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Stephen Covey reviewed 200 years of success literature and crystallized what he learned into seven habits that took the world by storm in 1989
Twenty-one years later The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People continues to be an influential business book delivering powerful lessons in personal change. The seven habits are not a quick and easy formula for success. But together they form a powerful model for personal change and leading change.
I always recommend Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Read it, or reread it if your copy is sitting on your shelf! This page provides you with an excellent overview of the seven habits. You need to read the book because there's a wealth of information in this book that you are not going to find on any web pages. Actually I first listened to Stephen Covey talking about the seven habits on a set of CD's before I read the book and the connection between the two really worked for me. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, published in 1998, adds value to the seven habits model, and helps to make it more accessible.
Stephen R. Covey emphasises a return to principles or values in order to achieve change in our lives. The seven habits are not simply a veneer that you apply for success. The seven habits are a step by step model that empower you make decisions and act so that you are always moving towards a known destination rather than reacting to whatever is happening at the time.
The reason I favor this model is that it has strong links to concepts of Emotional Intelligence and emphasises the importance of self awareness before successful engagement with others. The seven habits model introduces the concept of 'habits' that we need to learn to do automatically. Most of us have habits we are not even aware of and probably couldn't say how we learned them in the first place!
What can I do differently next time?. Proactive people take responsibility for their response. It takes time and practice. The seven habits are not intended to be individual formulas that we can just apply and be "better".the first group focuses on "private victory" and the second on "public victory". Learning a new habit is not easy. Habit number 7 is about doing the right things to maintain these habits and continue developing. not because he forgot one the first time round. It's an easy powerful read. no matter what happens to us. In this first habit Stephen Covey tells us we are responsible for our reactions to people or events.. People who do not consider their reactions are reactive and often blame others or things outside of themselves for what happens. While enduring Nazi concentration camps Frankl realised that we can always choose our response. The first seven habits can be divided into two groups of three . So. Habit 1: Be Proactive Being proactive is more than just taking action. So what are the seven habits? Yes. "Man's Search for Meaning" is essential reading. More recently Covey published The 8th Habit. They might say I failed the paper. but because he felt the 8th habit was necessary to meet the changing world. and should be high on your list. They'd say I failed the paper because the examiner doesn't like me.Stephen Covey suggests that this model is a process of learning new habits that are aligned with the seven habits he presents in his book. To be proactive is to choose your response rather than relying on instinctive reactions. Stephen Covey says "Private Victory precedes Public Victory" which really means that we have to master ourselves before we can enjoy success outside of ourselves and with others. often looking for what they can learn from what happened. . by the way. Stephen Covey says that like the normal laws of growth the seven habits build on each other to create personal and interpersonal effectiveness. or didn't plan my time.. what's your Response-ability like? Stephen Covey introduces the story of Viktor Frankl to emphasise the point that we have the freedom to choose our response to whatever happens to us.maybe I didn't spend enough time learning. there are seven habits that Stephen Covey presents in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. They don't take any responsibility. We are Response-able and have Responseability because we have the ability to consciously choose how we respond to any situation. Frankl was a psychiatrist and is well known for his theory of Logotherapy and publishing "Man's Search for Meaning". For most of us this is a big ask! But if you're willing to make the time and put in the practice then Stephen Covey is the best place to start. Stephen Covey makes the point that humans can think things through and don't need to be caught up in simple stimulus-->response patterns like Pavlov's dogs.
Before you go on a holiday you've usually planned the trip very carefully before you set foot out of your front door. If Habit 2 is the first. I find this a very simple and powerful image. or further from our destination. only to discover that all this time the ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall. If you're building a house you plan every detail with architects drawings. "You work with ideas. He also provides very useful suggestions for applying the ideas he has presented at the end of each 'habit' chapter. He says proactive people focus their time and energy in the Circle of Influence where they work on things they can do something about. It's this metaphor that Stephen Covey uses to describe habit 2. For example. then Habit 3 is the second creation. builders and landscapers according to what you want to create. to plan where we are heading. The question of course is why don't we do this when it comes to our own lives? Life throws so many things at us that keep us so busy that often we have never thought about where we are heading and if what we are doing is taking us closer to.To help you develop proactivity Stephen Covey introduces the concept of the Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. and a physical or second creation to all things. You work with your mind until you get a clear image of what you want to build". Taking the time to see the bigger picture. or mental creation. first in the mind and then in reality. "“Begin with the end in mind” is based on the principle that all things are created twice. working hard to climb the ladder of success. Habit 3: Put First Things First This is the last of the habits that deals with self awareness and "Private Victory". This is a powerful metaphor and I use it often in organizations involved with change. There’s a mental or first creation. It's a tool that helps people identify what's important and what they can do to positively influence their future rather than feeling like a pawn on a chessboard. Only then does the physical work begin. leads to personal effectiveness. he talks about how easy it is to get caught up in the busy-ness of life. If you're giving a business presentation you write it out on paper or electronically before you give it. Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind When I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People I was struck by the wonderful metaphors that Stephen Covey uses to help us understand the points he makes. the physical creation. This is essentially about planning so that we know where we are going all the time instead of being busy with day to day activities that actually take us nowhere.” Stephen Covey makes the point that everything is created twice. Begin With The End In Mind. Stephen Covey provides many effective ways to begin this level of planning in your personal life together with lots of examples. Making sure your ladder is up against the right wall before you start climbing. It's a simple idea really and is about making an effort to start with a clear understanding of your destination and where you are going. As we've just seen it's easy to spend a lot of our time doing stuff that just is not that important to meeting your intentions set up in .
if we don't have a clear idea of what is important. Stephen Covey has a 4-quadrant time management model that actually got me interested in thinking about how I manage my time. so how do you know what's important and what is not? It's about managing our time and what we do in that time. Ok. As with the other habits Stephen Covey provides lots of practical thoughts and examples to help you develop and practice Habit 3 including a useful template for a weekly worksheet (printed in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) to help you focus your week on what is important to you.Habit 2. of the results we desire in our lives. The urgent things are often those things that keep us away from focusing on what is important. Covey spends a lot of time working with this model and emphasising that we need to aim to spend our time in Quadrant II. we are easily diverted into responding to the urgent". but that are not urgent. or worse. and then do them. This is where you deal with things that are important to your values and goals. "If we don't practice Habit 2. Identify what is important to do in order to keep you heading towards your destination. I have always struggled with traditional time management ideas. being told how to manage my time. Now. I resist being told that I must manage my time better. . Stephen Covey recommends that you do first things first.
In my practice I've often heard people saying that no-one understands what they're really feeling.Habit 4: Think Win/Win Habit 4 is the first of the Habits dealing with what Covey calls interdependence . I just have to watch the dad's on the side of their kids sports field to see this! So in reality this is a habit to be learned and practiced. to give your opinion or to give advice to someone in need. This habit is about communicating with others. Then to Be Understood Stephen Covey believes this principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication.. your colleague. It's not your way or my way. 'Lose/Win'. yeah. many of us are brought up to believe that winning is everything. "Win/Win is a belief in the Third Alternative. After all. In describing each habit Stephen Covey shares powerful insights and "Think Win/Win" is no exception. This is the habit of always looking for a solution that benefits you AND the other person or group. Most of us will say "yeah. and often really inviting.. working to genuinely understand them before you respond. then to be understood. Spend time with your children.working effectively with other people.?". Couples in counselling are often spending more time trying to get their partner to understand their position than listening and understanding their partner's position. Habit 5: Seek First to Understand. or just a plain 'Win' scenario playing out. So start practicing this right now. What's fascinating is that the solution is usually unexpected. Seek first to understand. If you're a parent you might hear that from your teenage son or daughter (I do!). But in reality people are likely to act in their own best interest and when we look we find a 'Win/Lose'.. You'll find that when you 'seek first to understand' your response might be different to what you expect. This is because it's usually so much easier. It's about developing the habit of listening carefully and really understanding the other person BEFORE giving your thoughts. This is not easy to learn to do. I really enjoy the examples that Stephen Covey shares to demonstrate this habit. a higher way".. Habit 6: Synergize Dictionary definition: syn·er·gy [sin-er-jee] . even when we have good intentions. Have fun with it! In your next conversation with someone put your natural and automatic responses aside and focus on genuinely understanding them.. it's a better way. Stephen Covey makes the point that the habit of effective interpersonal leadership is Think Win/Win. Win/Win's the way to go. your partner. and that you start finding the creative solutions and third alternatives described in habit 4. we know this already.. Ask questions that invite more such as "Tell me more. Listening to these on the CD version of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People really captures the humour that becomes apparant when we realise the ways we often "listen" and respond. especially the conversations between a father and his teenage son." It's almost as if it's the socially acceptable attitude." or "What happened next. or even your boss.
go back to habit 1 and Be Proactive about your response to situations or other people. Study and Meditation Mental: Reading. Many people have been trained or have learned that other people can't be trusted. Nutrition. You can get a sense of the way in which habits 4. If you plant two plants close together. Intrinsic Security. The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects. Empathy. You will get there if you are willing to spend the time and effort developing new habits. You are the greatest asset you have and we have to learn to take time to look after ourselves. Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw Habit 7 is about looking after yourself. You don't have to get it all right first time. Planning.” In Habit 6 Stephen Covey directs our attention to the power of effective relationships. they will hold much more than the total weight held by each separately. Visualizing. Stephen Covey notes that synergy is difficult for many of us as independence is promoted as a strong value in the world today. If you are concerned about synergy because you know you don't trust people easily it's ok . The word synergy comes from the Greek synergos meaning working together. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.1. We can achieve so much more when we engage in effective relationships with others than if we acted alone. As a result of the relationship that exists between people or groups the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. and 6 work together to discover the creative solutions and third alternatives. the roots commingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated. When I work with someone who has experienced extreme stress to the point of 'breakdown' we often find that their lives have been narrowly focused on work and home. that creates an enhanced combined effect. This is part of a life journey of learning and developing.“Synergy is everywhere in nature. Stephen Covey suggests we pay attention to four areas in our lives: Physical: Exercise. And synergy is possible when we have the support of all five previous habits. One plus one equals three or more. Stephen Covey says. 2. 5. especially among the acquired subsidiaries or merged parts of a corporation. . If you put two pieces of wood together. Writing Social/Emotional: Service. Stress Management Spiritual: Value Clarification and Committment. Cooperative interaction among groups. They go to work (often working overtime) and go home simply to eat and sleep so they can go to work again! Is this you? The most important thing you can start doing now is looking after yourself by focusing on the four areas above. Achieving synergy requires high trust and high cooperation and can lead to better solutions than anyone thought of alone. Synergy.
or even developing the Habits. We can't do that. and to be effective. that we forget ourselves. You can see the progression from Private Victory to Public Victory with Habit 7 circling all of them as Sharpening the Saw is essential for the health of all seven habits. . we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw in all four ways". change. Stephen Covey provides a useful diagram in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People illustrating how the seven habits fit together. We have to be proactive and do this for ourselves. All four dimensions of renewal are thoroughly investigated and Stephen Covey ends this chapter with a discussion about the importance of renewal in our lives. "We are the instruments of our own performance. When you suggest that they take a break and sharpen their saw so the job might go faster they tell you they don't have time to sharpen the saw because they're too busy sawing! It's so easy to get caught up in the demands of life. No-one else is going to do it for you. and continuous improvement.Stephen Covey tells the story of meeting someone who has been sawing down a tree for more than 5 hours. Find out more about work life balance. and thinking of this as an upward spiral of growth.
It's about seeing and harnessing the power of a third dimension to the 7 Habits that meets the central challenge of the new Knowledge Worker Age.. In the meantime get some Stephen Covey on your bookshelf or in your CD collection. Other authors and commentators have noted that the equivalent of an entire library of success literature is found in this one volume and that there are many more than seven good reasons to read this book. I highly recommend this book and the practice of the principles contained in it.one that somehow got forgotten. You really should get a copy! Stephen Covey published The 8th Habit in 2004 to answer the challenges presented by a world that has significantly changed since 1989 when The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was published.. . "The 8th Habit.The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a powerful book containing effective principles for personal change and for leading change in organisations. You will not be sorry.is not about adding one more habit to the 7 . This 8th Habit is to Find Your Voice and Inspire Others to Find Theirs". Intrigued? More about this on another page.