Stephen Covey & The Seven Jewish Habits

HABIT 5: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD

The Jewish teaching to judge others favorably is well known. If we look at the Hebrew words of this teaching (dan likaf zechut), we find the literal translation to be "judge in accordance with meritoriousness." That is to say, we all do good and not-so-good from time to time. We all have our positive traits and out not-so-positive traits. Judging in accordance with meritoriousness means identifying the positive of a person as the true reflection of who they are. When you view and approach the people in your life from this perspective, they feel heard, validated, and understood. They feel truly related to.

When you do this for another, that other will commit to you. This is because they will feel that you "get" him. You see what he is "about". You see the value in him. You see his uniqueness and you view that as a good thing. He is an asset that is celebrated, not a liability that is tolerated. Then, he is more than happy to do the same for you.

HABIT 6: SYNERGIZE

Just as each part of the body has its own unique and individualistic function but serves the purpose of the whole, the Kabbalists also teach that each member of society has his own unique and individualistic function, but serves the purpose of the whole.

In deeper Jewish thought, this is really the societal ideal and vision: to set up a society of people who are strong in their individuality and willing to share that for the benefit of others. A society of givers. A society made up of individuals that leave the "smallness" of being receiving-minded for the "bigness" of being giving-minded, synergizing to function as one whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

HABIT 7: SHARPEN THE SAW

A classic Rabbinical teaching is to "Designate times for Torah." With these predictable yet pivotal words, the Sages are trying to convey to us how to get a handle on life. They are telling us to set aside a specific time in our day for what life is really all about. Even though most of your day might be taken up with the means (job, errands, etc.), don't lose sight of the ends (your goals, aspirations, and grander purpose). Make sure to have an untouchabletime in each day to have a meaningful conversation with your spouse, quality time with each child, and time for introspection and God. That is what really counts.

Sharpening the saw is all about reconnecting with your roots with the bigger picture and drawing renewed strength and inspiration. It's about returning to yourself to get a handle on where you're going in order to sustain balance, constant motivation, and a passion for life, the world, and your place in it all.

7/18/2012 4:00:00 AM