The passing of Stephen Covey, author of the iconic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, reminded me of just how influential this book was back when many of us in radio were just getting our careers going.
(No, don’t mistake it with Fifty Shades Of Grey.)
There have been numerous authors who were influential in shaping broadcaster thinking – Ries & Trout, Seth Godin, to name a couple.
But I’ll bet most of the people running radio stations today avidly read Covey’s guidebook on how to rethink your career – and your life. In fact, many are instinctively employing these “habits,” often without even thinking about it.
On the premise that you’re too young to really remember 7 Habits, here’s a quick inventory of how Covey changed the thinking of millions of people around the world, with a few of my comments about why they still resonate today:
- Be Proactive – As Covey writes, “Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive.” That ability and drive to “make things happen” is at the root of this habit. As the radio industry has become top-down in structure, many people at the station level often think they simply don’t have the ability to control their own destinies. I bet that even the most controlling CEOs would dispute that belief.
- Begin With The End In Mind – Yes, it’s that “vision thing” that the first George Bush talked about. We don’t all have it, but the ability to see the potential of a concept, idea, format, or different sales approach is at the root of truly moving a traditional industry like radio.
- Put First Things First – Covey must have imagined the advent of serious multi-tasking because this habit refers directly to putting together a hierarchy of needs that must be accomplished, focusing not on the process but on the end game.
- Think Win-Win – Just look at Congress for reasons why everyone should re-read Covey’s great book. The art of compromise, of finding mutual benefit in our endeavors is a key element in the 7 Habits concept. Too often, life has become a zero sum game of winners and losers. Sales and programming at most radio companies embrace this habit.
- Seek First To Understand, Then Be Understood – Or shut up a moment and truly listen to what is being said, not to start crafting a response, but to truly understand what is happening around you. This is a direct plea to not overreact, and not start prepping your next question while your guest is still talking. Hello, talk show hosts.
- Synergize – Yes, it’s become a cliché word that we snicker at, but Covey calls it “the crowning achievement of all the previous habits.” The ability for a team to come together to create with others is at the root of getting things accomplished. Even the biggest companies in the world talk about the benefit of small teams working together to get things done.
- Sharpen The Saw – So, I’m writing this while attending Conclave 37, wondering why there aren’t more people in radio here. As Covey reminds us, we don’t get better as people and as professionals unless we’re constantly improving our skill sets. In a business where training and education have become afterthoughts, it becomes incumbent on all of us as individuals to sharpen our personal saws and find ways to get better and smarter.
It is sad when the passing of a great thinker serves as a reminder of just how brilliant he was. In this case, Covey’s incredible book will remain a part of critical thinking for decades, but now is a great time for those of you who haven’t read it to do so. And for people like me who actually did read it, to review it through the lens of now.
Which of the seven habits do you follow?