We all heard of Stephen Covey's 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' so many number of times! I always intended to read it but never got a chance till few months ago.
When we went to Silver Oaks school in Bachupally, the habits were written on a chart and displayed so that students and visitors can read them and try to adopt them as well. And, of course, I immediately read the book! It is indeed worth the read and actually worth putting the habits into practice.
The seven habits are divided into three categories.
1. Be Proactive
Now, does it take a lot of convincing to agree that being proactive is absolutely necessary for everyone - the first habit that one should adopt and follow. This is the principle of personal vision. This habit says, "You are the creator. You are in charge!"
2. Begin with the End in Mind.
Stephen Covey introduced this habit in a way that creates a great impact on us. At the end of your life, how do you want to be remembered ? Do you want to be remembered as a loving, caring, intelligent, one of those persons that friends and family always want to be with or the other way around ?
Start with what the end. Be it personal life or business. Start with a clear understanding of what your destination is. And make sure all the steps you take help reach that destination.
3. Put First Things First
Things which matter most
must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.
Effective management is putting first things first. While Leadership is deciding what matters most, it is management that puts them first, day by day and minute by minute. Time management is crucial to effective management. Organize and Execute around priorities.
Know what is important, prioritize and complete them proactively. Thus, habit 3 is dependent on you mastering habits 1 and 2.
Paradigms of Interdependence
Man is a social being. We need to depend on others, be it family, friends, colleagues or superiors. The next three habits are aimed at effectively managing interdependence.
4. Think Win/Win
Visualize any relationship that you have. If you lose continuously in that relation, how long will you continue in that relationship - happily at least. Will you not try to get away at the first chance you get. That is what Stephen stresses in this habit.
In every relationship, business contract or any dealing that you do, think of a win-win solution. You should win and your counterpart should also win. Otherwise, that relation or deal will not continue forever. Whoever tends to lose will walk out of the deal at one or the other point in life.
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Now, think of all the times when we have said, "If only they understood what I was saying". Very surely, your counterpart must have said the same feeling.
"Seek First to Understand" involves a deep shift in our communication skills. Most of us do not listen to understand but we listen with the intent to reply. If someone tells us something, we assume that they want us to say something. But, most often, people first want the listener to understand what they are telling you.
Also, to achieve habit 4 i.e to come up with a Win/Win situation, we need to understand the counterpart and also strive to make ourself understood. By first understanding what others are saying and feeling, we let them be in a open, non-defensive mood and it gets easy to make them understand our stance. Have any doubts ? Try once and you will see the results!
Principles of Creative Cooperation
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts! The essence of synergy is to value the differences - the mental, the emotional and the psychological differernces - to respect them, to build on strengths, to compensate for the weaknesses. Synergy is the essence of principle-centered leadership! It is the essence of principle-centered parenting!
In your businesses or personal lives, rather than argue and fight about the differences, see for ways in which you can take advantages of the strengths that different people can get to the table.
When trust and cooperation are on high levels, synergy happens and a win/win situation occurs with happy results for all.
7. Sharpen the Saw
There are four dimensions to our nature: the physical, the spiritual, the mental and the social/emotional. Organizations as well as individual effectiveness is completely dependent on the balanced renewal of all these aspects.
One should be physically fit to be able to achieve anything else in life. When we talk about spiritual, it is not necessary religion but it is about the principles that you believe in, and the time needed to remember and renew your soul. Sharpening the mental facilities involves reading, visualizing, planning and writing. Last but not the least is the social and emotional dimension. It involves service, empathy, synegy and intrinsic security.
I truly learned a lot by reading the book. I would ask each of you to take time to read the book and when possible, refer it to keep the principles in active mode.
Thanks Stephen for the effort you put in this book and for sharing it for the millions around you.