Would Stephen Covey have changed "Habit 2" if he wrote the book today?

Have you read "7 habits of Highly Effective People"' by Stephen Covey? It's one of the all-time (publication date: 1989) bestsellers and apparently have sold more than 25 million copies, if not more. However did you ever notice Habit 2 in context of today's world?

The all-time bestseller "7 habits of highly effective people" was first recommended to me by a friend, just after I passed out of college. I could not finish the book on the first go. Later I searched for a brief on the book and went through few presentations, which helped me get a hang of the ideas in a much lesser time. However the tryst continued. In one of my previous jobs, we participated in a skill development offsite program meant for Project Managers, where again I came across this book. We had a full day (or two?) program to nail the ideas of the book into us, and we got a certificate signed by Stephen Covey as well. It still didn't strike me.

Recently while going through the book "The Startup of You", I found a good poser: Is 2nd habit of Stephen Covey still valid in today's world?

So what is the 2nd habit afterall? It says: "Begin with the End in Mind". It's a small yet powerful statement. While you get out of your place, generally you know where you are heading to. And you plan the route accordingly. Similarly in life, you need to plan the destination, so that you can plan the journey accordingly. But how true is that in today's world? Reid Hoffman (incidentally he is the co-founder of Linkedin, where you are reading this post) argues on how difficult it is to predict the changes in technology landscape today. The skills that are in vogue today would be useless tomorrow. As an individual and professional, we need to adapt constantly with the moving times.

To put it into perspective, if you are having 10+ years of experience in any industry today, did you know at the beginning of your career on what exactly was going to happen on your professional front? To take it even further, is it possible for you to foresee where your career exactly goes 10 years down the line? A tech professional's life (it must be globally true, but the bias remains) can hardly be defined apriori on an MPP. You may also be reminded of the famous Stanford speech of Steve Jobs, where he mentioned how he could connect the dots later in life, though he didn't know while he was moving on. However lets not conclude that we need not have a goal in life. The goal can be a bit generic, and you can acquire skills and inch towards that through trial and error method.

Would Stephen Covey have changed the Habit 2 if he was to re-write the book today? Your guess is as good as mine. But if you are reading the book for the first time, or re-reading it, think again while glossing over Habit 2. Can you really begin with the end in mind? Or does the endpoint change daily?

This article was first published in Linkedin : here.

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