“Between the thought and the action falls the shadow”
Let me put Elliot’s quote into another paradigm, between Habit One and Habit Three is Habit Two. Between the choice and the doing is the vision. If one does not have a real idea of what is important in their life, then nothing will be done. For my experience, I know that Family, Career, and Graduate School are my priorities. To allow for a better balance of all three, I wake-up every morning at 4:00 am and do my school work. I then get to work by 6:30 am, and I am done at 3 pm. I bring no teacher work, like grading papers, home. My time with my family is priceless.
The Habits that I know find myself actively practicing are about choice and vision. The First Habit, says I am the creator of my thoughts, my words, and my deeds. This Habit is a little like NLP, very Zen Buddhist, and reminds us that our words create our reality. For Habit Two, it is “the deep contact with our basic paradigms and values and the vision of what we can become” (Covey, 1989 p. 74). The Habit is the practice of purposefully building a map that will allow one’s self to reach our desired destination. Now here comes the Third Habit, this is the habit of doing, the day-to-day actions that will bring about a principle-centered lifestyle.
Habit Three: Put First Things First
The challenge of Habit Three makes one look at the differences between what is important and what is urgent (Covey, 1989 p. 78). Covey (1989) creates a model between the two factors of Important and Urgent and creates several quadrants. In the text, the whole quadrant idea can be a bit confusing, however drawing out the model brings much-needed clarity. For me, what matters most is what’s Important and Non-Urgent. Of course, there will always be Urgent problems in everyone’s life. That’s life. But if one does not know where their center is, what guides their own heart and mind, then truly know what is Important will never happen.
Covey (1989) gives a few examples in the book about setting priorities. He shares a story about his wife and even a story about himself. The idea of lack of discipline is explored, and Covey (1989) suggest that most people who claim a lack of discipline are mislabeling themselves. “The basic problem is that their priorities have not become deeply planted in their hearts and minds” (Covey, 1989 p. 80). When one proceeds from an inauthentic place, then, of course, motivating to take action on something that is inauthentic, not real value, won't happen. It is those individuals who start from a principle-centered place that will have coherence and balance in their priorities. “Coherence suggests that there is harmony, unity, and integrity between your vision and mission, your roles and goals, your priorities and plans, and your desires and discipline” (Covey, 1989 p. 82).
Teaching The Habit
So far, I have given my students two lessons on the Habits. I take about 30 minutes from our week’s work to give students a lesson entitled “Secrets Your Parents Won't Tell You: But Your Teacher Will.” Together we have worked on a shared definition of what it means to be proactive, and the word is now part of our classroom vocabulary. For Habit Two, students imagined it was the day after 8th Grade promotion and wrote a letter to themselves. They had to write about three success, two challenges, and one problem they are still trying to fix. Once students had finished the assignment, I collected the letters and told the students I would give the letters back when the students are in 8th grade.
This week, the “Secret” will be about setting time aside for planning their week. A very simple lesson that is powerful. The class will then have a designated time, every Monday, where for 15 minutes they will plan their week based on what is “important.”
Covey, S. R. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic. New York: Simon and Schuster. :