Saturday, April 30, 2005

[Books] 7 Habits

I've been planning for a while to write a little about "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and its follow-up "Principle Centred Leadership", both by Stephen Covey. I'll start by saying that I've been extremely cynical about the whole "7 Habits" hype in the past, thinking it was claiming to be a quick fix for all deficiencies a person might have. So I've sneered any time someone mentioned buzzwords like "synergy" and "proactive" and made no effort to see if there was value in it at all. And I was both pleasantly surprised and validated in my sneering at the same time.

"The 7 Habits..." is certainly the more worthwhile of the two books, and contains some useful tips for anyone seeking self-improvement. I particularly like that it emphasises personal responsibility, encouraging the reader to stop making excuses, blaming bad luck, etc. Despite the author's strong religious bent, this does not really come through in the writing, and it's not sermonising at all. Most of the content is common sense, although the kind of common sense which can get left behind when under pressure to get things done, or just to live a busy life. Buzzwords aren't too heavily used, although many points are repeated a bit frustratingly (repetition is supposed to help retention, right?). All in all, I'm glad I finally read this book, after mocking it in my ignorance. Have I actually applied any of its proposed actions? Well, not really... (although maybe the exercise counts?)

"Principle Centred Leadership" takes the 7 Habits and tries to guide the reader in how to apply them to leadership. I think the moral/motive is good, but the execution became tedious and particularly swamped by buzzwords. The same material could easily have been covered in one-third of the space, even with the bits designed for anyone who hadn't read "7 Habits...". I'd say this is one which you might read if you were really keen on Covey's ideas, or maybe even searching for a leadership style, but I didn't gain too much from it and could happily have given it a miss.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Exercise regime floundering... need to start again... Unfortunately, I only had a 10 minute walk yesterday, since I spent too much time on my computer in the morning and the entire afternoon and evening was filled with the awesome Liv's terrific birthday party. I'd love to say I was so committed to the exercise that when I got home at 1am I jumped straight onto my jogging tramp but, instead, I dropped into bed and off to sleep. So today is Day 1 again :( I figure it's better to keep my target high and begin again than soften and say a 10 minute walk is actually challenging enough to count for Day 3.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Exercise - Day 2

Today I hopped on my exercise bike and rode 6 miles (9.6 km), which tells you how old my bike is. This was only 20 minutes of exercise, and I wasn't even breathing hard by the end of it, meaning my aerobic fitness is better than I thought. I'll have to push myself harder next time (assuming my knees don't scream at me tomorrow for cycling at all). Only 28 days to go!

Friday, April 22, 2005

What I've done

Before going off to Byron Bay, I had a week of holidays in which I don't feel I achieved much. I read quite a bit, including the various management/leadership/productivity blogs I monitor. I did a little bit of exercise (although not as consistently or vigorously as I planned). I even did a little bit of programming work, and sent off interesting tidbits from my reading to my 2IC (who I had earlier promised would get a nice relaxing break from my constant attempts at reinventing how we work :). I also discovered I can eat yeast-free bread (which still contains gluten) with no ill effects, opening up a whole range of gluten-containing foods again, after 18 months without them. Maybe that's enough stuff to have done, and I'm just suffering from lack of focus on what is most important to me to do next?

Anyway, this morning I read 30 Days To Success which reminded me of the common sense approach to establishing better habits, flagging my sporadic 2-5 times a week exercise as being insufficient, and triggering me to set a goal of a walk/jog/ride for at least 30 minutes a day for the next 30 days. Well, I went for a 70 minute walk this morning, so that's taken care of. And when I've established the regular exercise as a habit, with my already pretty reasonable diet, I expect to achieve the weight loss I need as a side-effect. I love accumulating numbers so much that this is definitely the way for me to go. Anyone who's ever heard me recount how many days I've gone without caffeine knows I'm a fan of this kind of record breaking. Since I can't return to weights training till my right elbow recovers from its latest (football throwing) injury, this target helps me avoid slipping back into too sedentary a life, after a reasonably active Byron holiday.

The Byron Bay experience

Just got back from a week in Byron Bay (NSW), having had perfect weather and a beach only 200 metres from our apartment. Luckily weather back home is good too, otherwise leaving sunny Byron would be much harder to take.

Our beach Posted by Hello

Monday, April 11, 2005


I bought a new camera today, to supplement my 1.2 megapixel credit card camera (which is fine for day shots which are put up on the Web, many of the Shenanigans Central photos were taken using it). So now there's no excuse for me to not have lots of exciting pics from Road Trip 2005 and my Vegas trip (as well as anything interesting in between). This should mean more updates to this blog, and more photo galleries on Shenanigans Central. Everybody (who wants to see more fat guys) wins!

My basketball court Posted by Hello