The 8th Habit

Some time ago, someone commented to me that I ought to write a book called The 8th Habit. The person was basically saying to me that the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book by Stephen Covey was not complete because he did not really address the matter of how you go about developing a habit.

At the time, my response was that the 7 Habits framework was a complete paradigm and so I thought the idea was a non-starter. Then – what do you know – along comes Stephen Covey with his latest book, which is entitled The 8th Habit.

So, if the 7 Habits framework is indeed complete, why do we need an 8th habit? Well it turns out that the 8th habit is not another habit that was missed out of the 7 habits book: The 7 habits of Highly Effective People was all about effectiveness. The 8th Habit is about moving from being effective to becoming ‘great’.

Find Your Voice & Inspire Others to Find Theirs

The 8th habits is: Find your Voice & Inspire Others to find Theirs. The essence of this habit is that you will find your voice when you can say that you are 100% involved in what you are doing with your life. By 100% involvement, what is meant is that your body, mind, heart and spirit are all engaged in the adventure – whatever that is for you.

The idea is very simple. Whatever you are doing right now with your life, ask yourself these questions. Is it serving my body, mind heart and spirit? In other words, is it serving your bodily needs: does it allow you to make a good living; does it more-than pay the bills; does it feed and clothe you and your family and provide you with a lovely home?

Secondly, is it serving your need for mental stimulation: do you find it truly stimulating, engaging and challenging? Thirdly, is it serving your emotional needs: do you just love it and are you passionate about it? Finally, does it serve your spiritual needs: do you believe it is the right thing for you to be doing with your life? If you can answer those four questions relating to body, mind, heart and spirit with a resounding ‘yes’, then it can be said that you have ‘found your voice’.

Covey says that the reality in business today is that there are very many people who have not found their voices or perhaps they have lost their voices. The result of this cane be seen everywhere. People may go to work just to earn money i.e. to serve their bodily needs but do not really put their creativity, talent and intelligence into the job.

Perhaps the job is serving more than your bodily needs: perhaps it is also mentally stimulating you but, if you won the lottery, you might immediately resign because it is not really what you want to be spending your time doing if monetary considerations were not present. Perhaps, most difficult to imagine is having a job that provides the money, is indeed stimulating and you love doing it, but it is still not the right thing for you to be doing. The cost to business of employing people who don’t really understand or even care about the Vision and Mission of the company is a loss of the ‘voice’ of the organization.

To find your voice, you need to examine your natural talent – you are good at something! Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You have a unique talent; or ‘a unique expression of a talent’ in the words of Deepak Chopra. You must find out what that is. Isn’t it interesting that you may actually be carrying a talent that is presently unknown to you! (I don’t often use an exclamation mark, but that point is I believe worth the punctuation.) You must find out what you absolutely love to do. You must find out what really interests you. And you must listen to the confirming inner voice of your conscience that tells you what is the right thing for you.

When you have found your voice, you can begin inspiring others to do the same thing – that is the second part of the habit. I always remember Jack Black saying that following his seminars, at certain leading British companies, some people actually resign from their jobs. That is because they have been inspired to give up the process of making a buck and really go for what excites them in life. I might add that not everyone resigns because some of them are indeed in the right place.

Great leaders have always inspired us to ‘find’ ourselves – to find our own ‘voices’ and to find the ‘voice’ of the organisation – that is the essence of greatness. People and organizations who have truly found their ‘voices’ go on to become great. I hope that you will invest the time to discover your own greatness.

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