There is a connection between being imaginative and being
highly effective. Before we start the journey of improving
effectiveness, we must master the ability to see things
differently and… imagine.
“Your most important work is always ahead of you, never
— Stephen Covey
A few years ago I participated in a workshop based on Stephen
Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. My initial
reaction when the workshop began was that I had read it all
before in one form or the other. And yet, it was not long
before something happened. It was probably a magical
combination of the powerful way the messages were communicated
and that right point of time in my life when I was ready to
absorb it. Whatever it was, it set the wheels in motion, and
eventually, has affected (and still is) so many aspects of my
In a sense, the concept of seempli was seeded in that
workshop. In retrospect, all the pieces of the puzzle were
there in my mind before that. But it was only when I was asked
to think about my vision and my mission statement that these
pieces began to form a vibrant and coherent picture.
Today, I would like to close the loop and reflect on how
imagination and the ability to see things differently – two of
the core capabilities we are aiming to develop and master with
seempli – are essential to being effective. And what better way
is there to do so than to see how they affect the
implementation of The Seven Habits.
The Seven Habits journey begins with developing the habit
of Being Proactive. What seems to be a
simple enough concept is, in fact, the cornerstone of all the
habits that follow, and it is far from being trivial to
implement. Most of us are already wired to respond almost
automatically in so many situations. Many of us are used to do
what we are expected to do. Many of us don’t feel we are
controlling the grand scheme of our lives.
One of the ways to break the reactive loop is to
imagine an alternative. Imagination is a one the key
elements that give us the power to choose our reaction and to
set a course toward our goals. That is what makes us different
from any other living creature on earth.
The second habit is built on top of our ability to be
proactive. It is quite explicitly the habit of
imagination: Begin with the End in Mind.
Envisioning your future, sketching a vision, and gradually
setting the path toward realizing it, is a pure act of
imagination. If you can’t imagine a better or more profound
future for yourself, for your family, for your team, and your
organization, you will not be able to realize it.
The first two habits are the foundation of being more
effective. When you master them together with the third habit
(Put First Things First), you are on your way to a Private
Victory. The ability to imagine is the engine
required to achieve the Private Victory. Without
imagination, we are doomed to re-live our present. Constantly
improving is by definition where we aim at when we are talking
about being highly effective people.
So, developing our imagination – re-igniting our ability to
create a different world in our mind – is a precondition for
being able to master the first part of The 7 Habits model.
When we aim for a Public Victory, we need to add another core
capability to the model.
See Things Differently
Adopting a Win-Win mindset
and Seeking First to
Understand (Habits 4 and 5) don’t come naturally
to many. Most of us are not “programmed” like that as adults.
That’s why we can adopt these habits only after we have
achieved a Private Victory.
But it takes more than a private victory to overcome our
natural tendency to be heard and to explain ourselves first.
Ditching the idea of “my way or your way” requires us to change
the way we see the world – literally.
Habit 5, in particular, asks us to place ourselves in the other
person’s shoes – or to see things the way they are seeing them
and deeply understand what is important for them. You have to
to do that regardless of how you see the world and
what you consider to be important. That is
the most profound and pure act of seeing things differently.
And obviously, it is far from being easy for most of us by
Habit 6 – Synergize – brings
imagination back to the front as it instructs us to aim for a
new alternative. An alternative that will help us achieve both
our goals and the goals of other parties, and by that produce
even better results.
Once again, this is not possible to achieve mechanically. It
requires all parties involved to be able to imagine the option
that such a better alternative exists, and then to imagine what
form it can take. It is a purely creative process: taking our
goals and current ideas (and maybe some constraints) as input
and coming up with a new creation which is better than anything
any of the parties could have produced by themselves.
Habit 0: Be Imaginative
It may sound unnatural at first, but imagination and the
ability to see things differently are the living core of
becoming more effective. And just like The 7 Habits model
applies to personal relationships as well as to organizational
and professional contexts, the Observe-Imagine
skill is the basis for both personal, organizational
and professional development.
The entire 7 Habits model is based on the assumption that we
are capable of seeing thing differently, imagining, and
creating a new reality – first in our mind, and then in the
real world. If you read this column on a regular basis you
already know that this assumption is 100% correct: we are born
with these skills. At the same time, most of us
need to re-ignite these skills and master them actively as
adults. Without doing so, creativity and imagination
are likely to degrade when confronted with the day-to-day
demands we are facing.
You can call it a prerequisite or Habit 0. In a sense, it’s
like the need to be in physical shape before you can improve
your basketball skills. Being imaginative –
practicing and developing this skill, and turning it into a
habit as natural as breathing – is essential to start the
journey toward defining and achieving your goals.
Imagination is the basic tool needed to change any paradigm.
And changing paradigms is the only way to move forward.
Otherwise, you can only hope to continue doing what you have
already done. And apart from not being really effective, this
doesn’t sound quite satisfying (or fun…).
Lidor’s visual artworks, which are focused on the things
hundreds and thousands of people pass by in the street every
day, led him to create seempli to inspire people to
practice creative observation on a daily basis.
Using seempli Lidor works with
individuals, teams, and organizations seeking to develop and
enhance their creativity.