7 Habits

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If someone stacked a copy of each leadership book listed on Amazon.com, it would almost reach the pinnacle of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. (Average 1 inch/book). A lot of pages. A lot of advice.

How can 5 Dynamics help a person make better use of any business advice?

While we haven’t quite finished reading every page of every book, within this genre some patterns quickly emerge. All the advice deals with personality and character (hardest to change), perceptions or framing situations (easier), and behavior (easiest to change, believe it or not).

For you, the abundance or scarcity of a specific Energy can make a big difference in the amount of effort you’ll expend to reach a goal, act on advice, and improve. And here’s some good news: 5 Dynamics works in the areas of perception, framing, and behavior.

So let’s elevator up to the 160th floor (no kidding), pull out a best-seller, and hope the pile doesn’t collapse on the tourists below.

What have we here? It’s Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold 25 million copies.

We present some extra-for-experts not-in-the-manual 5 Dynamics info for people who want to know what they’re up against in changing the habits of a lifetime.

Covey outlines, you guessed it, seven habits.

Here they are along with our insights for you:

NOTE: These are generalizations and don’t apply to everyone! But think them through. We hope they help.

Covey’s HabitWhat it MeansEnergies Involved
1. Be proactiveTake responsibility for your life. Don’t blame externalities for your problems.Execute / Explore / Excite
2. Begin with the end in mindDevelop long term goals.Explore and Execute
3. Put first things firstPrioritize. Learn to say no. Don’t overextend.Examine / Explore / Execute.
4. Seek Win/WinCooperate before you compete.Excite / Execute
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understoodCommunicate. Ask. Don’t judge.Explore / Excite / Examine / Execute
6. SynergizeCooperate. Two heads are better than one.All four.
7. Sharpen the sawImprove yourself in four areasPhysically / Emotionally / Intellectually / Spiritually

These are generalizations and don’t apply to everyone. But think them through.

Be proactive.

  1. People high in Execute are the first to jump when they realize a situation is unworkable. They’ll leave a bad situation if they cannot fix it, and they’ll find a new opportunity. This is not to say they aren’t tenacious—they are! But they are not afraid to make changes. If you’re low in Execute, your work is cut out for you.
  2. If you’re high in Explore, you’re the last to jump ship. You are often loyal to a fault. You want everything to fit. You want everyone to get along. You don’t like conflict. You’ll try and try. Sometimes too long.
  3. If you’re high in Excite, you’re invested in friendships. You tend to personalize things, and you might make it a challenge to try and get the actors involved to like you and like each other. Some situations can be salvaged; others cannot. Know what’s realistic.

Begin with the end in mind.

Each Energy comes with a particular way of framing the world—perception. Explore is long term and strategic. Execute is short term and tactical. This prescription is a paradox. Begin and end. The recipe calls for two Energies that sometimes conflict… Explore and Execute. Explore generates the vision. Execute creates the goals and the propulsion. Each must be comfortable with the other. Even within one person, that’s not always the case. They’re a kind of psychic tension. Let it go.

Put first things first.

  1. Examine. Prioritization is first nature for people high in Examine, and with hope a learned behavior for those who aren’t. How well do you do with setting priorities and sticking with them?
  2. Explore. People high in Explore tend to overcomplicate, say yes too often, and over-please. So there are too many “first things”, and they wind up all over hell’s half acre.
  3. People high in Execute can overextend themselves. When we’re active, the brain produces chemicals (endorphins and dopamine, for two) that feel good and beg for more. Burnout is a risk factor.

Seek win/win.

  1. People high in Excite fly in flocks. People low in Excite are lone eagles. If you’re low in Excite this habit might be a challenge.
  2. If you’re high in Execute (and low in Excite) it’s an afterthought to bring people along and look for win/win instead of win. To activate this Habit, slow down and ask “Who?” before you dash for the finish line.

Seek to understand. Then be understood.

  1. If you’re high in Explore, this comes easily. You are constantly trying to understand every possible angle, and you are passionate about learning. If you are low in Explore, the uncertainty of “living in the question” can make you anxious and you want to move on asap.
  2. Similar to Explore, for Excite, this is easy. If you’re high in Excite, you live to communicate. The challenge can be taking your own reflection out of the window and truly listening to other people. If you’re low in Excite, however, this habit is like dragging a log uphill.
  3. If you’re high in Examine, it’s highly likely you listen from a factual right/wrong black-or-white point of view. It’s also terribly difficult to listen without judging, and to accept gut feelings, shades of color, and the other person’s implicit or explicit emotions. Your work is cut out for you here.
  4. High Execute faces challenges slowing down and listening, instead of speeding up and doing. That’s your challenge, friend. How will you overcome it?


Covey’s prescription is the essence of 5 Dynamics: all Energies contribute their own gift. Bring them into your process. Don’t linger in your comfort zones (i.e., your own highest Energies).

Sharpen the Saw (Read all four.)

Physical: People high in Execute are the ones you’ll find on treadmills, at health clubs, and doing triathlons. They have an abundance of physical energy and have the easiest time sticking to regimens. However, if you’re low in Execute, the physical part can be more of a challenge. Explore and Examine curl up with books, less often with Stairmasters.

Emotion: Excite lives in a world of emotion. Sometimes it’s hard for them not to drown in it. Not an issue. Explore can idealize emotions more than feel them. For Examine, emotions can be more of a distant star. Execute lives by “the ends justify the means” and can compartmentalize emotions. Right or wrong, for Execute, that can require the management of others’ perceptions.

Intellectually: Thinking are the favored domains of Explore and Examine. If you’re low there, you’re higher in other Energies. So, for Excite and Execute, the challenge is to slow down and take the time to learn and ponder.

Spiritually: No one Energy has the lock on spirituality, but Explore tends toward the metaphysical, concepts and connections. Excite seeks relationships. Examine thinks rationally and logically. Execute tends toward the pragmatic. How much do you think? How much do you feel? (The sum adds up to 100.)

To repeat and re-emphasize, all of these statements are generalizations. Like averages, there’s no certainty they apply to a specific individual. But there’s truth in numbers. We invite you to consider if this blog post can help you better understand yourself and others. We sure hope so! We hope you let us know what you’re thinking. And let tell us if you have mapped 5 Dynamics to other leadership advice.

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