7 Habits Revisited

If a book sells over 25 million copies and is translated into 40 different languages, it can be said with some certainty that it may contain a useful messages. But, in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey presents much more than just a useful message. He introduces life – changing habits based on universal principles such as kindness and integrity. Covey teaches readers the key to shaping the lives they want and building mutually beneficial personal and professional relationships. It is a book for self-improvement, but it is also a personal habit of victory, whether by being proactive, starting with the end in mind, or putting the most important things in your life first.

The way we see the world around us is entirely based on our own perception, writes Covey, and our way of thinking and how we perceive ourselves is entirely based on that perception.

To change a certain situation, we need to change ourselves and be able to change our perception. Steven Covey’s ideas revolve around developing habits that can make you more successful in the life goals you want to achieve. One of the ways to succeed is to identify habits that can help you on your journey.

At Abilities, we decided that Covey’s principles apply to the work that we do supporting people with developmental disabilities. To this end, we created the 7 Habits of Effective Support Work. It is our belief that Covey’s 7 Habits align with our mission of supporting people with developmental disabilities to; live a good life.

Over the past 23 years I have noticed that staff can get bogged down in negative thinking, not manage their time effectively or be competitive. Covey argues that if we learn bad habits and they take root, we can learn and develop good habits that increase our chances of being effective and achieving personal and public victories.

The first three habits – Being Proactive, Beginning With The End In Mind and Putting First Things First are about self-control resulting in the transition from dependence to interdependence. The next four habits – Think Win/Win, Understand Before Being Understood, Synergy and Continual Learning are habits that teach us the habits of interdependence.

The 7 Habits has influenced me personally since I first read it, and it has been a seminal book on self-improvement for over 30 years. I believe that the application of these habits to supporting people with developmental disabilities provides a road map for success that moves us closer to our mission of living a good life.

Here’s how we apply the Covey’s ideas at Abilities:

7 Habits of Effective Support Work

Proactive supportThe Habit of Choosing Your Response

Proactive Support is the opposite of Reactive Support. A Proactive Support Worker chooses how they will respond to any situation while the Reactive Support Worker sees situations and events as happening to them – they believe that these events are beyond their control. To develop the habit of proactive support work, spend at least 5-10 minutes reviewing the previous notes, talking to co-workers and reading any files that may provide information to allow you and your participant(s) to have a successful day.

Begin With The End In Mind – Develop a Habit of Thinking Ahead

In order to have successful day, discuss your daily plan with your co-worker(s). As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

For example, if you are going swimming today, plan how the activity will occur; what things do I need to bring for the trip to be successful? Visualize a successful trip.

Putting First Things First – Develop the Habit of Priority

To be a successful support worker, and serve your participant, you need to prioritize the things that need to be done first. It is your job to put the needs of your participant(s) first. This means that your needs are secondary.

Win/winDevelop a Habit of Thinking That There is a Solution to Every Problem that Benefits Both People

A win/win approach to service delivery requires you to consider the needs of your participant(s) and your co-workers. You approach each situation or problem by asking yourself, “How can we both win.”

Understand Before Being UnderstoodDevelop The Habit of Listening

The needs of the participant(s) are crucial. It is important to understand their needs, this requires you to listen and observe behaviors – all behaviors are a form of communication; they are telling you something.

SynergySynergy is the Habit of Cooperation

When teams work cooperatively it is much easier to support our participant(s). A boat reaches its destination much faster if everyone pulls their oars in the same direction.

LearningThe Habit of Continual Improvement

As an Effective Support Worker, you work with an attitude of learning and growth.