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Once you’ve learned to listen and understand better, you can synergise. What is that? Habit 6 – Synergise – is based on the principle of Creative Co-operation. How so?

Synergy recognises a natural truth that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts which, put another way, means that the relationship between the parts is one of the parts, and an important one at that. In nature, you know that one plank can bear a great weight, but two planks properly placed together can support well in excess of twice the weight of the one. Synergy.

Nature is full of examples of synergy – two people can add up to two in a partnership, but  they can create a few more people if they breed! Synergy is in parenting, team games, the classroom – all examples of where the relationship between the participants is great and can magnificently improve the creativity of the sum of its parts.

But sometimes, it needs courage. When two people disagree, even agreeably, then it takes courage and confidence, plus a little consideration, to seek to introduce a synergistic potential to the debate. It requires one party to say, “How would you like to seek a third alternative that is better than the one either of us can come up with?” It takes courage to agree to that, and it takes courage to say, “Let’s hear you, first.”

The two then start a mutually respectful, “I think”, “Ah, but how about” back and forth until the 3rd, better alternative is found.

Synergy is better than compromise = where 1+1 = 1½. Compromise is for when there is a lack of trust between the parties involved. It’s the best that ‘enemies’ can come up with if they have equal power.

That courage and consideration mentioned earlier is in your Circle of Influence. It requires seeing (paradigm) the other party as an equal, worthy of deep respect. It also requires seeing that there can be an alternative – imagination, which is one of your human endowments addressed n the first few posts.

And sometimes, particularly in these days of polarity in debate, the bravest of us all can start the process of reconciliation and solution by saying, “Good, you see things differently. Tell me more.”

As Covey opined, when two people agree totally, one of them is unnecessary. Creative co-operation requires different viewpoints if it is to work, but it also means recognition that one may be superior to another, and that there may be other ways that have yet to be explored.

Synergy is the fruit of Think Win/Win (root) and Seeking First to Understand (the shoot).

As we come to the last Habit – Sharpen the Saw, you will come to realise that the 7 Habits themselves are an example of synergy – all the Habits have great value in and of themselves but when they are applied together in our daily lives they can identify, create and work for outstanding and effective results.

Habit 7 – the Principle of Renewal, is an essential, foundational Habit that serves and supports execution of the other six.

But can it also be ‘stand alone’? We shall see.