Stephen Covey’s wildly popular and ultimately compelling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, inspires us to be better, to better ourselves, and to simply “be awesome.” What could be better than that?
The book first introduces the concept of Paradigm Shift and prepares the reader for a change in mindset. It helps the reader understand that a different perspective exists, a viewpoint that may be different from his or her own, and asserts that two people can see the same thing and yet differ with each other. Once the reader is prepared for this, it introduces the seven habits in a proper order.
Aligning to our “true north,” our true purpose, and our inner awesomeness is what makes life so great. In reality, those of us that have learned to grasp all that life has to offer, are able to live out this fabulous life the way it was intended.
The idea of Independence ~
The First Three Habits surround moving from dependence to independence (i.e., self-mastery):
- Habit 1: Be Proactive
Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.
- Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life.
- Habit 3: Put First Things First
A manager must manage his own person. Personally. And managers should implement activities that aim to reach the second habit. Covey says that rule two is the mental creation; rule three is the physical creation.
Then we must focus, as effective FABULOUS leaders in life, on Interdependence:
The next three habits talk about Interdependence (e.g. working with others):
- Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had got his way.
- Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.
- Habit 6: Synergize
Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone.
Finally, we must strive to Continually Improve:
The final habit is that of continuous improvement in both the personal and interpersonal spheres of influence.
- Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes exercise for physical renewal, prayer (meditation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to society for spiritual renewal.
I find in my own life of fabulousness, I actually do incorporate all of these habits on a daily basis. I’m certainly not perfect, but I strive to be my best – to be highly effective, I suppose. My favorite of the seven habits is Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. All people really want in life is to BE UNDERSTOOD.
I also really like Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.
Let’s all improve, every day and every way.
And then there was Habit 8. Not many are familiar with this habit, nor are most folks even aware that Covey has proposed an 8th Habit.
From Effectiveness to Greatness – this 8th Habit, really is the best: “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”
Let’s all find that inner voice, encourage others to find theirs, and be great. Be fabulous.
And, as The Almighty may say, “Go forth and be awesome.”