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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Stephen R. Covey

There are loads of self-help books in the market, each catering to solve a different problem in our life. And believe me when I say I have read a quite few. Self-help is a genre that doesn’t work with a lot of people, and so if you have to ever pick one book in this genre, I would suggest this one.

Why you should read this book?

1. Almost all the book available in the market gives great advice. But there is one thing common in all. They all try to give tips to improve our personality. All these tips & tricks work fine till the sun is shining. But on a cloudy day, all such advice goes in the dustbin and then maybe you try to pick another book to find a ray of hope.

2. This book here differs from all the other self-help books because it works on building your character rather than personality. It focused to build a life based on values.

3. The book does not dictate the values you should have. It just gives direction on how you can choose your values and how your life will derive security, guidance, wisdom, and power based on what you choose as your life’s center.

4. This book will help you in every area of your life, whether it is self-development, time management, leadership, family and relationships, parenting, communication, and so many other things. It is one book that serves all.

What are those 7 Habits?

Habit 1: Be Proactive

  • Between stimules and response, man has freedom to choose
  • Proactive people focus their efforts on circle of influence. They work on things they can do something about. When we focus on things in circle of concern, we empower the things within it to control us.

Habit 2: Being with the end in mind

  • It is easy to be super busy in your life. You might be working very hard, but it is not necessary that you are working towards your goal. You are busy climbing a ladder only to realize that your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall all along.
  • Everything is created twice, once when you imagine it and and second time when you actually work on it. You first prepare a blueprint of the house, have some ideas in your head then only you start the construction. If you start construction before that then there might be a lot of re-work and it might be costlier too.
  • If you don’t take control of setting your intentions then chances are you will be handed down scripts from society, family, inspired by other people’s agenda or pressure from circumstances.
  • Find your core values and write them down. It is important to write it down because writing is a kind of psycho-neural activity that forms a bridge between our conscious and sub-conscious mind
  • Choose your values/center carefully as it will be the source of your security, guidance, wisdom and power.
  • An ideal center is based on principles because principles are deep, fundamental truths that doesn’t change with time. You will develop better understanding of it over time, but the fundamental truth never change.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

  • Habit 3 is the physical manifestation of what you envisoned in Habit 2
  • But for that you need to align your time and priorites based on the values identified in Habit 2.
  • Build weekly plans focussed on activities in Quadrant 2.
  • Tool for planning for Quadrant 2
    • Identify your key roles in life, e.g., individual, spouse, manager, parent
    • For each role idenitfy one or two important tasks that you must accomplish(focus on Quad 2)
    • Schedule you week keeping your goals in mind
    • Adapt daily based on priorties

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

  • Think Win-Win is not a personality technique but a vital character trait, which one builds up on the base of previous 3 habits.
  • 3 character traits essential for this paradigm
    • Integrity: One need to be harmonious with one’s innermost values
    • Maturity: It is the balance between courage and consideration
    • Abundance mentality: Belief that there is plenty out there for everybody
  • It grows out of high trust relationships. It is embodied in agreements that effectively clarify and manage expectations as well as accomplishment.
  • It can only thrive in supportive systems

Habit 5: Seek first to understannd, then to be understood

  • 5 states of listening
    1. Ignoring
    2. Pretending
    3. Selective listening
    4. Attentive listening
    5. Empathic listening
  • In empathic listening you listen with your ears, but you also listen with your eyes and with your heart. You sense, you intuit, you feel.
  • 4 develepmental stage for empathic listening
    • You mimic content
    • Rephrase the content
    • You reflect feeling
    • You rephrase the content and reflect the feeling
  • Skills won’t be effective unless comes from a sincere desire to understand. People resent any attempt to manipulate them
  • Seeking to understand requires consideration, seeking to be understood takes courage. Win/Win requires a high degree of both

Habit 6: Synergize

  • Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems.
  • Valuing differences is what really drives synergy.

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw

  • It is renenewal of the four dimensions of your nature
    • Physical: Caring for physical body, eating right kind of food, getting sufficient rest and relaxation and excercise on regular basis
    • Spiritual: Your commitment to your core & value system
    • Mental: Continuing education, reading good literature, writing
    • Social/Emotional: Making meaningful connection with others
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