Cats enrich our lives in so many ways. From providing unconditional love to entertaining us with their antics, cats have a way of teaching us a thing or two about how to live a good life without really trying. Today, I’m offering you a somewhat feline-centric explanation of the habits outlined in Steven Covey’s timeless bestseller, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.
1. Be proactive
Life doesn’t just happen. Food bowls don’t magically fill themselves. Whether you realize it or not, every moment and every situation offers a choice. This goes back to the famous Victor Frankl quote “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.” One of the most important choices you can make is how you phrase things. Instead of saying “I can’t,” “I have to,” “if only,” choose to say “I will,” “I prefer,” I can.”
Ruby is very good at this. In her world, “I can’t” doesn’t exist. Perhaps this is why she sometimes misses the middle platform when she goes flying up the cat tree, and slides back down to the floor, but it sure doesn’t stop her from trying again.
2. Begin with the end in mind
What do you want out of life? What do you dream of? Create a mental picture of what you want to achieve and who you want to be before you embark on a task. One way to work with this habit is to develop a personal mission statement. A mission statement helps you stay the course to the future you want.
Cats are great visualizers. Allegra is a master at visualization. She has the “step away from your desk and play with me” visualization down to a science.
3. Put first things first
This habit is all about prioritizing without letting yourself get overwhelmed. Steven Covey’s model organizes tasks into urgent, important, not urgent and not important. Surprisingly, it’s the items in the “important but not urgent” quadrant, not the things that are “urgent and important,” that should receive your greatest attention. For example, daily playtime with your cats is important but not urgent. Feeding your cats, however, is important and urgent! For a more detailed (and less cat-centric) explanation of Covey’s important/urgent matrix, visit Practice This or go straight to the source and read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
4. Think win win
Win win is a frame of mind that constantly looks for solutions that benefit all parties involved. It requires integrity and the belief that there is enough for everyone. For example, you will achieve a win win situation if you play with your cats before you to go bed so they’re good and tired, and perhaps feed them a little bedtime snack, they will let you sleep in in the morning.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
This habit requires that you listen before you speak – something that can be challenging for all of us, especially when it’s about something we’re passionate about. If you have cats with behavioral challenges, you know how important it is to “listen” to them. Cats never do anything without a good reason, and frequently, it’s not what humans think it is. Learn how cats communicate, and understand what your cat is trying to tell you when she seems to be misbehaving.
Synergize simply means working together to find solutions to problems. It means valuing our differences, and being open to different viewpoints.
Allegra and Ruby have things in common, but they also couldn’t be more different. At times, they’re keeping me on my toes figuring out what they’re trying to tell me, because they have such different ways of communicating. Ruby is totally in your face almost all the time, whereas Allegra is more reserved.
7. Sharpen the saw
Sharpen the saw means taking good care of yourself so you can practice the other six habits. By tending to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs, you will be able to better handle everything life throws at you.
Ruby: Scratching posts work well to sharpen the claws!
For a less feline-centric explanation of the 7 habits, read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.