Tips for Thought

Tips from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a best-selling 1989 self-help book published by Stephen Covey. This handy guide lists seven habits a person must develop to attain their goals efficiently. Here are some critical lessons from the book.

Why is it important to develop maturity?

Before listing the essential habits, we must first understand Covey’s “maturity continuum.” This idea refers to the shift in which a person’s goals and priorities change as they grow older.

Aside from dependence and independence, Covey believes that there is a third stage called interdependence, which is essential for good leaders, team players, and people in any relationship, whether personal or professional.

At birth, we depend on others. As we grow older, we begin to rely on ourselves. However, to succeed and become efficient, we need to work with others hence why interdependence is necessary.

Lessons from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Now that we know about the stages of maturity, we can list the seven habits we must cultivate to become genuinely effective.

1. “Be proactive.”

This first lesson is crucial when shifting from being a dependent to an independent person. Being proactive refers to accountability for one’s actions, experiences, and emotions.

Being proactive also refers to acting or reacting. When we realize we can decide when to act or react, we start taking control of our lives.

2. “Begin with the end in mind.”

It is not enough to only decide on an action. When making plans or decisions, mature people should also visualize the end goal of what they want to achieve—thinking before acting is a great habit to form because it allows you to review any possible consequences or issues that may occur.

3. “Put first things first.”

This step refers to prioritizing what is important versus what is urgent. The difference between the two is that important are flexible in deadlines, while urgent matters are not. Covey teaches you how to prioritize your tasks and goals into four quadrants and what you should do once you categorize them.

4. “Think win-win.”

The first three habits teach us how to be independent. However, as we master the three, we must also learn to be interdependent. The first skill teaches us how to work well with others by thinking of solutions that will benefit both parties.

If one person always gets their way while the other doesn’t, it may create resentment and fragile relations later. However, if a person thinks of solutions that benefit both parties, the relationship may strengthen and foster more trust.

5. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

This step is learning to listen empathetically. It is also a crucial skill for negotiations and conflict resolution.

Covey emphasizes that we must learn to empathize with another person to understand them genuinely. Once we establish that connection, they are likelier to reciprocate listening or working together towards a goal.

6. “Synergize.”

Synergy is essential for any group, whether a team, company or family.

In this step, Covey tells us that to synergize, we must combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork. This step helps us achieve our goals and foster more substantial and happier relationships.

7. “Sharpen the saw.”

The last habit is seeking to improve continuously. Suppose a person, company, or leader wishes to maintain a long-term and effective business or lifestyle. In that case, they must constantly embrace progress and aim for constant improvement. The end goal of this step is not to be perfect but to master the habits of highly effective people so effectively that it becomes ingrained.

Bottomline: Your habits dictate your success or failure. When you replace your bad habits with positive ones, you become efficient, effective, and inspiring to others. However, the goal is not to be perfect but to continuously improve until these habits become ingrained into your psyche.