Balance priorities for higher output and a fuller life
In 1998 I was a freshman in college. My life was busy. There were papers, quizzes, meetings and group projects. In- between classes there were parties and extra-curricular activities.
I was also notoriously bad at time management—who wouldn’t be? There were so many new and exciting things going on and people to meet, not to mention my new-found freedom to come and go as I pleased.
Then Steven Covey checked into my life. My grades at the end of the academic year shocked me into the reality that the excitement had to die down and a routine had to be established. I took a hard look at my lifestyle and assessed my priorities.
It is Wangui Karobia, a family friend, who gave me my first copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I had told her of my search for improved productivity in college and she thought the book would help. It blew my mind.
I think the most profound message from the author was the recognition of the fact that we are responsible. No matter what happens to us, the response to that is determined by us.
There is a space between stimulus and response and we have all the power in the world to use that space. It hit me as hard as it had hit Covey, the writer.
But the book went much further than addressing the subject of ‘time’ management — it went to the core of man’s endless search for ways to better himself and to improve interpersonal relationships.
It also shows how there is a whole lot more to life than simply getting more done. In fact, it opened my eyes to the fact that getting more done actually had a tendency to get in the way of life!
First forward 15 years. As an executive coach and a HR consult, I work in a world where most of my clients are stretched, stressed and trying to balance their lives.
They tell me how they were trying to have it all—and now they’re just trying to balance what’s left.
Stephen Covey left an indelible mark on my busy life. He taught me some very simple ways to stay focused and attain my goals To this day, I still teach my clients what Covey taught me.
I tell them to watch their habits. These will shape your character which determines your life. You cannot rise any higher than the fortitude of your character. This is the foundation for your life.
I teach them to schedule their priorities. If it is important, it must be scheduled. What you don’t schedule won’t get done.
Know your priorities, and centre your day on those activities. Many people have embraced Covey’s “7 habits of highly effective people” and can attest to how they’ve changed their lives.
I now appreciate why Covey, who died last week, was recognised by Time Magazine as one of the “25 most influential people in the world”.
His leadership training crossed every personal boundary and discriminated against no one as he birthed a movement that can still be felt around the world today.
Selling over 20 million copies of his highly acclaimed life changing leadership guide, Covey brought new meaning to old paradigms while shifting our thinking to go outside ourselves and see our “world” from a broader perspective.
Mr Waswa is management and HR specialist and Managing Director of Outdoors Africa. E-mail: email@example.com