In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity -- principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.
As the title of the book implies, Covey describes the seven habits of highly effective people and techniques for adopting the seven habits. Covey makes clear that an individual must make a paradigm shift before incorporating these habits into his/her own personal life. A paradigm is essentially the way an individual perceives something. Covey emphasizes that if we want to make a change in our lives, we should probably first focus on our personal attitudes and behaviors. He applies different examples via family, business, and society in general.
This book's focal point is on an approach to obtain personal and interpersonal effectiveness. Covey points out that private victories precede public victories. He makes the example that making and keeping promises to ourselves comes before making and keeping promises to others.
Habits 1, 2, and 3 deal with self-mastery. They move an individual from dependency on others to independence. Habits 4, 5, and 6 deal with teamwork, cooperation, and communication. These habits deal with transforming a person from dependency to independence to interdependence. Interdependence simply means mutual dependence. Habit 7 embodies all of the other habits to help an individual work toward continuous improvement.
Habit 1 discusses the importance of being proactive. Covey states that we are responsible for our own lives; therefore, we possess the initiative to make things happen. He also points out that proactive people so not blame various circumstances for their behaviors but they realize behavior comes from one's conscious. Covey also explains that the other type of person is reactive. Reactive people are affected by their social as well as physical surroundings. This means that if the weather is bad, then it affects their behavior such as their attitude and performance.
He also explains that all problems that are experienced by individuals fall into one of three categories, which are direct control, indirect control, or no control. The problems that are classified under direct control are the problems that involve our own behavior. The problems classified as indirect control encompasses problems that we can do nothing about. The problems classified as no control are those that we can do nothing about.
Habit 2 focuses on beginning with the end in mind. Covey wants the reader to envision his/her funeral. This may sound disheartening but his goal is to help you think about the words that you wish to be said about you; it can help the individual visualize what you value the most. To begin with the end simply means to start with your destination in mind. That gives an individual a sense of where he/she presently is in their life. One has to know where they are going to make sure that they are headed in the right direction. Covey also mentions that the most effective way to begin with the end is by developing a personal mission statement. After doing that, you should identify your center of attention. Are you spouse centered, money centered, family centered, etc. The he tells you depending on you core of interest, your foundation for security, guidance, and power.
Habit 3 is the practical fulfillment of Habits 1 and 2. Covey accentuates that Habits 1 and 2 are prerequisite to Habit 3. He states that an individual cannot become principle centered developing their own proactive nature; or without being aware of your paradigms; or the capability of envisioning the contribution that is yours to make. One must have an independent will. This is the ability to make decisions and to act in accordance with them.
Habit 4 deals with the six paradigms of interaction, which are win/win, win/lose, lose/win, lose/lose, win, and win/win or no deal. Win/win is a situation in which everyone benefits something. It is not your way or my way; it is a better way. Win/lose declares that if I win then you lose. Simply put, I get my way; you don't get yours. Win/lose people usually use position, power, possessions, or personality to get their way. The win/lose type of person is the person that feels that if I lose; you win. People who feel this way are usually easy to please and find the strength of others intimidating. When two win/lose people get together both will lose resulting in a lose/lose situation. Both will try to get the upper end of the stick but in the end, neither gets anything. The person that simply thinks to win secures their own ends and leaves it up to others to secure theirs. The win/win or no deal person means that if there is not a suitable solution met that satisfies both parties then there is no agreement.
Habit 5 deals with seeking means of effective communication. This habit deals with seeking first to understand. However, we usually seek first to be understood. Most people to not listen with the intent to understand but with the intent to reply. The act of listening to understand is referred to as empathic listening. That means you try to get into the person's frame of mind and think as they are thinking.
Habit 6 discuses combining all of the other habits to prepare us for the habit of synergy. Synergy means that the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Possessing all of the habits will benefit an individual more than possessing one or two of them. Synergism in communication allows you to open your mind to new possibilities or new options.
Habit 7 involves surrounds the other habits because it is the habit that makes all of the others possible. It is amplifying the greatest asset you have which is yourself. It is renewing your physical, emotional, mental, and social nature. The physical scope involves caring for yourself effectively. Spiritual renewal will take more time. Our mental development comes through formal education. Quality literature in our field of study as well as other fields help to broaden our paradigms. Renewing the social dimension is not as time consuming as the others. We can start by our everyday interactions with people.
Moving along the upward spiral requires us to continuously learn, commit, and do on higher planes. This is essential to keep progressing. At the end of each habit, there are application suggestions or exercises that help you become a more effective person. This is definitely not a quick fix it book. The concepts should be studied in order to be fully achieved. I think if you learn to use these 7 habits, it will change your life.
This is a must-have book.
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