Hello! Welcome to the last episode in the 7-part series, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This habit, this lesson is called sharpen the saw. And it’s all about balance.
How do you make sure we have the energy and the positivity and stay optimistic about life so we can perform every day and do what we need to do? If you’re like me, some days, you just wake up and you don’t have energy, you’re not in the mood, you’re not feeling very positive. When you’re in that state of mind, when you feel like that, it’s hard to be productive.
So, in sharpen the saw, Stephen Covey gives you tips on how to make every day as productive as possible. And it comes down to putting time and effort into four different areas of your life. We’re going to sharpen four different areas of our life. We’re going to maintain these four different areas. I’m going to talk about these four areas in this lesson, what they are, how to take care of each of these areas which will help you wake up ready to go, ready to take action, ready to be proactive, ready to win, win, ready to seek and understand others, alright? Let’s get into the lesson.
The last habit in this book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People is called sharpen the saw. At first, I have to tell you, maybe you don’t know what saw is if you’re learning English and you’re listening to this. It’s not a very common word English learners know. A saw something you cut down trees with. You cut down trees with a saw. So, sharpening a saw is to make it sharp, to make it fresh, to make the blade be able to cut well, renewing, refreshing the saw, making it work like new again.
So, sharpening the saw is a metaphor. We’re using it metaphorically as yourself as the saw, your body, your mind. You are the saw and we need to sharpen the saw. We need to refresh our body and mind consistently to perform our best. Taking care of our most vital resources is crucial if we want to be lastingly effective. If we want to perform at our best, we need to make sure that we’re taking care of our most valuable resources.
There are four areas Stephen Covey talks about that we need to take care of. I will talk about those in a minute.
And just to clarify again why this is important, why do we need to refresh, why do we need to work on these four areas of our life that Stephen Covey talks about. Well, in my opinion, I look at my life, I look at myself, my body, my mind as a machine. I’ve noticed over time over the years that the way that I treat my mind, my body affects how I feel, how I perform, my mental capacity and my mood and my emotions and positivity.
If I’m feeling optimistic about things or pessimistic about things or energized and able to get a lot done versus just being lazy and wanting to just lay on the coach and watch a whole season of a series that I haven’t seen yet that I find very important.
So thinking this way, thinking of your mind and body as a machine and sharpening it and treating it well and fueling it and refreshing it is essential if we want to be proactive, if we want to be able to be proactive using another habit. To be proactive, you have to feel optimistic and positive and also healthy.
Looking at the different areas, what are the four areas of ourselves that we need to sharpen? Well, the first area – Stephen Covey calls these dimensions, four dimensions. It’s very scientific-sounding, but there are four areas, four dimensions of ourselves that we need to take care of. The first one is physical.
The goal of continuous physical improvement is to exercise our body in a way that enhances our capacity to work, adapt to situations and enjoy our day. So, we need to eat well, we need to rest enough, relax enough. We need to exercise, get out of our chair. Don’t just sit there and work 10 hours a day and eat cookies and get fat. Pretty straightforward, the physical aspect, the physical dimension.
And I’m sure you’ve noticed this in the past, you exercise, you feel good. You stop exercising for a while, you start getting fat, you feel bad. What are we talking here? We’re trying to perform at our best, we need to feel healthy.
And so tying this to habit one, if we want to be healthy, we have to be proactive. Nobody is going to come and pick us up off the coach and force us to run an hour – well, maybe if you pay for a trainer, but most people don’t. But you have to proactive, you have to be disciplined.
The next dimension is the spiritual dimension. The spiritual dimension, the goal of renewing our spiritual self is to provide leadership to our life and reinforce your commitment to your values system. Connecting with your values, making sure that you feel that you’re in control of your life, you’re not controlled by your thoughts, your crazy thoughts.
So, there are different ways that you can do this. It depends on how you live. I like to meditate. Meditation in the morning helps me train my mind to relax and to not just go crazy all day. It’s like an exercise for my mind. I think it more of a physical activity, to be honest, than a spiritual activity. It’s physical training for my brain.
Going out in nature, going on walks, hiking, camping, being outside, this can also help you connect with the spiritual side of things or just reading good books, listening to music, just getting out of your head, getting out of work. Connecting with art can help as well.
Tying this to another habit too, habit two, making sure that we constantly connect back to our value, so we know what our end is, the path. Remember the direction that we take to get us to the end of where we will be happy and satisfied, work for goals that will help us achieve a life that we think connects to our values, not just what other people want, but being able to connect with ourselves again, becoming more self-aware.
The third dimension is a mental dimension, mental health, learning another language, improving your English, reading in English, traveling somewhere, studying something abroad. Don’t just become brain dead and spend most of your day looking at Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, whatever, just observing everybody else’s life, putting valuable content into your brain.
One suggestion I would give you (and this was helpful to my life), I stopped watching the news years ago. I’m talking about the nightly news you’ll find in television. It’s just constantly negative. They just search for the bad stuff happening in the world. There are plenty of good things happening. I would say a lot more good stuff than bad stuff. However, the news always shows you the bad stuff.
Some people think this is vital to know. They need to know how many people died today, who got murdered, who fell of a bridge in another country, who whatever. I don’t understand the purpose of this. Take all that negativity, get it out of your life. Put positive content into your brain. Why not? If something is really, really important for you to know, believe me, you’ll find out without watching the news. Somebody will tell you. Don’t be scared.
The last dimension, the social emotional dimension. So, this goes back to habits four, five and six, understanding other people, making contributions to projects that improves the lives of others, having an abundance mentality, thinking there’s plenty to go around.
So, connecting with others, not just competing or being alone, but renewing ourselves socially is to develop meaningful relationships. We’re developing meaningful relationships with others – friends, family, co-workers.
If you go out with friends, you probably feel how this revives you, recharges you sometimes. If you’re tired, you go out and just hang out. It can really renew your spirits and lift your spirits and make you happier. I find this to be true if I’m kind of down. Usually, finding somebody to hang out with, giving them my time, them sharing their time with me helps me feel better.
So, those are the four areas.
You might think, “I don’t have time for all of these. There’s too much going on in my life. I can’t cover all of these areas. That’s crazy!” Well, this is what you can do. This is what you can do. And these are your action steps.
Simplify, go into each four of these areas. And if you want to go on my website, find these areas or go online, search the four dimensions of habit seven, and I’m sure this will pop up in a second. Make a list of different things you could do for each area, and then just choose one activity per area. It doesn’t have to be hard.
People often think big, “Oh, I need to start exercising five days a week for an hour. I do nothing now. I don’t have time for that.” That’s crap! You don’t need to do that. Start small. Walk for 10 minutes.
So, here’s a routine. Here’s an idea that you can cover all of these areas. Physical dimension, let’s go on a walk for 10 minutes a few times a week. This will start getting you active a little bit, starting to be more active. And obviously, if you’re eating junk all the time, burgers and coke and all of that stuff, you know that’s not good. You need to have a balance in your life. But start walking for 10 minutes a day.
Spiritual dimension, well, go take a 10-minute walk in the park. You’re [inaudible 00:09:29] physical and the spiritual dimension.
And then I’m going to add another dimension in the same task, your mental dimension. You’re going to listen to this podcast or you’re going to listen to another English podcast or another podcast in your language or an audio book, something positive, something that’s going to teach you something, something that’s going to add value to your life. Bam! That’s three dimensions.
And then, social emotional, well, if you’re listening to something, maybe you can’t walk with somebody, but you could walk with somebody else and be with them. Make them walk and listen to something as well, or you can walk with somebody else and have a conversation and have a meet-up, “Let’s go walking for 10 minutes.” That’s great! Then you’re connecting with people. You’re feeilng good about that.
As you can see, it doesn’t have to be that hard. Start small. Don’t go crazy. When you’re changing habits, when you’re doing new things, always, I recommend start very small because you want long-term habits to be formed. And to create long-term habits, you have to start small. Integrate these habits slowly into your life. And some months from now, these habits will have expanded and grown and you will enjoy them.
Some vocabulary from today’s lesson. First one, if I’m down. This is an expression. “Are you down with this?” “I’m not down with this.” This means I don’t accept this, I don’t agree. I’m not open to doing something. “Hey, you want to go get a beer?” “Hell, yeah, man. I’m down.” That’s a cool expression. “I’m down.” It means, “I accept. I want to go.”
“Hey, guys. I’m not down with what you’re doing. I’m not down with what you’ve been doing lately, taking money from the cash register. I’m not down with that. I don’t agree with that. I’m not cool with that.”
Next one, hang out, a phrasal verb. To hang out, maybe you know this one. To hang out is to spend time with somebody or spend time doing something or at some place and hanging out at the mall. “I want to hang out with you babe.” “Let’s hang out.” Let’s spend time together in a very informal way. “Hey, let’s hang out some time.” You might say that to a colleague at work. “Hey, let’s hang out some time,” meaning outside of the work environment, to hang out.
Another phrasal verb, tie in. Two words, tie, T-I-E, in like “tie your shoe,” “tie your rope.” But to tie in is to connect something. “How does that this tie in to that? How does this concept tie in with this concept?” So you’re connecting two concepts together.
Last one, straightforward. Straightforward, one word, it means direct, to be direct. “This guy is very direct. He’s very straightforward. He goes right to the point.” It’s kind of redundant if you think about it. Straightforward, you’re going straight forward. Those are basically the same thing. But visualize, he’s very straightforward, he goes right to the point. He goes straight, direct to the point. Got it?
There you go! Those are the words. Now, you know. Go back to the beginning of this episode and listen again. Learn these words deeply.
And there we go! You made it through the 7-episode series of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Or if you just listened to this last episode and didn’t listen to any of the others, it’s okay. You have time. You have time to go back.
So, a quick review, all of these tie in together, working on one helps the next and vice versa. And making sure you are working on all of these will help you synergize, connect. All of these habits are connected. The first three are about prioritizing, taking action, being disciplined, setting goals, deciding what tasks are most important to achieve those goals. And in general, taking care of your own business, being responsible for your life and what you want to achieve.
The next three goals, four, five, six are about relationships and how working with others will help you achieve what you want. Helping others, serving others to help them achieve what they’re looking for, what they want, will help you as well get what you want.
We need to work together, to understand others, to learn how to communicate with others, to learn the best ways, to work together, to not compete all the time, but to work together, to understand, to get to a point of synergy where teams and groups can come together in such a way that the ideas and the results that they bring are much bigger than we could do on our own.
And the last habit, seven, sharpen the saw, the one I talked about is how to maintain the four most important areas of our lives, so we continue to thrive and succeed and to produce results. And so in the end, we are happier, more successful people.
Great! I hope you enjoyed this. I hope you learned a lot. Obviously, the best way to go deeper into this is to buy the book or the audio book. You can do that on Amazon. And I will see you in many, many more lessons to come. This is just the beginning.
And leaving you with a joke as always, what do you call a guy who never farts in public? What do you call a guy who never farts in public? A private tutor. Bye bye.