A Brief Look into Stephen.R. Covey “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

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It would not be an exaggeration to say that Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 habits of highly effective people” took the world by storm and touched millions of life.

Since the book first got published in the year 1989 more than 25 million copies of the book have been sold so far.

Though most of us have already read the book we at Club Pakistan are taking this opportunity to revisit what the book had to elaborate on the 7 habits of highly effective people. So let’s start with the 1st habit and gradually move to the 7th one.

1)   Be Proactive

The first habit suggests that people can chose to be either “proactive” or “reactive.” Being proactive means taking charge and being responsible while being reactive means simply reacting to your external environment.

The book suggests that the external environment is the stimuli that we as humans respond to. However, the book suggests individuals to empower themselves by realizing that between the stimulus and the response lies their greatest power, the freedom to chose their own response.

The book further suggests that rather than worrying, merely reacting and fretting about the conditions that they have little to no control over proactive people focus their energy and time on things that are within their sphere of control.

While proactive individuals focus their efforts and energies on “circle of influence” like dealing with and improving professional and personal fronts, the reactive individuals tend to contemplate on “circle of concern” like weather, terrorism etc.

2)   Begin with the End in Mind

This is the second habit of the highly effective people i.e. they begin with the end in mind. This goes on to suggest that you should have a personal mission statement of your own which should elaborate what you wish to be in life and then synchronizing all your efforts, energies, direction and focus on the destiny you have chosen for yourself.

This suggests that if you do not predetermine your destiny and start working towards it from right onwards then you may end up becoming a product of your circumstances or what other desires of you.

3)   Put First Things First

This suggests that you do not have to do everything that comes along as over extending yourself is not required. This goes on to suggest that you need to focus on your highest priorities.

While the first habit is about empowering yourself and the second about envisioning it and then aligning everything to work towards it, the third is about prioritizing your time and your life.

4)   Think Win-Win

Well! We apparently have a tendency to think that if I win he/she/they lose. Similarly, we are prone to think that if he/she/they win I lose.

However, 4th habit of the highly effective people suggests that it does not have to be that way. It rather suggests that you perceive and think in win-win terms i.e. that no one has to a winner and similarly no one has to be a loser rather everyone should benefit from a given situation. To be brief and precise this requires you to have 3 characteristics i.e. integrity, maturity and abundance mentality.

Integrity stands for sticking to your values, feelings and commitments while maturity suggests that you should do so i.e. express and convey these in a manner that has due consideration for the feelings, opinions and ideas of others.

The last but certainly not the least is abundance mentality that suggests believing there is plenty for everyone and thus refrain from thinking in restricted terms.

5)   Seek First to Understand, Then to be understood

It seems that most of us go on complaining that we are not understood. However, we seldom seem to realize that we ourselves hardly make an attempt to understand others too. This suggests that your focus should be on listening.

Identify your objective of listening and try to identify whether you are making the mistake of listening with the only intent of replying. If that is so you need to re-evaluate your objectives of listening and if you are the one who yearns to be understood then the first step towards it is to understand others.

Pointing out another common mistake that we make in our communication is listening to others and drawing parallels with similar events that has happened in our lives. You can identify what it mean if your responses while listening to someone entail evaluating, probing, advising and interpreting.

Evaluation means that when you take the liberty to judge without being asked and then either agree or disagree with what the person is saying. Probing means when you start to relate and start asking questions drawing parallels with your own experiences. Advising means you start offering solutions, advices and counseling the person. Similarly, interpreting means that you tend to analyze their behaviors and motives in accordance with your own experiences.

However, it is important to mention here that you may take the liberty of these biographical responses once you have been asked for help or when the relationship between the two entails a very high level of mutual trust. Otherwise, it is best to refrain from these.

6)   Synergize

Synergizing simply means deriving advantage of others knowledge, experiences, insight and point of view. You must have heard that two heads are better than one and this is exactly what synergizing goes on to suggest that taking advantage of and valuing other’s input can help you obtain a broader picture. This suggests that difference in outlooks and point of views should be considered as strength and positive rather than perceiving them as threat or weakness.

7)   Sharpen the Saw

This habit suggests taking care of the most valuable asset i.e. you. This identifies four areas of your health and well-being that you should look into physical, emotional/social, mental and spiritual. Once you are doing well in all these four areas of health you are more than likely to continue to learn, grow and better handle life changes and challenges.

It is utmost important that you make efforts to stay happy as everyday offers new opportunities to people and offers you choices. Therefore, take out time for yourself and while it suggests that eating healthy and staying physically active with adequate rest can help you stay physically healthy, learning, teaching, writing and reading can help you stay mentally healthy. Similarly, meaningful social contacts can help you stay emotionally healthy and praying along with spending time in nature and meditation etc can help maintain and boost your spiritual health.

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