After reading Stephen Coveys book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” I reflected upon what I had learned. It is not hard to see why it has sold over 15 million copies, I realized that I had changed in many ways, subtly over time so that I didn’t notice it at first, but when I look back on the journey I have taken it is obvious that I have grown as a person.
Covey discusses in depth the principals of living efficiently and what is required to succeed.
The Buddha once said:
“What we think, we become.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.”
This sums up my views on success and as it turns out, Coveys.
The book is easily comprehensible as the 7 habits flow into one and another.
The 7 habits are, as Covey relates them.
1. Being Proactive
Meaning that you are in charge of your life and that you don’t want to let the world control you. You don’t want to be reactive, you should go out and make a change, increase your circle of influence and control your thoughts instead of letting them be controlled.
2. Begin with the end in mind
Essentially, start with your goals, then make plans for their completion. If you don’t know what you are aiming for you do not know where you are going.
3. Put first things first
Prioritization is something I discuss often. Working on your most important task and getting it finished before finishing other less important tasks is one of the most important lessons in time management.
But Covey means more then that. He also discusses what type of work is important, he calls them “Quadrant 2″ tasks. They are tasks that aren’t urgent but are important to your future and can help you save time down the road.
I wrote a whole article about Quadrant 2 thinking a couple of days ago, take a look here.
As you can see, the first 3 habits are about self mastery and self improvement. The next 3 are about working as a team and becoming not only an independent person but an interdependent person.
4. Think Win/Win
Most of us see life as a race with only one winner. But for you to win it doesn’t have to mean someone else has to lose.
Often salesmen will make that mistake. They will be so focused on making the sale and charging as much as possible that they don’t care about the customers needs and often end up pushing the customer away, making them look for other vendors.
Win/Lose can give you gains in the short term, but only Win/Win will benefit you down the road.
5.Seek first to understand … then to be understood
This is all about connecting with others.
Most people only listen to get a chance to talk, but if you can listen and understand, the things you say will make a much more powerful impact and the relationships you build will become much stronger as a result.
Basically meaning that you want to work together. Not only do you want a Win/Win you want to find the third alternative, the one none of you expected, the alternative you can only discover if you put your heads together and being creative. By doing this you can uncover alternatives that can benefit you both much more then the ideas you both brought to the table.
It also means you want to find a synergy in yourself. You want to find a balance in your life and the calm that comes with it. This peace will grant you benefits that far exceed what the regular person experiences and can quickly boost your way to success.
The final 7th habit is about continues improvement of all the other 6.
7. Sharpen the Saw
Don’t ever believe you are done. Both me and Covey work daily with ourselves to improve on all of the other 6 habits and so should you. We have never learned everything and we are never perfect. We can always improve, which is of course the whole fun and gift of life. We can always become better.
What I learned
After reading the book I realized that I have come far in the first 3 habits but that the other 4 still need a lot of work.
Using this book as a partner I have worked on myself as a person to become better at understanding others, working together and creating the synergy that is required to succeed.
The one thing missing
The only thing I missed in the book was that all that is discussed is principals. Their is no action to be taken. For example their are about 20 pages about why you need a personal mission statement but nothing in the book about how to write one. He goes on for page after page about the importance of living by your principals but gives no example to what principals could be important and how to learn which ones we deep down believe in.
Luckily this isn’t the only book on the subject and by reading this book together with others you can gain a lot.
Something we all need to work on
You can never “master” the 7 habits, there is always room for improvement.
Just look at habit 5 “seeking to understand”, it is a sin most of us commit and I am equally guilty. All to often we draw a conclusion from our perspective and diagnose a solution, without properly listening to the others around us and getting the entire picture before acting.
If you sincerely want to improve yourself and fulfil your potential I recommend you Buy and Read this book today.