4th February 2004 - Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

It was simply a marvelous to read "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey. In my mind this book is highly recommended for everyone, not just people were interested in managing and leading others, but simply everyone.

The book is essentially a guide to private and public victory for the individual, and the reason for referring to habits is that these are as: distinction between humans and animals, in that we can’t two is our response to a stimulus whereas animals can not. The moment we realize we can choose our actions independently from our genetic or social heritage is the moment when we are free to start working on extending or production capacity, and thereby enable us to reach as desired production or results. Covey refers to this as creating a P/PC balance.

By looking at people who have produced extraordinary results such as elite sportsmen or NASA astronauts, Covey have identified three habits that leads to personal victory, and three habits that leads to public victory. The seventh habit is to continuously improve on the other six habits.

For personal victory Covey recommends:

Habit 1. Be Proactive.
Act or be acted upon; we as humans differ from animals in that we have the option to choose reaction to stimuli.

Habit 2. Begin with the end in mind.
Being centered on principles rather than things that changing with environment and emotions, such as pleasure, spouse, family, friends, money, possessions etc, means that one can be able to visualize long term and act accordingly. The principles arise from a personal mission statement which is broken out on the context one would like to be perceived by e.g. family, friends, work and society.

Habit 3. Put first things first.
Fourth generation of time management is about getting time for the people issues, one has to access that even though these issues do not tend to be urgent they are very important. Another important aspect of getting things done is to be able to delegate, to do this effectively one has to exercise Stewardship which can seem time consuming initially but is the most rewarding in results. Covey quotes Goethe in saying: "Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least."

For public victory Covey recommends:

Habit 4. Think Win/Win.
Win/win requires maturity, and maturity is the balance between courage and consideration. Win/win builds relationships and allows agreements to be reached. Think about the any alternative which has one or both parties lose its destructive on long-term, it is not on short-term such as the lose/lose scenario of war.

Habit 5. First seeks to understand ...then to be understood.
Until we put ourselves in a person’s place, how can we really deliver the points that reach out and into another person?

Habit 6. Synergize.
Move to the highest level or trust between peers to remove negative energy, this will unleash the full potential of positive energy. Seek the third option; the place which is on top of two different and perhaps even contradictive perspectives.

And a final habit:

Habit 7. Sharpen the saw.
Make sure you’re not so busy sawing so you do not have time to sharpen the saw. Seek renewal on physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual level.

Of all the self development, leadership and management books I have read, I find it Covey’s book ranking as one of the best. I would recommend this book for everyone, but warn that one can probably not read this book without considering one or more personal changes in habits.... ;-)

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Updated 2004-02-18

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