The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Highly effective people achieve effectiveness by practicing a set of habits regularly. This book is a result of Stephen Covey’s research into the habits of effective people. If one wants to achieve effectiveness in all is efforts, then, one must make a conscious effort to develop these seven habits. This is a must read book for one seeking to develop personality and effectiveness.
The author starts the book by highlighting the importance of perception and paradigm in the first chapter. If one needs to get a bigger understanding of an idea, it is important to view it with a paradigm shift. He goes on to explain the power of paradigm shift with relatable examples. He then gives an overview of the seven habits by explaining the meaning of habit and effectiveness. The seven habits are categorised into principles of personal vision and principles of interpersonal leadership. The book explains each of the seven habits with relatable real life examples.
The first habit is to be proactive. The author explains that the first step to effectiveness is to increase their circle of influence using a positive approach. Most of us have the habit of reacting to circumstances that arise in our lives. We become negative by cribbing and complaining. The author suggests a proactive approach where one takes initiative to achieve maximum output out of the available minimum resources. The book suggests effective techniques which can help develop the habit of being proactive.
The second habit is to begin with the end in mind. What difference do you want to make in the people that matter to you, so that they remember to speak about it in your funeral? This is the end that you should keep in mind and focus all your efforts towards that end. All things are created twice, once in the mind and once in the real world. A life is either created by design or by default. If one approaches life with the end in mind, he gets to design his life. If he does not do so, then his efforts are decided by default. One can design his life himself, if he makes a personal mission statement and lives by it. It is important to identify one’s true circle of influence. This will act as the source of all our wisdom, power, guidance and security. Once this circle of influence is identified, the efforts get aligned, which leads to effectiveness.
Effective people put first things first. They understand the importance of time and prioritize their activities accordingly. Most of us fail to organise ourself, we focus on what is urgent rather than what is important. The book explains this concept using a four quadrant system. It also helps in prioritising efforts. This helps us do what is important (the bigger why) without getting lost in doing just what is urgent.
Life teaches us to compete for limited resources. However, if one has to be effective, he needs to think Win- Win. They follow the abundance mentality, where they look to benefit not just themselves but also the other party. The book explains the five dimensions of a Win- Win mentality as applied to character, relationships, agreements, supportive systems and processes.
Most often, we are so keen to communicate our idea that we forget to understand what the other person would like to say. One needs to seek first to understand and then to be understood. Effective people practise empathic communication, where the listening comes before the speaking. One needs to diagnose a problem carefully before prescribing a solution. The author gives a relatable experience he had with his son to explain this habit. He goes on to explain the importance of perception and understanding in conversation.
When two people come together to think of an idea, a third alternative evolves which is better than either two. The habit of synergy leads to an evolution where the whole is greater than the sum of parts. When people from different thoughts come together, a synergy is created by valuing the differences. The book explains this idea using examples from nature.
The last habit is to sharpen the saw. Quite often we are so busy sawing the tree that we don’t think that it is important to sharpen the saw. One needs to achieve fitness in all aspects to be effective in anything. He goes on to explain a lifestyle which enriches one’s physical, mental, spiritual and social well being. To actively accomplish effectiveness, he suggests looping around the upward spiral. This spiral is the cycle of learning, committing and doing.
There are only a few who achieve success to such a dimension that it all looks easy. This book shows what differentiates them from the rest. It outlines how one can achieve effectiveness by practising the seven habits. Personally, the second habit helped me strengthen my bigger why. I have found positive results in all my endeavours after practising these seven habits. Read this book if you would like to benefit from it like me !
Happy Reading !
25th June 2017