Anyone reading this blog post may have heard me speak at some point on what the great philosophers said it takes for success in whatever we do. My claim is simple.
From Plato and Aristotle to the present day, the wisest people who have ever thought about success and excellence have left us bits and pieces of powerful advice for attaining true success in our lives. I've put them all together as this framework of seven universal conditions. For the most deeply satisfying and sustainable forms of success in our lives, we need to bring into any situation, relationship, or enterprise:
(C1) A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
(C2) A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain that goal.
(C3) A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal.
(C4) A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.
(C5) An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we're doing.
(C6) A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
(C7) A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.
I was talking to a friend yesterday, and he mentioned Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, quoting one of the habits, "Begin with the end in mind." I thought it might be helpful to reflect briefly on the difference between Covey's framework and mine.
I once directed a weekend retreat with Covey and found him to be a sweet and kind person, as well as very thoughtful. I had great fun with him. And I admire the results of his work. But, that being said, on to the comparison. First, I'll just list his seven habits, as he does, in the form of recommendations or imperatives:
Habit 1: Be proactive.
Habit 2: Begin with the end in view.
Habit 3: Put first things first.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the saw.
A few comments. Habit (1) is about taking initiative, always good, and included in the application of my C3 - the focused concentration condition.
Habit (2) is a brief version of my C1 (the first condition of the 7Cs), the condition that tells us that as we begin to work toward any goal, we need a clear conception of what we want to result from our activity, and that we need to make our conception vivid and rooted in the imagination, aspects of goal setting that Covey doesn't explicitly address in his framework.
Habit (3), like (1), is included in my understanding of C3, the focused concentration condition, as developed in True Success.
Habits (4), (5), and (6) come into play in relationships, in negotiations, and in work situations of joint endeavor, but not always in the successful meeting of individual, personal challenges. They are very good advice for the circumstances in which they apply, and are, in those circumstances, applications of C3, concentrating on what it takes, or C4, the consistency condition, or C6, the character condition, but they are not themselves, in my understanding, strictly universal conditions for success. Some things can be, and sometimes must be, properly done by one person alone, and for some of these private matters, a strategy of synergism need not necessarily play a role. And where not more than one person is involved, the most basic requirements for win/win thinking may not even arise. Obviously, there can't be two winners except where there are at least two players.
Habit (7) has to do with personal renewal, growth, continuing education and skill development, which is always a good idea. But, again, there are some forms of personal challenge, relationship goals, and even professional demands where, in meeting the demand, or accomplishing the goal, it does not necessarily come into play. A very commendable activity, even one necessary for a full life, does not necessarily count as one of the fundamental conditions I'm focusing in on as crucial for all forms of success. Where it does come into play, it falls under my C3.
Even more noteworthy, my conditions C2 (Confidence), C4 (Consistency), C5 (Commitment), and C7 (the Capacity to Enjoy the Process) are nowhere explicitly captured in this framework. I say this not to claim that Covey's important schema is incomplete in any way, but just to point out that it's different in design and intent from my framework of seven conditions. Although there are important fundamental similarities and overlaps, The 7Cs of Success, as a framework or tool kit of ideas, is significantly different from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
For more on the 7 Cs, see True Success, The Art of Achievement, and the big new ebook, The 7 Cs of Success, which reveals how these tools were understood by some of the greatest practical philosophers throughout the centuries and around the world. For Covey's original book, click here, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.