I have to admit. Reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People took me a lot longer than I expected. Somewhere between the beginning and the end I took a pause to venture into another book, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think The 7 Habits was a book worth finishing.
While reading The 7 Habits, it reminded me a lot of a book I previously read, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Although it’s not exactly the same, the basic idea of sharing principles and concepts to become a better person for yourself and those around you are the same. The 7 Habits, as you might have already guessed, revolves around 7 different habits. All unique and different from one another, but somehow they are all linked and related, one habit following another until it forms a sort of never-ending cycle.
The 7 Habits is written by Stephen R. Covey and has been impacting people for over 2 decades. The topics covered in the book are those that can be applied to anyone’s life, regardless of your field of work, social status, race or gender. It’s quite a lengthy book and covers a ton of information but I’ll do my best at reviewing and summarizing the contents of the book below.
The 7 habits consist of: being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking win/win, seeking first to understand, synergizing and sharpening the saw. To begin, a habit is defined in the book as “the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire”. Knowledge is the “what to do”, skill is the “how to do”, and desire is the “want to do”. In order to pick up new habits, you need work in all of these areas to create a consistent habit. Although we may unconsciously do some of the following habits without thinking twice about it, each habit can always use a little more work by implementing knowledge, skill and desire to make it consistent.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Being proactive doesn’t only mean to take into consideration things that need to be done in the future, and getting to work as soon as possible but to have a proactive approach in every situation in life. When we change our inner dialogue, we begin to have a different response to outside factors and start effecting those around us. One way to change our circle of concern to a circle of influence is by replacing, “if only I had” to “I can be”. Proactivity means we are all responsible for our own lives, so we might as well make the most of it in every situation.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
We can begin with the end in mind in many different ways. Either by writing a personal mission statement, creating affirmations, and visualizing certain situations. First, we have to think about what our ideal “end goal” may look like. This can be done by identifying the different areas in life that need improvement and set out a plan on how to work on these. “Without involvement, there is no commitment.” In other words, write out a plan to get to your end to make it easier to visually see where you want to end up and the steps it takes to get there.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
It’s crucial and vitally important to organize and execute around priorities. How often have you not finished that important task because you kept putting it off for other, not-as-important tasks? I am guilty of this. Spending hours on end checking email and not finishing said task that was due a week ago. “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
I, personally, am a huge believer of collaboration over competition. Which is why I created Rome Bloggers back in October of 2016. I think life should be seen as “a cooperative, not a competitive arena.” Why not find ways in which we all can benefit from something, instead of always seeing life as a competition where we are all striving to be better than the next person?
There are also other factors that help make a win/win situation successful, such as character, relationships, and agreements.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood
Most of us are probably guilty of quickly jumping to conclusions when facing a problem, assuming we know everything behind it, but “we often fail to take the time to diagnose, to really, deeply understand the problem first.” In order to have effective interpersonal communication, one must seek first to understand. In other words, diagnose the problem ahead of you instead of jumping to quick conclusions. Aside from physical survival, “the greatest need of a human being is to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.”
Habit 6: Synergize
Communicating synergistically allows you be more open-minded to take in new ideas and possibilities. The chart below shows the connection between trust and cooperation. When you reach the ultimate level of trust, your cooperation is at a win/win level and you synergize with the other party. Being able to see and value the differences in everyone is the essence of synergy. “The key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw-Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal
Habit 7 is the one that brings together and makes all the other habits possible. Habit 7 is renewing yourself to ensure that you are physically, socially, spiritually, and mentally prepared to practice the other 6 habits. By sharpening the saw, we must balance these 4 categories to look after our own well-being. “This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life – investment in ourselves.”
This book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, was published in 1989. I think most of us can agree on the fact that after 29 years, the same principles that were being taught during this time haven’t changed much over the course of almost 3 decades. The 7 habits are those which can never reach full perfection. We just have to keep practicing at it time and time again. I know having this book handy will be necessary as a quarterly refresher on habits I need to re-evaluate over and over again. Overall, as you can see, I agree that the lessons in the book can lead to personal change and development that is necessary for all and therefore, would recommend this book for everyone.
Have you read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? What did you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on it below.
All my love,