Stephen Covey’s 7th Habit of Highly Effective People

Did Abe Lincoln think of it first?

When I think of Stephen Covey’s 7th habit, Sharpen the Saw, it reminds me of the famous Abraham Lincoln quotation:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Did you think for a moment that the picture on the right was of Abraham Lincoln?  Sorry to disappoint you but it isn’t. Here’s how you can tell the difference.  The guy in the picture has one of those goofy hats that holds two cans of beer, and Honest Abe didn’t drink beer, at least not while he was chopping down trees.  Now you know.

Back to the subject at hand.  If you have not read Dr. Covey’s book, you are still probably able to guess that his 7th habit has nothing to do with saws, or axes for that matter.  Covey actually talks about the four dimensions of personal renewalPhysical, Social/Emotional, Spiritual and Mental.  “So,” you ask, “what do these elements of our being have to do with teaching college students?”  Guess what, you’ll need to check back after I post the next article in the series – The 7th Habit of Highly Effective College Instructors.  It will be ready Sunday afternoon.

Now, here is your homework assignment.  Think about what Production means in terms of teaching, and then think about what Production Capacity means.  There will be a quiz at start of the next class article. I will ask you to write a short essay on these two terms.

© 2010 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.

Posted May 15, 2010


About Dr. Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.

My name is Paul Hummel, and I often introduce myself to others as a recovering engineer. If you are familiar with the Dilbert cartoons, let me simply say that I lived all of that. I started my college saga at Illinois Institute of Technology. Eventually, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management. I worked for many years in industry, and during this time I did some college adjunct teaching. During my career I held several managerial positions in industry, the last as Director of Technology of a division of a Fortune 500 corporation. Then, in 1996, with minimal planning or forethought, I found myself working as a manufacturing consultant on behalf of Elgin Community College (ECC).

My career in higher education began to take shape. I fell in love with ECC and with the mission of community colleges in general. I worked fulltime and occasionally taught college courses for my institution and two other colleges. After a couple years I set a goal to move over to the “credit side of the college” and eventually become a college administrator. In 2006, having earned my doctorate in education, I achieved that goal. I was hired by Waubonsee Community College as Dean for Technology, Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

I have had the great fortune of working at two excellent colleges. The insights I want to share are drawn from the various college positions I have held. At ECC, in addition to my consulting role, I coordinated non-credit professional development training programs for three years and spent four years advising students in the TRiO Student Support Services program. That position helped me understand college education from the perspective of today’s college students.

After seven years at Waubonsee, I retired April 30, 2013. I now devote my knowledge and skills to upgrading and expanding the websites I created beginning with Adjunct Assistance. I have three other websites: College Teaching Tips, Keys for College Success and Lighthouse for Learning. A lot of work lies ahead for me in terms of upgrading and expanding each of these websites, but I could not be more excited about fulfilling the vision I have for helping college instructors and their students succeed.


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