If you are searching for some powerful lessons to make some personal changes in your life, read StudyStream’s summary of the successful book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Live a happy, productive, and purposeful existence with these seven habits that will change the way you live, work, and study.
A multiple bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has three distinctive parts, the private victory, the public victory, and the renewal. The first three parts are your independence, this winning is done in private. The second three aim to shift your focus to your interdependence, which is when you win in public and find the success you are searching for. The final habit is about your own renewal, this is so that you will never burn out and continue to win.
The first habit is about achieving independence and taking ownership of your victory, the main goal is to be the architect of your life. Covey says, “There is a gap between stimulus and response and the key to both our growth and happiness is how we use that space.” You can influence your world, take charge and responsibility for your life, and don’t waste time reacting to external circumstances or things beyond your control.
Begin with the end in mind
Have a strong vision of what you want your life to look like. Don’t spend your life aimlessly reaching for random goals. Everything you do should align with your end goal in life. Covey says, “If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.”
Unlike the first habit, which is telling us that we are the creators of our lives, this second habit is telling us what to build with that ownership and why. We all fall into the trap of busyness, and we don’t ask ourselves why we are chasing after the goals we achieve. For example, we recognize our victories as success, such as getting a promotion at work, gaining a degree, or buying a car we have always wanted. But we don’t always know the reasons that led us to that place. This habit suggests that we should always start with a clear destination, and we need to be sure of the steps we are going to take, to see that we are going in the right direction toward the life we want.
Put first things first
The best way to reach success is to manage yourself effectively on a day-to-day basis. Prioritize the work and focus on the important things that bring you closer to your future vision. Don’t get distracted by tasks that waste your time. This habit is about executing what you need to do to stay on track. Find the willpower to categorize your tasks as important and unimportant and prioritize those that serve your future goal.
Covey suggests in this chapter that the win-win is not a technique, it’s a philosophy of human interaction. So, to have a win-win mindset, you need to have the habit of interpersonal leadership, have self-awareness and the independent will to use these traits successfully when interacting with others. Covey believes that you must embrace the five independent dimensions: character, relationships, agreements, supportive systems, and processes.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood
The next habit is to seek first to understand before you can be understood. This means we should listen to another person when trying to find a solution to every problem. If we want to interact with other people and advise and understand them, we must learn the skill of empathetic listening. Covey says “you’ve spent years of your life learning how to read and write, years learning how to speak. But what about listening?” He goes on to say “you have to build the skills of empathic listening on a base of character that inspires openness and trust.
Once you feel able to understand others, you are ready to start understanding yourself and this requires courage. Learn from your empathetic listening and communicate your ideas per your listener’s paradigms and concerns. This increases the credibility of your ideas because you will be on the same page as your audience.
Covey says “once people have experienced real synergy, they are never quite the same again.” So what does he mean by this? Synergy is when something is operating to its fullest. This habit is adopting the principle that in a group, you will exceed more than as an individual. You will achieve goals you could have never reached on your own. Synergy allows us to open up to new possibilities. Covey says “without doubt, you have to leave the comfort zone of base camp and confront an entirely new and unknown wilderness.”
Sharpen the saw
This habit is how we must devote our time to renewing ourselves on multiple levels: physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. The final habit for being a highly effective person is to sharpen the saw, it surrounds all the other habits discussed and balances everything out to achieve every possibility. There are four dimensions of our nature that need to be met. The physical dimension, exercising regularly, eating well, and getting plenty of rest. The spiritual dimension of practicing daily meditation and communicating with nature. The mental dimension, keeping a journal of your thoughts, taking time away from technology, and reading books. The social and emotional dimensions of developing meaningful relationships and making contributions to society.
To read more about how to become a highly effective person read Seven Habits of a Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.