I have earlier written two summary blog posts about "The seven habits of highly effective people" written by Stephen R. Covey. The first was about the private victory and the second about the public victory. Now it is time to summarize habit 7; Sharpen the saw - principles of balanced self-renewal".
Habit 7 is about preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have - you. It´s renewing the four dimensions of your nature - physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional, by exercising regularly and consistently in wise and balanced ways.
The physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body - eating the right kinds of foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular basis. A good exercise program is one that you can do in your own home and that will build your body in three areas: endurance (the ability of your heart to pump blood through your body - exercised through e.g rapid walking, running, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing), flexibility (through stretching) and strength (comes from muscle resistance - like push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups).
The spiritual dimension is your core, your center, your commitment to your value system. It draws you upon the sources that inspire and uplift you and tie you to the timeless truths of all humanity. You can do this by daily meditation, immersion in great litterature or great music or by leaving the noise and the discord of the city and give yourself up to the harmony and rhythm of nature. In our daily spiritual renewal, we can visualize and "live out" the events of the day in harmony with our personal mission statement.
The mental dimension is about education - continuing education, continually honing and expanding the mind. It is extremely valuable to train the mind to stand apart and examine its own programs. That is the definition of a liberal education - the ability to examine the programs of life against larger questions and purposes and other paradigms. We can do this by reading good quality literature, by keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings, and by organizing and planning the journey ahead (visualizing - beginning with the end in mind).
The social/emotional dimension is centered on the principles of interpersonal leadership, empathic communication, and creative cooperation. Renewing our social/emotional dimension can be done in our normal everyday interactions with other people and it definitely requires training. Having success in Habits 4, 5 and 6 is primarily a matter of emotion. It´s highly related to our sense of personal security. This intrinsic security comes from within, from accurate paradigms, from inside out congruence and from living a life of integrity. It could also come as a result of effective interdependent living or from service, from helping other people in a meaningful way.
Organizational as well as individual effectiveness requires development and renewal of all four dimensions in a wise and balanced way. Balanced renewal is optimally synergetic. As you renew your physical dimension, you reinforce your personal vision (Habit 1). As you renew your spiritual dimension, you reinforce your personal leadership (Habit 2). As you renew your mental dimension, you reinforce your personal management (Habit 3). The Daily Private Victory - a minimum of one hour a day in renewal of the physical, spiritual, and mental dimension - is the key to the development of the Seven habits and it´s completely within your Circle of Influence. It is the Quadrant II focus time necessary to integrate these habits into your life, to become principle-centered. It is also the foundation for the Daily public victory, when you renew the social/emotional dimension.
Renewal is the principle - and the process - that empowers us to move on an upward spiral of growth and change, of continous improvement. As we grow and develop on this upward spiral, we must show diligence in the process of renewal by educating and obeying our conscience. An increasingly educated conscience will propel us along the path of personal freedom, security, wisdom, and power. Moving along the upward spiral requires us to learn, commit, and do - learn, commit, and do - and learn, commit, and do again.
Finally, a great YouTube summary of Sharpen the Saw by Stephen R. Covey himself.