The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, is a business and self-help book written by Stephen R. Covey. It has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages worldwide, and the audio version has sold 1.5 million copies, and remains one of the best selling nonfiction business books. Covey presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to what he calls “true north” principles of a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless. In August 2011, Time listed Seven Habits as one of “The 25 Most Influential Business Management Books”.
U.S. President Bill Clinton read the book and invited Covey to Camp David to counsel him on how to integrate the book into his presidency.
Covey provides answers to the fundamental questions in human life: How do I manage to be happy? How do I increase my self-esteem? How can I become successful?
There are no problems
All assets are already within yourself. There are no problems, because the way we see the problem is already the problem.
Circle of influence & Let go
Don’t think about anything that is outside of your sphere of influence – but expand your sphere of influence steadily. At every moment of our life the key to our problems is already in our hand: we can change our behavior, change our methods, or simply the way we see problems beyond our control. We can control our actions, but not the outcome of these actions (“Who picks up a stick at one end, will also cancel the other end.”)
Become principle centered and responsible
If we want to live a meaningful life, we must do so on the basis of principles: patience, openness, trying to understand, fairness, … One’s principles must be explored from the inside out. Covey gives many examples and reasons how to take responsibility of one’s life.
Production and production requirements must be a balance. We can not give more than we have.
THE 7 HABITS
1) Be proactive: Make small promises to yourself and others, and keep them. Be a light, not a judge. A good examplel, not a critic. Be part of the solution, not the problem.
2) Begin with the end in mind (Leadership): Imagine your funeral and think about what the three keynote speakers should talk about yourself: your best friend, a colleague, a member of your spiritual / social community. Who do you want to be, what is really important to you, what role do you want? Visualize what you want to achieve. Develop and act on a Mission – Because everyone has a unique mission in life. Remember that a goal is always focused on results, not on activities.
What if you could do it regularly, would have the most positive effect on your 1) personal and 2) professional situation?
Leadership raises the question of where to go, management asks how to come there as fast as possible.
3) Put first things first (management): Your discipline can only derive from yourself. Management requires a strong sense of direction, a burning “yes” to the set goals and values. An important part of Management is to check whether the things you are doing are important or not. Covey gives you help by locating every single action on a matrix between the 2 questions: Is it important? and: Is it urgent? Actions are not important if they don’t help you in achieving your mission, but are mainly based on the expectations of others. Coveys advice: focus on actions that are not urgent, but important.
What helps you for your mission: developing strong values, relationship-building, long-term planning, preparation, learning of new skills. The really important things are important, but not urgent. Make a weekly schedule for the really important things.
4) Think win / win.
Only if your counterpart gets something from you, the relationship will be fruitful for both of you.
5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood: To understand without asking what you get from it is the foundation upon which trust and true communication arise. We can not know in advance what the other person really thinks and feels: he has to tell us, and we must take our time and listen with a genuine interest. It is not necessary to agree with someone. But it is necessary to understand it intellectually and emotionally on a deep level. This makes us vulnerable, because we need to open up fully with all our feelings and thoughts. And this vulnerability is the key in order to influence others. Only when we understand all the motives, we can bring our alternatives. Be patient and respectful. Look at life through the eyes of others.
6) Synergize: The whole is more than the sum of the parts. If we join together to share something new to begin, a tremendous momentum is being created. A prerequisite for this is that everyone is properly heard and understood, and everyone can contribute his share. The more honest and open all team-members are, the greater the benefit for all. Others have to tell us something important. The more we make sure that they can get involved, the greater the profit for ourselves.
7) Renewal: Everyone needs a time of silence, to rediscover values and principles of life, and to reconsider the right direction. This precious time can be found in meditation, reading, music, or communication with nature. If we take an hour a day to delve into the silence within us, we will find peace and the strength to live from it.
“The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul.” (David O. McKay)
“The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums.” (Ezra Taft Benson)
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