The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a best-selling book by Stephen R Covey. It is an excellent book that I often recommend to people who attend my workshops. It teaches seven universal principles.
For a bit of fun, I thought I would come up with my own spin on these principles and illustrate them using 7 famous rabbits – yes I know it sounds silly, but you have to admit the 7 Rabbits of Highly Effective People is just such a great title!
So here they are, Stephen Covey’s, seven timeless principles presented in a somewhat unusual manner …
Rabbit #1 – Be Proactive, but remember that Actions have Consequences
When Peter Rabbit disobeyed his mother, sneaked into Mr McGregor’s garden and ate all the vegetables, he was caught in the act by the angry farmer. After a frenzied chase, Peter finally managed to escape, but not without the loss of his jacket and shoes which Mr McGregor subsequently used to dress the scarecrow.
The story illustrates the Law of Karma in action; that all actions have consequences or, as you might prefer to say, what goes around comes around. Whatever actions you choose to take in life, you must be prepared to deal with the consequences. Another way of looking at this lesson is that sometimes, your Mum really does know what’s best.
Rabbit #2 – Having the End in Mind doesn’t mean your Plan will be any Good
Rabbit (in Winnie the Pooh) lives in the Hundred Acre Wood not far from the sandy pit where Roo is usually to be found. He will often take the lead and make quite detailed plans, such as the plan to get rid of Tigger’s bounce. His plans, however, will usually go wrong because they are not fully thought through.
Every great ideas man needs someone who can look at the plans pragmatically to identify what will work and what won’t. Generally, there will be flaws that will need to be addressed; there are likely to be little tweaks that need to be made and contingencies to be contemplated. Owl represents Rabbit’s voice of reason. You need to find yours too; a trusted soul who can tell you when your plans suck.
Rabbit #3 – Not Putting First Things First leads to Weakness of Character
The White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is ‘late for a very important date – no time to say hello – goodbye’ he’s late! Alice follows him down into the rabbit hole, and so, her adventures begin. He turns out to be a very feeble and nervous character who vacillates between behaving pompously towards menials and grovelling to his superiors.
The White Rabbit serves as a warning for where we will all end up if we allow ourselves to develop such weak character traits. Putting first things first, amongst other things, means not being late; it means letting your ‘yea by yea and your no be no’. It also means treating people well and not being swayed by their rank or position of influence.
Rabbit #4 – Think Win-Win even when you are Dealing with a Complete Jerk
When the reformed Mr Scrooge called to the young Bean Bunny in The Muppet Christmas Carol to go to the shop to buy the turkey for the Cratchit family, the cute little fellow did not judge or reject the overtures of the ‘meanest man in the whole damn town’. Instead, he adopted that all important win-win attitude and, in the end, everybody got what they wanted.
It’s cool to create solutions that benefit everybody and being attached to the idea is what it means to Think Win-Win. Sometimes, when we are co-operating, we really need to put our personal prejudices to one side for the greater good of everyone concerned.
Rabbit #5 – When Seeking First to Understand, keep your Mouth Shut
Thumper is one of the main characters in the movie Bambi and is famous for remarking that Bambi looked “alright, but kinda wobbly” to which his Mum replied, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” This principle i.e. that it is better to say nothing than say something bad about someone has become known as Thumper’s Law.
Later in the movie, when Bambi befriends the skunk, we again see that it is very easy to misjudge people based on first appearances. Getting to understand someone takes a lot of effort. It is so much easier to make snap judgements. But, it’s really smart to keep your mouth shut while you are trying to understand another person.
Rabbit #6 – Synergy can happen Only after you Earn Trust and Respect
Hazel leads the other rabbits to Watership Down. Along the way, by earning their trust and respect, he is able to become a true leader and so develops a remarkable ability to get the very best out of the others in the group.
All good leaders know how important it is to first earn the trust and respect of all of the members of their team. They understand that they also need to cultivate a spirit of trust within the team itself. These are the necessary pre-requisites for developing a high-performance team; one that is truly capable of outstanding achievement.
Rabbit #7 – Don’t just Get Your Batteries Charged; Get New Batteries
Duracell Bunny (or Energizer Bunny in the USA) can keep going when others fail because he has the best batteries. The term “Duracell Bunny” has become synonymous, in many parts of the world, with the spirit of tenacity that separates winners from losers. To become unstoppable, you need to keep your batteries charged.
Sharpening the Saw is a discipline that has the capacity to, not only charge your batteries, but actually replace them. You get better, fitter, quicker mentally, more in tune with who you are and your true life purpose.
So there we are – I bet you never thought you could learn so much from a bunch of rabbits eh? You know, I can feel a little series of these posts coming on 😉