Have you ever thought about how successful people differ from ordinary ones? What makes them different from others? If you do, the book “7 habits of highly effective people” might answer your question. Our lives are a compilation of our habits. All our habits equally contribute towards success or failure. In the 7 habits of highly effective people summary, we will take a deep dive into how these habits work and how to implement them in our lives too.
What are the 7 habits of highly effective people?
If you are too curious to know the 7 habits, I will not keep you waiting. Here are the 7 habits listed below:
- Be proactive
- Begin with the end in mind
- Put first things first
- Think win-win
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood
- Sharpen the saw
Habits 1,,2 and 3 are mainly focused on self-growth. Habits 4,5 and 6 are focused on developing teamwork and co-operation. The final habit 7 is the continuous improvement of the 6 habits above.
Habit #1: Be proactive:
What does proactive mean? Proactive means to be in charge of what you are doing. We speak out quotes like “My life, my rules.” But whenever your life goes in the wrong direction, we don’t take the blame for it. We accuse our circumstances, our surroundings, and also others around us.
The reason we do this is because most of us are not proactive but the opposite, Reactive. We don’t like to take responsibility for our own actions. Reactive people say things like :
“I don’t have a choice.”
“This is not my fault.”
I am pretty sure in some parts of your life, you have used both of these sentences. But Stephen Covey, the author, reflects that everything that happens in our lives is within our hands. I know this might not entirely feel true because we might not be responsible for any accidents happening in our lives. But how we react to a situation is totally in our control.
You can choose to take responsibility, or you can blame others for the mishaps in your lives. If you are a proactive person, you will do the first one. According to Covey, effective people are proactive. They are completely in control of their lives. Whining, complaining, and blaming are not in their dictionaries. If you want to be an effective person, you must remove them too,
How to apply this habit:
Next time anything goes wrong in your life, don’t react by giving excuses, complaining, or crying. Try to reach the solution. If you can’t find a solution, identify what the mistake, mishap, or accident has taught you. Learn from your mistakes by being proactive. You will become the wisest person around in no time.
Habit #2: Begin with the end in mind:
The author gives an excellent example of a funeral, your own funeral. Nobody is going to talk about your riches, wealth, and power at your funeral. They will talk about the memories and the values you leave behind. Try to redirect your life, keeping this in mind. This is where the idea of 2nd habit comes into effect.
Suppose you have started a race, but you do not know where the finishing line is; what do you do? Can you win the race? The simple answer is no, never.
If you implement this idea in your life, you give rise to the 2nd habit, begin with the end in mind. The key idea of this habit is to be sure of what you are doing. You can use this habit in all aspects of your life. Remember, if you can’t picture the mountain’s peak, maybe you are just climbing a plateau. Whenever you plan an event, start a new semester, develop a new startup, visualize the end in your mind. Be clear about your objectives; only then will you be able to reach them.
Effective people know what they are doing and have a distinct idea about it. They know the consequence of their action because they have pictured it in their minds. Ordinary people notice a dead end only after reaching halfway when there is no turning back. To be an effective people, start keeping the end in mind.
How to apply it:
Before starting any task, state the objective or goals to reach. Write it down on paper. This way, you will have a clearer idea about what you are doing.
Habit #3: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
In the modern world, we are so desperate to be heard and understood. We want everyone to gather around us and hear our brave stories. But that doesn’t happen in real life. People expect everyone to understand them, but they rarely try to understand others. It is hard to find a good listener in the present era but very easy to find a great speaker. Nobody
Just think for a moment how many times you have interrupted your partner while talking to them? More than a dozen, if I have to guess. It is because you were listening to reply, not to understand. We barely try to understand other peoples’ feelings. Then people start acting as if they are hurt, but it is they who have hurt others.
Understanding is a two-way process. But if you want to be an effective person, you must see to understand first. If you are unwilling to listen and understand anyone, they will probably do the same to you.
How to apply this habit:
Next time when you are talking to anyone, be very cautious. Do not interrupt. Listen to people, try to understand them, and give them solutions or answers. You will notice how much information and emotions you have missed all your life.
Habit #4: Put first things first:
To be effective people, we need to put first things first. The only way to do it is to prioritize. We all have priorities in our lives, but most don’t know how to execute our priorities.
Let me give you a scenario:
You have arranged a vacation with your family where you are visiting Europe for a 15-day tour. Just 4 days before the trip, your boss calls you to go on a business trip with him to Russia. This business trip could be a great opportunity for progressing in your career, but your children have been excited about this family trip for many months. What do you do?
This is where Habit #3 takes charge. Every person should have some core values that he primarily values. It could be different from person to person, but everyone must know their values. There are two ways to approach the previous scenario, one is job/money-centered, and the other is family-centered. If your priority is your career, go for the business trip, promise your children a better vacation a month later. But if your priority is your family, go on the family trip and tell your boss that you would attend the next business trip if there is any.
An effective person knows their priority, and they act accordingly. An average person would be confused, depressed, and anxious in such a situation and, in the end, would be failing in both his responsibilities. Know your priorities and value them entirely. If you know how to put first things first, your decision-making in life will improve drastically.
How to apply this habit:
Write down your priorities in a paper. Ask yourself what you truly value, and then write them in the correct order. Every time you are faced with a decision, read the priorities and take decisions accordingly.
Habit #5: Think Win-Win:
Stephen Covey, the author, mentions 6 kinds of people:
- Win-Lose: These people are competitive. They will do anything to win and see the other person lose.
- Lose-Win: These are people who are too sympathetic and sacrificing. They sacrifice what’s theirs and help others to win.
- Lose-Lose: These are the envious people. If they can’t win it themselves, they won’t let you win either.
- Win: They don’t want anybody losing, but they just want to win.
- Win-win or no deal: If these people can’t reach an agreement, there is no deal.
- Win-Win : The best kind of people. These people always look for the 3rd alternative where both parties can be benefitted.
For being an effective person, we need to think win-win. Although it initially might seem impossible, there is always a third alternative to the scenario. People say life is a race, and you either win it or lose it. But that statement is further from the truth. When you are dealing with a person, there is always a middle ground.
We might not find the middle ground immediately because our mind believes in either win-lose or lose-win. All business deals are made in a win-win situation, right? Why can’t we implement the same for all human relationships? We can, but we don’t want to. To believe in Win-win, we need to operate with the abundance mentality. There is plenty for everyone, and everyone can share.
An effective person can think out of the box to find a better solution where both parties can profit. It increases connections and relationships between two parties. An average person can only have average thoughts of either winning or losing.
How to apply this habit:
Next time when you argue or debate with someone, look for a middle ground. Don’t try to win the debate; try to find a middle ground where you both can agree on. Make sure they are also on the same page.
Synergy helps us to be better together. We have already talked about Win-win, but synergy goes beyond that. In life, no one can grow on their own. Now and then, they need help. People need someone to have their back at the time of need.
Synergize helps us to collaborate and create greater things than we could create on our own. Nature gives us an idea of synergy. So many animals are living in synergy just to make their lives better. For example :
- Sharks and Pilotfish
- Crocodile and Egyptian Plover
- Hermit crabs and Sea Anemones
The list goes on and on. These animals are living in synergy to help one another. Humans should do.
Synergy is a creative process that requires trust, empathy, and openness. It means to build a community of people setting aside the differences to work for a nobler cause. Human beings should be interdependent rather than independent. Only the power of synergy can maximize a person’s potential to reach greater heights.
An effective person wants to work in groups, collaborate, and grow together. But an average person wants to walk alone until he ends up in a forest. Co-operation and unity are the single most important factors that can progress man’s life in many ways.
How to apply this habit:
Try to form connections and form alliances. Don’t think of working alone but in groups. Build a relationship with peace and harmony where both parties can grow and be benefitted. If someone has done you a favor, make sure to return the favor in due time.
Habit #7: Sharpen the saw:
Human beings are life-long learners. They should focus on continuous self-development and wisdom. Habit 7 focuses on continuous replenishment of oneself in all dimensions.
Physical Dimension :
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthily
- Avoid junk foods
- Build connections
- Work in groups
- Try to understand people
Mental Dimension :
- Avoid distracting elements
- Read more often
- Think on paper
- Meditate regularly
- Walk alongside nature
There is no peak of success or mastery. You can always get better. An effective person always thinks of improvement and doesn’t sit back after accomplishments. Continuously think about how you can improve your life in different dimensions. Ask yourself, ” What can I improve ?” now and then.
The 6 habits will be the pillar of effectiveness, but the 7th will keep the pillar straight. Sharpen yourself to become the best version of yourself
How to apply this habit:
Make a journal and think about how you can improve yourself in different dimensions. Improve on things that you feel you lack behind. Every month evaluate your dimensions to find places for improvement.
That is all about the 7 habits of highly effective people. If you apply the seven habits, your life will change forever. You can become the person you want to be.
The 7 habits of highly effective people is a life-changing book for many people. If you can truly internalize it within you, it can do wonders for you too. This book is eternal and not time-specific. You can even apply these habits 20-30 years from now, and every habit will be as effective as it is today.
Building these habits might take some time, but it will be worth it. Hope you can be a better and effective person after reading this.