The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, written by Stephen Covey, was published in 1989. Covey’s best-known book has sold over 25 million copies and inspired everyone from management to independent thinkers to entrepreneurs.
The overarching theme of the book is that real change starts within oneself, and that in order to move forward we must take care of ourselves, and continue to learn, improve and grow.
So, what exactly are the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?
Habit 1- Be Proactive: What Covey means is “exercising your power of choice between the stimulus you receive from the world and your response”. In short, we are in control of your reaction to circumstances. Focus on things that are in our control, and we’ll be capable of improving abilities and skills, which in turn will expand our area of control.
Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind: Covey says, “If you are not clear about the mental creation of where you want to be you are at mercy of randomness and circumstances.” To avoid the randomness, we need to have a clear vision of where we want to be when the goal has been achieved, and then create a roadmap that aligns with our principles to achieve that goal.
Habit 3 – Put First Things First: There are always going to be multiple tasks appearing at once. Covey introduced the time quadrant, which shows us how we can segment the tasks and focus on the most important (and generally most stressful) tasks first:
Habit 4 – Think Win/Win: To achieve a winning attitude, we must first acquire three essential character traits:
- Integrity (know who you are and what you value, and remaining firm in those beliefs)
- Maturity (the ability to express your beliefs with a balance of courage and consideration)
- Abundance mentality (believing there is plenty for everyone)
Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: Covey says communication is the most important of the life skills. And while we may master the art of communication, we often fail to listen. According to Covey, there are four levels of listening:
- Pretending to listen
- Attentive listening
- Empathic listening
The goal is to achieve all steps, but too often we stop at #2. To become an attentive listener, we should take these steps:
- Evaluating: judge and then agree or disagree
- Probing: ask question from own frame of reference
- Advising: advising based on own frame of reference
- Interpreting: interpreting his action and feelings based on own frame of reference
Once we fully engage in attentive listening, empathic is to be sure the person talking understands we have heard and understand. This doesn’t mean agreeing, it means considering their thoughts and relaying that we hear and understand their point of view.
Habit 6- Synergize: Covey explains synergy as “better than my way or your way. It’s our way.” To synergize we are employing creative cooperation, with the understanding that through teamwork we can find new solutions to old problems.
Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw: In order to see a change in habits, this last one involves taking care of oneself. We must keep a balance of these four key dimensions:
Covey added one more habit, in his 2004 follow-up book, The 8th Habit, From Effectiveness to Greatness. In this addendum he reinforces the ideology that “interdependence is a higher value than independence”. We can set ourselves and others for success by cultivating the habit of “finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs.”
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