The term “synergy” is often the fodder for jokes, ridiculed as corporate jargon that’s overused and abused in offices everywhere. But I hope you’ll suspend cynicism for a moment and consider the word’s intended meaning, as described in Covey’s sixth habit, “Synergize”:
“Synergy works; it’s a correct principle. It is the crowning achievement of all the previous habits. It is effectiveness in an interdependent reality—it is teamwork, team building, the development of unity and creativity with other human beings.”
Jargon aside, there’s nothing more thrilling than the feeling that comes with belonging to a team that’s totally in sync, whether in sports, at work or at home. Together, we’re stronger, better, more creative and more productive. We understand and value our individual differences, strengths and perspectives and use them to create something greater and richer. We solve problems cooperatively by focusing on common goals. At our best, we find a third “win-win” alternative—a better solution than we could have ever obtained on our own. And when we just can’t agree, we compromise out of mutual respect, rather than become angry, defensive, manipulative or vindictive—the surest way to lose. Finally, we can weather the ups and downs in our relationship, having built enough trust and good in our emotional bank accounts with one another.
If you think this all sounds naïve or too good to be true, I assure you it’s not. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. It’s magical when it all clicks, and everything just flows—communication, ideas, insights and opportunities. You feel powerful and empowered—as if you could accomplish anything with the people to whom you’re emotionally and intellectually connected.
All the other habits have prepared us for the sixth habit of “synergy.” Habit 6 also teaches us that just as true effectiveness lies in our relationships—where creativity is the most potent—the power of the habits lies in their “synergistic” relationships to each other. We should use them together not only to expand our effectiveness, but also to open new possibilities in every aspect of our lives.