will have to do construction all over again which results in a huge amount of rework and cost. 

Now we need to understand if our analysis is based on proper design or is it by default. Does the plan which we have created is based on things that are under our control(what Covey terms as Circle Of Influence) and are we able to take control of the situation? Or is the plan or action a default creation of the scripts handed to us by family, associates, other people’s agendas, the pressures of circumstance—scripts from our earlier years, from our training, our conditioning.

We need to ensure that we are living by creating scripts based on our awareness and proactive design rather than living life which will never lead us to an end we desire. Covey explains we need to re-script our whole life. We need to become a creator by qualities of Imagination, Conscience, and Self-Awareness.

Leadership and Management

Habit 2, Covey says is based on Leadership and not management. A leader is a proactive person who designs a strategy and actively marshalls his resource to achieve the results. The manager is somebody who manages the external affairs and creates an atmosphere which will help the leader achieve the result. There is always confusion between the term leader and manager.  

Management is a bottom-line focus: How can I best accomplish certain things? Leadership deals with the top line: What are the things I want to accomplish? In the words of both Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. Today there is more need for effective leadership. Leaders have long term vision, they have more control over the design they choose to accomplish the task. Leaders take responsibility of all the actions and make sure that all the ends are met. They are ones’ who design proactive scripts based on which the whole project depends. 

Covey explains this about how poor parenting can result in negative after-effects in the children when they grow up. He says, “..too often parents are also trapped in the management paradigm, thinking of control, efficiency, and rules instead of direction, purpose, and family feeling.”

Personal Mission Statement

Covey explains the importance of writing a Personal Mission statement. A personal mission statement focuses on Character, Contribution, and Achievements.

A personal mission statement based on correct principles becomes the same kind of standard for an individual. It becomes a personal constitution, the basis for making major, life-directing decisions, the basis for making daily decisions in the midst of the circumstances and emotions that affect our lives. It empowers individuals with the same timeless strength in the midst of change.

People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value. With a mission statement, we can flow with changes. We don’t need prejudgments or prejudices. We don’t need to figure out everything else in life, to stereotype and categorize everything and everybody in order to accommodate reality.

Our personal environment is also changing at an ever-increasing pace. Such rapid change burns out a large number of people who feel they can hardly handle it, can hardly cope with life. They become reactive and essentially give up, hoping that the things that happen to them will be good.

You may also like...