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Synergy: When 1 + 1 = 3 (or Even 4)

Habit #6 of Highly Effective People


We’re on the home stretch of our quick sprint through Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits.

Today? Habit #6. Synergy.

Synergy is another meme deeply embedded into our culture and, again, just like the notion of thinking win/win, we have Covey to thank for making it so ubiquitous. (Thanks, Dr. Covey!)

Here’s the definition of synergy: “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

In short: It’s when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s when 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2… It equals 3!

Examples abound in nature. Put two plants next to each other and their roots commingle and improve the soil—helping each plant flourish more than they would if they were far apart.

1 + 1 = 3

Put two pieces of wood together and they can hold more than twice the weight.

1 + 1 = 3

Dave Ramsey shares a cool story in EntreLeadership to help bring the point home. He tells us about Belgian horses. Apparently they are some of the strongest horses in the world. One Belgian horse can pull eight thousand pounds. Put two random Belgian horses together and they can pull twenty to twenty-four thousand pounds. Not two times as much as one but THREE times as much.

1 + 1 = 3.

But here’s what’s nuts. If you raise and train the Belgian horses together, they’ll blow past the twenty-four thousand pounds and go all the way up to thirty or thirty-two thousand pounds—pulling not just three times as much but FOUR times as much weight as the horses that didn’t know one another.

1 + 1 = 4.


It’s a really powerful concept.

Can you see the way it applies in YOUR life?

Think about it. Appreciate it. Lean into it even more today.