Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

I’m still reading Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. A quick summary of Habit 2:

  • Attend your own funeral.
  • First creation, second creation.
  • Difference between leadership and management.
  • Finding one’s center.
  • Personal mission statement.
  • Rescripting, a work in progress.
  • Importance of visualization.

Attend your own funeral. Visualize yourself at your own funeral, three years from now. Imagine four people who will speak about your strengths, your accomplishments, your character qualities. One will be from your family, one among your friends, one from your work, and one from your church or whatever organized community group you value and give service to. Imagine what they might say about you, how they will remember you. What would you like to have them remember you for? What accomplishments do you want to be remembered for? What personal traits do you want to be respected for?

First creation, second creation. Everything we create is created first in the mind and only later in reality. If you plan something effectively, the first step, last step and all steps in between are clear — the blueprint tells you what you need to do today to be one day closer to your goal. If you don’t plan, you may be led by someone else’s vision, or your past experiences, or various factors that influence you. You may end up creating a scrambled collage instead of something you aspire to create and do.

Difference between leadership and management. Management means doing things right, while leadership means doing the right things. Imagine a team of men cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. The producers are the ones in front, cutting back the vines. The managers are the ones sharpening and replacing the blades, working out a shift schedule, holding muscle training sessions, etc. The leaders are the ones who climb the trees and come back down to tell everyone that they are going the wrong direction. Workers or managers who are disconnected and without leadership may ignore the efforts of the leaders and say “Shut up, we are making excellent progress in this direction!” It’s not necessarily about leading a group — personal leadership is about the most important kind, because it puts you in control of your life and gives you a map to follow.

Finding one’s center. Your center is your source of security, guidance, wisdom, and strength. If you are not aware of your own center, it may be one of the following or a combination of these: Spouse-centered, Family-centered, Work-centered, Money-centered, Possession-centered, Pleasure-centered, Friend-centered, Enemy-centered, Church-centered, or Self-centered. You may get security from one center and wisdom from another. None of these centers are principle-based, and in choosing a center that is not based on your own principles and deeply-held beliefs, you may find your security fluctuates, your guidance points you in a direction you didn’t consciously choose, and wisdom and strength may not be there at all.

Personal mission statement. Write your own personal mission statement, based on the values you hold dear and the principles you believe in. The mission statement tells what you value, and also tells how you will behave and how you will measure your own success. Your mission statement might contain a list of roles you play, how each role fits in with your overall values, and how you will fulfill these roles. It may also have a list of goals. Organizations can have mission statements, as can families, but it means little if it was not created with everyone’s active participation.

Rescripting, a work in progress. You can’t stop being you, at least not immediately. Don’t write all new scripts as though they are for another person. Begin by reviewing your current “scripts” that are responsible for how you behave. If you don’t consciously develop them, you may be working with scripts given to you by others in your formative years. Decide on which ones to replace and do so, slowly but deliberately.

Importance of visualization. Come up with an affirmation that is consistent with your principles, that you can use to change your behavior the next time you are faced with a particular situation. Use your imagination to visualize yourself in this situation, then visualize your correct response with as much detail as you can. When the situation comes, you are more likely to be ready. If you don’t visualize based on your affirmations, you will unconsciously visualize the same situations you have already played out and your imagination will reinforce old, bad habits and won’t give new ones a chance to start.

0 thoughts on “Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

  1. scorpina_13


    I love that guy. There’s another book out there that’s a take-off but for the total disorganized person. His principles must work great for people with a direction in life.

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