With all the habits in life… We're teaching the ones that make a difference.

Habit # 1: Be Proactive

For students, being proactive in the classroom means taking responsibility for getting their homework done and turned in, staying on task and asking for help if they need it. On the playground, it means taking responsibility for their actions, making their own choices, and not letting others decide how they are going to feel or what kind of day they are going to have. 


This skill is essential to becoming a leader of ourselves and others, because it helps us understand that our reactions are much more important than the actions of somebody else. Habit #1 can make a difference in the way our kids handle everyday situations at school and at home.

Habit # 2: Begin with the End in Mind

This habit encourages us fill our days with activities that relate to our values and priorities, rather than those of others, or urgent yet unimportant tasks that keep us from achieving our personal goals. 


For kids, Habit #2 builds skills such as visualizing a goal and creating a plan. They have a chance to explore timelines on their own terms, deciding for themselves what it will take as far as effort and responsibility to achieve a particular goal. It also gives them a sense of control over their circumstances and gives them purpose in their daily lives. 


For parents, it means scheduling our life around our priorities and values so that we add balance and meaning to our families and work. Habit #1 (Be Proactive) set the stage, and Habit #2 (Begin With the End in Mind), helps us move beyond taking charge of our choices and reactions, to taking charge of our time and attention in concrete ways.

Habit # 3: Put First Things First

Put First Things First continues the focus on personal responsibility, reminding students to stay on task and complete their work before they enjoy free time and play. While both work and play are important, even in the classroom, when kids learn to choose work first, they also learn to balance their responsibilities with their need for fun. 


As parents, we are again challenged this month to look at our priorities. Not other's demands on us, but the priorities that align with our values and personal goals. As we begin to think and act more interdependently, we realize that our lives have just one potential, and that our personal and professional goals are not separate or even at odds. Instead, by fulfilling our personal aspirations, we can discover and fulfill our purpose and potential for work (contributing our talents). Habit #3 also speaks to those of us who are good at putting work first, but forget to add the play!

Habit #4: Think Win-Win

With our personal responsibilities in gear, and our priorities in line, we are now ready to begin thinking of our interdependence with others. Habits 4-6 help us work together and find solutions together. 


What makes win-win possible is that we can compromise with others without compromising our values and priorities. If competition guides us and winning is our goal, we lose out on the possibilities of true excellence that come from collaboration and synergy (Habit #6). 


If we approach each situation with the goal of win-win, we are taking others ideas into consideration--listening to their concerns, respecting their values--and letting go of the idea that to win ourselves means someone else has to lose. Or, to take it a step further, that when someone else wins, we still have a reason to celebrate!

Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Listening skills are high priority in Habit #5. The "emotional bank account" introduced with Habit #4 demonstrates that one of the best ways to make emotional deposits is to know what a deposit means to different people in our lives. Listening well keeps us from assuming others' wants and needs are the same as ours. It also helps us work effectively in teams and Synergize using Habit #6.

Habit #6: Synergize

Habits 1-5 helps us become aware of our personal responsibilities and how they affect our daily lives and our long term goals. In summary, we've selected our priorities, put them in order and are spending our time on important as well as urgent things. We listen to understand and find ways to make deposits in each others' emotional bank accounts. Now, we are ready to put our hearts and minds together and Synergize. It sounds fun, and it is! And, the best part--our collective ideas are more innovative, our shared goals are more far reaching, and our achievements together are more meaningful.

Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw

We are often too busy cutting to stop and sharpen our saw? We can be more productive and effective by taking time for activities that strengthen our body, mind, spirit and heart. 


These aspects of our well being often get pushed aside for what seem to be the more "urgent" things in life. The first six habits have challenged us to discover our priorities and put them first. The final piece is Habit #7, Sharpen the Saw, which reminds us to take care of ourselves so that we are able to make good choices and contribute to our community. Taking care of our bodies, building our skills, affirming our values and staying connected with the people we care about are the basics that allow us to live out our potential and "be there" for those around us.

Take the time today to Sharpen your Saw--exercise, plan a healthy meal for dinner, read a book, meditate or pray, have a date night with your spouse or spend time with a friend.