The 7 Habits You Must Practice If You Want to Be Highly Effective

Excerpted from Stephen Covey's book, these are some routines that we should pay attention to in order to improve in our life.
By Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
Empowering People in the Business of Changing the World | Entrepreneur® is dedicated to fueling the world’s visionary leaders compelled to make a difference through their innovative ideas, businesses, and points of view.
July 6, 2021 Updated: July 14, 2021
Epoch Times Photo
By Daniel Colombo

Years go by and this book is a best-seller around the world, and it is also one of my favorites. In it we can learn everything that is needed to be an effective, productive person who is capable of diagramming the life you want.

It is “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, published in 1989 and sold out one edition after another.

The author, who died in 2012, has been an internationally respected leadership authority, teacher, organization consultant, and writer. He dedicated his life to teaching a principled way of life and leadership to build both families and organizations.

In this work he has condensed his experience to help people become effective, no matter where you are today. These are seven habits to train, sustained over time, to achieve the goals of high productivity, personal and professional efficiency.

The 1st Habit of Highly Effective People Is to Be Proactive

The first step is fundamental and is in what Covey calls “private victory,” because they depend exclusively on you. The author assures that there are two positions towards life, reactive people and proactive people. People considered a reactive act in relation to an external question, they are constantly waiting and responding to external stimuli. This way of acting never finds satisfaction because it is being pushed all the time.

On the other hand, there are proactive people. As soon as you decide, you can begin to exercise the complete freedom that you have over your being, act with your own identity to activate an internal motor that feeds all your decisions.

To be a proactive person you are going to have to take full responsibility for your life and act from a perspective where you are in control. The author mentions that there are two types of psychological spheres you can inhabit: the circle of influence or the circle of concern.

The worry circle is full of all the things that you care about (even the things that make you angry) but that you can’t control.

On the other hand, the circle of influence is made up of what is relevant to you and you also have the control to modify it.

For example, you are seeing on social networks that there are many problems in the world. In the vast majority of cases, there is not much you can do about it, there is too much information that can only create useless worry that affects your ability to appreciate life.

check list.
A person writes a to-do checklist in this stock photo. (Pixabay)

The proactive vision lies in concentrating most of the time in the circle of influence where you have the ability to influence the result, for example, your financial status depends on you and your growth; And if you want to improve this aspect of your life, it is your responsibility to start creating a strategy that gives you the results you are looking for.

The proactive mind kicks in when it is fueled by your vision and goals rather than reacting to your problems and frustrations.

The 2nd Habit Begins With an End in Mind

When developing your life project you have to ask yourself many questions to know what it is you really want. You need to start with a vision, that is, a mental image that represents what you want to achieve with your life. The clearer and more meaningful that vision is, the easier it will be for you to walk towards it. To know which way to go, today you must have a clear idea of where you want to go.

To begin to understand where you are today, start by creating an inspiring vision of the future. Take action, think of your life as a work of art to know what technique and colors to use. You have to structure a clear idea of what the whole picture will look like in the end.

The 3rd Habit Is to Establish First Things First

In the previous point is when you can begin to develop a detailed action plan and then execute it in the best way. This is the time to start managing your day-to-day.

The first habit, as you have read, is choosing to take responsibility; The second habit is formed by creating an ideal vision of your future, and this third habit is to ground that vision into reality and begin to build it.

To give you an example, imagine that you want to build a house. The first habit leads you to make the decision to start, the second habit focuses on developing the plans of that house and imagining it and creating it in detail. When you have everything clear in your mind, it is time to build. The third habit is to start forming the foundation of the house and laying the bricks to raise the walls.

Your principles and values have to be a priority at this stage of your development, for that reason it is essential that you begin to be aware of the management of the time you have available.

Stephen Covey proposes a four-block model, where your activities are located according to urgency and importance.

In the first quadrant are the urgent activities that are important. This is related to your most immediate priorities. Activities that you have to do in a practically obligatory way, for example, solving a crisis, payments, projects with a deadline.

In the second quadrant are activities that are not urgent but are important to your vision. Here is what is related to making decisions to advance your project. For example, things related to reading, learning, planning, building relationships, looking for new opportunities. Everything that is related to continue improving.

In the third quadrant are the activities that are urgent, but not important—that is, the interruptions that arise, the unnecessary meetings, the loss of time and focus on what is essential, and in general everything external that demands your attention, even if it is not important for your life project. The key here is learning to delegate effectively.

And the fourth quadrant is made up of activities that are neither urgent nor important. This quadrant can destroy your life. This is only an escape and contains all the habits that do not help us to build the life you want, the distractions that you do when you are bored; it’s wasted time in relation to the vision you want to build. It’s about eliminating those unnecessary distractions and interruptions.

Observing this model, Covey proposes that you create a schedule that is fed with important activities—that is, spend at least 50 percent of your time in the activities that you consider to be in quadrant one and two and eliminate as many activities as possible in quadrants three and four.

Remember to start slowly and gradually manage your time based on what is most important to you.

Climbing towards effectiveness. Returning to Covey’s seven habits, once you have mastered the first three habits you can continue with the next three. These habits fall into the category of “public victory”—that is, once you have learned to deal with yourself you will be able to begin to exercise leadership skills towards other people.

The basic idea is that when you become an individual who has the ability to build a vision and commit to it, you will eventually be able to inspire others to join you towards a joint vision.

The 4th Habit Is to Think Win-Win

shake hands
People shake hands in this stock photo. (Pixabay)

By developing the habits to achieve a “private victory” (for yourself) you understood what it takes to be able to win individually, now the next step is to create situations where all the people who are involved with you can win.

In a way, we are used to destructive paradigms where someone has to lose so that another can win, this is the easy way. Many relationships are loaded very unevenly to one side. With this new paradigm, instead of approaching an activity with the intention of getting the most benefit for you, you are looking for a way where both parties can benefit.

In the end that will help you build very powerful relationships where trust is what unites them.

The 5th Habit Is to Seek First to Understand and Then to Be Understood

Learning to listen is one of the most important skills you can develop. It will be impossible to create a relationship if you do not have that ability. The key to being a good listener is to avoid the desire to interrupt the other person and instead maintain a deep curiosity to try to understand.

Wanting to understand a person will require effort and consideration on your part and, on the other hand, making yourself understood requires courage and precision to say what you really think.

Empathy, that incredible ability that human beings possess to try to understand someone else’s point of view when you are trying to solve a problem, is of the utmost importance.

Communication allows us to reach a solution through the ability to listen and share information. One of the worst habits we have is wanting to offer solutions to problems that we do not finish hearing, and this can affect your communication and put your relationship at risk. With this in mind, it is important that you first collect as much information as possible to understand someone and then when you have a clearer vision, you can contribute to a successful solution.

The 6th Habit: Use Synergy

This is when you manage to coexist with groups of effective people.

Your personal and professional relationships are based on trust and responsibility. When you reach this point, you surround yourself with people who are looking for creative solutions, together. Thus, through cooperation between individuals you can achieve much greater things.

At this point, you understand that there are things you don’t know, and you also understand your own limitations; however, you are able to find people who help transcend those limitations and cover a wider area of influence.

The main concept of this book is that you can celebrate that we are all different.

There is a great diversity of talents, ideas and abilities, and for that reason working in teams of effective individuals will always bring better results.

The 7th and Final Habit to Complete the Process Is Sharpening the Saw

To finish this cycle proposed by Stephen Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” you need to focus. Strive to continue improving every day, with a focus on perseverance that will allow you to constantly develop all aspects of your life.

The author describes this part as a balanced self-renewal process that is made up of four complementary and interconnected parts.

There are four important dimensions that you have to constantly feed: the physical part, that is, everything related to your body, such as nutrition and exercise; the mental part, for example, reading, meditating and planning goals; the social part, the service you offer to others, trust and your empathy; and the spiritual part, which is related to your values and your deepest center.

When you manage to dedicate time to these four parts, you will be able to live in a state of constant growth where very soon you will see the benefits around you and you will enter a state of greater fulfillment and satisfaction.

Reviewing your victories. This last habit completes the paradigm of the 7 habits of Steven Covey: in the beginning you started with the “private victory” which consisted of: one, be proactive; Two, start with an end in mind; and three, set first things first.

At the end of this initial stage, you can begin to explore the “public victory” made up of the fourth, think win-win; fifth, seek first to understand and then to be understood; and sixth, use synergy.

By establishing these six powerful habits, it is time to renew your way of being and doing in the world, time to continue growing, learning, and improving every day. Of course, you will always keep in mind the intention of applying habit seven (continue sharpening the saw) and creating a system in your life that allows you to continue making the best decisions for yourself, thinking about supporting and benefiting the entire group of people who help you.

Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
Empowering People in the Business of Changing the World | Entrepreneur® is dedicated to fueling the world’s visionary leaders compelled to make a difference through their innovative ideas, businesses, and points of view.