A couple years ago, when I first read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” a single paragraph—which was hardly the meat of Mr. Covey’s message—stuck with me. So much so, that it popped into my head again yesterday morning at random.
The idea is simple, but profoundly practical. It is easily implemented immediately. Yesterday morning, our team applied it to each of our personal lives, as well as the habits and systems of our team, and I want to share it with you.
Let me reiterate, this is not my brilliance on display here, but simply my paraphrasing of a fantastic idea conveyed by Stephen Covey, in a powerful book.
Ask yourself these two questions:
First, what small thing can you begin to do—or add to your life—that will have the greatest immediate effect on your life?
Secondly, what small thing can you stop doing—or remove from your life—that will have an equally powerful effect?
Chances are, something popped into your head just now, almost immediately. Some change you’ve been putting off, some habit you’ve been meaning to kick, something you’ve known for a while would be worth the effort to change, but haven’t done it.
Well, guess what? It’s time! No more excuses—it’s time to pay the piper. You know what it is because it came to your mind seemingly involuntarily just a moment ago.
These incremental changes add up over time to create drastically different results. It’s going for a 30-minute jog 4 days a week for a year. It’s praying with your spouse every night before bed. It’s deciding to delegate 4 hours of work per week to a virtual assistant. In week one, it’s only four hours. But after a year you look up and realize what it has meant you have over 200 hours back.
It’s the difference that one degree of latitude can make when flying across the country. If you leave from LA, heading to Nashville and you’re off by only one degree, you’ll end up in Kentucky. It’s the power of incremental change. It’s the deep importance of purposeful direction.
The truth is, though, you already know that this change is for your benefit. You know you’ll be more productive, less wasteful of time or money, you’ll be healthier, you’ll be sharper, you’ll be more available or more fulfilled.
So I won’t waste any more energy trying to twist your arm into doing something that will move you closer to your goals. You’re a driven person who knows where you want to go. You embrace purposeful change. You welcome growth.
But I will help you take this one step further. Answer this question next:
After I make this change, what will I experience? What will it allow me to do?
Allow me to lead by example. I immediately knew that my answer was to get up each day at 5am. Every high achiever I study (with only a few exceptions) gets up earlier than necessary to invest time in their mind and mindset, to prepare to conquer the day with purpose.
I want to do the same. My kids are up at 6am each day. So I’ll be getting up at 5am (I started yesterday) to implement a morning routine that I know will set me up for success.
To take it a step further and visualize the benefits, as in the third question I mentioned: I know that this will ensure that I have time to read, to pray and meditate, to think through broader-scope items like the setting of goals and building of systems. This doesn’t happen with kids climbing on me trying to have monster fights, or when clients need a phone call or email response right away.
Investment in my mind, and work on my business, as opposed to in, will happen in these early mornings.
Go-To Resource: This book by Stephen R. Covey needs no introduction. It is a seminal work in the world of leadership and personal development. It is part of the canon of business literature. If you haven’t read it, click here right now and make haste.