The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey

THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO SEEM TO HAVE IT ALL. They’re dynamic and successful. They always seem to get the promotion, the raise, the great opportunity. No matter how busy their lives, they always seem to be on the ball, on top of things. They have everything under control. So how do they do it? What sets them apart? How are they different from the misguided, the counter-productive and just plain ordinary folk like you and me who sometimes have trouble getting everything done? Well, the good news is, it’s not what they have. It’s what they do. And the even better news is that you can learn to do it too. The fact is that in the end, real effectiveness all comes down to your habits. That’s right. The difference between highly effective – and highly successful – people and everyone else is a set of simple habits anyone can learn. Ask yourself right now – just how effective are you? Are you a successful parent and partner, and an asset to your company? Do you exceed expectations and create opportunities? Or do you struggle to get on top of the million and one things you have to do every day? And even if you do have things under control – nobody’s perfect. We could all benefit from being a little bit more effective in our lives, our work and our relationships. So wherever you are now – whether you’re overwhelmed by the demands of your life or you’re doing OK – you can improve your performance by learning the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Dr Stephen Covey gives you the keys to success through an integrated, ethical approach to resolving personal and business issues. Here, in a nutshell, is your step-by-step guide for living with integrity, honesty and a newfound efficiency that will take your success to the next level. ESSENTIAL BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE FO R HIGH ACHIEVERS IN THIS SUMMARY Personality – Or Character? 2 Habits – The Basis Of Character 3 Six Different Ways To Play 6 Diagnose Before You Prescribe 7 True Change – From The Inside Out 8 Stephen Covey THE 7HABITS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE OF The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen R. Covey 2 ABOUT THE AUTHOR Stephen Covey graduated from Harvard with an MBA and went on to earn a doctorate from Brigham Young University, where he became a Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Business Management. Dr Covey is best known for his world-renowned work on leadership and personal effectiveness. His books The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Principle-Centred Leadership topped the New York Times Bestseller Lists and have been translated into numerous languages. Stephen Covey has been teaching management and leadership principles for over 25 years. He is the founder and chairman of the Covey Leadership Centre, an international organisation whose mission is to empower people and organisations through understanding and living principle-centred leadership. PERSONALITY – OR CHARACTER? Over the past 50 years, thousands of books have been written about success. But so much of what has been written is shallow and superficial. The majority of it centres around the Personality Ethic. According to the Personality Ethic, success boils down to things like personality, charm, image and public relations. There are two sides to the coin of the Personality Ethic. One side is the ‘power of positive thinking’. That side is peppered with well-worn axioms like, “Your attitude depends on your attitude” and, “If you can conceive and believe it, you can achieve it.” This strand also emphasises the importance of communication skills and conflict resolution. But the dark side of the personality approach is a form of manipulation and deceit. It can hoodwink people into parting with large sums of money to attend seminars that are little more than brainwashing. This approach tends to encourage people to fake interest in others, use artificial charm and manipulate people to get what they want. We seem to have lost sight of the wisdom of an earlier age. The success books of earlier times – 150 years ago or more – had a different focus. In those days the focus was on the Character Ethic – the idea that success in business and life comes from character. Virtues such as integrity, honesty, fairness and discipline were seen as the only proper foundation for true and lasting success. While it is important to have sound communication skills and to maintain a positive attitude, those attributes are ultimately secondary to your essential character. Without strength of character all the slick charm and smooth communication techniques in the world will not bring you lasting success and fulfilment. PARADIGM 1. One that serves as a pattern or model. 2. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People are based on fundamental principles. To practice the habits effectively, you need to make these principles the foundation of your commitments, accomplishments and contentment. To understand the basis of the Seven Habits, we have to understand the concept of paradigms. A paradigm is a model, a pattern or frame of reference that is built up from our experiences and understanding of the world. Gradually and invisibly, our belief systems are constructed from the experiences of our lives. They become the filters through which we view the world. We are so close to our own paradigms that we can’t even see them. It takes real work and honesty to uncover our paradigms so we can take a closer look at them. And we need to do that – to find out if the paradigms we are working with are accurate and grounded in values we can believe in. TWO KINDS OF MAPS Our paradigms are like the maps that we use to navigate our way in the world and through life. These maps are of two types: maps of how things are (realities) and how things should be (values). Sometimes these two maps will coincide. Often, they won’t. That’s when your paradigms will come to the fore. Sometimes the painful discordance between your map of how things should be – values – and the reality of how things are will force you to make a stand. But if you haven’t examined and understood your own paradigms you won’t know what you stand for. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” Anonymous We’d all like to believe that our view of the world is objective and accurate. But everyone’s perspective is different, and each person is equally passionately convinced of their own truth. There are as many ways to 2 To order individual summaries or books, simply contact our Customer Care People on 1300 88 14 16 SELECTED AS ESSENTIAL READING FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE 3 see the world as there are people to see it – and we are all entitled to our own view. The reality is that we don’t see the world as it is – we see it as we are. To achieve true effectiveness based on sound, principled foundations, most of us will need to engineer a personal paradigm shift. And it’s only through real understanding of ourselves, our paradigms, our behaviours and our strengths and weaknesses that we can begin to undertake this process. Through awareness of the ways we habitually see and interact with the world, we gain the power to change ourselves from within and to become truly effective and successful people. VALUES – A BEACON IN THE DARKNESS Sometimes in life we become lost in the darkness and confusion that seems to surround us. At times like these, our values are a beacon in the darkness that can guide us back to our course. Principles like fairness, integrity, service, excellence and compassion serve as landmarks on our journey. When we lose sight of what is right we need to focus on something we can rely on, something permanent – and values are the light that can lead us home. If we turn away from them, and try to resolve our problems without reference to them – we end up more lost and confused than ever. To change the paradigms on which our lives, our opinions and our belief systems are based, we need to go beyond a superficial understanding of ourselves. We need to accept that true success doesn’t come from shallow charm or from manipulating and intimidating others. It comes from strength of character and the power of principles. Equally, real success is not measured in possessions, in money or in fair-weather friends. True success comes from the inside – from courage, integrity and character. All the fame and material wealth in the world can’t compensate for a deep feeling that you lack the qualities that make a truly good person. And when you know that you’re a success from the inside out – you have the kind of wealth that money can’t buy. We can’t solve significant problems with the same level of thinking that created them. If we are going to create deep, lasting change we need to raise our minds to a new level. The new paradigm must be an accurate map of effective human interaction. It has to be founded on unwavering principles. This is not merely true for us as individuals. The same is true of a society where for 50 years the theory of success has been dominated by the Personality Ethic. The deeper level of thought found in the Character Ethic is the foundation of the Seven Habits. It is a strategy based on principles and character. INSIDE-OUT – OR OUTSIDE-IN? In a paradigm shift, change takes place from the inside out. This is in contrast to our modern idea that everything can be fixed by superficial means. The popularity of crash diets, get-rich-quick schemes and cosmetic surgery all attest to our belief in the power of superficial change to make deep and lasting transformation in our lives. But the problem with this approach is that while surface improvements may have a temporary effect on the quality of our lives, ultimately, we revert to the old habits and old behaviour that created our situation in the first place. These outside-in methods are almost as commonplace as they are ineffective. Tragically, they just entrench the problems deeper and deeper. They can lead to another form of dangerous thinking. After all, if the solutions to our problems lie outside ourselves, maybe the causes do too. Maybe we are just victims of circumstance. Seductive though it may be, this belief just paralyses us. Unless we are prepared to change ourselves, we won’t change anything. In the end, the outside-in approach creates crises that get ever more urgent and intractable. And because we’re looking in the wrong place for the answers, we get further and further away from the solutions. HABITS – THE BASIS OF CHARACTER Whether you know it or not – whether you like it or not – your habits are what make up your character. Habits are potent forces, constantly at work beneath the surface, shaping our daily lives, defining who we are. This is great if you have good habits. But if you are like most people, you have a few bad habits you know you should break. And while it’s easy to know these things – after all, any smoker will tell you they know the harmful effects of smoking – it’s rarely easy to kiss our bad habits goodbye. Some habits are ingrained over many years, and when combined with addiction, their spell can be especially hard to break. But with help and support you can do it. Don’t be afraid to seek help – whatever your bad habit, you can bet there are others who share it and who also want to be free. To subscribe contact Standford Management Institute at 3 SELECTED AS ESSENTIAL READING FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE 4 A GUIDE TO GOOD HABITS If you want to cultivate good habits, it helps to break them down into components: • Desire – what you want to do. • Knowledge – what to do. • Skills – how to do it. When you break habits – those you have, and those you want to acquire – down into their components, it will be easy to see what you need to do to give up the bad, old habits and develop healthy, new ones. Ineffective people tend to spout their opinions without listening to the feedback that comes back from the world around them – from life, from their family and friends, from their work colleagues and superiors. Maybe they don’t understand the rules of polite human interaction. Maybe they never learned how to listen to others attentively and take their comments on board, even though they may know that it would be in their interests to do so. And even if they have the skills to listen, they will never learn from others until they really want to do so – when the combination of frustration with their own efforts and desire for something better drives them to seek the wisdom of others. True listening, like so many other things, is a habit we can all learn – but first we must have the desire. DEPENDENCE – INDEPENDENCE – INTERDEPENDENCE All human beings begin their lives in a state of total dependency on their parents. Humans remain in this dependent state longer than any other species. As we develop and mature, we move from dependence on our parents, to independence and self-reliance, and finally to awareness of the interdependence on one another. We must all co-operate in order to survive. In this way, human societies mirror the natural world – they are ecosystems based on collective interdependence. You can only appreciate interdependence when you have reached a certain level of maturity. When you can command yourself in the following ways, you will have a solid understanding of interdependence and a base of character on which to build the Seven Habits: • Physically – you are self-reliant and can work as part of a team; • Emotionally – you have a solid sense of self-worth, combined with fulfilling relationships; and • Intellectually – you can combine your own ideas with the best of scholarship. THE FIRST HABIT: PROACTIVITY ‘Proactive’ has become something of a buzzword. But like so many management buzzwords it has been thrown around so much it has almost become meaningless. It has simply become the fashionable – if imprecise – way of saying we should be doing more. But at its core, proactivity means more than just taking the occasional initiative. It means being truly ahead of the game. Throughout much of history, the prevailing view of human destiny was determinism. This is reflected in the culture of many societies and religions. In Arabic, they say “it is written” – an expression meaning that the future is already written in the book of destiny. In Hinduism your place in society is determined by birth and social class. And in our own society we often see the causes of our circumstances as being external factors. These factors may be environmental – “she pushed me too far” – or psychological – “his stepfather used to beat him when he was a kid”. Sometimes we don’t even have an explanation – that’s what we call luck. But the same logic is at work. The causes are outside us, we have little choice. Individual human beings are merely ships tossed by the seas of fate. But this paradigm has much more validity for lab rats than for people. Alone among all the animals, we as humans have the ability to choose our response to any given situation. We can be aware of our own reactions, we can analyse ourselves, our behaviour and our motives. We can exercise our will over aspects of ourselves we want to change. We have imagination and conscience. We can look inside ourselves and our present reality. We can choose how we will respond to any given situation. We have the power to transcend our circumstances and the power to transform ourselves. PROACTIVE – OR REACTIVE? The truth is that being proactive is not just a habit or a state of mind, it’s a way of life. It’s about taking responsibility for your life – your choices, your consequences and most of all, your responses. This responsibility simply means the ability to choose how you 4 To order individual summaries or books, simply contact our Customer Care People on 1300 88 14 16 SELECTED AS ESSENTIAL READING FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE 5 will respond to your situation – whatever life may present you with. So many people do not understand this. They live their lives in a totally reactive fashion. They don’t act until disaster strikes – and often, even then, their knee-jerk reactions only make things worse. These people don’t know what they stand for, what they want or what they’re prepared to do to get it. That’s why they never seem to get what they want. That’s why they are thrown around by the forces of life. But to listen to them, you would think they had been the victims of every form of disadvantage, misfortune and adversity. Truly proactive people never blame – or credit – their situation, environment, conditioning or others for their choices and behaviour. They make their own choices, set their own goals, honour their own values and express their feelings respectfully and appropriately. These people have learned to choose values over impulses. Instead of giving way to every fleeting impulse, proactive people are guided by values. When times are hard and they have tough choices to make, proactive people look to their values for guidance – like a lighthouse in the storm. THE FINAL FREEDOM Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was imprisoned for years in a Nazi concentration camp. His wife, parents and siblings were murdered by the Third Reich. He was starved, tortured, beaten and placed in solitary confinement. He lived for years in conditions that were unimaginably horrific. But Dr Frankl believed that humans had the power to choose their response to any situation, no matter how terrible that situation might be. He used the power of his memory and imagination to project himself out of the devastating reality that confronted him every day. He not only survived his terrible ordeal – he inspired many others to see beyond their immediate circumstances to the life they could one day enjoy. He gave them hope. Dr Frankl called this the final freedom – the freedom to choose your response to your situation, whatever it might be. CIRCLES OF LIFE Initiative is natural. However out of practice you may be when it comes to being proactive, you have the potential to develop your ‘proactive muscles’. To be truly effective, we first have to be aware of what is most important to us. We call this our ‘Circle of Concern’ – all the things that engage our time, attention and energy. Within our ‘Circle of Concern’ is a smaller circle encompassing all those things we can directly affect. We call this circle our ‘Circle of Influence’. Fundamental to true effectiveness is a full awareness of what falls within our Circle of Influence and our Circle of Concern. Our ability to make – and more importantly to keep – promises is an important barometer of our proactivity. Every time we honour a commitment, we are honouring ourselves, the other person and building strength of character to tackle greater challenges. THE SECOND HABIT: ALWAYS BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND It may seem a morbid question, but how will you feel when you lie on your deathbed and look back on your life? Do you think you will feel satisfied with what you have accomplished – not just in terms of material accomplishments but also in terms of your relationships and emotional development? If you think about what your life has been so far, and project yourself fifty years into the future, would the story be a sorry tale of disappointed hopes and broken dreams, or a triumphant tale of achievement in the face of adversity? If you want to become truly effective, it helps to take a long-term perspective of your life, and look on what you do today as contributing to the bigger picture of your life as a whole. You’ll probably find, after doing this for a while, that you take your day to day decisions that little bit more seriously. Should you smoke that last cigarette? Should you have another drink, even though the doctor told you to take it easy? Should you take your attractive colleague’s number even though you’re married? Should you skip your kid’s award ceremony because there’s been another crisis at the office? Taking a panoramic view of your life can put these everyday decisions into their wider perspective. Paradoxically, while you begin to take these questions more seriously, they may become easier to answer. This panoramic perspective will also help you understand that while you may be busy, you won’t be truly effective until you’re busy following your heart’s desire. If you stay aware of what’s truly important to you – inside your Circle of Concern – your actions will be naturally focused and organically effective. To subscribe contact Standford Management Institute at 5 SELECTED AS ESSENTIAL READING FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE 6 CREATION HAPPENS TWICE – FIRST IN THE MIND, THEN IN THE WORLD Everything that is created by human hands exists first as an idea in a human mind. Be warned – the initial concept in your mind will influence the shape of your final creation. It pays to have a clear idea of the outcome you want to achieve crystallised in your mind before you begin your project or start striving towards your goal. “Measure twice, cut once.” Carpenters’ Motto So many people fail to recognise this – to their endless frustration! They begin their day, their studies or their career with no clear goal in mind. Then they reach middle age and wonder why they have spent the best years of their lives running around in ever-decreasing circles. It’s true that sometimes our first creations are unintentional. Sometimes, due to the experiences of our lives and limitations of our thinking, our first creations come from our psychological makeup and scripts handed to us by others. That’s why it is so essential to come to terms with our histories. Otherwise we will be trapped by the boundaries of our conditioning. Only when we have made peace with the past, can we graduate from a reactive to a proactive outlook. LEADERS – OR MANAGERS? Leadership is the first creation – an idea in the mind. Management is the day to day, nuts and bolts. Leadership is about vision. Management is about actually getting things done. Management is about the bottom line. But leadership takes the panoramic view and looks towards the ultimate destination. Today, markets move so fast that whole product lines are scrapped long before they’re ever perfected. Management has to stay not just on top of these trends, but one step ahead of them. But while management has to maintain control of the logistics of the business, it is the responsibility of the leadership to remain in constant communication with management about the overall direction of the business. It’s the only way to be sure you’re all pulling in the same direction. THE THIRD HABIT: FIRST THINGS FIRST Time management is crucial to effectiveness. If you really take a long view at your life, take a deep breath and imagine yourself in your final moments, you will begin to realise the true value of time. And once you do, there will be no need to convince you of the need to prioritise carefully so that your time is used to its full potential. This requires self-discipline. It means choosing to value a set of principles that place choices that are beneficial in the long term above the immediate gratification of satisfying an impulse or indulging in laziness or extravagance. “Successful people are in the habit of doing things failures don’t like to do.” E.M. Gray Don’t be afraid to seek out the wisdom of others. There have been many great thinkers over the last century whose insights have been recorded in literature. You, no doubt, have friends who are successful and happy. Their guidance and mentorship could prove invaluable. THE FOURTH HABIT: WIN / WIN There’s an old saying that goes “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” And Habit No. 4 is all about how you play the game. SIX DIFFERENT WAYS TO PLAY Win / Lose In this paradigm, if one person wins, the other loses. This usually results in pointless conflict or authoritarianism. Everything becomes a petty competition and every gain is taken at the expense of someone else. Lose / Win The loser mentality. This person will always bend to the will of others. “Anything to keep the peace” is their catchcry. But amid their complaints about the unfairness of life and the evils of other people, such people’s company is rarely peaceful! Lose / Lose Put two stubborn, ego-driven individuals together and this is often the result! This is the paradigm that drives warfare, custody battles and hostile takeovers. It can become an obsession where the desire to inflict a loss on the other person becomes so extreme that the wounds and scars of battle are ignored. Such people often drive each other to the very edge of sanity, solvency and beyond. Win! The most common paradigm in modern business, this is looking out for number one. Without thinking about 6 To order individual summaries or books, simply contact our Customer Care People on 1300 88 14 16 SELECTED AS ESSENTIAL READING FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE 7 someone else’s loss or gain, this person or business simply looks out for their own interests and leaves others to do the same. Win / Win Win/Win is a complete philosophy of human interaction. It is a constant search for mutual benefit. In this paradigm, life is a matter of co-operation, not competition. Its’ adherents will never rest until they have found a solution that benefits everyone. Win / Win or No Deal This takes the Win/Win paradigm one step further. If no mutually beneficial solution can be found, the parties walk away with no hard feelings. They understand that things didn’t work out this time and everyone will move on. There is no blame or resentment, no need for manipulation. Their goals are not in harmony and they are free to find new solutions which do create win/ win outcomes. Win/Win is far and away the best way to play. But it’s not as easy as it looks. FIVE ESSENTIAL KEYS TO PLAYING THE WIN/WIN WAY • Abundance mentality – the awareness that there is more than enough for everyone. There is no need to succeed at the expense of others. • Character – integrity, maturity, the courage of one’s convictions balanced with consideration of others. • Relationships – win/ win depends on trust, which is all about relationships. If we haven’t built strong relationships with others, we won’t win their trust to build win/ win solutions. • Agreements – can only be built from relationships. Agreements define your win/ win solution and offer direction. Effective agreements focus on results rather than the details of the methods to be used. • Systems – win/ win will break down if systems fail to reinforce it. If you talk the talk but all your rewards are based around a win/ lose paradigm, no-one will take you seriously. And who can blame them? THE FIFTH HABIT: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND – THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD The fifth habit is an almost universal principle at work in the world. Nowhere is its influence more powerful than in the area of human relations. This habit strikes right at the heart of your Circle of Influence. Seeking to understand empowers you to act more skilfully – in life, at work, and in your dealings with others. If you can truly understand another person, you will be rewarded with a powerful channel of communication. You may even earn their trust. This will allow you to work together to create win/win outcomes in business and in life. DIAGNOSE BEFORE YOU PRESCRIBE All professionals practice this principle. It’s obviously essential for doctors, but equally lawyers, accountants and engineers need to analyse a large amount of data to understand the context and begin formulating the solutions. Instead of trying to generate a quick-fix for someone’s problems, we must learn to listen deeply and truly empathise with their situation. Only then can we hope to reach into their world and craft creative solutions to complex problems. If we are mentally rushing ahead to the solution, we will not even hear what the other person is saying. This makes effective diagnosis impossible. THE POWER OF LISTENING The more you listen to others, the more you will see the enormous differences in perceptions from one person to another. People’s dominant paradigms play a powerful role in filtering the way they see the world. Some people focus almost exclusively on money, or their children, or their career. Their view of the world and everything in it is coloured by these filters. Understanding is all the more essential when the other person is operating from a diametrically opposed paradigm. Only through understanding can a deeply entrenched conflict be overcome. SEEK TO BE UNDERSTOOD Understanding requires consideration. Being understood requires courage. Advance your character first, then your relationship with the other party, and finally your arguments. You have to stand up and make your position clear in no uncertain terms. You must claim your position with integrity, dignity and humility. You must communicate it respectfully. It takes character, courage and wisdom. When you do present your ideas, do so powerfully, precisely and always in the context of the other person’s concerns and values. THE SIXTH HABIT: SYNERGY The power of synergy is summed up in the old saying To subscribe contact Standford Management Institute at 7 SELECTED AS ESSENTIAL READING FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE 8 “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. You can have a great team but if every player isn’t pulling towards a common goal, the result is more likely to be chaos than creativity. But when the entire team is focused on the ultimate goal – whether it is winning an account or a championship – the effects of synergy can be breathtaking. The heart of synergy is honouring the emotional, psychological and personal differences between people. The most effective people are the ones who are humble enough to recognise the limitations of their own perceptions. Their understanding of others gives them the power – not just to be understood in turn, but to create powerful new opportunities that benefit everyone. THE SEVENTH HABIT: SHARPEN THE SAW The Seventh Habit comes from the story of a woodcutter who was working himself to exhaustion chopping wood with a blunt saw. A person came across him in the woods and suggested he take a break to sharpen his saw. The woodcutter retorted that he was far too busy! We can all relate to the woodcutter’s dilemma – sometimes we get so busy, we can’t see the forest for the trees. We are so engrossed in our efforts we don’t even realise our tools are getting blunt. That’s when it’s time to get into the Seventh Habit – and take time out to ensure that we are using the most effective methods to reach our goals. FOUR ELEMENTS OF RENEWAL Physical A healthy diet, regular exercise and getting adequate sleep have a powerful impact on your effectiveness and your state of mind. 30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times a week will re-energise you, clear your head and spark your creativity. Spiritual Prayer, meditation and quiet reflection are potent sources of spiritual renewal. These moments are essential to the building of character and a deep appreciation of your own values. These things are fundamental to all of the Seven Habits. Mental So many people leave school and forget that life is a learning experience. Turning on the TV is no substitute for genuine, active, directed learning. Be proactive – seek out what you want to learn, and seek out all the information you can find. An easy source can be the internet. You may be truly amazed at the wealth of information that is at your fingertips with the help of the internet. Emotional Relationships are often the strongest forces in our lives. They offer us some of the most poignant rewards it is possible to experience in the course of a human life. Successful growth and rejuvenation in our relationships – with our parents, our children, our partners and friends – comes from growing confidence and maturity, combined with constant communication. You could call it mutual evolution. TRUE CHANGE – FROM THE INSIDE OUT Real change – lasting change – is created from the inside out. It doesn’t come from blaming external influences, or making cosmetic changes. It begins and ends in the heart and soul. As we become aware of the paradigms through which we filter our vision of the world, we can become more balanced in our thinking, our communication and our behaviour. Creating change that comes from character is a gradual process. It’s no quick fix. But if we choose to live with integrity, with honesty and effectiveness, we will understand that this is a long term goal. It is certainly a worthy one. 8 © 2004 Standford Management Institute. Reproduction in any form without the express written consent of SMI is prohibited. SELECTED AS ESSENTIAL READING FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE