It seems everywhere I look I am reminded of the classic business and personal development book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This amazing book, written by the late Stephen Covey, changed my life and millions of others as well. The simple but profound lessons are ones that each of us can and should be reminded of every day. It seems voting day is no different. So here are 7 Habits, for your consideration, as you head out to vote today.
Be Pro-Active: This is the “if it’s to be it’s up to me” chapter in the book. So many people wait for life to happen to them. Covey encourages us to make these things happen ourselves. My favorite concept is focusing on your “Circle of Influence.” This allows you to spend your mental energy on this you have control over…and not what you don’t. So how does this apply to the election? Get educated on each race and each issue. Don’t spend time spreading hate. Learn and be ready to cast your ballot in a way that makes sense to you. Begin with the End in Mind: When you start each journey, it’s important to understand where you want to go. It’s not JUST about goal setting, though that’s a part of it. It’s about envisioning the life you want to lead and the person you want to be. So…what kind of leader do you want to have in your community? What kind of programs are important to your city? What do you want your area to look like? Begin with that in mind. Put First Things First: Now that you have created the first two, put the most important things at the top of the list. We all know this can be tough as “life gets in the way.” But the most effective people make the most important things the focus. What is most important to you? Honestly ask yourself why. Think Win/Win: No matter how smart or how charismatic our leaders are, they need to work with others in order to succeed. The same is more true, in my experience, with government. When selecting your leaders, what is their track record for collaboration? Are they willing to think Win/Win? Seek First to Understand/Then To Be Understood: I smile at this because, in this election cycle, we have not seen a lot of Habit 5…right? But the fact is, this is a hard one for strong leaders. I struggle with this one. But the best leaders are able to really deeply listen. Are we voting for and promoting people who do that? Are we, as voters, really willing to listen? Synergize: Habit 6 is all about putting collaboration together. From my perspective, this is about understanding that many different people with different priorities are going to get elected to different offices. Hopefully they will be able to work together in office to better each and every community. But as a voter, are you willing to be led by them? Are you willing to work with the other party (what ever that is)? Sharpen the Saw: The final habit is one about renewal. It’s about reminding yourself about the first 6 habits on a regular basis. In personal development we understand that the best of us are constantly working to get better. Again…how does this apply? During the craziness of the election we seem to draw very firm lines in the sand about our beliefs. That’s great. But are you willing to take those beliefs out and examine them? Most of us are very comfortable judging others…but are you willing to re-evaluate yourself?
No matter how you vote today (and I hope you notice I didn’t tell you how to), keep these 7 Habits in Mind as you go to the polls. Despite your frustrations or your politics, we are taking part in a grand tradition. Let’s give it the thought and respect it deserves.