It’s not often I re-read a book. In fact the only book I have re-read is Roald Dalh’s Danny The Champion of the World. But I have just finished re-reading Stephen Covey’s masterful The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The worst thing about this book is the title. It sounds like just another quick-fix, get-everything-you-want-in-5-minutes fantasy. But it isn’t.
So here are the habits, in a nutshell –
No 1 Be Proactive.
We are in charge of ourselves. We are responsible – response-able. We can choose how to react to external stimuli, rather than being Pavlov’s dog – salivating at the light.
Covey says that keeping to your commitments – to yourself and others – is the clearest manifestation of our proactivity. If we commit to do something – do it. If we don’t want to commit to it – don’t commit to it. Integrity to our commitments is the clearest manifestation of our proactivity.
No 2 Begin With The End In Mind
All things are created twice – first in our minds and then in reality. We need to get clear on what we want – then create it. It’s goal-setting, essentially.
Without clear goals we are adrift. I reckon roughly 80% of people have no clear goals. They’re not bad people. They’re just won’t realise their potential.
No 3 Put First Things First
This is the high-payoff activities I bang on about endlessly. Not the crises, deadlines, interruptions and endless small stuff. We must learn to say “no” to everything that is not a high-payoff activity. Say “no” to others, and to ourselves. Do it pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically. But do it. Time actually IS our greatest asset.
No 4 Think Win-Win
In all relationships – business and personal. Life is not a zero-sum game. To win, others do not have to lose.
Do you have any win-lose relationships in your life? Turn them into win-win, or politely excuse yourself and go. Win-lose is bad for the other guy and bad for your soul. It’s actually lose-lose.
No 5 Seek First To Understand
…then to be understood.
People want to be understood, but few people do the understanding. Why not be one of them? When I meet people for the first time I make sure the conversation is about them, not me. Shamefully, I started doing this because it was suggested to me that this would help them to like me, as people like those who are interested in them. Fortunately, I now find myself genuinely interested in understanding them first. I enjoy understanding them. I actually like it. They seem to too. Maybe I really am a coach.
No 6 Synergy
1 + 1 = 3. We work better when we work together. I’d rather be in two ventures, sharing the profits with another human being, than in one venture by myself. I’m pretty good. I’ve got the test results to prove it. But I’m not that good. I lose perspective pretty quickly by myself. I miss things. I don’t see clearly. I am glad I am sufficiently self-aware to see this.
No 7 Sharpen the Saw
Take time to renew. You cannot work all the time. We need to rest, reflect, renew. So take some exercise, write a journal (a great idea), just play, or take time with someone you love. I’m rubbish at all of this. Someone said to me the other day they were leaving the office at 4pm to go home. I thought to myself – “what a luxury”. It’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity.
I cannot do Covey’s book justice in these few words. I suggest you read it, or re-read it and you, like Danny, can be champion of the world.