ical analysis.” It also came from sitting in the
public restroom during the breaks in my program listening to what people really think
about my speeches!
CC Were there any stories that really struck
a chord with you?
SC Yes. One was from a prisoner who was
writing from his jail cell. The number-one problem in jails is that people don’t take
responsibility. They’re always in a blaming
mode: I am a victim of society, it’s my parents’ fault, the system is unjust, I’m innocent,
and so forth. Well, he goes through this internal struggle and accepts responsibility. Then
he begins the process of rebuilding his life.
Until a person says, “I am what I am because
I really chose to be like this,” the person can’t
say, “I choose to be different.”
That is a tough one because emotionally
you are really at risk—you are really exposed.
Think of all of the rationalization, the years,
you’ve put into the other mind frame. But then
you realize, “Look at the freedom and the liberty I have.” So, even though he was in jail, he
CC Many of the stories in the book seem
to involve something you call an “inside-out
struggle.” Can you tell us more about this?
SC That is almost the universal element of these
stories: an inside-out struggle. Can I do this? Do
I really want to do this? Will it succeed? Will it
work? How can I do it? It’s a competency issue,
it’s a character issue, it’s a scripting issue. And
people have to go deep inside and get reflective,
which is contrary to the Western mind, to ask the
CC Any other stories from the book that
SC Colin Hall, for me, is the most powerful
story in the book. Here is a guy who heads
up one of the largest retail organizations in
South Africa, with several million dollars in
revenue. He’s an attorney, highly competent,
skilled, power-hungry, money-grabbing—the
whole thing. One day he is playing Monopoly
with his son. He doesn’t only beat his son, but
he proceeds to really pile it on. His son looks at
him and says, “Father, it’s only a game.”
He asks himself: “What has become of
me?” Then he goes deep inside himself and he
begins to explore every rationalization—which
means those lies that you tell yourself, rational
lies—and explores them in depth, tears them
apart, and finally concludes apartheid is wrong.
I guess that is the main thing I gained from the
book: a tremendous reverence for the power
CC A lot of entrepreneurs read The
Connection. Any specific advice for them?
SC I find the major issue for entrepreneurs is
life balance. They don’t think “
interdependently.” Their primary language is independence
and making “it” happen. They can be so
immersed in the thick of their business that
they neglect their teenage son or mess up
their marriage. They need to have balance in
their lives. They need to be empowered to create a team at work that can compensate for
their weaknesses and optimize their strengths.
For example, I’m a visionary guy. That’s why
I need lots of practical people around me.
CC You’ve also written a book on time management, First Things First (Simon & Shuster,
1994). What did you learn while writing
SC I learned to not get hung up on the minutiae.
Don’t get schedule-oriented; instead, be princi-ple-oriented. Have schedules, but keep them
soft so you have plenty of time for spontaneity,
your children, your family, and one-on-one time
with the key people in your business. Those are
the key elements that have high leverage.
CC In addition to The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People, Living the 7 Habits, The
Nature of Leadership (Franklin Covey, 1998),
you are also a very sought-after speaker
and consultant. How do you keep on top of all
the things you are involved with?
SC I take a weekly view. Some people like the
daily basis better, but I like the context of a
week. This allows you to look at each of your
roles and how you are going to attend to each
one of them. I just did it this morning for this
coming week. I thought it through: What is my
family role, what is my role as a community
servant, what is my role in the church work,
what is my role as the co-chairman of this
company? Remember: The planning process is
invaluable, but plans are worthless.
CC We’re only a few months away from the
millennium. What are your thoughts on the
SC I think that it’s a unique psychological win-
dow for people to both reflect and to think
ahead—to visualize and to envision the future.
It’s a perfect time to reinvent yourself. And
what an opportunity as we move into the new
millennium to write a new script for yourself. It
shouldn’t be rushed; you have months to prepare. That’s why most New Year’s resolutions
never work, because they’re rushed, then they
are forgotten within a few days.
You have to get all systems to say “go”
inside yourself. It’s also important to think
interdependently. Otherwise, it’s like playing
tennis with a golf club. You can do it, but imagine what your serve will look like.
CC You are a person who loves to learn. But
what would you say to a person who doesn’t
have the opportunity to keep learning at work?
SC Tremendous question. A lot of people with
a work ethic don’t have a learning ethic. And
they just reduplicate their one-year experience
every year. Make leaving your comfort zone
comfortable. Read Scientific American if you
hate science because it is written for the layman and it will throw your mind out of its
comfort zone. If you love science, read a novel
because that will drive you crazy.
Discipline yourself. Don’t just read the
psyche-up tapes in your car—get the great
books. Force yourself to sharpen the saw at
least an hour a day. If you don’t schedule it, it
won’t happen. I’m not against some renewal,
relaxation and a little TV, but you also have to
create time to get out of your comfort zone. C
Bob Rosner is the author of Working Wounded:
Advice That Adds Insight to Injury, a speaker, a
nationally syndicated columnist and a Costco Connection columnist. Contact him at www.working
wounded.com or at email@example.com.
Stephen Covey’s newest book, Everyday
Greatness, is available now on costco.com.
Franklin Covey Company offers services in
leadership, effectiveness, time management
and retail. They can be reached at:
466 West 4800 North
Provo, Utah 84604-4478
Phone (801) 975-1776, Fax (801) 496-4252
Web site: www.franklincovey.com