A famous Greek Philosopher and Scientist Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a Habit”. Habits are powerful forces in our lives. They determine our level of effectiveness or ineffectiveness. They represent a proven process of personal and interpersonal growth that can have an immediate and lasting impact.
Today, I am going to summarise the book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. It is one of the best self-help books of all time. You can buy this book from Amazon.
The author has researched on many successful people of the world and found these 7 common habits which made them more effective and helped to achieve success in life. Take this book as the self-development course to boost up your self-esteem and personal growth.
1. Proactive vs Reactive
Be Proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. You can’t keep blaming about things on your luck, fortunes, parents or grandparents. Proactive people knows they are responsible for the things in their life. If you have no money, then go and earn it. Don’t blame your parents, people, circumstances, conditions for this. It’s your life and you are responsible for the things happen to you.
Its not your fault if you born poor. But it will be your fault, if you die poor.
Reactive people, on the other hand, find external sources to blame on for the things happened or didn’t happen with them. They feel good if the weather is good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather.
A proactive person uses proactive language like I will, I can, I prefer, etc. A reactive person uses reactive language such as I can’t, I have to, if only. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do, they have no choice.
2. Begin with the end in mind
Everything thing is created twice. First, in the mind and second, in the physical world. Physical creation follows mental creation, just like a traveller who follows the map. In the same way, when you visualise your dream in the mind, a clear roadmap is created sub-consciously to be followed by you knowingly or unknowingly. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualise who you are and what you want to be in life, then other people and environment shape you and your life by default. So it’s better to shape it by yourself.
Begin with the end in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with the clear vision of your desired destination. And rest leave to your proactive habits to make things happen.
Motivation gets you going, and habits get you there.
Put your goals in focus, and move your ideas into the real world. Always visualise the end goals before you start.
3. Put first things first
Habit 1 was being Proactive, Habit 2 was about beginning with the end in mind and to have a clear roadmap of your goal (in mind). Now, Habit 3 is about following that ‘Roadmap’, the physical and actual creation as stated in habit 2.
The author says, “whatever you do or want to do can be put into one the four boxes in the image shown above.” Decide whether the work you are to start is urgent, important, both or none. Suppose, you have a pending project of an important client to be completed within a deadline, or someone in your family is ill, these things can be categorised as both Urgent & Important thing to be completed first. So, put them in box 1.
And customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, research & analysis, networking are important but not that urgent. So, keep these things as a second priority and put it in the box 2. Similarly, paying bills are urgent but not as important as other tasks, then you can delay it a bit. Think about the client who is waiting for the meeting and you are busy talking with your credit card company to pay bills, isn’t it horrible?
Now the fourth and last box is about the works which are not urgent and important as well, like watching a cricket match, posting pictures on Facebook. Now I am not saying that you should never do it, but you should do it after completing all important and urgent works.
You define what is important to you by what you dedicate your time to.
4. Think Win-Win
There is a myth we all are living with, in our mind, “Someone has to lose, for me to win”. We are living in a competitive world where we have always seen that only one person wins and other lose. Life is not a football match, that only one team can take the world cup.
Life has abundant of resources with it, as enough, so that no one can lose. You should always think about a win-win situation, like in studies you may teach your friend a subject you are good in and in return he’ll teach you the subject he is good in. By this, both of you can save time and labour. So, it is a win-win situation for both of you. Let me tell you a small story.
There was a couple named Joe and Rose. After having problems in the relationship, both decided to get divorced. Joe knew very well that, he has to give a part of his property to his wife after divorce, including his most lovely BMW and Ferrari. But it was not acceptable for him. So, he sold both of his cars in $10 each. Which was a lose-lose situation for him, because neither he got anything nor his wife. He could have settled with a win-win situation by giving one of his cars to his wife.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
If you are like most people, you seek first to be understood. You just want to put your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore another person completely and just pretend to listen, selectively hearing only certain parts of the conversation or attentively listening to only the words or the way it is being said, and miss the meaning entirely. All of them are harmful.
So why does this happen? Because you listen with the intent to reply and not to understand. Instead of listening to another person, you prepare yourself in your mind about what to say next, or what question you should ask. You seek for things which contradict your opinion in any way in the conversation or sometimes you assume the conclusion before the orator finishes it. All of these are the symptoms of a bad listener.
Another piece of advice author gives here is to, “Diagnose before you prescribe” which basically means, ‘to understand before you give advice’. It also the best way to find win-win situations by understanding what another person want or need before you find a way both of you get benefitted with.
Do not listen with the intent to reply, but listen with the intent to understand.
Synergy is the benefit that results when two or more individuals work together to achieve something which either one couldn’t have achieved alone.
An ant can kill an elephant if they synergize themselves but neither of them can do it alone, this the power of teamwork. The author says that highly effective people synergize themselves with the people having similar interests to multiply the outcome by N times more.
If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together.
7. Sharpen the saw
This one is my favourite. If you have 6 hours to cut the tree, spend the first hour on sharpening the saw. It will take only 3 hours to cut the tree, you saved 2 hours.
Doing the exercise for 4 days a week will save you on spending huge money on your health later in life. Learning, reading & teaching is one of the best ways to sharpen the mind. Plenty of researchers has proven that teaching someone is a great way to invent ideas in our head. This is one of the reasons I am writing this articles.
Instead of reading instructions manual, we try to do it by ourselves and waste 3 hours when it could be done in few minutes just by reading the manual.
The author also suggests sharpening other areas of our life such as emotional and spiritual areas. You can invest in your relationships with others in many ways, some of which includes spending time with your family, playing games with your friends or studying with a classmate.
Enriching your spiritual life also important. Whether you are religious or not, listen to music, engaging in creating art and spending time in prayer or meditation will always add value to your life in long run. Living meaningful and effective life doesn’t just happen, you have to spend the time to cultivate the areas of your life you want to produce fruits, and you do this by sharpening the saw.
Also read: 10 experiences without which your life is incomplete
All the above points are just the summary of the book, The 7 Habits of highly effective people. If you want to read in detail, you can buy this book from Amazon. You can use this book get more self-improvement ideas to increase your self-esteem and personal growth.
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