When I first read The 7 Habits, this idea of synergize lacked clarity for me.
Covey subtitles this chapter on synergy as Principles of Creative Cooperation.
As I incorporated the first five habits into my life, though, synergy appeared in my life.
As I worked to put my ideas into action, solutions to setbacks materialized in ways I never imagined.
When I made a decision to get my Montessori training, I wasn’t sure how all the pieces were going to come together, or even if it was a good decision. There was tuition and living expenses to consider in a town 2,000 miles away. Childcare. Asking my husband to take on more responsibility. Transportation. The emotional tug-of-war of not wanting to leave my two daughters and husband.
As our family worked through creating a plan for me to leave for nine-weeks each summer for three years, the pieces came together.
- A forgotten investment matured and covered expenses.
- Grandparents and friends offered to step in for childcare.
- An airline announced a new route making it easier to get from our rural community to the training city.
- Friends invited my husband to home-cooked meals.
- And much more.
Creative cooperation surrounded me, and I gratefully accepted those gifts of creative cooperation from friends and family.
Over the years I began to appreciate how the 7 Habits contributed to the synergy I experienced in this situation and so many others.
Be Proactive. Make a choice. Make a decision to think differently. With Habit 1, I learned that I was in control of my choices and my responses to whatever situation I found myself.
Begin With The End In Mind. The eulogy exercise I shared with you in Habit 2 created focus for me of how I wanted to live my life. My priorities became clear.
Put First Things First. Understanding to let go of activities that were “not urgent and not important” have created a couple of hours block of time for me every day for almost thirty years. That time allows me to read at least one non-fiction book a week. The knowledge from that reading supports creative cooperation.
Think Win/Win. It took high consideration and high courage from my husband, my daughters and myself to get to a win/win situation so I could go back to school. As we worked through to a win/win situation during this period of time, we became a tighter creative unit and learned to be more open and honest in asking for help with our desires and dreams.
Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood. As day-to-day difficulties occurred I learned to listen and to ask questions to get to win/win.
Was it easy? No.
But using the first five habits created a habit of creating synergy, creative cooperation, in my life.
With the habit of synergy dark times become opportunities for change; good times open to gratitude and celebration.
Another gift of synergy has been having the confidence to find the third way.
Synergize. It makes you more effective than you can imagine.
For further reading: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, pages 262 to 282.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
- Jalaluddin Rumi
Put This Into Action
One of the most effective tools I have found to use the first five habits to synergize is to use a problem solving technique I call Five-Step Problem Solving.
I’ve taught this technique to Fortune 500 executives, parents and teachers, as well as to children as young as two-and-a-half.
From boardroom to play room, it works!
Read more about 5-Step Problem Solving here.