If you haven’t read Stephen Covey’s national best-selling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, hop on over to Amazon and order it right now…then come back! In the book, Covey shares 7 interpersonal principles that can and should be adopted to become a happier and more successful person.
He explores each of the habits to how you can change from the inside out. It’s a great book for anyone looking to lead a more purpose-filled life. I’m going to give you a high-level walkthrough of the 7 habits of highly effective people, but I strongly encourage you read the book to really feel its power!
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
#1 Be proactive
The first habit shared by Covey is, “be proactive.” This means not just taking initiative, but taking full ownership and responsibility for your own life. Don’t blame outside individuals, influences, or circumstances for things that happen to you. Make a conscious effort to take responsibility for the things that happen to you, good and bad.
Covey dives deep into the proactive versus reactive life. Reactive people only focus on things they can’t control, where proactive people focus on what they can control. Sticking to goals and commitments is one of the best ways to focus on what you can control and live a proactive (not reactive) lifestyle.
#2 Begin with the end in mind
Covey’s second habit requires people to think about what kind of life they want to be remembered for, then moving in that direction each day. This requires you to do things and take action in line with that end result. Knowing what’s important to you means you can live your life doing what matters most.
Covey states that the most effective way to begin with the end in mind is to create a personal mission statement. Your personal mission statement should focus on the following:
- What you want to be (character)
- What you want to do (contributions and achievements)
- The values upon which both of these things are based
I created my own personal mission statement while reading this book. I even made it into a pretty PDF format, so I can always refer back to it! I don’t review it as often as I’d like, but I do my best to live my life in service to my personal mission statement.
#3 Put first things first
Habit three focuses on the importance of managing one’s self by sheer, independent will. This means that an effective person knows what needs to get done and begins with the end in mind—and then they get those things done before anything else. Highly effective people put first things first…and the right things come first.
This habit dives deep into specific actions a person must perform on a regular basis. These actions have particular criteria (for example, actions must be principle-centered and give balance to your life). The way the actions are aligned maximizes results and relationships, not just time.
#4 Think win/win
Covey stresses that win/win isn’t a technique, it’s a philosophy of human interaction. It’s a frame of mind that seeks out a mutual benefit for all parties involved. This means that all agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, and everyone involved feels satisfied with the outcome.
To become effective with win/win, Covey describes five “independent dimensions” that must be embraced. These dimensions include:
- Win/win performance agreements and supportive systems, and
Covey explores these dimensions in detail for true understanding.
#5 Seek to understand first, before making yourself understood
Habit five refers to the importance of clear communication in becoming a highly effective person. Covey stresses the value of listening, as opposed to speaking and hearing, and urges people to make it a point to understand before trying to be understood.
It takes patience and empathy to truly understand someone, and it takes courage to speak up in order to be understood. An effective person seeks to master both ends of the spectrum.
#6 Learn to synergize
When synergy is operating at its fullest, it incorporates the desire to reach win/win agreements with clear, empathetic communication. Covey believes synergizing is a habit of true leaders that unleashes great power.
Ultimately, synergy is a creative process that requires a person to be open, vulnerable, and able to communicate clearly. It means balancing the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between a group of people and, in doing so, influencing a new chain of thinking for all involved.
#7 Sharpen the saw
The final habit involves enhancing yourself through the four “dimensions of renewal.” These dimensions include: physical, social/emotional, spiritual, and mental. Again, Covey goes into each dimension in detail but stresses that each area needs to be a focus for true effectiveness.
To “sharpen the saw” means to work on all four dimensions on a consistent basis. This is the most important investment you can make in your life, as you are the instrument of your performance. It’s essential to focus on each area with balance. Covey believes if you focus too much on one area, you inevitably neglect another.
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Related: 7 Things Successful People Do that Most People Don’t
If my walkthrough of the 7 habits of highly effective people leaves you feeling empowered, then make sure you pick up Stephen Covey’s book! There are so many great tools and examples in the book that will ensure you have everything you need to become a highly effective person.
Have you read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
The CGS Team