The book 7 habits of Highly Effective People is one of the premier, and most heavily promoted, self improvement books available in the world. People from all different walks of life have read the book and it is a national bestseller for good reason. The book lays outs a clear road for us on the journey to our best selves; of particular value, is the idea that our character needs to built upon values that are based off of our highest aspirations for ourselves. This book is an excellent starter book for someone looking to start improving themselves: it lays a strong foundation for your personal growth; 7 habits is a must read for anyone currently in or moving into a growth period in life. If I had to tell someone wanting to change their life what to read, 7 Habits of highly effective people would always be in the top 5 list!
We start our experience in the book 7 Habits by learning about paradigms and belief systems. If you have read many self help books then this section will be nothing new to you, because as with all self help books, the first step to making changes and growing is to realise you are capable of change. Since most of us end up locked in a place of fear clinging desperately to comfort, we must first become self aware to empower ourselves with the ability to change. Becoming self aware and becoming able to identify our beliefs as something separate from who we are, gives us the first tool needed to take control of our destinies.
Habit 1- Be proactive.
Proactivity is the idea Stephen R. Covey first introduces to us to give us control over our circumstances. There are two ways to confront a situation; the first way, is with reactivity, where we wait and react to an event that has already occurred, or the second way is with proactivity, where we plan for an event and meet it head on.
Imagine that you just stole something from a close friend and another mutual friend witnessed it; you could choose to be reactive and wait to see if your other friend finds out what you did, but this puts you into a position of reactivity. The other option you have would be to tell your friend what happened, apologize, and do your best to make amends for the situation. Neither option may be easy or end up with a desired result, but certainly taking the proactive response will leave you in a better position with both of your friends.
Many times confronting an obstacle head on will give you a great advantage in dealing with adversity.
Habit 2- Begin with the end in mind.
Habit 2 starts us with a vivid image of ourselves overseeing our own funeral, We hear from three speakers at our service who tell us what we were like, what we will be remembered for, and what kind of person we were in life. We picture what we would want them to say, and how we want to remembered when we die. This was a very emotional process for me as I realized that the path I was on was actually a detour around the things I needed to be doing to grow into the person I wanted to be. Once we realize who we want to be, we can begin to see the characteristics we need cultivate to develop into that person, and once we realize what we need to change, we can start taking steps to become that person; suddenly, we have clear direction, we know what we want, and we know what behaviors we need to exhibit in life.
Once we know where we are headed we can start exercising integrity in our actions, we can ask ourselves “Will this choice make me more like, or less like, the person who I want to become?”.
Habit 3- Put first things first.
Putting first things first is about making priorities. Now that we know who we want to be and have an idea of how to become that person, we can start making our priorities reflect those desires. For instance, if you want to become a more outgoing and social person, then you have to start taking steps to ensure that personal growth happens. Maybe that means you usually spend Friday nights at home with a glass of wine and a movie, but when a friend invites us out to a social event we have to ask ourselves, “which choice will make us more like the person we want to become?”.
Going to the event may be uncomfortable, but it is obviously going to get us closer to becoming that social person we want to be. Once we start prioritising things in our life by their adherence to our desire for our best self, we can really start living with purpose. This idea in particular is, in my opinion, the strongest of all the concepts of the 7 habits.
Habit 4- Think Win WIn.
The fourth habit deals with our problem solving skills, especially when dealing with others. Using our interactions to ensure the success of ourselves and the others around us is the best recipe for success. When only one person wins, there are usually going to be some upset parties involved, but when we seek for solutions that benefit everyone involved we end up in a much better situation. This chapter is highly valuable to anyone in business or for anyone making a lot of decisions that involve others.
Habit 5- Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Habit 5 deals again with our interactions with others, but this time it deals with listening and communicating better. Realising two things will help you tremendously with your interpersonal reactions: 1, people want to be heard and feel understood, and 2, most people will not even entertain your ideas until they feel comfortable that you understand their position. No wonder that so many relationships and friendships end over a disagreement, when we see that both parties will not waiver until being understood we see the true difficulty in communication. Seeking to understand the other person first will: give you insight to their point of view, help you better see your own view, find compromises, gain trust and intimacy, and build deep connections with other individuals.
Habit 6- Synergize.
Synergy is basically interdependence; synergy is the idea that net effect of 5 people working together in harmony is much greater than the sum of their individual contributions alone. When we create situations where people can express themselves openly, work together for a common cause, and work directly with others, a unique environment in created: one that fosters huge growth. Synergy is a rare and highly efficient trait that can be developed through the ideas of win win and seeking first to understand.
Habit 7- Sharpen the saw
Sharpen the saw is our final chapter of the 7 habits, Sharpen the saw is the idea of continuing self improvement: it says we should always strive to become better, we should always strive to better apply the 7 habits in our lives, we should continually see our end point and figure out ways to get closer to that goal. Sharpen the saw covers the cycle of continuous growth and improvement and cements the other habits into true habits.
7 habits of highly effective people is a great book filled with a plethora of information to help you become better. The book is extremely well structured, straight forward, and easy to read. It deals in both concepts and it deals with specific steps we can take to get closer to our ideal selves. I definitely consider this book a must read for anyone looking to improve themselves or their effectiveness with other people. The lessons in this book are deep and deeply important to your ability to attain success.
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