Monthly Archives: July 2012

Discover These Good Things

Wishing you the creativity to dream,

the wisdom to choose, and

the strength to endure.


Gratitude for the Life and Teachings of Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey died today at the age of 79 of complications from a bicycle accident that he suffered on April 19, 2012. Covey’s most notable accomplishment was the publication of the “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change,” first published in 1989.

I remember reading The 7 Habits in 1992, as it was recommended to me by my friend’s mother. At the early age of 12 or 13 I had taken a strong interest in personal and team development. Upon learning of Covey’s death, I took pause to revisit those 7 Habits, which are as follows:


Habit 1: Be Proactive

Habit 2: Begin with the end in Mind

Habit 3: Put first things First


Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Habit 5: Seek for to understand, then to be Understood

Habit 6: Synergize


Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Upon reflecting on The 7 Habits for disciplined self-mastery, interdependence, and self-renewal, I noticed how pervasive these principles are in my own coaching and consulting practice. They are the basis for a high-quality relationship with one’s self and with others, and they have positively influenced my life’s work of what can be simply described as helping people get the results that they desire.

I am grateful to have encountered Dr. Covey’s teachings at such an early age, and to have carried them with me–mostly unconsciously–for the last 20 years. On some level, I believe that they shaped my professional interest in the transformational power of human communication in organizations, and will continue to serve as a simple framework for individual and team performance in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and chaos.

Thank you, Dr. Covey, for the wisdom that you shared with the world. May your hereafter be filled with powerful lessons in personal change.

Four Steps for Making Effective Requests that Produces Results

Making and managing requests that produce results is difficult work for many people, regardless of whether they are in a formal leadership position.

Causes of the problem could include: social anxiety, poor interpersonal communication, fear, impatience, lack of self-awareness, and/or lack of understanding of what makes a good request.

Here are four steps for making an effective request:

1. Start with “I” language:

  • Describe the current reality
  • Describe what data you have or the circumstances with which you are dissatisfied
  • Be specific and concrete in your use of language

Example: “Jerry, I’ve run a report recently and I would like to talk to you about the high rate of absenteeism on your team on Mondays and Fridays, which seems to be occurring at a rate twice that of your peers.”

2. Use the “SSD Rule” to make your request

  • Specific
  • Succinct
  • Deadline-driven

Example: “Specifically, I’d like to ask that you decrease absenteeism on your team by 10% over the next quarter.”

3. Take an “Other” orientation & offer Support:

  • Be willing to listen/negotiate the terms of your request
  • Be empathetic
  • Ask for more information
  • Provide resources and/or emotional support

Example: “I understand that managing a team can be challenging, so would you be willing to share what you think might be causing the absenteeism on your team? What support do you need to be successful in meeting this request?”

4. Ensure accountability:

  • Use “if, then” statements to discuss the positive (and/or negative) consequences of the request
  • Build in “check in” conversations between the request and deadline to monitor progress
  • Don’t forget your feelings

Example: “If you are able to decrease absenteeism by 10%, then you could avoid a $5,000 loss in productivity. I’m confident that you can make this change happen and improve the productivity of your team. Let’s meet next next month to check in.”