Seven Swords Movement, Stephen Covey is Crazy

by Mike Shea on 24 February 2008

I received my second set of sketches for the cover of Seven Swords, my first novel, thanks to Dragonsnail, who did the cover to Vrenna and the Red Stone. The cover looks excellent so far, with a detailed Jon standing over the town of Fena Dim before Stark's vampiric cannibal bandits ride into the town.

The cover has motivated me to start typing up the book. I just finished typing up chapter 3 and have about 6,000 words so far. It's hard to get motivated to type it up - the beginning of the book is a little slow - but I can't wait until I hit some of the fun action scenes that flow throughout the final 30,000 words or so. There are a lot of scenes in that book that keep rattling around in my head, scenes I am proud to have written.

Zen Habits recently posted an interview with Stephen Covey of the Franklin Covey personal productivity fame and author of "Seven Habits of Highly Successful People" which I never read. After reading the interview, I'm sort of glad I didn't. For example, consider what Stephen Covey's morning is like:

"I make an effort every morning to win what I call the private victory. I work out on a stationary bike while I am studying the scriptures for at least 30 minutes. Then I swim in a home pool vigorously for 15 minutes, then I do yoga in a shallow part of the pool for 15 minutes. Then I go into my library and pray with a listening spirit, listening primarily to my conscience while I visualize the rest of my entire day, including important professional activities and key relationships with my loved ones, working associates and clients. I see myself living by correct principles and accomplishing worthy purposes. One of my favorite quotes is, The greatest battles of life are fought out every day in the silent chambers of ones own soul. (David O. McKay) Much of this listening and visualizing work is very challenging, so I win the private victory when I have made my mind up and commit to live by correct principles and to serve worthy purposes."

I'm lucky to get the right goddamn tie on and make it to work on time without slipping down a muddy hill walking the dog and this guy's doing yoga in his own private pool while praying with a listening spirit. I'd say this guy's vision of reality is significantly different than mine.

Here's another great quote:

"ZH: Do you have any thoughts you can share about filtering out the noise in life (especially noise from technology) to focus on the things that are truly important. How can we be sure to see time-sensitive emails but not live in our inboxes?"

"Covey: I am fortunate to have a very helpful team that enables me to spend time doing things that are important but not necessarily urgent."

A helpful team? How do I get one of those? I'd sure love some dude who sits and watches my Gmail to make sure to handle that ebay phishing email as soon as it shows up. I have to check four inboxes multiple times a day and this guy has a team of people that let him float around in a hyperbolic tank thinking big colorful thoughts like William Hurt in Altered States. Give me a break.

"ZH: What is your work setup? What tools do you use? What kind of computer and software are indispensable for you? How do you set things up to optimize your effectiveness?"

"Covey: I work with a complementary team, which means you build on your strengths and organize to make your weaknesses irrelevant. Modern technology is one of my weaknesses, but my associates make this weakness irrelevant because they are superb at it."

There's that magic team again. Some day, when Michael Bay buys Seven Swords and I'm using $100 bills for toilet paper, I'll have a team that handles all my technology for me so I can be sure not to waste my valuable time watching Girls Next Door.

Here's another beauty:

"My team and I also make occasional blog postings and will do so more and more in the future."

Even Frankly Covey, master of productivity and successful habits is apologizing for not blogging enough! That should make Brad Myers happy to hear.

Maybe I'm just bitter because he slammed GTD:

"ZH: Have you read Getting Things Done and The Secret? What are your thoughts on those two separate phenomena?"

"Covey: I have read these books and have enjoyed them and believe they contain elements of wisdom and practical suggestions. But for me and my world they are too simplistic and superficial."

Simplistic and superficial for a guy who has a team of people who read blogs and tell him what they say.

I'm glad I haven't gotten into Seven Habits or the other Franklin Covey stuff. The idea of "big rocks" and focusing on our life goals first never helped anyone clear all the shit off their desk and empty 35,000 emails from their inbox. Having a simple system that ensures you can handle all the bullshit life throws at you without going batshit crazy is a lot more likely to free up your time so you can even think about having a life goal. That's the system for me.

I leave you with my edited version of Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Successful People

  1. Be rich.
  2. Have a team do everything for you.
  3. Pray to a listening spirit.
  4. Have your own private pool.
  5. Do yoga in your own private pool.
  6. Have people tell you what blogs say.
  7. Study scripture on a stationary bike (Even God gets multi-tasked).