In his epic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen Covey wrote:
WILL YOU TAKE JUST A MOMENT and write down a short answer to the following two questions? Your answers will be important to you as you begin work on Habit 3. Question 1: What one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life? Question 2: What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results? We’ll come back to these answers later. But first, let’s put Habit 3 in perspective. Habit 3 is the personal fruit, the practical fulfillment of Habits 1 and 2. Habit 1 says, “You’re the creator. You are in charge.” It’s based on the four unique human endowments of imagination, conscience, independent will, and, particularly, self-awarness. It empowers you to say, “That’s an unhealthy program I’ve been given from my childhood, from my social mirror. I don’t like that ineffective script. I can change.” Habit 2 is the first or mental creation. It’s based on imagination—the ability to envision, to see the potential, to create with our minds what we cannot at present see with our eyes; and conscience—the ability to detect our own uniqueness and the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which we can most happily fulfill it. It’s the deep contact with our basic paradigms and values and the vision of what we can become. Habit 3, then, is the second creation, the physical creation. It’s the fulfillment, the actualization, the natural emergence of Habits 1 and 2. It’s the exercise of independent will toward becoming principle-centered. It’s the day-in, day-out, moment-by-moment doing it.
Covey, Stephen R. (2009-12-02). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Kindle Locations 2296-2313). RosettaBooks – A. Kindle Edition.
Let me digress for a moment here. When I was a young boy, I remember listening to comedy albums on the Hi-Fi with my father. he had a great collection of Bill Cosby, Vaughn Meader, Bob Newhart and others. I never had much of an appreciation for Bob Newhart, or I should say I never appreciated him as much as my father did, but I came across this clip over the weekend and it had me laughing so hard that I almost wet my pants:
I don’t know why I find this clip so hilarious except that perhaps it seems to summarize all of the inspirational material I’ve consumed in my lifetime. Stop it! Two very powerful words. How does this relate to Covey? Well in a grossly oversimplified way it seems to me that the two questions I should be asking myself are what should I be stopping and what should I be starting? Clarity around these two questions is all I need to set my course…