Stephen R. Covey’s suggested Eight Habits
The aim of this study is to investigate universal hints for an all-round development of human personality: Vladimir Lenin as a case study, in the light of Stephen R. Covey’s suggested habits, expounded in his books, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to greatness”, following the most eminent Russian physiologist and psychologist I. P. Pavlov’s theory of classical behaviourism. This paper adopts the popped up chunks of I. P. Pavlov’s classical behaviourist theory to analyse how the process of habit formation influences the effective and great human personalities of the world. Thus, the present study will enable the readers and researchers to confront Pavlov’s classical behaviourist theory of habit formation through conditioned and unconditioned stimuli and reflexes. Readers are also expected to abandon the bad habits and adopt the good ones. Through infrequent but subtle universal hints which will serve as a model of effective and great human personality of the world. Applying I. P. Pavlov’s classical behaviourist theory, this paper concentrates on all round development of gallivanting and history making personality of Vladimir Lenin as a case study, who identified himself with history, and present Vladimir Lenin in novel and innovative perspective.
Keywords: conditioned and unconditioned stimuli and reflexes, personality, effectiveness, greatness
Stephen R. Covey is a respective name in the fields of organizational behaviour and business management. He is a leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant and author. He has dedicated his life to teaching principle-centred leadership for building both families and organizations. Moreover, he is the author of several books, including the international bestseller book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness”. While discussing Stephen R. Covey’s contribution as a principle-centre leadership, the intellectuals are reminded of his marked concept of habits. He followed behaviourism of Pavlov, which is known as classical behaviourism in modern psychology.
For Stephen R. Covey, human being is a dynamic entity. His/ her personality has been changed with the changing of socio-economic ethos of social formation, in which he/she lives. In this way, human habits are consistently developed by trials and errors. The upbringing, schooling, experience and environment of human being are the vital factors, which help him/her to overcome his/her bad habits and to adopt the good ones. This does not mean that influences of the objective changes and developments on every member of the same social formation imprint equally. However, they are different on every person. The ratio of personal development also varies from person to person because of the individual characters, which differentiate one person to the other in the same social formation and age. Similarly, the ratio of reception of these effects is also varies from person to person.
We find our image of personality as reflected in our social conditions in this situation. The nature of this reflection of our personality is as real as it is. In fact, this reflection of social paradigm makes us believe that we are determined by conditioning and conditions. Therefore, we impose upon us three kinds of determinations: genetic, psychic and environmental determinations. These are based on the stimulus/response theory of classical behaviourism of I. P. Pavlov. I. P. Pavlov’s deterministic paradigm comes from his study of animals such as rats, dogs, monkeys, pigeons, and dogs as well as neurotic and psychotic people.
In his study, I.P Pavlov used a term reflex. A reflex, for him is a response to a stimulus. When food comes into our mouths, it becomes enveloped in saliva, which lubricates it. Therefore, the food is made easier to swallow. The relation of food with the mouth starts a series of movements, passing along the nerve fibres to brain and back to the mouth, where it sets in motion the salivary glands. For I. P. Pavlov, reflexes are of two kinds: conditioned and unconditioned. The example just given is of an unconditioned reflex, which is innate. The innate reflexes present in every normal individual of species from birth. These are what psychologists call instincts. However, Pavlov says; “It has had from the beginning a purely scientific connotation” (Pavlov, L. P, 1927, p. 276). Unlike unconditioned reflexes, which are inborn, conditioned reflexes are acquired by trials and errors. Stephen R. Covey developed his idea of eight habits from Pavlov’s theory of classical behaviourism.
Stephen R. Covey’s suggested Eight Habits
Stephen R. Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of highly Effective People” describes seven habits of highly effective people, which are as follows:
Habit I = be proactive; habit 2: Begin with the end in mind; habit 3: put first things first. Whereas habit 4: think win/win; habit 5: seek first to understand, then to be understood, habit 6: synergize, and habit 7: sharpens the saw-principles of balanced self-renewal. Similarly, the author described the 8th habit in his other book “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness”. This is a principle of greatness and leadership, which moves us from effectiveness to greatness.
Describing habit 1 be proactive, Stephen R. Covey says; “If the only vision we have of ourselves comes from the social mirror- from the current paradigms and from the opinions, perceptions, and paradigms of the people around us- our view of ourselves is like the reflection in the crazy mirror room at the carnival”(R. Covey, Stephen, 1998, p. 67).
The case of normal human being is very different from that of animals, neurotic and psychotic people studied by Pavlov. His/her reactions and responses to the external stimuli are not limited. He/she can fulfil his/her potential. Between the external stimuli and reactions, his/her power of the freedom to choose. In making such a choice either he/ she becomes reactive or proactive. The social environment influences reactive people. Proactive people are also affected by their social conditions. However, their responses to the external stimuli are very different from those of reactive people. Their responses consciously or unconsciously to the external stimuli are always value-based choice or reaction.
The second habit is Begin with the End in Mind- principles of personal leadership. Stephen R. Covey says; “The most effective way I know to begin with the end in mind is to develop a personal statement or philosophy or creed. It focuses on what you want to be (character) and to do (contribution and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based” (R. Covey, Stephen, 1998, p. 106).
The third habit of highly effective people is put first things first-principles of personal management. Habit 1 and 2 are deeply rooted in it. It generates the power of making decision and choices to act in accordance with them. The effective self-management enables us to put first things first. It is a very practical way of using weekly not daily or yearly planner.
“We accomplish all that we do through delegation-either to time or to people. If we delegate to time, we think efficiency. If we delegate to other people, we think effectiveness” (R. Covey, Stephen, 1998, p. 171).
Habit 4 is think win/win-principles of interpersonal leadership. It is a philosophy of human interaction. It moves us from successful independence to successful interdependence. This is a basic principle of interpersonal leadership.
“Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart in all human interactions” (R. Covey, Stephen 1998, p. 207). While win/lose is an authoritarian approach, having no standards, no demands, no expectations, no vision. It turns the people quick please or appease. These people have no courage, power of expression and no strength. Lose/win also a weak position. Lose/lose is a philosophy of adversarial conflict, war and the highly dependent person.
Habit 5 is ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood-principles of empathic communication’. We usually do not develop listening skill in comparison to speaking, reading and writing. Listening, speaking, reading and writing are basic skills of communication. We spend years learning how to read, write and speak however, we do not devote any time to learn to listen. Therefore, we often do very low-level listening. That is why we fail to understand other people’s own frame of reference. There are five kinds of listening: ignoring, pretending, selective listening, attentive listening and empathic listening.
The sixth habit is synergize-principles of creative cooperation. It is the highest form of the previous five habits. “The essence of synergy is to value differences-to respect them to build on strengths, to compensate for weaknesses” (R. Covey, Stephen, 1998, p.263).
The seventh habit sharpens the saw-principles of balanced self-renewal, which deals with renewal. This habit takes time to sharpen the saw. The other six habits centre upon this habit, because it makes them possible. It is the way we maintain our physical and mental fitness.
The last chapter of Stephen R-Covey’s book cited above tells us how to become a transitional person. Bringing positive chances to family, business, organization, and ourselves, we must be willing to accept that responsibility and possibility that can be done. “Change-real change-comes from the inside out. It does not come from hacking at the leaves of attitude and behaviour with quick fix personality ethic techniques, it comes from striking at the root-the fabric of our thought, the fundamental, essential, paradigms, which give definition to our character and create the lens through which we see the world”(R, Covey, Stephen, 1998, p.317).
The 8th habit- to find your voice and inspire others to find theirs is discovering our voice and expressing our voice-vision, discipline, passion and conscience. In this manner, we inspire others to find their voice, which is the challenge of leadership. The8th habit represents the pathway to the enormously promising side of today’s reality. It stands in stark contrast to the pain and frustration I have describing. In fact, it is a timeless reality. It is the voice of the human spirit-full of hope and intelligence, resilient by nature, boundless in its potential to serve the common good. This voice also encompasses the soul of organizations that will survive, thrive and profoundly impact the future of the world” (R.Covey, Stephen, 2004, pp. 4-5).
There are so many books and dissertations composed on biography of Vladimir Lenin. Out of them, there are a number of older biographies, which retain much interest and information. For example, Christopher Hill’s book “Lenin and Russian Revolution” (London, 1947) is very thought provoking book on the subject. Clara Zetkin’s book “My Recollections of Lenin” (Moscow, 1956) is based on the German Communist woman Clara Zetkin’s memoirs of Vladimir Lenin. N.K.Krupskaya’s book “Memories of Lenin” (New York, 1970) is the reminiscences of Vladimir Lenin’s wife, N. K. Krupskaya but this book is a political biography than a wife’s personal memoir of her husband. Angelica Balabanoff’s book “Impressions of Lenin” (Michigan, 1964) is a memoir of an early Communist comrade Angelica Balabanoff. L.Schapiro and P. Reddaway edited a book, entitled “Lenin: Man, Theorist and Leader” (London, 1967), which is very interesting and informative in many respects. David Shub’s book, “Lenin” (New York, 1948; revised edition, Harmondsworth, 1966) is much informative biography of Vladimir Lenin.
Valentov’s books “Encounter with Lenin” (London, 1968) and “The Early Years of Lenin” (Michigan, 1969) are also part of the memoir, but in these books, the author’s Menshevik biased view destroys much of its usefulness. Leon Trotsky’s books “Lenin Notes for a Biography” (New York, 1971) and “The Young Lenin” (New York, 1972) are valuable and useful in many respects. George Hanna edited a book entitled “About Lenin” (Moscow, n.d), which is a series of readings from fellow revolutionaries and comrades, published for official purposes and carefully sanitized of all unorthodoxy.