{ Draft Department } Habit 6: Synergize

Hello friends!  Today is my first post in the Draft Department series!  You know what I’m talking about….all those “This would be a GREAT post” ideas that you start….and just never finish…or ever hit publish.  You may have uploaded a picture…or tagged a restaurant for review…or quickly scribed a paragraph to capture the main topic.  Some people suggest that you delete these old drafts and just start fresh.  Some people suggest you combine material from several drafts into one post – a sort of “What’s On My Mind” post.  My grand idea…if I still really like the topic, I’m going to title it “Draft Department: XXX” and post it on a day that I don’t have any fresh ideas, or I’m in a blogging slump, or taking a sick day!  That way, I can trash the posts that don’t seem so important now, but still publish the posts that had good content!


I started this series back in 2011, and for some reason, never published Habit 6 or Habit 7…Oops.  Enjoy!


“How do I work with others to create better solutions?”  Synopsis:  This is Covey’s Habit of Creative Cooperation – and the essence of principle-centered leadership.  Simply defined, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, 1+1= 3, or more.  This habit catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest power within people.

7 Habits Overview post HERE
Habit 1 Overview post HERE
Habit 2 Overview post HERE
Habit 3 Overview post HERE
abit 4 Overview post HERE
Habit 5 Overview post HERE

If you are ready to challenge yourself to achieve better effectiveness in your personal and interpersonal life – please read on.

Habit 6. Synergize.  Synergy is when two or more people produce more together than the sum of what they could produce separately.  This is the Third Alternative.  Synergy occurs by valuing differences, cooperating creatively, and brainstorming options and alternatives.  Covey states, “The essence of synergy is the value differences – to respect them, to build on strengths, to compensate for weaknesses.”

Principles of Creative Cooperation

Valuing differences is the prerequisite to and the foundation of achieving synergy.  People are often threatened by differences of opinion, perspectives, or background.  Highly effective people and teams don’t just tolerate differences, they celebrate them.  The lists below identify the negative and positive consequences that occur when people or teams don’t value, or value, differences.


Tips for valuing differences:

  • Seek out knowledge and information from others to complete your tasks.
  • Create or participate on diverse teams.
  • Recognize others for their contributions.
  • Focus on others’ strengths instead of their weaknesses.
  • Solicit others’ ideas in a brainstorming session.
  • Avoid stereotyping or labeling others.

People who have an attitude of synergy say, “It’s not your way or my way, but a better way – a higher way.”  The Getting to Synergy Action Plan is a process that helps you achieve synergy by cooperating creatively and brainstorming options and alternatives.


I’m as guilty of it as anyone else – I simply fail to get along with some people, even people who I ought to get along with for the benefit of us both.  The key is to identify what about that person makes them beneficial to you, and also, what traits about them cause you not to like them.  Once those are clear, begin to think about how those traits can be used together to make the situation better.

Case Study

Over the weekend, you injured your knee and your doctor has prescribed three months of physical therapy.  The doctor has scheduled a one-hour session with the therapist three days a week.  You have an 8-to-5 job, and the therapist can only see you during regular work hours.  You approach your boss about flexible hours and he says, “Employees in this department must work from 8 am to 5 pm to make sure customer needs are being met.”  Instead of getting upset, you choose the high way and follow the Getting to Synergy Action Plan to identify a new and better solution.

What did I get out of this principle? Synergy requires trust, openness, a Win/Win attitude, and the ability to value differences.  Most people can recall at least one synergistic event in their lives that had a profound effect – team spirit, an emergency, etc.  To many, such events seem unusual, out of character, or even miraculous.  But I don’t think so.  I believe these things can be produced regularly and consistently in people’s lives – but it requires enormous personal security and openness, and a spirit of adventure.

Next time I will introduce Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.

Until then…



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