The book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” outlines a habit-based approach to be followed to attain your goals.
The book opens with an explanation of how many individuals who have achieved a high degree of outward success still find them struggling with an inner need for developing personal effectiveness and growing healthy relationships with other people.
In order to change a given situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.
The way we see the problem is the problem.
In order to achieve true change we must allow ourselves to undergo paradigm shifts to change ourselves fundamentally and not just alter our attitudes and behaviors on the surface level . For this, Covey explains seven habits.
1. Be Proactive
The first habit is being proactive. Our inherent ability to examine our own character, to decide how to view ourselves and our situations and to control our own effectiveness distinguishes us as humans from all other animals.
Reactive people take a passive stance – they believe the world is happening to them. They say things like:
• “There’s nothing I can do.”
• “That’s just the way I am.”
They think the problem is “out there” – but that thought is the problem. On the other hand, reactivity is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and reactive people feel increasingly victimized and out of control.
Proactive people, however, recognize they have responsibility — or “response-ability,” which Covey defines as the ability to choose how you will respond to a given stimulus or situation. In other words, we must work on the things we can do something about.
Reactive people held responsible external factors and negative energy. As a result their Circle of Influence shrink because they focus on circle of concern instead of circle of influence.
1. Start replacing reactive language with proactive language.
Reactive = “He makes me so mad.”
Proactive = “I control my own feelings.”
2. Convert reactive tasks into proactive ones.
2. Begin with the End in Mind
We work hard to achieve victories, promotions, higher income, and recognition. But we don’t often stop to evaluate the meaning behind these victories
Habit 2 suggests that we should start with a clear destination.
It is also important to identify our center because the center will be our source of security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
Our centers affect us fundamentally – they determine our daily decisions, actions, and motivations, as well as our interpretation of events. However, these centers are non-optimal. So we should strive to be principle-centered.
1. Visualize in rich detail your own funeral. Who is there? What are they saying about you? Think how your priorities will change with shortage of time?
2. Break down your roles of being professional, personal, or community – and list three to five goals you want to achieve for each.
3. Define what scares you- Public speaking, Critical feedback after writing a book. Write down the worst-case scenario for your biggest fear, and then visualize how you’ll handle this situation.
3. Put First Things First
We must posses the discipline to prioritize our tasks. To maintain discipline and focus, we require willpower.
All our activities can be categorized based on two factors: Urgent and important.
We react to urgent matters. If we spend our time managing crises and problems, it keeps getting bigger and bigger until it consumes us.
If we spend most of our time reacting to matters that seem urgent, when the reality is their perceived urgency is based on the priorities and expectations of others. We are leading an irresponsible life if we focus things which are drowning your energy.
The best effective management is a way that deals with things like building relationships, long-term planning, etc.
In order to focus our time on this aspect, we need to learn saying “no” to other activities. We also need to be able to delegate effectively. In addition, it means we’re thinking ahead, working on the roots, and preventing crises from happening in the first place! This helps us implement the Pareto Principal – 80% of your results come from 20% of your time.
1. Identify the activity you’ve been neglecting. Write it down and commit to implementing it.
2. Create your own time management matrix to start prioritizing.
3. Estimate how much time you spend in each type of activity. Then log your time over 3 days. How accurate was your estimate? How much time did you spend in the required and most efficient activity?
4. Think Win-Win
In order to establish effective interdependent relationships, we must focus on creating Win-Win situations.
Covey explains that there are six paradigms of human interaction:
1. Win-Win: Both people win means it is mutually beneficial to both the involved parties.
2. Win-Lose: “If I win, you lose.” Win-Lose people are prone to use position, power, credentials, and personality to get their way.
3. Lose-Win: “I lose, you win.” Lose-Win people are quick to please and appease, and seek strength from popularity or acceptance.
4. Lose-Lose: Both people lose.
5. Win: People with the Win mentality don’t necessarily want someone else to lose — that’s irrelevant. What matters is that they get what they want.
6. Win-Win or No Deal: There is no deal if you can’t reach a mutually beneficial.
The best option is to create Win-Win situations.We can be open and really try to understand the underlying issues.Two factors viz Consideration and courage should be taken into consideration in solving Win-Win. Apart from this, it also requires an Abundance Mentality and belief that there’s plenty for everyone else. So keep the focus on results.
1. Write down a list of what the other person is looking for. Next, write a list next to that of how you can make an offer to meet those needs.
2. Identify three important relationships in your life. Think about what you feel the balance is in each of those relationships. Do you give more than you take? Take more than you give?
3. Deeply consider your own interaction tendencies. Are they Win-Lose? How does that affect your interactions with others? Can you identify the source of that approach? Determine whether or not this approach serves you well in your relationships. Write all of this down.
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Before we can offer advice, suggest solutions, or effectively interact with another person in any way, we must seek to deeply understand them and their perspective through emphatic listening.
We prescribe a solution before we diagnose the problem. There is no definite technique to understand everyone.
To listen empathically requires a fundamental paradigm shift because we typically seek first to be understood.
When we listen autobiographically we are bound to respond in one of the following four ways:
1. Evaluate means to agree or disagree with what is said
2. Probe means ask questions from our reference
3. Advise means give counsel based on our own experience
4. Interpret means based on our own motives and behavior we try to figure out the person’s motives and behavior.
To understand is equally important in achieving Win-Win solutions.
Here are a few ways to get you in the habit of seeking first to understand:
1. Next time do not involve when two persons are communicating. Was one person or the other more interested in the conversation? Write down what you noticed.
2. Next time during a presentation begin by describing the audience’s point of view in great detail. What problems are they facing?
Habit 6, which is the habit of synergy or “When one plus one equals three or more and the whole is great than the sum of its parts.”
Synergy allows us to create new alternatives and open new possibilities. It allows us as a group to collectively agree to ditch the old scripts and write new ones.
To introduce synergy to a given situation or environment start with habits 4 and 5.
Once you have these in mind, you can pool your desires with those of the other person or group. Both sides get what they want, and they build their relationship in the process.
Synergy allows you to:
-Value the differences in other people as a way to expand your perspective
-Sidestep negative energy and look for the good in others
– Courage to be interdependent and encourage others also.
– Build creativity and find a solution that will be better for everyone
1. Make a list of people who irritate you. Now choose just one person. How are their views different? Put yourself in their shoes for one minute. Does this help you understand them better?
Now next time you’re in a disagreement with that person, try to understand their concerns and why they disagree with you. The better you can understand them, the easier it will be to change their mind or change yours.
2. Make a list of people with whom you get along well. Now choose just one person. How are their views different?
7. Sharpen the Saw
This habit focuses on renewal i.e “sharpen the saw.” It surrounds all of the other habits and makes each one possible by preserving and enhancing your greatest asset — yourself. There are four dimensions of our nature which should be exercised regularly and in a balanced way.
Physical Dimension: The goal is to exercise so as enhance your capacity. To renew yourselves physically, you must:
-Get sufficient rest and relaxation
-Exercise on a regular basis to improve strength and flexibility.
Spiritual Dimension: This helps to provide leadership to your life and reinforce your commitment to your value system.
To renew yourself spiritually, you can:
-Practice daily meditation
-Communicate with nature
-Immerse yourself in great literature or music
Mental Dimension: The goal is to focus on expanding your mind.
To renew yourself mentally, you can:
-Read good literature
-Keep a journal of your thoughts, experiences, and insights
-Television watching should be limited to life enriching programmes.
Social/Emotional Dimension: This refers developing meaningful relationships.
To renew yourself emotionally, you can:
-Seek to deeply understand other people
-Make contributions to meaningful projects that improve the lives of others
-Maintain an Abundance Mentality, and seek to help others find success
Focus on renewing yourselves along these four dimensions and look forward to inspiring others to a higher path by encouraging them to be proactive.
1. Make a list of activities along each of the 4 dimensions that will help you to renew. Finally, evaluate your performance at the end of the week. What led you to succeed or fail to accomplish each goal?
2. Write down a specific “sharpen the saw” activity every week to accomplish it and evaluate your performance and results in all four dimensions.