Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the best business books of all time. I have read this book multiple times. It has been mentioned as one of the Top 25 business books of all time by Time. Stephen Covey is one of my favorite authors and though he is no longer with us, his teachings through his book which explain timeless principles are still valid. Even though this book was published in 1989 the teachings are very much valid. Apparently President Clinton read the book and requested to meet with Mr. Covey at Camp David to get inputs on how to integrate them into his presidency. That is quite impressive indeed.
 The Seven habits summarized below 
Be Proactive – Take complete responsibility for your life and choices you make. You are in charge of your life and can make wise choices. As Victor Frankl said "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
Begin with the end in Mind – Develop a mission statement for your life. Imagine yourself at the end of your life and decide what you truly want out of your life is. Define the various roles like family, friends and determine what you would like them to say at the end of your life. A lot of authors are now popularizing this but I think Stephen Covey deserves credit for bringing this into the mainstream. This asks the big question on what you want your life to stand for. This is the ultimate question that needs to be answered by everyone.
Put First Things First – This habit ensures all your activities are aligned with your mission as defined in Habit 2. Covey articulates that there are four quadrants of activities and he says schedule your week to ensure that the most important activities are being done always. Quadrant 1 is activities that are urgent and important. Quadrant 2 is activities that are not urgent but important. These are activities like exercise, reading, building long term relationships and other high leverage activities. Quadrant 3 and 4 are things which are neither urgent nor important. The key is to identify quadrant 2 activities and focus on them. We all know what they are but the key is to focus on the few activities that will make a difference in our lives.
He mentions that private victories (For example getting up early is a private victory) precede public victories. 
Thinks Win/Win – This habit enforces that there is plenty of things available for everyone and he calls it the abundance mentality. Try to find solutions which help both sides. Always think what does winning look for the other side. Then make sure you are able to make a pitch that suits both sides. Get way from the mentality that for you to win the other side has to lose.
Seek first to understand and then be understood – He suggests that we should first understand the other person and then try to explain our position. He says one method is the listening stick where you allow the other person to completely finish what they are saying and until you explain that person’s position to their satisfaction you cannot talk about your position. This is easier said than done especially when we know we are right.
Synergy – This means working together with other people and involves high performance team work. This ensures that the goals are achieved which cannot be done by a single person. A team's effort is always greater than individual effort.
Sharpen the Saw – This suggests allocating time for physical dimension through proper exercise and diet, mental through reading uplifting material, spiritual by meditation and service to society. This has become so much more important in the hectic pace of our lives now and the constant stimulation from digital distractions. Even in 1989 Stephen Covey said people don't have time due to the pace of life. Well not much has changed as every generation thinks that their current time is the busiest ever. Some things never change do they. It is wise to remember Gandhi's quote "There is more to life than increasing its speed."
Stephen Covey has written a book that has stood the test of time. I think there are so many personal development books but if we follow these principles our lives will be more relaxed and productive. It is no wonder the book has sold 25 million copies.

The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.


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