In 1989, a self-help author Stephen R. Covey, wrote and published a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It became a #1 and sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Habits are we repeatedly do, and they can either be good or bad. In the book, Covey describes seven habits of successful people. The author says that whatever your present situation is, you can replace old bad habits with new habits that bring out an effective, happy and successful life. He first delves into the idea of paradigms. Paradigms are how you perceive things around your life, or a though pattern of something. He says that if you want to change your life, you need to first change the way you look at things and focus on improving your personal attitude and behavior. The seven habits that are described in this book are based on natural laws and if you adopt them, they will bring the maximum long-tern beneficial results. So let's get to the seven habits.
Covey states that you need to take initiative in life. You need to be proactive and take full responsibility of your actions. The most important things that humans have is the ability to think and have the freedom to choose our own thoughts. You have the ability to control your moods, feelings and thoughts and by doing this you change your circumstances and conditions. So start taking action in your life rather than sitting on your couch. To maximize productivity, the author suggest to focus on things you can control rather than spending your tie on focusing on events that you can not control.
Begin With The End in Mind
In this section, the author tells you to focus on what your end life goals or end mission is and how you imagine yourself to be. Envision the ideal characteristics and work towards those goals by forming a plan.
Put First Thing First
You need to prioritize with what the most important task is based on your end goals that you set from the second habit. This is the most powerful and effective habit as it is the physical aspect of the mental creations from beginning with the end in mind. All the things you do daily can be divided into two categories: either something is urgent and important or not urgent and not important. The difference between urgent and important is that if something is urgent, the task needs your immediate attention and needs to be done right away. Importance refers to something that contributes to your long term goals. So you need to decide whether something is urgent and important, important but not urgent, not important but urgent and not important and not urgent.
This habit teaches you to work with others to seek mutual benefits. This habit encourages you to see other people as being cooperative rather than your competitors. You should understand that one person's success should not be achieved at the expense of the success of others. Normally people are ingrained with the idea that if one person wins the other loses. To become more effective, you should work with other people to leverage the abilities and strengths of other people.
Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Covey says the communication is the most important skill in life. There are four basic types of communication – reading, writing, speaking and listening. Listening is the most important factor in good communication. Empathic listening is important to be genuinely influenced by a person. When you listen to what the other person is saying, it allows them to reciprocate and listen to what you say. This creates a positive problem solving environment.
Synergy is defined as the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect that is greater than if only one element was used. So for example, if you plant two plants together, they will grow better than if they were grown separately. As a habit, you must combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork to achieve the goals that one person alone cannot achieve. Synergy is making improvements and creating something new with the cooperation with others. This habit works hand in hand with thinking win-win.
Sharpen the Saw
This final habit that Covey describes is that of continuous improvement of your skills. He says that your personal productivity will decrease without proper care. You need to invest some time and money on yourself to improve your skills. He says that you need to work on 4 areas of your life – physical such as health and exercise, spiritual such as meditation and religion, mental such as formal education and reading to gain knowledge, and social/emotional such as communication, leadership and cooperation.
This article just states a summary of the book, but the full version is very comprehensive and extremely beneficial to read. It has solid advice that you can take to improve your life. So be proactive and pick up this book to read!