Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. And learn from the mistakes
Redo BETTER all things above
Read the books
Help the need
The last habit imply that you are the saw; and to Sharpen the Saw is to become better, keener and more effective. Highly Effective People always take time to Sharpen the Saw. What is meant by Sharpening the Saw is to regularly engage in the exercise of the three dimensions which make up the human condition: body, mind and spirit. Covey also adds a fourth dimension – the inter-personal.
Let us begin by considering Spiritual Exercise – this is the area which is perhaps the most misunderstood. I believe that, in the west, we have become spiritually blind. The progress of our science, education and technology has lead us to construct a view of the world and the universe that excludes the agency of God. Freud famously said that it was man that made God ‘in the image of his father’. It is, of course, a very clever statement and not one I wish to here challenge – whether this statement or the reverse is true is for you to decide. However, as the west has, by and large, abandoned faith in the creator God, so it has simultaneously abandoned the idea that life has any meaning or purpose; and it is purpose and direction in life that this habit refers to as Spiritual Exercise. Of course, if you are a religious person, then there will be a tie-up here with your personal faith; however, if you are not religious, don’t also abandon the idea that life holds a special purpose for you.
To exercise spiritually, I recommend that you consider engaging in some form of meditation. Meditation involves regularly sitting in a relaxed position and thinking about nothing for a period of about 10 or 15 minutes. Why this practice should bring about any material benefits is an interesting question. You might consider that you relax your mind quite enough when you sleep, but it turns out that we don’t really relax our minds when we sleep. The brain is active during sleep – during REM sleep, the brain appears to be processing information. Though it is not yet known exactly what it is doing, the brain is certainly not passive and so the mind is not relaxed during sleep. Meditation is the practice of disciplining the mind, It is difficult to do at first, but if you stick with it, positive health benefits will follow.
Making use of Jack Black‘s House on the Right Bank is an excellent tool for combining what is really guided meditation with the practice of regularly reviewing your mission, your roles and your goals; and that is what Stephen Covey means when he talks about spiritual exercise – the regular, review and preview of the things that are most important to you in life. These are the first things that you must define in habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind.
Regular aerobic, physical exercise is essential for health, energy and a feeling of well-being. Naturally, you should always consult your doctor or physician before you embark upon any course of physical exercise; and it should be obvious that such professional advice as may be given, should always be taken into account.
To practice this part of Habit 7 requires that you commit to at least three sessions of at least twenty minutes per week. If you are not already engaged in this sort of exercise, you will find that after a period of about six weeks, you will feel much better, much healthier and indeed your body will become more efficient at processing oxygen – which is the key to energy.
Ask yourself these questions. What am I doing to sharpen my mind? Am I engaged in a programme of education or learning of some kind? What am I doing to improve my professional knowledge?
How you should go about this part of the habit is, of course, for you to decide, but you should ensure that you are reading regularly. What should you read? Naturally you want to put in the good stuff – so it’s not a case of reading for its own sake; it is reading carefully selected material which allows you to broaden and deepen your understanding.
You will naturally be paying particular attention to the important areas you defined in habit 2, but you should also consider reading all the great works of literature and also ancient wisdom literature which includes books like The Psalms and Proverbs..
This part is not really a discipline, as are the other three parts, it is really a commitment; and for me, I make the commitment during the spiritual part of the habit, that is, during a meditation. It is simply to commit to approaching inter-personal relationships by making use of habits 4, 5 and 6.
Even if people approach me making use of language, actions, or behaviour which I personally believe to be inappropriate, my commitment is to not react, but to use my proactive capacity to engage in the exercise of habits 4, 5 and 6 which I believe will lead to the best possible outcome in such circumstances
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