Sharpen the Saw   Habit 7 Personal Management The Compound Effect

Launch Leadership Development is continuing the study of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey

So far, we have covered the first six habits. Habits 1-3 build a strong foundation for independence.

Habit #1 Be Proactive

Habit #2 Begin with the End in Mind

Habit #3 Put First Things First

Habits 4-6 focus on building interdependence.

Habit #4 Think Win/win

Habit #5 Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Habit #6 Synergy

Today we are finishing our study with Habit #7:  Sharpen the Saw. We will answer these questions:

  • What does Covey mean by “sharpen the saw”?
  • What four areas are we to sharpen?

Sharpening the Saw refers to these things:

  • Continuous self-improvement
  • Investing in yourself
  • Renewal of yourself

The four areas we are to sharpen include our physical, mental, spiritual and social-emotional parts of ourselves.  Be balanced in these areas.

Physical –Covey suggests the most important benefits we reap from exercise is not being fit, but what is does for our mental health and self-esteem. We need to maintain our health to have a high quality of life now and later.  An exercise routine that focuses on endurance, flexibility and strength is highly recommended, and Covey says even just two hours a week is very beneficial. Regular exercise improves cognitive ability, lessens anxiety and depression, improves self-esteem and sleep.

 A healthy diet and regular sleep patterns of 7-9 hours a night are also an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Be mindful and learn about healthy foods and plan your meals. Set an alarm to remind you it is time to start your bedtime routine.  These habits all require self-discipline. You can do it!

Mental: Covey insists we need to be lifelong learners to keep mentally sharp. Beyond taking adult classes offered in your area (which is GREAT because of the social interaction) you can watch quality videos on YouTube for a convenient way to learn and improve your life.  Read quality books for self-improvement. Journal to clarify your thinking when you are going through a difficult time or facing a tough decision. Learning new things makes life and YOU more interesting!

Social-emotional Covey includes these two together because he believes our emotional self is primarily developed by our relationships with others. Make quality time with your family and friends a priority. Plan fun!  Expand your circle by being involved in groups and organizations that share your values. It is very fulfilling to be a part of something bigger than yourself, making a difference in the world.

Spiritual – Covey says he is referring to our value system. Reaffirm your principles and ethics. Have a mission statement for your life, that reminds you of your purpose and highest values. Draw upon what uplifts and inspires you through prayer, meditation, nature, reading, art, or whatever centers you.

When we attend to these four areas of our lives, we enhance our productivity, longevity, relationships, and enjoyment of life.  When we neglect them, we suffer loss in each of these areas. This last habit is the string that ties all the other habits together. It is well worth the investment, my friend!

This concludes our study of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I encourage you to read and reread it periodically and live by its principles.

-Jan Jones

For more insight on Habit 7, listen to this talk from Covey, himself!