Habit 7 is personal PC. It's preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have -- you. It's
renewing the four dimensions of your nature -- physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional.
Although different words are used, most philosophies of life deal either explicitly or implicitly with
these four dimensions. Philosopher Herb Shepherd describes the healthy balanced life around four
values: perspective (spiritual), autonomy (mental), connectedness (social), and tone (physical). George Sheehan, the running guru, describes four roles: being a good animal (physical), a good craftsman
(mental), a good friend (social), and a saint (spiritual). Sound motivation and organization theory
embrace these four dimensions or motivations -- the economic (physical); how people are treated
(social); how people are developed and used (mental); and the service, the job, the contribution the
organization gives (spiritual).
"Sharpen the Saw" basically means expressing all four motivations. It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently, in wise and balanced ways.
To do this, we must be proactive. Taking time to sharpen the saw is a definite Quadrant II activity,
and Quadrant II must be acted on. Quadrant I, because of its urgency, acts on us; it presses upon us
constantly. Personal PC must be pressed upon until it becomes second nature, until it becomes a kind
of healthy addiction. Because it's at the center of our Circle of Influence, no one else can do it for us.
We must do it for ourselves.
This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life -- investment in ourselves, in
the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute. We are the instruments of
our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly
to sharpen the saw in all four ways.
THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE Brought to you by FlyHeart The Physical Dimension
The physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body -- eating the right kinds of
foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular basis.
Exercise is one of those Quadrant II, high-leverage activities that most of us don't do consistently
because it isn't urgent. And because we don't do it, sooner or later we find ourselves in Quadrant I,
dealing with the health problems and crises that come as a natural result of our neglect.
Most of us think we don't have enough time to exercise. What a distorted paradigm! We don't have
time not to. We're talking about three to six hours a week -- or a minimum of thirty minutes a day,
every other day. That hardly seems an inordinate amount of time considering the tremendous benefits
in terms of the impact on the other 162-165 hours of the week.
And you don't need any special equipment to do it. If you want to go to a gym or a spa to use the
equipment or enjoy some skill sports such as tennis or racquetball, that's an added opportunity. But it isn't necessary to sharpen the saw.
A good exercise program is one that you can do in your own home and one that will build your
body in three areas: endurance, flexibility, and strength.
Endurance comes from aerobic exercise, from cardiovascular efficiency -- the ability of your heart to
pump blood through your body.
Although the heart is a muscle, it cannot be exercised directly. It can only be exercised through the
large muscle groups, particularly the leg muscles. That's why exercises like rapid walking, running,
biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, and jogging are so beneficial.
You are considered minimally fit if you can increase your heart rate to at least 100 beats per minute
and keep it at that level for 30 minutes.
Ideally you should try to raise your heart rate to at least 60 percent of your maximum pulse rate, the
top speed your heart can beat and still pump blood through your body. Your maximum heart rate is
generally accepted to be 220 less your age. So, if you are 40, you should aim for an exercise heart rate of 108 (220 - 40 = 180 x .6 = 108). The "training effect" is generally considered to be between 72 and 87
percent of your personal maximum rate.
Flexibility comes through stretching. Most experts recommend warming up before and cooling
down/stretching after aerobic exercise. Before, it helps loosen and warm the muscles to prepare for
more vigorous exercise. After, it helps to dissipate the lactic acid so that you don't feel sore and stiff.
Strength comes from muscle resistance exercises -- like simple calisthenics, push-ups, and sit-ups,
and from working with weights. How much emphasis you put on developing strength depends on
your situation. If you're involved in physical labor or athletic activities, increased strength will
improve your skill. If you have a basically sedentary job and success in your life-style does not require a lot of strength, a little toning through calisthenics in addition to your aerobic and stretching exercises might be sufficient.
I was in a gym one time with a friend of mine who has a Ph. D. in exercise physiology. He was
focusing on building strength. He asked me to "spot" him while he did some bench presses and told me at a certain point he'd ask me to take the weight. "But don't take it until I tell you," he said firmly.
So I watched and waited and prepared to take the weight. The weight went up and down, up and
down. And I could see it begin to get harder. But he kept going. He would start to push it up and I'd think, "There's no way he's going to make it." But he'd make it. Then he'd slowly bring it back down and start back up again. Up and down, up and down.
Finally, as I looked at his face, straining with the effort, his blood vessels practically jumping out of his skin, I thought, "This is going to fall and collapse his chest. Maybe I should take the weight.
Maybe he's lost control and he doesn't even know what he's doing." But he'd get it safely down. Then THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE Brought to you by FlyHeart he'd start back up again. I couldn't believe it"
"Almost all the benefit of the exercise comes at the very end, Stephen," he replied. "I'm trying to build strength. And that doesn't happen until the muscle fiber ruptures and the nerve fiber registers
the pain. Then nature overcompensates and within 48 hours, the fiber is made stronger."
I could see his point. It's the same principle that works with emotional muscles as well, such as
patience. When you exercise your patience beyond your past limits, the emotional fiber is broken,
nature overcompensates, and next time the fiber is stronger.
Now my friend wanted to build muscular strength. And he knew how to do it. But not all of us
need to develop that kind of strength to be effective. "No pain, no gain" has validity in some circumstances, but it is not the essence of an effective exercise program.
The essence of renewing the physical dimension is to sharpen the saw, to exercise our bodies on a
regular basis in a way that will preserve and enhance our capacity to work and adapt and enjoy.
And we need to be wise in developing an exercise program. There's a tendency, especially if you
haven't been exercising at all, to overdo. And that can create unnecessary pain, injury, and even
permanent damage. It's best to start slowly. Any exercise program should be in harmony with the
latest research findings, with your doctor's recommendations and with your own self-awareness.
If you haven't been exercising, your body will undoubtedly protest this change in its comfortable
downhill direction. You won't like it at first. You may even hate it. But be proactive. Do it anyway. Even if it's raining on the morning you've scheduled to jog, do it anyway. "Oh good! It's raining! I get to develop my willpower as well as my body!"
You're not dealing with quick fix; you're dealing with a Quadrant II activity that will bring
phenomenal long-term results. Ask anyone who has done it consistently. Little by little, your resting pulse rate will go down as your heart and oxygen processing system becomes more efficient. As you
increase your body's ability to do more demanding things, you'll find your normal activities much more
comfortable and pleasant. You'll have more afternoon energy, and the fatigue you've felt that's made
you "too tired" to exercise in the past will be replaced by an energy that will invigorate everything you do.
Probably the greatest benefit you will experience from exercising will be the development of your
Habit 1 muscles of proactivity. As you act based on the value of physical well-being instead of
reacting to all the forces that keep you from exercising, your paradigm of yourself, your self-esteem,
your self-confidence, and your integrity will be profoundly affected.