Book summary: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This book has been dubbed "the most influential business book of the century" by the Wall Street Journal, and it is definitely one of the most well-known.

Despite being published many years ago, it is still an informative and thought-provoking resource for today's leaders.

Join us for the next 10 minutes or so as we explore the late Dr. Stephen Covey's theories and how they apply to today's environment.

A progression via dependency is at the heart of Covey's habits. He indicates that there are three levels of progression.

Third-party care is defined by dependency. You encourage me and tell me what to think and do. You are responsible if things go wrong.

I am the epitome of independence; I'll take care of myself; I make the decision. I'm in charge.

Our perspective is one of interdependence. Let's collaborate on this. It is better to have two heads than one. Life is intertwined.

If I'm interdependent, I'm self-sufficient and capable. Still, I also recognize that you and I can do far more together than we could alone.

The first three habits of Covey focus on the transition from dependence to independence. Habits 4–6 assist in the transition from independence to the benefits of interdependency. We stay there because of the seventh habit.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

A man initiate to help a woman with kid to carry boxes.

What does it mean to be proactive? It's more than taking the initiative, according to Covey's definition. It's about taking charge of our own lives.

We accept the responsibility for bringing things to fruition. Extremely proactive people are well aware of their duties. They don't blame their actions on their surroundings. Their actions are the result of an intentional decision based on personal ideals.

Examining where we spend our time and energy is a fantastic approach to become more self-aware of our degree of proactivity.

There are certain things over which we have no actual control and others over which we have significant influence. Proactive people focus on the stuff inside their Circle of Influence over which they have power.

To take the initial steps toward proactivity, do the following:

  • Make a commitment and stick to it.
  • Make a goal and strive toward it.

The ability to create and fulfill promises to ourselves is at the heart of building effective habits. Begin by making tiny commitments to people in your Circle of Influence.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

We typically have a rough notion of where we want to go before we embark on a journey. Sadly, this is not the case for many firms.

It's all too easy to get caught up in life's rush. We strive more and harder at ascending the ladder of success... only to realize it's leaning against the wrong wall, as Covey describes it. It is very feasible to be busy while being ineffective.

If we want to run a successful business, we need to know exactly what we're attempting to achieve. We create the product we want to sell, define our target market, and then structure financing, research and development, operations, and marketing to achieve that goal.

Whether or not we succeed will be determined by how well we have the aim in mind. If we don't take charge of our future, we'll be shaped by people and events beyond our Circle of Influence.

Developing a personal mission statement, according to Covey, is an effective approach to start with the goal in mind, focusing on what we want to be and accomplish, as well as the values or principles that guide our being and doing.

It becomes a personal constitution, the foundation for making everyday decisions in the face of life's situations and emotions.

Begin compiling a list of notes, quotations, and ideas that you can use as inspiration for your own mission statement. Break the information down into the many roles you play in your life and the objectives you wish to achieve in each.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

A man is rushing for urgent things to do.

Effective management starts with putting the most important things first. Many of the jobs and activities we undertake in our daily lives might be urgent. Many of these can be significant, though not all of them.

The term "urgent" refers to a situation that demands quick action. Importance, on the other hand, is linked to outcomes. It adds to our purpose, beliefs, and goals if something is significant.

Things that aren't urgent but are essential are dealt with successfully through effective management.

Covey identifies four important aspects of good management:

  1. It is principle-centered.
  2. It is guided by one's conscience.
  3. It outlines our distinct mission, as well as our beliefs and long-term objectives.
  4. It assists us in balancing our lives by recognizing roles and establishing goals.

As a result, the beginning point is a commitment to begin organizing, satisfying the four features above, and establishing the fifth facet: an obligation to do it continuously.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Win/Win is a concept of human interaction, not technology. Interpersonal leadership is based on the idea of win-win thinking.

Reciprocal learning, mutual influence, and mutual benefit are all part of it. In all of our relationships, the Win/Win concept is critical to our success. Win/Win is built based on character, and Covey identifies three characteristics.

  1. INTEGRITY. The worth we assign to ourselves.
  2. MATURITY. The delicate balancing act of bravery and deliberation.
  3. ABUNDANCE MENTALITY. It is the notion that there is plenty for everyone out there.

Win/Win can only thrive in an environment where it is ingrained. We're the ultimate losers if we preach about Win/Win yet reward Win/Lose. The planning, communication, budgeting, information, and compensation systems must be founded on the Win/Win concept for Win/Win to operate.

Let's start by identifying a connection in which we'd like to create a Win/Win arrangement. We must put ourselves in the other person's shoes and write out how we believe that person perceives the answer.

Then, from our personal perspective, make a list of what results would be a victory for us. Is it appropriate? Approach the other individual and inquire about their thoughts. Is this a good enough beginning point?

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to Be Understood

A man is listening to others feedback.

To communicate effectively with others, you must first attempt to understand, then to be understood.

When another person talks, we listen on one of four levels; according to Covey:

  1. We may be ignoring them or not listening at all.
  2. We may practice acting as though we're listening.
  3. We can engage in selective listening by just hearing specific portions of a discussion.
  4. We may even practice attentive listening, paying attention, and concentrating our energy on the words being spoken.

...yet very few of us ever practice the fifth degree of hearing, empathetic listening— listening to comprehend—the greatest kind of listening.

Empathic listening is effective because it provides us with precise information to deal with. We're dealing with the truth inside another person's brain and heart, rather than projecting our own perspective and presuming ideas, feelings, intentions, and interpretation.

How are we going to do it? Empathic listening, according to Covey, requires four phases of growth.

The first and least successful method is to imitate content. Simply repeat the words that come out of another person's lips.

The material must then be rewritten in the second step. We've put his meaning into our own terms this time. Now we're pondering what he said, mostly using the left half of our brain responsible for reasoning and logic.

The third step activates the right hemisphere of the brain. Feelings are reflected in us. We're now more interested in how he feels about what he's saying than in what he's saying.

Both the second and third stages are included in the fourth stage. You rewrite the content and express the emotion. We allow him space to speak and work through his own thoughts as we strive to comprehend, as we restate material and reflect feelings.

Now that you've listened and comprehended the other person's point of view, it's time for you to be understood. Put your point of view in such a way that the other person can evaluate it in the light of their own circumstances.

Habit 6: Synergize

What exactly is synergy? Simply said, it indicates that the total of its components is larger than the sum of its parts.

We open our minds and hearts to new possibilities, choices, and options when we connect synergistically.

Synergy is an interesting concept. It's remarkable what can be accomplished with open communication.

The chances of genuinely big gain, of considerable development, according to Covey, are so real that it's worth taking the risk that openness involves.

The core of synergy is valuing people's mental, emotional, and psychological diversity.

The key to appreciating such disparities is to recognize that everyone sees the world through their own eyes.

We must appreciate our differences in views and each other and trust in the potential that we are both correct. Life isn't always black-and-white; there are nearly always third options.

We must seek a synergistic third option when there are only two options (ours and the "wrong"). We can discover a beneficial solution for everyone if we work with a Win/Win mindset and attempt to understand.

Engage someone who views things differently than you do to put synergy thinking into action. Consider how those distinctions may be utilized as stepping stones to a third potential approach.

Habit 7: "Sharpen the Saw" Principles

A girl meditate and having work life balance.

Personal, professional growth is habit number seven. It's all about maximizing our most valuable asset: ourselves.

Sharpening the saw entails frequently and persistently exercising all four elements of our nature: physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional.

The physical component entails properly caring for our bodies, such as eating the proper meals, obtaining enough rest and relaxation, and exercising regularly.

Renewing your spiritual dimension gives you more control over your life.

The spiritual component is your core, your center, and your dedication to your values. It's a very intimate and really essential aspect of life. Immersion in great literature or music and exposure to things that inspire and elevate you are crucial.

Formal schooling accounts for the majority of our mental growth. We lose that discipline as soon as we leave school. We don't read critically, we don't think analytically, we don't write...

Instead, we sit in front of the TV or aimlessly scroll through Twitter and Facebook. Continuing education is essential, and proactive individuals may find many methods to educate themselves and keep their wits fresh.

Our social and emotional lives are intertwined because our emotional lives are formed via our interactions with others. In the same way as updating the other dimensions takes time, renewing our social/emotional dimension does not.

It's something we can do in our regular encounters with others. It does, however, necessitate exercise. We may need to push ourselves to meet people outside of social media.

There you have it: six habits and a seventh process of renewal. They are Covey's secret to being a very effective leader, and they work. Millions of people can't possibly be incorrect. Are you going to begin today?

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