Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then be understood

People for the most part want to be understood. You want to be understood, right? It is about communication, relationships and knowing how to say the correct things to the right people.
What are your intentions?
When you wish to communicate something to someone it may be for a number of reasons.
  1. to vent out of anger or frustration - I took the golf team to the course to practice in the 15 passenger green van. There were plenty of parking spaces, so I parked next to the chipping area using two spaces so the door of the van would not open and hit any cars next to us. The extra space would allow the young players to get there clubs out without damaging vehicles or standing in the parking lot and potentially block cars from driving through. I thought I was doing a service to the golfing community. After an hour or so we returned and as the students were putting their clubs in the van a car came by slowly and a man had a frustrated look on his face. About 5 minutes later the same gentleman, came up to about 25 feet from us and yelled, "I do not see any other vans taking up 2 spaces." I told him I was trying to create space so our loading and unloading student's clubs would not damage other vehicles." He gave me an angry look and said, " Park in a spot further away where the van will fit." Then, he walked away. The man did not want seek to understand my position. He only wanted to vent a frustration.
  2. to control your environment- I have known people who just talk because they are nervous or uncomfortable. By talking continuously, a person dominates the conversation or group. It paralyzes any meaningful interaction. They are not seeking to understand you, nor they may not even be seeking to be understood. Just the sound of their voice calms them and does not allow anyone to invade their happy space they have created. The other end of the spectrum is the person who does not want to understand your position and only demands your attention. This may be good in military situations, but awful in team setttings.
  3. to seek to be understood - in seeking to be understood one must communicate in such a way that the listener will understand. Thus, it is good advise to first seek to understand your listener, by listening to them first. Seek to understand your audience. Ask questions to understand your audience. Restate what you think you are hearing in their response to your questions. Read their nonverbal reactions to your questions. Some call this empathic listening. The empathic listening responses are:
  • mimic content - just repeat what was just said
  • rephrase content - repeat, but in your own words
  • reflect feeling - express what you think the other feels
  • rephrase content and reflect feeling - combine the latter two

In doing so, you may alter or refine the way you deliver your content in such a way that your message will be understood.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Habit 4 - Think "Win-Win"

I know what you may be thinking, "Win-Win in sports? How can that happen?" Competition in sports means a person or team either wins or loses. The concept of "Win-Win" really has nothing to do with the score, but in how you play the game. You can win the score, but loose the (sportsmanship) game.

How you play the game does matter in the long haul.

Think Win-Win teaches that the win-lose scenario has the attitude that says the pie of success is only so big, and if you get a big piece, then someone else gets the small piece. This person always has to win, appear to be the best, be on top, have the last word and is always right. Relationships, friendships, and loyalty are all secondary to winning the game, being the best, and having it your way. But in the end, win-lose strategy usually backfires. You may end up on the top of the totem pole, but you will be there alone with no friends or supporters.

The lose-win scenario makes you a doormat. Pretty much the only thing you are good for is to wipe your feet on. Its only purpose is to serve, be abused and get nothing out of the relationship. This does not mean avoid being a servant. A lose -win is fine if the issue is not that important to you. Just make sure you stand up for things that matter most.

The lose-lose scenario is a downward spiral. It is about revenge and getting back at someone who hurt you or someone close to you. It is much easier to seek revenge than to grant forgiveness. Lose-lose is not about winners, but losers. You need to decide which team you would rather be on.

Win-Win seeks to find the best in each person. Win the game graciously, lose the game with humilty. To Win means:
  • Playing your best whether you have the best score or not.
  • Acknowledging that someone or a team played better on that day is honorable.
  • You may not be satisfied with the score or your performance, but do not take it out on someone else.
  • Take responsibility, evaluate what you need to do to prepare better next ime, set some goals and press on to be your best.

Relationship Bank Account

Do you want to have a better relationship with your parents? teachers? friends? family?, invest in the Relationship Bank Account (RBA). You make deposits that strengthen a relationship and withdrawls that hurt a relationship. The balance represents the amount of trust in your releationship.
A deposit you would like from someone, most likely will be different that a deposit you make with your parents. For example: a deposit with your parents would mean taking out the garbage or making your bed in the morning. You would see a deposit as, being able to stay up later to watch a TV show, or being allowed to spend the night at a friends house.

Understand what is important to them
Tell the truth
Do the right thing
Do little things that no one may know about
Acts and words of kindness
Assume you know what is important, and miss
Lie and cover up
Wait till you are told
Forget to do something for someone
Acts and words or criticism or humiliation

The bottom line is to treat others as you would want to be treated. Put other's needs before your own. Show respect to everyone, even when you have been mistreated. Your character will stand out, people will notice and begin to do the same to you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

9a - The 4 Quadrants

Quadrant 1 - The Procrastinator

Quadrant 1 represents urgent and important tasks. Some circumstances need immediate attention. There is nothing wrong to take care of an important need that just come up. What is unhealthy is to become addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes with doing everything the last minute. What is wrong with putting things off till the last minute? How do I know if I am a procratinator?

  • Do I cram for tests the night before a test?

  • Do I write papers the day before they are due and hardly have time to proof read them before turning them in to the teacher?

  • Am I late frequently?

  • I am not good at planning and organizing.

  • I am frequently preoccupied with one thing while I am doing something else.

  • I seem to rush between place and events.

  • I rarely have time (or save time) for myself.

  • I frequently wish that I had thought about things and acted sooner. Often I am just too late.

If the list above characterizes you, a procrastinator you may be.

Quadrant 3 - The Yes-Man

Quadrant 3 represents activities that are urgent but not important. People in this quadrant typically try to please others and have a hard time saying no. If you spend too much time in quadrant 3, you may get a reputation as a "pleaser." lack discipline, and feel like a dormat for others to wip their feet on.

The Yes-Man needs to prioritize their activities. Make a list of your activities with highest priorities first on the left side of the paper. On the right side of the paper, write down next the one of the high priorities what you will need to turn down, say no to, in order to fulfill a higher priority. By planning ahead, you can recognize the lower priority activity and say NO.

Quadrant 2: The Prioritizer
This quadrant is made up of activities like relaxation, building friendships, exercising, planning ahead, and doing homework. It is the quadrant of excellence - the place to be. Here you can plan, anticipate activities that will get you to your destination, avert activities and situations that will waste your time, recognize new opportunities and reduce time in the other quadrants.
The key is planning.
It is about putting FIRST THINGS FIRST.
It is learning to prioritize and manage your time so that your first things come first, not last. You may have good intentions, put actually doing them -putting them first -is the hard part. It means learning to overcome your fears and being strong during hard moments. Habit 3 is about will power (the strength to say yeas to your most important things) and won't power (the strength to say no to less important things and to peer pressure).
Write a list of all the tasks you do in a week: attening school, chores, sports, homework, hygiene, eating, going to appointments, sleeping, leisure activities, family time, time with friends, studying, traveling, working, time on computer, time playing video games, hobbies etc. Next to the tasks, write how many hours you spend doing these things a week.
Are you spending the time you need on the important tasks? What activities are keeping you from doing the important things? What can you adjust?
Get a planner or calendar and write down the important things you need to do this week. Spend 10 or 15 miniutes a day planning and evaluating if you were able to accomplish what you set out to do that day.

Quadrant 4: The Slacker
This is the trivial stuff, the busy work that does not need to be done. This includes opening all your junk email to see if they are from someone you know, staring at the TV or video games like a zombie. Time wasters. Stay out of this quadrant as much as possible. It will get you literally nowhere.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Part 9 - Habit 3: Putting First Things First

Now that you have discovered the things you really like, identified talents and gifts and decided your firsts. You may have a clearer picture of who you are now and what you want to be in the future. Habit 3 is designed to help you put them first in your life. PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST is about learning to prioritize and manage your time so your first things are not neglected, but intentionally pursued.
"The first three habits build upon each other. Habit 1 says,"You are the driver, not the passenger." Habit 2 says,"Decide where you want to go and draw a map to get there." Habit 3 says,"Get there! Don't let roadblocks knock you off course."
Habit 3 is to help you overcome the obstacles; the fears in difficult moments in order to reach your destination. The habit will develop your will-power (the ability to say yes to your most important things) and won't-power (the strength to say no the less important things and to peer pressure).

Life is primarily made up of important moments and urgent moments.

  • important moments: your most important things, your first things, activities that contribute to your mission and your goals

  • urgent moments: pressing things, in-your-face things, activities that demand immediate attention

When these moments overlap they create situations that demand a decision. The 7 Habits has identified 4 time quadrants in which to place these moments.

The training says one should try to do the things in Quadrant 1 and 2. One should spend most of their time in Quadrant 2. If things are done in this quadrant, then one will prioritize activities they need to do the reach their goals; having the end result in mind.

Look at your last 7 days. Where have you been spending your time? Are you accomplishing the things that really matter?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Part 8a - The Crossroads of Life

You are young; free. You have your whole life before you. You stand at the crossroads of life and you have to CHOOSE which path to take:
  • Do you want to go to college?
  • Do you want to get a job working most nights or tryout for the team?
  • What will my attitude be towards the school name change?
  • Should you take the harder AP course?
  • Who will you date? Will you date at all?
  • Will you drink, smoke or do drugs?
  • Will you have sex before marriage?
  • What will you stand for?
  • How will I contribute to my community?

All these questions and more were suggested in Covey's book. The paths you choose today will affect your future forever. It will shape you future. It is both frightening and exciting to have so many opportunities and directions to take your life. In his letter to the Romans, Apostle Paul explains there are forces at work in our lives that influence our decisions.

5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what
that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their
minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. - Romans 8:5-8

There is the dark force, that resides in everyone. By reading and hearing the news each day, we can see the horrific things people do to each other because they live to please their sinful nature; their instincts based on natural desires. God says people who are controlled by this nature live in bondage, their true image of themselves and who they would become is tarnished and it leads to death (not just physical death, but a hostility toward God and the loss of dignity as a human being.)

Earlier in the chapter it speaks of how one can break free from the bondage of the dark force and truly become free to be human; one becomes ALIVE as God intended.

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a]
2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the
law of sin and death... 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature
but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not
have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in
you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of
righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is
living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your
mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

So how does this help us make decisions? When one becomes ALIVE by the Spirit of God, one desires the things God desires. As one spends more time getting to know what is on God's heart; what His agenda is for humanity (which can be read in the Bible, experienced among other follower's of Jesus and in conversation with God in prayer.) One begins to make decisions based of the truth; the principles God has revealed to us to live a joyful and abundant life; a life of peace.

So, when those decisions come a school, friends, sex, alcohol, school, jobs, etc. , know what Jesus would do will help us make the right choices which will get us where we want to be and do in the future.

The 7 Habit training says to create a personal mission statement. It is like a personal motto pr creed that states what your life is about. In my junior or senior year in high school I was challenged to come up with a life verse. I did a lot of reading and searching in the bible. Philippians chapter 3 kept coming to mind as I was doing my search. I memorized verses 5-12 to really let it sink into my head. Then, verse 12 capture the depth of my being:

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made
perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of

This became my life verse; my personal mission statement. It became the organizing principle; my center. The "press on" I could relate to because I am an athlete. In verse 13 it qualifies the intensity of this pursuit by saying, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead... ."

What was the pursuit? Not to follow my natural desires, but to take hold.

Take hold of what? To take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Wow! Jesus took hold of me; called me into his presence; his kingdom for a purpose. It is my mission in life to find out why? to discover the "that". As I strain toward that prize, God has revealed different levels of who I am and what I am to do. The "who I am" or my being is the most important "that" I have discovered in my journey of life. It is because of who God has created in me (my being), I can decide to do those things that please him in any job, task or situation I find myself. In return I find fulfillment and make life better for those around me. I "take hold" of what being human is all about, exercise those gifts and abilities He has revealed who I am to be a benefit others. It is because I have allowed the Spirit of God to show me the "playbook" for life I find joy and peace. I can make the world a better place one moment at a time.

But, like anyone on a journey, I am content but never satisfied. My favorite song from the U2's album, Joshua Tree, "I still haven't found what I am looking for?" is my theme song. I find joy and fulfillment along the journey, but if I stand and dwell on it for to long - I lose sight of the future. If this stage of life is "that" beautiful, I want to keep searching and discover more of why Jesus took hold of me.

Your personal mission statement will be different. It may be a word, a phrase, a statement, a poem, or a song. Read the chapter on Habit 2. Create a mission statement and begin your personal journey. You may tweak it off and on. It will give you clarity of purpose, it will keep you focused on what is important.

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. - Philippians 3:12-16

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Part 8: Habit 2- Beginning with the End in Mind

The subtitle of this habit is, "Control your own destiny or someone else will." Beginning with the end in mind means developing a clear picture of who you want to be and what you want to do in life. It is not only talking about what you want to leave as a legacy 30 or 40 years from now. It is thinking about what you intend to to tomorrow and deciding what direction you want to go with your life and the necessary steps to take you in the right direction. It means getting into the driver's seat and determining where you want to go and how you are going to get there.

People do this all the time. They use recipes to cook and bake, draw up blueprints to build things, use maps (online maps) to show them the best way to get to a destination and create an outline when writing a research paper. Most people have an image of how they would want to look or be perceived by friends, family and teachers. To create that image, they have an end result in mind. They look at magazines, newpapers, the internet and celebrities to get a picture of how they want to look. They may watch movies, listen to certian kind sof music and go to certain events to get a feel for how they want to walk, talk and act. This is beginning with the end in mind. It is using one's imagination to come up with a desired result; a destination, if you will, of who they will be.

You can evaluate who you have been and what you have done this past week or past year. What perceptions have you left in people's minds? Did you have any conscience goals? What have you accomplished? How do you feel about yourself? How would other's describe who you are? What would other's say is most important to you? You cannot change what you have done inthe past. You can change what you do in the future.

Use your imagination and visualize yourself a year from now.

  • What have you done with your life over the past year?

  • How do you feel inside?

  • What do you look like?

  • What have you accomplished?

  • What characteristics do you possess?

The 7 Habits training uses a quote from Alice's Adventure in Wonderland to make the point in knowing where you want to go,

"Would you tell me please which way I ought to walk from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," says the Cat.
"I don't much care where-" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way to walk," said the Cat.

Many people do not see themselves as responsible for where they are going in life. They do not have a specific destination in mind. So, they live life at the mercy of others, whether it is whatever pop culture is promoting that week, pressure they feel from there friends, family, youth group or favorite TV show. They may think they are in control of their destiny, but it is being directed by outside influences.

So, if it is important to have the end in mind, how do you do it? The training says to create a personal mission statement. It may be short or long, poems or songs, but one thing it must be - it must be from you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Part 7b: Growing proactive muscles

Becoming a proactive person does not come naturally, nor easy. There are no short cuts to maturity and independence.

The Old Way Has to Go
17 -19And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. 20 -24But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
- Ephesians 4:17-24 The Message

We need to exercise our spiritual muscles. As being a follower of Christ means not to be a follower of the crowd and the fads of the foolish. Pop culture has lost touch with God and the truth he has for his people. Getting rid of old habits that are reactive and irresponsible is hard work, needing new focus and a healthy dose of discipline. Putting on new habits and being proactive is difficult when others are trying to sabatage your efforts.

But don't let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother's milk! There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. -2 Timothy 3:14 The Message

This brings us to the next habit, "Begin with the End in Mind."

Part 7a - Listen to your language

A way of identifying if you are a proactive or reactive person, listen to yourself speak. A reactive person may say something like this, after leaving their backpack coat, shoes and socks in the middle of the living room, laying on the couch watching MTV2.

"What mess? That's just the way I am." They may agree it is not the best place to leave their stuff, but they are also saying I am not responsible for the way I act.

"If my teacher wasn't being so unreasonable, life would be much easier." Again, not taking responsibility, blaming their teacher for all their difficulties.

"Boy, thanks alot, you just ruined my day. I wish we would have never moved here. I wish I had money to live in my own apartment." Here are examples where moods, things, circumstances control their happiness. They are saying in so many words, I am not in control of my own happiness; contentment is based on circumstances and things.

The reactive language takes the power away from you and places it in other things or situations. A illustration of a remote controller was used in the training. It is like your life is being controlled by a giant remote. When someone pushes the right buttons, your mood or attitude changes based on the signal. Proactive language put the remote control back into your hands. You are then can choice freely what channel you want to be on.


  • I'll try

  • That's just the way I am

  • There's nothing I can do

  • I have to

  • I can't

  • You ruined my day

A reactive person give the perception that they are victims. The training calls this "victimitis virus." Everyone is out to get them and make their lives miserable. It can be contagious when incontact with a crowd. Comments like:

  • "I am not getting good grades, the teacher does not like me."

  • "If the coach know anything about hoops, I would be playing right now."

  • "The ball keeps slipping out of my hands, it's not my fault I have 5 turnovers."

  • "I could have made that lay up , but my shoes slipped and made me miss."

The only person that is holding theis kind of person back is themselves. You may hear whining, blaming others, get angry, only change when they have to change and excuses.


  • I'll do it

  • I can do better than that

  • Let's look at all our options

  • I choose to

  • There's gotta be a way

  • I'm not goin gto let your bad mood rub off on me

Proactive people have taken the time to think about situations they may face and decide, beforehand to respond a certain way. They take time to consider various options when confronted with a situation. Proactive people:

  • Are not easily offended

  • Take responsibility for their choices

  • Think before they act

  • Bounce back when something bad happenes

  • Always find a way to make it happen

  • Focus on what they can do and do not worry about the things they do not have control over

I have been coaching for many years. I hear the comments from players and can quickly determine which one may have a tendancy to be reactive and those who are proactive. It says alot about a player when they touch the line every time during the conditioning drill; if they do not touch half court during the warm up drill; if they complement a team mate on a good pass or if they never communicate; if they look me in the eyes while they speak to me; if their body language is saying, "Coach, I do not want to come out of the game"; or during a timeout they are looking into the stand and not listening to anything I am saying.

We cannot control everything that happens to us. But there is one thing we can control, that is how we respond to what happens to us. If we choose to be proactive, we will be in control of our lives.