Last autumn my office sent me and a load of co-workers off to a 7 Habits of Highly Effective People class. It was interesting, and a little bit funny. It also resulted in several specific reasons to distrust a handful of individuals with whom I work, but that’s irrelevant for the moment.
The reason I’d asked to be included in that was because I suffer a chronic disorganization in what I’m doing and what I need to be focusing on. Working in IT doesn’t help… problems and projects are tossed this way and that and I’m expected to be on top of them… but my hope was that I’d come away with some useful measures for scheduling and organizing what I have going on that trump my current ad-hoc collection of mental notes and reminders and whatnot. A few others I’d tried had already failed.
7 Habits covers a lot of ground, but it’s meant to impact how you communicate with (and especially how you listen to) others, how you let some of the stresses go by prioritizing the useful stuff, and the ways in which you handle yourself and your own positive and negative habits. And it’s bullshit.
Let me clarify that. It’s useful to some people in the sense that they’re going to find value in any form of structure in their lives (such as religion, which this is in a weird corporate way), which in this case is the 7 habits. But it’s bullshit in the same way that tarot is, or horoscopes. It’s a vague explanation of what you’re doing, and what you’re getting out of doing it, that can be translated into a billion different things dependent on who’s hearing the advice. Practce exercises and examples and discussions and videos in the class give a good generalized sense of what they mean, sure, but it’s still a vague and nebulous concept. Habit 6 is simply “Synergize”, for fuck’s sake. What the hell does that mean?
At any rate, after about ten months of having all of this in the back of my head and trying to wrap my organizational activities in this cheap veneer of self-help goodness, I find that not only am I back where I started, but that I was essentially already doing what they recommend. As much as is possible with IT, anyway. The only real difference was that I wasn’t doing so with their expensive proprietary orgnizer system, nor spewing the habits like catchphrases as some folks here are wont to do. And although I haven’t specifically asked some of my classmates how they’re handling it, interactions with them suggest that not much of it has taken root with them, either.
Anyway. Just some thoughts on the matter.