The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey
Written by Y. Podolskaya and V. Markunas
The book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is written by one of the most famous experts in the business world Stephen R. Covey. It is a worldwide bestseller, a recognized “Gold Standard” of leadership that already presents the significance and relevance of this book. This writing requires thoughtful reading as each sentence has a certain meaning what the reader has to understand, evaluate and apply toward own inveterate patterns. One of the advantages of this book is that it is written in a simple language that is easy to understand even to not familiar with the topic reader. The book will get the attention of people interested in personal growth and self-management. Covey introduces ways how to significantly increase efficiency not only in the business field, but also in relation to other people, how to reach success and become a genuinely happy person. Because it is often the case that even after achieving tremendous heights, one might feel the need in finding inner balance, increasing personal effectiveness and demand in building stronger connections. In this book the author advises ways that help to achieve this.
According to the author’s definition, a habit is an intersection of knowledge, skill and desire where knowledge is a theoretical basis that determines what to do and why, skill controls how to do it and desire acts as a motivation. It means that in order to develop any habit, it is necessary to include all three components: study the theoretical model, learn how to apply it in practice and find motivation for its application. The first three habits covered in the book are connected with the inner world of the person – the ability to self-control. They are the basis of character development. Only by achieving personal goals one becomes independent enough to gain success in teamwork, interaction and communication – three habits of external effectiveness. And the seventh habit connects all others mentioned above: the habit of regular, balanced development.
Talking about efficiency Covey states that it lies in the balance of the desired result and the expended resources, author calls it “P/PC balance”. P/PC balance is a pattern of effectiveness that is in natural law and is all around us, P there stands for Production and the PC stands for Production Capability. Production is the process of producing something new or manufacturing from components or raw materials, when Production Capabilities describes the ability and capacity to create something from raw materials. The maintenance of the balance between P and PC allows the most efficient use of physical, time and financial resources.
Stephen Covey explains the basics of his theory on the example of an aircraft carrier and a lighthouse on a cliff in the sea. One can be even three times aircraft carrier, but in case of sailing on the lighthouse he/she will crash. And the lighthouse absolutely does not care about our motives, intentions or the depths of our souls. The core idea of Covey’s theory is that it is crucial to acknowledge these lighthouses and instead of breaking about them, use them for own good.
In this essay we want to dive deeper into each habit described in the book. The first habit is the call to action for people to take responsibility for the life and future. We strongly agree with the author that the skill to be proactive is essential nowadays. Success does not come without investing time and effort into the change. In order to build the life in a desired way taking initiative, solving own problems by independently looking for possible solutions is important. In our opinion, Proakatemia gave us an opportunity to acquire these skills, helped us to realize that everything depends on us and everything that happens in business field or in our life 99% outcome of our decisions and actions.
The second habit, that encourages starting anything by having the ultimate goal in mind, says that the foundation of effectiveness is a clear vision of the end aim. Otherwise, success is impossible no matter the amount of effort applied. At the beginning of implementing any idea into life it is needed to determine what essentials are and in accordance with this to work on something what really matters. Probably it is hard to make right decisions and not to deviate from the initial mission and according to author our life principles is the only solid foundation. We believe that we have not yet fully acquired this skill, because not all actions are consistent with our final goals and the main goals are still blurred. Of course, as anyone else we try to adhere to life principles and values, but sometimes there are certain circumstances that make us step aside. Therefore, after reading this book, we will try our best to comply with our principles when taking any decisions.
Concerning the third habit, Covey affirms that prioritizing is the important skill to become efficient: firstly it is needed to concentrate on important, key matters simultaneously with things that have to be done at the moment. But most often people tend to prioritize things to do in accordance with the level of emergency and this might be the main mistake. Firstly, it should be decided what are the highest priorities at the moment and further maintain a balance between the growth of productivity and development of own resources and assists. Often it seems that there is not enough strength and energy to find solutions to the most important problems, however, the author emphasizes that effective people tend to concentrate attention on opportunities rather than on problems.
The fourth habit requires thinking in the spirit of “Win/Win” what can be interpreted as suggestion to work effectively with others to achieve optimal results. This is an interpersonal leadership skill. Thinking Win-Win is not about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration. According to Stephen Covey, this skill involves the use of all unique properties of the person in relations with other people – self-awareness, imagination, conscience and independent will. This habit includes seeking mutual benefits in interacting with people, but it is complicated to choose mutually beneficial solutions and agreements that satisfy both parties. Many people have rudiments of this habit, but not every person can build mutually beneficial interactions. To achieve this quality of partnership, enormous effort and perseverance required. Particular attention should be paid to the interests of others.
The fifth habit is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. Dr. Stephen R. Covey writes: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. Communication is one of the core skills in life and in the book author talks about the skill of effective communication, in particular the ability to listen. In this book Covey invokes the reader to listen to interlocutor with empathy: listen to understand, instead of expressing own opinion. So effective listening means to attempt to understand another person deeply – both with the mind and heart, rationally and emotionally. In Proakatemia we actively learn and apply the dialogue skill in our team meetings and discussions. The dialogue diamond consists of follows: the ability to wait for your turn to speak, mutual respect, honest speech, and listen to everyone. This is a unique technique to develop the skill of efficient listening.
The sixth habit describes synergy, in simple words it means: “two heads are better than one”. The author says: “Synergy is better than my way or your way. It’s our way”. It is a skill of building and working in a team, developing cohesion of creative interaction with other people. It is hard not to agree with Covey that working in a group, making decisions and solving problems together is more effective than the task is divided and participants work individually just exchanging thoughts and ideas. A truly effective person has realistic self-esteem to recognize and accept the limitations of his own perception of problems and insight to see new opportunities that interaction with the hearts and minds of other people gives. Using this principle in communication one can achieve results that exceed initial expectations.
The seventh habit is sharpening the saw; it consolidates all other habits and makes their application possible. Here the author talks about continuous improvement and renewal professionally and personally. This habit consists of the constant development of four personal factors: physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional. Improvement of these factors is the investment into own personality, which will help in achieving personal life goals. Stephen Covey emphasizes that the process of renewal becomes effective only when it is balanced and affects all four dimensions. The renewing process is possible through relaxation, otherwise one can totally burn out by overdoing everything. Neglecting one of them will have a negative impact on three others. Moreover, Covey suggests reading good books and keeping a diary, expressing there thoughts and ideas to achieve clarity, accuracy and pithiness of the thinking process.
The author of this book writes that bringing up highly integral character and to live a joyful life filled with love and peace is not an easy challenge. But everything is possible if the right principles form the basis of life rules, paradigms created by others are broken or changed, and the deceptive comfort of unworthy us habits are broken out. By putting the right principles at the center of life and maintaining a balance between productive actions and developing the ability to act, one will certainly build a truly effective, useful and happy life.
Obviously it is impossible to develop the habit of using the principles set presented in the book by reading the book once. Rather, it might become a meaningful moment on the path of personal development. After reading this book thoughtfully many skills such as family relationships, parenting, planning approach, listening skills and many more appear in a new dimension.
In general, this book is universal in nature, because it is based on “natural laws” – the principles and rules that are well-known and apply everywhere and always. The book provides a powerful impetus for personal development, changing attitudes through a reflection on own believes and traits of character. Not many people can objectively evaluate own strengths and weaknesses and this book gives a chance to do so. After reading it, people will be able to significantly increase their effectiveness both in the professional field and in interpersonal relations with other people, primarily with their loved ones.
Coven S. (1989) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People