The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the best personal development book most successful people have read. The book is really about developing the core success values that will be making you a much more effective person in all aspects of life.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. Proactive people don’t blame circumstances or conditions for their life. They do not blame the president, economy, parents or teachers about their life circumstances.
Your language is a good indicator of how you see yourself. A proactive person uses positive language such as I can, I will, I prefer, etc. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do–they have no choice.
Instead of reacting to or worrying about events which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control. For example instead of spending energy on why a new sworn in president should not be the president, a proactive businessman will be thinking how he can work with the new president’s strategy. The idea is don’t spend your time focusing on events that you can’t control; instead, focus on what you can control.
Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind
Steven call this a habit of personal leadership. It means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination.
This habit is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental creation, and a physical creation. The mental creation comes before the physical creation, just like designing comes before a physical building. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you have simply empowered other people and events to shape you and your life by default.
One of the best ways to start implementing this Habit is to develop a Personal Mission Statement. It focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your life plan for success.
The chapter goes through several activities, but one of the interesting example is the funeral scene. What will your family say at your funeral? What will your coworkers say? What about your friends? What about people in the community? What do you want them to say about you? That’s your mission.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
This habit is about organising and implementing your life activities in line with the mental aims established in habit 2. Habit 3 is the second or physical creation. If you put first things first, you are organizing and managing time and events according your established personal priorities. You need to recognize that you cannot do everything at the same time. You should organized and scheduled the key activities in your life.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. Win-win is based on the assumption that there is plenty for everyone, and that success follows a co-operative approach more naturally than the confrontation of win-or-lose.
Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then Be Understood
Covey helps to explain this in his simple analogy ‘diagnose before you prescribe’. Communication is the most important interpersonal skill in life. You spend years learning how to read, write and speak. However, many people do not listen. They want to be understood first in other to get their point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely, pretend that you’re listening, but miss the meaning entirely. So why? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. You listen to yourself as you prepare in your mind what you are going to say, the questions you are going to ask, etc. Instead, an effective communicator tries to understand as much information as possible before replying.
Habit 6: Synergize
When Sir Winston Churchill was called to head up the war effort for Great Britain, he remarked that all his life had prepared him for this hour. In a similar sense, the exercise of all of the other habits prepares us for the habit of synergy.
Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation and teamwork. It simply implies that two heads are better than one. When people begin to genuinely work together, they begin to create new, untapped alternatives. Valuing the differences is the essence of synergy, and the key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
This final habit focuses on the need to do things that renew you in several different ways: physical, mental, spiritual, and social/emotional. We need to take time from production to build production capacity. This is the most powerful investment we can ever make in life, investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute.
This article is just a brief overview of the book – the full work is inspirational, comprehensive, and thoroughly aspirational. Because of the philosophical nature of the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is going to appeal in different ways to different people.