7 Habits of Highly Effective people17 min read
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 Habits that Successful People follow penned down by one of the world’s renowned authors, Stephen R. Covey, is a self-improvement novel. It is built on Covey’s conviction that the way we see the world is solely dependent on our own experiences. To change the current situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to improve ourselves, we must be able to alter our expectations.
What habits do highly successful people follow?
The book states an explanation of how even people who have attained a high degree of outward success frequently find themselves dealing with an inner desire to strengthen their personal efficacy and develop healthy relationships with others.
Covey says that our way of seeing the world is based solely on our own experiences. We have to adapt ourselves to adapt to a given situation and to improve ourselves we have to be able to change our expectations.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
- Be Proactive.
- Begin with the End in Mind.
- Put First Things First.
- Think Win-Win.
- Attempt to Understand First and then Be Understood.
- Sharpen the Saw.
It’s a well-written quote by Covey, that “The problem is the way we look at it.” We must allow ourselves to experience paradigm changes to radically modify ourselves and not only alter our surface-level attitudes and behaviours in order to bring about meaningful change.
This is where the seven essential people’s habits come in.
Habits 1, 2, and 3 focus on self-mastery and move from being dependent to being independent.
Habits 4, 5, and 6 concentrates on improving the skills of teamwork, cooperation, and communication, and progressing from freedom to interdependence;
Habit 7 focuses on constant development and improvement, embodying all other behaviours.
We are in the lead. We are choosing the scripts to live our lives by. Using this knowledge of yourself to be positive and take responsibility for your decisions.
Covey’s first practice is one of being cautious. What differentiates us from animals is our inherent ability to examine our own character, decide how to look at ourselves as well as our situations, and control our own efficacy.
Simply put, one has to be proactive to be successful.
Reactive people do take a passive stance and assume that the whole world is happening to them. They say things such as “There’s nothing I can do” or “That’s just the way I am.”
They think “out there” is the problem, but that thought itself is the problem. Reactivity becomes a prophecy that fulfils itself, and reactive people feel increasingly victimised and out of control.
Nevertheless, positive people understand that they have responsibility or “response-ability,” which is characterised by Covey as our capability of choosing how to react to a given stimulus or circumstance.
To be constructive, we need to reflect on the Sphere of Influence that exists beyond our Circle of Concern, which means that we need to concentrate on the issues we can do something about.
The constructive energy we’re exerting will broaden our Circle of Influence.
On the other hand, reactive people focus on things present in their concerned Circle but not in their influential Circle of Influence, which eventually leads to the blaming of external factors, the emanation of negative energy, and the reduction of their Circle of Influence.
To test the theory of proactivity, challenge yourself by doing the following:
Continue substituting constructive language for reactive language.
- Reactive people say, “He’s just making me so crazy.”
- Proactive people say, “I’ll control my feelings.”
Transform the reactive to the positive.
Begin with the End in Mind:
Start with a specific target in mind. Covey says we should use our imagination to create a vision of what we want to become and make use of our consciousness to decide what values will drive us.
Some of us find it very convenient to get distracted. We work hard to win promotions, higher wages, as well as more recognition. But sometimes we don’t avoid analysing the significance behind this busyness, behind these successes, as we don’t ask ourselves if these issues, we focus on so intently are what really matters to us or not.
Habit 2 says we should continue with the end in mind in everything we do. Start with a clearly specified destination. We can, therefore, ensure that the steps we take are going in the right direction.
Covey underlines that our self-awareness empowers us to create our own lives, rather than living our lives by default or relying on other people’s expectations or desires.
It’s also incredibly necessary for businesses to begin with the end in mind. Being a manager is about performance optimisation with efficiency. Yet becoming a leader is the first and foremost thing about having the best strategic direction for the organisation, and asking ourselves, “What are we trying to achieve?”
We need to be able to define our beliefs before we, as individuals or organisations, can start setting as well as achieving our goals. This method can require some re-scripting work so that our own personal values can be asserted.
Identifying our center is important too. Whatever is at the heart of our life is going to be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
Our centres profoundly influence us as they decide our daily choices, motivations, actions, and our understanding of events.
Covey states, however, that none of these centres are ideal, and that instead, we should aim to be based on ideals. We will recognise the universal, unchanging values we will live our lives by. It will provide us with the support that we need to match our attitudes with our beliefs and values.
- Challenge yourself by doing the following to test the concept of beginning with the end in mind:
- Visualise your own funeral in rich detail. Who’s on it? What does it say about you? Why did you survive a lifetime? What do you have to say to those with whom you’ve had relationships? Think of how your goals would change if you had only another 30 days to live. Continue living according to those values.
- Break down different roles in your life whether you’re a professional, a personal or a community, and list three to five goals for each of you.
- Does public speaking scare you? Or critical feedback for the book you’ve written? For your biggest fear, write down the worst-case scenario and then imagine how you’ll tackle this situation. Write down exactly how you’re going to tackle this.
Put First Things First:
To handle ourselves efficiently, first, we have to prioritise things. We have to have the ability to prioritise our daily routine based on what’s most important, not what’s more urgent.
We addressed the importance of defining our principles in Habit 2 and recognising what we set out to accomplish. Habit 3 is about actually pursuing these goals, and executing on a daily and moment-to-moment basis concerning our priorities.
To keep the discipline and concentrate on staying on track with our goals, we must have the willpower to do it even when we don’t want to. At any given moment, we have to behave according to our beliefs rather than our desires or impulses.
All the activities can be classified on the basis of two factors: Urgency and Importance. Have a close look at this time management matrix given below:
We always respond to urgent matters. We waste our time doing things which don’t matter. That means we are neglecting Quadrant II, which is the most crucial of them all, in fact.
If we focus on the activities of Quadrant I and spend our time managing crises and problems, it will continue to grow until it consumes us. It will lead us to have more stress and burnout.
If we concentrate on the activities of Quadrant III, we spend much of our time responding to issues that seem urgent, but the fact of the matter is that their perceived urgency is completely based on other people’s interests and expectations. It leads to having short-term concentration, sometimes feel like being out of control, and sometimes it may feel that relationships are broken or shallow.
When we focus on Quadrant IV, we’re leading an irresponsible life basically. This will often lead us to be fired from a job and depending heavily on others.
Quadrant II is an epicentre of effective personal management that deals with stuff like building relationships, exercising, long-term planning, training all the stuff that we know we need to do, but somehow never be able to do it because they don’t feel urgent.
To concentrate our time in Quadrant II, we must learn how to say “No” to the activities from other quadrants, as they sometimes might seem urgent.
We should always concentrate primarily on relationships and outcomes, and our secondary focus should be on time.
Here are some essential ways that will help you learn and practice prioritizing things:
- Mark the operation you ignored on Quadrant II. Write it down, and stick to it.
- Build your own time management framework to begin setting goals.
- Estimate the amount of time you spend at each quadrant. Then keep a track record of 3 days of your time. And ask yourself, Why was your prediction so accurate? What amount of time you’ve spent in Quadrant II?
For successful interdependent relationships to be formed, we must commit to creating Win-Win circumstances that are mutually beneficial and satisfying for each group.
Covey explains that human interaction exists in six paradigms:
- Win-Win: Win in both cases. Agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial to both parties and satisfy them.
- Win-Lose: “If I win, you lose.” Win-Lose people are prone to make use of their role, influence, credibility, and personality to get their way.
- Lose-Win: “I lose, you’re winning.” People who lose-win are eager to satisfy, appease, and derive support from popularity and acceptance.
- Lose-Lose: They all lose. When two Win-Lose individuals come together, that is, when two focused, ego-invested, and stubborn individuals communicate, the outcome would definitely be a Lose-Lose.
- Win: Win-minded people don’t actually want anyone else to lose. This is meaningless. What’s important is that they get what they want.
- Win-Win or No Deal: If you couldn’t agree on a mutually beneficial basis, then there is no deal.
Creating Win-Win conditions is always the best alternative. With Win-Lose, or Lose-Win, one person seems to be getting what he wants for the moment, but the outcomes will truly have a negative effect on the relationship between these two people.
It is critical that you use the Win-Win or No Deal option as a backup. When we have a No Deal in our minds as an option, it frees us from the need to exploit people and pursue our own agenda. We can be open and truly try to understand the underlying questions.
To get Win-Win, focus on results, and not on the methods or issues or not even people.
Finally, the Win-Win spirit can’t live in a competitive world. We need to sort our system according to our goals and our values as an organisation and must have a valuable network in place to support Win-Win.
Get along with these challenges to continue thinking Win-Win:
- Think of an upcoming interaction where you’ll try to come to an agreement or solution. You must write down a small list of what the other person actually wants. Next, write a list of how to make an offer to satisfy those needs.
- Identify three important connections in your life. In each of those partnerships, think about something that you feel like a balanced moment.
- Note your own propensity to communicate profoundly. Is it a Win-Lose? If yes, then how does it affect your relationship with others? Could you find the root of that approach? Determine whether this strategy suits you well in your relationships or not.
Attempt to Understand First and then Be Understood:
Before we can give guidance, recommendations, ideas, or communicate effectively with someone else in some way, we need to try to understand them and their experience in depth through empathic listening.
Let’s say you’re going to an optometrist and tell him you’ve had trouble seeing clearly, and he’s taking off his glasses, handing them over to you and saying, “Try these here they’ve been working for me for years!” You’re putting them on, but they’re only making the problem worse. What changes will you have to go back to the optometrist?
Unfortunately, in our daily experiences with other people, we do the same. Before we diagnose the question, we prescribe a solution. We’re not trying to understand the problem in depth-first.
Habit 5 says we have to seek understanding first, then be understood. We have to learn to listen in order to try and understand.
We can’t just use one strategy to make others understand. In reality, if a person thinks we’re exploiting them, they will doubt our motives and will not feel free to open up to us anymore.
When we listen to a story in other words, with our own viewpoint as our reference framework, we tend to respond in one of the following four ways:
- Evaluate: Agree or disagree with what’s being said.
- Probe: Ask questions from our own metrics.
- Advice: Provide advice based on our own experience.
- Interpret: Try to determine the motives and behaviour of an individual based on our own motives and behaviour.
But if we substitute empathic listening for these types of responses, we will see some drastic results and an improved level of communication. It does take time to make this shift, but practicing empathic listening doesn’t take nearly as long as it does to back up and correct the misunderstandings, or living with an unexpressed as well as unresolved problems only to have them surface later on.
Habit 5’s second component is “… then to be understood,” which is similarly as crucial as achieving the Win-Win solutions.
Below mentioned are few ways to develop the habit of seeking understanding at first:
- Witness two people talking each time, cover your ears, and listen. What emotions are being communicated, which may not come across by words alone? Was anybody more interested in the conversation? Write down what you have learned.
- Next time you’re striking a conversation, make sure you root it empathically. Start by explaining in great detail the perspective of the audience. What are their problems? What do you think about providing a solution to their problems?
Through recognising and valuing the similarities in the viewpoint of another person, we have the ability to build synergy, that helps us to explore new possibilities through transparency and creativeness.
The combination of all the other habits prepares us for Habit 6, which is the synergy habit or “When one plus one is equal to or greater than three and the whole is greater than the sum of its pieces.”
If you sow seeds of two plants close together, for instance, their roots will co-mingle and increase the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow faster than they would individually.
Synergy lets us build innovative alternatives and open up new opportunities. As a community, it helps us to collectively decide to pull out the old scripts and write new ones.
Are you thinking of how we can put synergy into a given situation or environment? Start with the 4th and 5th habit; you have to think of Win-Win and try to understand first.
You can merge your interests with those of the other person or an individual, once you have these in mind. Hence, you won’t find yourself on the opposite side of the issue, you both will be on one side together, looking at the dilemma, and knowing all the needs of trying to create a solution that will satisfy them and solve the issue.
All we end up with is not a transaction but a transition. Both the individuals will get what they want, and, in the end, they’ll develop their relationship as a part of the progress.
Inputting forth a spirit of trust and security, we will inspire each other to become extremely transparent and draw on each other’s thoughts and ideas while building synergy.
The true meaning of synergy is to appreciate the differences between people, including all the intellectual, psychological as well as emotional differences.
The other opinion becomes pointless when two people have the same point of view. We should say, “Okay! You see things differently! Help me see what you see”, especially when we are aware of someone’s particular viewpoint.
First, we try to learn, and then in those various insights, we find strength and value to build new possibilities and Win-Win outcomes.
- Make a list of those who get you annoyed. Now only pick one guy. Talk to them and think about how diverse are their views? Put yourself up for a minute in their shoes. Think about their situation and react as they would have reacted. Will that allow you to understand them in a better way?
- Now when you’re in disagreement with that person next time, try to consider their thoughts and why they disagree. The more you can understand them, the sooner you can change your mind, or you can change yours.
- Make a list of people you’re good at getting along with. Now only pick one guy. Talk to them and think about how diverse are their views? Now pen down a situation where the coordination and cohesion between you both were fantastic. Think why and what conditions were met between you both to reach such fluidity in your interactions? Also, think about how can you recreate those conditions again?
Sharpen the Saw:
To be successful, we must dedicate our time to evolve ourselves emotionally, physically, socially, and mentally. Maintaining this thought and implementing it in our lives will certainly help us to increase our ability to practice every habit mentioned above in a synergistic way.
Habit 7 completely focuses on regeneration or taking our own time to “sharpen the saw.”
Our existence has four dimensions, and each must be practiced consistently and in a balanced way:
- Physical Dimension: Continuous physical improvement aims at exercising our body in a way that will enhance our ability to work, adapt, and enjoy.
To renew or evolve ourselves physically, we must do the following:
- Eat well.
- Take adequate rest.
- Exercise daily to build flexibility, endurance, and strength.
Focusing on the physical aspect helps to establish Habit 1 that enhances muscles of proactivity. Instead of responding to the forces that hold us out of health, we must behave, keeping the importance of wellbeing in our minds always.
- Spiritual Dimension: The purpose of renewing our spiritual self is to give leadership to our lives and to strengthen our commitment to ourselves and our value system.
To renew or evolve spiritually, we can do the following:
- Daily Meditation.
- Communicate with Nature.
- Immerse yourself in some great music or literature.
Focusing on our spiritual dimension helps us practice Habit 2, as we are constantly revising and committing ourselves to our values, so that beginning with the end in mind becomes a routine thought.
- Mental Dimension: The primary goal of evolving and renewing our mental health keeps our minds and thoughts expanding continuously.
To renew or evolve mentally, we must do the following:
- Read some amazing literature.
- Maintain a journal of your experiences, thoughts, as well as insights.
- Watch programs on TV that will enrich your mind and life with positivity.
Focusing on our mental aspect helps us practice Habit 3 by actively controlling ourselves to optimise the use of our time and energy.
- Social or Emotional Dimension: The goal of evolving ourselves socially is to develop strong, long-lasting, and meaningful relationships.
To renew or evolve emotionally, we can do the following:
- Always try to understand other people deeply.
- Always strive to make meaningful contributions to the project that will improve other’s lives.
- Always maintain an abundance mentality and help others achieve success.
Renewing our social and emotional aspect allows us to practice Habits 4, 5, and 6 by understanding that there are Win-Win approaches, trying to understand others, and discovering mutually advantageous third alternatives via collaboration.
- Make a list of things that will help you refresh yourself in each of the four dimensions. For each dimension, pick one task, and list it as a target for the coming week. Evaluate your performance at the weekend.
- Engage in writing down a specific “sharpening of the saw” activity in all four dimensions every week. Also, on the basis of what you did in the last few weeks, it’ll be easier for you to evaluate your performance as well as results.