Meeting Dr. Covey

I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon listening to Dr. Stephen Covey recently. As a professional in the coaching and human development field, I have been quoting his materials for years. He is the author of several books on leadership including First Things First, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and The Eighth Habit. You will find those books and others he has written on the shelves of some of the world’s most successful business executives.

Many of his sayings, including the 7 habits, have been around so long that the original attribution is sometimes lost. I call them “Coveyisms”. An example is: “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” It was really incredible to hear all of the “Coveyisms” and then realize that they were coming out of Covey’s own mouth! It was like hearing a Sinatra song sung by Frank himself.
He spoke for about three hours, and it was a great presentation. He was brilliant at bringing everyone in to the conversation and helping each person take something away from the day. I had a few takeaways as well, and I would like to share them with you here.
Creativity is not just about being an original thinker. Dr. Covey freely admits that he didn’t come up with the 7 habits. He just put them together in a form that seemed to make sense. During his presentation, he quotes from many sources and attributes the quotes. I learned that creative application of other people’s material is perhaps even more creative than original thought.
Understanding is more important than just about anything else. I quoted one of Dr. Covey’s more famous sayings above…and have used the quote several times. It wasn’t until he explained the talking stick that I finally understood the depth of his meaning. A talking stick is a device that invites understanding. Let me explain. If two or more people are discussing contentious issues, the person with the talking stick must explain the other person’s position to the satisfaction of the other person. Then the stick is passed, and the process repeats.
It is almost impossible to objectify another person if you take the time to understand their meaning. If you can’t objectify, it is virtually impossible to vilify. If you can’t vilify, you can’t hate. You must deal with the other person. How much pain can we avoid if we seek to understand before we impose our opinions and thoughts on the other person?
The best way to learn is by teaching. During the session, Dr. Covey introduced a concept, then instructed someone at each table to teach the others at the table about the concept. In doing so, the concept became so much clearer to the teacher, and to the others.
Think about the implications for your life and your business! When you have someone teach you, they will learn, and understanding will increase exponentially. In your role as leader, spouse, parent or any of the other roles you fill, ask others to teach you. Imagine that your child has asked you about algebra. Instead of feeling you need to have all of the answers, ask your child to teach you. Imagine members of your executive team and the impact they can have if they teach instead of preach. In both cases, the other person has to do the prep work and the mental exercise in order for you to understand.
Chip Scholz is Head Coach of Scholz and Associates. He is an executive coach, facilitator, speaker and author, working in the fields of sales, leadership, collaboration and communication. His clients are clear about what’s important to them, focused on correct outcomes, attentive to new opportunities and intentionally creating their future. Give Chip a call at 704-827-4474 to find out more.

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One Comment

  1. Leon Tongret
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I enjoy your common sense articles which explore the fundamentals of good communicating with one another.

    Best regards,

    Leon Tongret – President
    Tongret Executive Recruiting

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