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Clear the Mind on a Holiday, or Self-Reflect

Summer 2012. Holiday time for millions. MBF Blog keeps a watching brief on the summer technology/social/hot topic stories you might want to keep in touch with…..

Starting to fret about work while you are on holiday? Never mind, make a list or ten to pass the time and get your thoughts into perspective. Friends and family with you will probably thank you.

In between the dips in the pool or sea, try this little test on yourself. Hold a mirror to your own personality. Go on, your work/business is only a few days away, might as well get some new ideas. Or new angles on old problems.

It’s based on the 1989 self-help book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It’s sold over 25 million copies in 38 languages, so it must have something to say, right? His son, Sean, wrote a version for teenagers.

Paradigm Shift

To point people towards success in attaining their goals, he said they should align with ‘true north’ principles of a character ethic that is universal and timeless. Covey pioneered the use of the term paradigm shift to prepare people for ‘a change in mindset’.

Two or more people can see the same thing from different perspectives. It is not logical, it is psychological. Once people grasp that, they can discover that alternative viewpoints to one’s own exist. And then, presumably, the world is your oyster as you realise that you may have been wrong and somebody else right.

Equally, you may simply reinforce your own prejudices in that you were right all along.

Dependence to Independence

Habit 1: be proactive. Do you take responsibility for your own decisions and appreciate that they are the primary determining factor in your life?

Habit 2: begin with the end in mind. Do you self-discover and clarify your ‘deeply important character values and life goals’?

Habit 3: put first things first. Do you prioritise, plan and execute your tasks based on importance rather than urgency? Not easy to do, but he said you should evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you towards your goal.


Habit 4: think win-win. Do you continually strive for mutually beneficial solutions/agreements in your relationships? Value and respect people a ‘win’ is better for all, not just one person getting his/her way.

Habit 5: seek first to understand, then to be understood. Do you use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by another, so they reciprocate to create an atmosphere of caring, respect and positive problem solving?

Habit 6: synergise. Do you combine people’s strengths through positive teamwork to achieve goals no single person could have done?
Self Renewal

Habit 7: sharpen the saw. Do you balance and renew your resources, energies and health to ‘create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle’? This last one is about self-rejuvenation. Like being on holiday and not being reminded too much about work. Oops, sorry!

There is an ‘upward spiral’ which should result in growth, change and constant improvement. ‘Learn, commit, do’ were the three driving forces behind his ideas, whether a person is in education, training or management.

Covey also dreamed up the idea of ‘abundance mentality’ or mindset, as opposed to ‘scarcity mindset’, where you can celebrate the success of others without feeling threatened by it.

He asserted that the idea of plenty to be shared around arises from a high self esteem/worth and personal security. He argued it should be a principle of doing business.

Ten Lists of Ten

How did you do? Active in forming all 7 habits? No, well how about the Rule of Ten, a business principle applied to freelancers, but actually valid for anybody. In undertaking any new project or business, make a list of the ten things you do well. Find the points where skills and passions come together. that is the starting point.

Then make a list of ten goals. Things like income, a vision of what success looks like, family/personal values, practical issues like a new bank account, new website, locate a key business partner or a financial balanced budget plan.

Then they say you should make a list of ten ways to improve your skills portfolio, but in a way that is stronger than a new year’s resolution and is embedded in reality. After that, you need a list of of improving your knowledge base (in your business or a new one). Again, this should be totally practical and do-able by you.

A list of tens spin-off ideas for your own or somebody else’s business is always useful and you never know when you may be asked to solve a number of long-standing problems. There is nothing worse than being expected to come up with something new when you haven’t given it a thought.

Finally, you could do yourself a few favours by making a list of ten people or films you want to see very soon, books you really long to read, charities to give to or volunteer with or some fragment of your past you need to dig up and put right or forgive.

Do please enjoy the break. Don’t forget to keep up with your emails, your blog and your diary and social media so everybody left at home can enjoy your restful time second-hand. Did you remember the address list of people you promised to send cards to?

Read On:

A List of List-Makers & the Columns to Which They Are Addicted

Email Hoarding is New Psychological Condition

Diaries Are Still Kept, But Now Online and Not So Secret

Image: Sven Hunzinger