I recently finished reading (listening to) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I’ve avoided this book thus far because it sounds like the click bait that we all try to avoid while browsing online. This book, published in 1989 clearly long precedes the online marketing drivel that we are now plagued by and it has sadly tarnished the name of this book a little retrospectively. Another set of quick fix solutions to get rich quick or in this case become “effective”, a suspiciously vague title.
I have to say though, this is one of the best personal development books I’ve read, despite being over 30 years old, so many of the underlying principles are still applicable and I’d highly recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in reading this sort of thing.
Early in the book, Covey retells Aesop’s fable of the Goose the Laid the Golden Eggs which I felt powerfully represents what many of us have probably been doing for these last few months to get through lockdown.
A farmer discovers he has a goose that lays a golden egg every day. The farmer seems the golden eggs and becomes rich quite quickly, but soon, this newfound wealth is not enough and he wants more. He becomes impatient and no longer wants to wait a whole 24 hours for the next golden egg and so he resolves to kill the goose so he can get out all the golden eggs immediately. Upon slaughtering his prized possession he finds the goose is like any other goose, no golden eggs inside, and now no goose to lay more.
Traditional tellings of this story often focus on morals of greed however Covey puts a different spin on it. He uses the goose as a metaphor for both ourselves, our lives and our businesses.
If your entire focus is on obtaining more golden eggs (often money in the real world), you will ultimately neglect the goose itself or worse, kill the goose in your haste to reach the source. You will overwork yourself or those around.
If however you focus on looking after the goose, developing your skills, investing in the people in your life, the goose will flourish and can continue to provide golden eggs for years to come.
Focus on the process and the system, not the results.
Focus on people and not what people can do for you.
Focus on your own growth and personal development and not how much money you can make in every minute of every day.
Focus on the goose and the eggs will naturally follow.