Today I will be writing about a book I read seven years ago and it has a great impact in the way I am today, why and how I became a coach and how I am doing coaching. The book title is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. Well to be precise I have to add that I did not read the entire book but as I had listened countless times the audiobook version I think I can say I read the book.
Covey started the book with very useful concepts used throughout the book. The main one I recall it almost every day is the “Emotional Bank Account”. For the author we have like a bank account with every person we know. This account does not have money but emotions and feelings. Like any bank account before we do some withdrawing we have to deposit first. It is the same with people. We have to have “emotional capital” we the people we deal with and if we like to have big digits bank account we sure do with the people. In Coaching we can call it Rapport.
Another key concept that spans across the entire book is the “paradigm shift”. It’s possible – well, not only possible but inevitable – to have a different perspective than our own. Any two different people will have different perspectives of the same event. Anyone who has the awareness of this opens themselves to a whole new way of seeing the world and interacts in it.
We can divide the 7 Habits in three groups: the first three we can call it the “Private Victory”, the second three the “Public Victory” and the seventh and last one the “Sustainability Link” that wraps up all together and assure that they last.
Each of the 7 Habits can also be linked to a specific part of a Coaching relationship or session. Let’s start.
Habit 1 says “Be proactive”.
Like any buzz word “proactive” could have several different meanings. I think the best way to define it it’s by its opposite: “reactive”. If someone wants to be proactive one has to not be reactive. One’s drive has to come from inside instead of reacting to outside events.
I relate this habit to Coaching when the client decides he or she wants to have a coach and be coached. I know this could come from external reasons like working in a company and the HR department sponsors a coaching relationship. I prefer to think that is the exception to the rule and people decided to look for a coach because they want help to achieve their goals.
Habit 2 says “Begin with the end in mind”.
This could be the definition of the contract of a coaching session. We work with the client so that the client starts with the end in mind: “What you would like to have by the end of our time together?” This or other similar question is one of the first questions of a coaching session.
Habit 3 says “Put First Things First”.
Here comes the value based coaching. Is this the really important stuff the client wants to work today? What comes first? Is this a time management issue, a job opportunity or something deeper? What’s the impact of your goal, is it ecological with your values, goals and other people?
We continue this thought with Habit 4 – “Think Win-Win”.
In what ways your goal and actions impact the people around you? Furthermore this is the way Coaches define their success. A coach can only win if the client wins or stated in a different way: “The success of a coached is measured by the success of their clients.”
Habit 5 says “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood”.
It applies to Level 3 listening of the Coach. Bearing in mind that the coach doesn’t expected to be understood although we can interpret this as the way clients understands and interpret the questions the coach does.
Habit 6 says “Synergize”.
In Coaching synergize could be seen in two different ways: 1) the client recognize the importance of Synergy by hiring a Coach; 2) sometimes it would be valuable to client to ask them who would be able to help them in their goals.
And finally the last and my favorite Habit 7 “Sharpen the Saw”.
It was with this habit in the background that I have decided to become a coach. To never stop self-improving in the four main dimensions of an human being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual; and also help others improving themselves. This habit is also present in Coaching when we use the Life Wheel exercise with clients.
In summary although I do not remember to read Steve Covey talk about Coaching in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” I think this book has much to do with Coaching and how to be a very good coach.
A final note: during the writing of this article I found out that Stephen Covey passed away less than a week ago. I am thankful to him for the person he was and to his work. His works had a great influence in my personal development and it will always be a landmark of my awareness to self-development.
Thank you, Luis