“No matter what accomplishments you made, somebody helped you.” Althea Gibson

Which, if you like, is the corollary* of The Third Resolution, because the consequence of serving others is a heightened sense of self-worth that in turn makes us more productive and more creative. This is also a demonstration of how the sixth of the 7 Habits – Synergy – works.

Synergy is the result of creative co-operation, where two or more parties come together to create something that was greater than any one of them could have created alone, and which is even greater than the sum of the parts. To use Covey’s own metaphor it is when 1+1=3, 10, or 10,000. It’s how Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created Apple, and how Bill Gates and Paul Allen created Microsoft.

But possibly the greater example of synergy could be Thomas Edison. He had been working with Nokola Tesla, and both were acknowledged and great innovators in the field of electricity. But while Tesla essentially worked on and pursued his own inventions, Edison utilised teamwork to a more effective degree and eventually registered three times as many patents as Tesla. And to be fair, more people have heard of Edison.

To use the inappropriate cliché phrase ‘Chiefs and Indians’, those ‘Indians’ among us will be aware of how many ‘Chiefs’ have been rewarded, feted and even celebrated for great work. How many Knighthoods, peerages, bonuses and promotions they have won – all on the work done by other people. That said, I must emphasise that not every person so honoured was inappropriately rewarded. Most awards and accolades are deserved.

But let’s not forget that even Newton admitted that he was just standing on the shoulders of ‘other’ giants when he made his discoveries.

There’s nothing I like more than a sincere expression of gratitude by one honoured person for the work done by other, anonymous team members. And nothing worse than a blatantly insincere one.

Everything we do is done for, with, or as a result of something done or not done by, somebody else. In the context of this entry, what we achieve is the result of action done in the same way. Nothing happens in a vacuum. There is no response without stimulus. The man who invented the bottle did so not just because he wanted a transparent container in which he could keep liquids, but because there was also a need for others, probably identified by others, for the invention. And he probably didn’t invent glass, either – someone else did that and he used their skills to develop his own idea. That’s synergy.

And it’s the manifestation of The Third Resolution. A service identified and met by someone with the nobility of purpose to do the work necessary to make it happen.

(*It is right, I checked.)