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Improving the quality of your self and your career
Each of us strives for effectiveness in our career and personal life. Effectiveness comes when there is a balance between the desired results and the ability to produce those results. But how do people become effective?
This has been a major question debated in psychology and management books, one of the most successful of which is Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (1). Covey's book, which has spent several years on best-seller lists, defines Seven Habits that lead to effectiveness.
We were intrigued by what we read and decided to conduct a study of five Louisiana dietitians who were each nominated for The American Dietetic Association Foundation's Excellence in Practice Award. This Award recognizes profound achievement in the field of dietetics. We wanted to see if these ambitious dietitians demonstrated any of the Seven Habits that Covey described. None of our participants had read Covey's book before our study.
A habit, according to Covey, is the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. A habit must have all three qualities. It is something that we know what, why, and how we do, and want to do. Covey's first three Habits fall under the category of private victories -- the basis of a person's character growth. Once a person has built a character base from which he or she can effectively work, public victories of teamwork, cooperation, and communication in Habits 4 through 6 can be attained. The first three Habits do not have to be perfected to achieve the other four Habits, but it is important to know how they build on one another like layers of a cake. Habit 7 embodies all of the Habits and cannot be fully understood without experiencing the other six.
We mailed the Seven Habits Profile, published in Covey's book, to our participants. The profile listed 27 statements such as show kindness and consideration, keep promises and commitments, …