Twenty-five years after author Stephen Covey rocked the business world with his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” the business-oriented self-help guide continues to be the gold standard for entrepreneurs seeking a path toward growing their companies. Having sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages worldwide (and counting), it remains one of the all-time, best-selling nonfiction business books and Covey’s approach is practiced the world over by aspiring moneymakers.
Self-discovery, self-mastery, initiative, responsibility, team-building, prioritization, and open-mindedness are just some of the characteristics that Covey suggests are necessary for success. And even after acquiring his designated habits, entrepreneurs should strive to continually improve them, the author said.
Universal Good Habits
An example of Covey’s continued relevance: In August 2011, Time listed “Seven Habits” as one of the 25 most influential business management books. And even though norms have changed over the last quarter century, Covey’s “habits” remain universal and timeless, continuing to guide acolytes even after the author’s death in 2012; plus, they have prompted other businesspeople to identify their own habits for success. They always seem to come in sevens.
For example, Entrepreneur magazine has advocated its own set of seven habits necessary for success. They are more practical when compared to Covey’s more philosophical instruction. Entrepreneur recommends:
■ Establish a detailed plan before starting your business.
■ Organize your resources thoroughly before beginning business operations.
■ Surround yourself with the right people who will help you reach your goals.
■ Apply the art of delegating the right task to the right person.
■ Monitor performance of others with an efficient reporting system.
■ Measure your progress to be sure your business is on the right track.
■ Make employees feel like part of the company by keeping them informed of developments and progress.
“When you become competent and capable in each of these areas, you’ll be able to accomplish extraordinary results, far faster and easier than your competitors,” according to “Million Dollar Habits” from Entrepreneur Press.
Lessons for Life
And Covey continues to be an inspiration for a new generation of writers who have pinpointed their own successful habits, many of which can be applied as life lessons that go beyond the business world. Darrell Zahorsky is one such small business expert, author and consultant who espouses his own ideas about success. Remember the old shampoo commercial about the advantages of telling two friends about the benefit of using the product? Then they will tell two friends, who in turn will tell two friends, and so on, and so on…
Zahorsky borrows that idea by being a proponent of building an inner network of five successful colleagues, mentors and advisers who can introduce you to another five successful businesspeople, and so on, and so on…
It’s just one of the writer’s suggestions for success. He also reminds people to remain adaptable to changing situations and vigilant about new opportunities that might emerge in times of trouble. Moreover, Zahorsky offers a lesson in humility to those with Type A personalities.
“Business success requires the ability to know your strengths and weaknesses. Being open and honest about yourself and your business creates growth as an individual and as a company,” he says. “In the book, ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths,’ Gallup Organization reveals that building our strengths instead of fixing our weakness is the path to mastery and success.”
Finding balance in all aspects of your life, is another key to success, he suggests.
Add ‘Lean In’ to the List
But it may be time to add a new habit to Covey’s list that wasn’t really talked about when he published his book in 1989. It has become a recent buzz term and applies primarily to women executives and entrepreneurs. Of course, I’m talking about “leaning in,” the advice dispensed by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg in her recently published first book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”
Sandberg encourages women to “lean into” their ambitions in order to achieve professional and personal goals, break down societal and personal barriers, and achieve positions of leadership. The book has inspired a movement. With more female voices in positions of power, Sandberg asserts, more equitable opportunities will be created for everyone.
If that can be achieved, leaning in could become as good a habit as anything put forth by Covey.