I have often been asked how I stay so positive despite my struggles.
One of the books that have had the most profound impact on my inner development as well as my relationships with other people is Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.”
I read this book right out of college, and I have reread it several times. Each time I read it, I get some new insight and value from it.
The first three habits focus on inner independence. It begins with private victories and keeping promises to ourselves before we make promises to others. Change should come from the inside, not from circumstances outside ourselves. Stephen Covey reminds us that between a stimulus and response is our ability to choose.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Being proactive is where change from the inside – out starts. The freedom to choose a response to an external stimulus comes from self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will. Proactive people recognize the responsibility to choose their response and make things happen.
On the flip side, reactive people tend to blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning.
Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind
Imagine being at your own funeral. What would you want your family, friends, or co-workers to remember about you? That’s the basis of the second habit. Building your character should take into consideration your impact on those around you.
What lasting legacy do you want to leave?
It isn’t always an easy question, but our personal mission should build from that idea.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Putting first things first means managing yourself effectively to create a life aligned with your values. When we put first things first, we are fulfilling habits 1 and 2. It is the physical manifestation of being proactive and beginning with the end in mind.
Two questions you can ask yourself to put first things first:
- What one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that, if you did regularly, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?
- What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?
The next three habits focus on our relationships with those around us. To begin building positive interactions, Stephen Covey says that deposits need to be made in emotional bank accounts. Some examples of deposits in an emotional bank account are attending to the small things, keeping commitments, showing personal integrity, and apologizing sincerely when you make a withdrawal/mistake.
Interdependence is built over time, not overnight.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
When you’re building relationships with others, you’re not thinking win/lose or lose/win. The most important thing is to focus on mutual benefit. But keep in mind that win/win is not a technique; it’s a total philosophy of human interaction. It takes courage and consideration to create mutually beneficial circumstances. There also should be an abundance mentality where you believe there is plenty of benefit for everyone.
Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
I agree with Stephen when he says that most people listen with the intent to reply rather than to understand.
The basis of the fifth habit is to listen with empathy. When you exercise empathetic listening, you look through another person‘s frame of reference and see the world the way they see it.
Empathetic listening is a huge deposit in an emotional bank account.
You can then build the relationship from there and seek to be understood in return.
Habit 6: Synergize
Working together, even with all of our differences, is the basis of synergy. It’s about valuing the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between people.
The differences serve as an addition to knowledge and understanding of reality as it is.
One of the exercises offered to help with the habit of synergy is to think about a person who typically sees things differently than you. Consider how those differences might be used as stepping stones to alternative solutions.
Different perspectives lead to more creativity, which almost always leads to better outcomes.
Everything comes full circle in habit 7, which is sharpening the saw.
Sharpening the saw means renewing the four dimensions of your nature: physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional.
If we refer back to habit one, we remember that being proactive is most important. When we are proactive about our physical health, spiritual health, mental health, and social/emotional health, we are keeping the saw sharp.
It’s important to avoid becoming complacent. Life is about growth and progress.
Thank you so much for sticking with me through this long-winded post. I really hope I captured the importance of “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.”
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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