Better Choices, Better Outcomes

First things first – back to basic principles. March 2019

Happy New Year! I’m writing this in mid-February and have noticed that many businesses are only just getting up to speed for 2019. It’s great to take a break, but the NZ holiday period does take a toll on businesses – not only the lack of trading days, but the loss of momentum after shutting down. It’s difficult to quickly get back to the pace at which we finished 2018.

Hopefully, those of you who are business leaders had some time to reflect and plan for 2019 and beyond, and have some things to work on for yourself and your people.

I often say to my clients that I won’t bring too much original material but refer to some classic principles and references. One of my favourites, which I use frequently is “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey. I recently gave a copy to one of my client’s managers, and they’re finding it a really useful tool for self-improvement, and in dealing with others, as well as the practicality of time management.

I thoroughly recommend this book and hope that this brief summary below will get you interested enough to seek out more ways to help you and your team.

Habit 1: Be proactive

Proactivity has a lot to do with a person’s “circle of influence”. What you can control, what you can influence and what is out of your reach. You become aware of the fact that you’re the architect of your own life and with this knowledge you set to work.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

This is the habit of vision, objectives, and goal setting. Beginning with the end in mind means that when you make decisions today you consistently take into consideration what you stand for “in general”. This has to do with the principles and guidelines you choose to live by, what you find important in life, what you stand for, what you want to accomplish.

Habit 3: Put first things first

This habit has to do with integrity, discipline, sticking to your agreements. What is life about, and how do you wish to shape your own life? Knowing this, will help you get to work proactively while setting the right priorities.

Habit 4: Think win-win

This is a habit that requires a paradigm shift. It’s tempting to think in terms of winning OR losing or wanting to be right – but the trick is to recognise that there is an alternative. You’ll be independent but at the same time you realise that you can accomplish more by co-operating with other people. You know what you have, but you also realise that you need the other person. You can accomplish this by thinking in terms of win-win.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

This is the habit of listening – one of the fundamental qualities of a leader or a coach. Concentrate first on understanding the other person and then put energy into being understood.

Habit 6: Synergise

This is the habit of strengthening; the pitfall is compromise. It means that your approach is fundamentally based on respect, co-operation and trust. The objective is to find the third path: how can two viewpoints be combined into something better?

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw

This is the habit that tells you that it’s worth improving yourself and to always persevere. It’s not just your plant and equipment that needs maintenance; you also do! By taking plenty of exercise, rest, and meditation you’ll keep your body, mind, relationships and personal belief systems in balance.

Ian Featherstone is a business and leadership coach, and the owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery & cabinetry sector. For more information please visit