7 HABITS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE- STEPHEN COVEY BOOK REVIEW
Another classic in the world of self-help. The author, Stephen Covey, believes our whole world is based on our own perceptions. If you want to change any given situation, you have to change yourself first….You need to change your perceptions.
The book describes 7 habits that someone need in their life if they want to be highly effective.
Habits #1, #2 and #3 are focused on self-mastery and going from dependence to independence.
Habits #4, #5 and #6 are focused on how to develop teamwork, collaboration, communication skills and basically how to go from independence to interdependence.
Habit #7 is ll about continuous growth and improvement.
Habit 1 ; be proactive
This habit is all about how not to be passive anymore. In order to be effective, one must be proactive. I talk about this a lot in my content because I think this is ridiculously important in order to succeed.
Think about people in your social circle that are not really successful in life, and I can assure you that these people are passive instead of proactive in life. They probably believe that the world is happening to them. They probably say things like :
“This is just the way it is.”
“That’s just the way I am.”
See the pattern here? They literally think that the problem is outside of what they can control. They are not proactive, they are passive. The problem with this mindset is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. These people feel increasingly victimized and out of control.
O the other hand, proactive people think that they are in charge. They take responsibility in life.
The author says that humans have the ability to choose how we will respond to a given stimulus or situation and this is what makes us special.
Responsibility= response-ability. It is the ability to choose how you will response to what is happening in your life
I have read many biographies of highly successful people and they are all highly proactive. They make things happen and this is why they are so successful in life.
Habit 2 ; begin with the end in mind
The author says that highly effective people make it a habit to start with the end in mind. This is another way to say that you need a clear vision.
Stephen gives an exercise that people can do to help them get a clearer vision. First, visualize in rich detail your own funeral…Who is there? What are these people saying about you? How did you live your life? How were your relationships? What do you wish they would say? Think about how your priorities would change if you only had one month left to live…Make it a habit to live by these priorities.
I watched a speech by Steve Jobs (Click Here to see it) that talked exactly about this. He said that one of his greatest motivator was that he knew he was going to die at some point and he says that everyday, he would think about it and it would motivate him daily.
Without a clear vision for what you want in your life, you just won’t accomplish anything. This is why people that set goals for themselves tends to achieve them way more often than people who don’t. This is like if it makes you become proactive. Having a clear vision makes you take action.
Habit 3; put first things first
Being proactive and having a vision is not enough. You also need to be productive in what you do. You have to prioritize your day-to-day actions based on what is most important at the moment instead of what is most urgent.
Knowing exactly what you want is great (knowing your values and having a clear vision), but you actually need to go after these goals to make it happen. To attain that vision, you have to prioritize your day efficiently.
This is a really important skill to have; the ability to do something even when you don’t feel like doing it. The ability to act according to our values instead of our desires and impulses at any given moment.
Habit 4 ; think win-win
The author says that in order to be highly efficient, someone needs to be able to establish effective interdependent relationships that are win-win. They need to be mutually beneficial and satisfying to each party.
In order to be able to do this, what you need is an abundance mentality. When you think about it, most people have the opposite, they have a scarcity mentality. They see the world as a zero-sum game (if you get something, his means that I won’t). These people often have a hard time sharing recognition and find it hard to be happy about other people’s successes.
On the other hand, people with an abundance mentality believes that there are unlimited resources out there and if someone becomes successful doesn’t mean that they will be less successful at all. They actually believe that the more people you help becoming more successful, the more successful you will become.
The author gives an exercise to do in order to become better at this:
- Think about an upcoming interaction in which you will have to reach an agreement or solution. Determine what the other person is looking for and write a list of how you can make an offer than will meet those needs.
- Think about the relationships in your life…Do you feel like you give more than you take? Take more than you give? Make a list of ways in which you could give more.
Habit 5; seek first to understand, then to be understood
This habit is all about emphatic listening. The author suggest that before we can offer advice, suggest solutions and effectively interact with other people, we should first seek to understand their perspective through emphatic listening.
Most people do the exact opposite. They prescribe solutions before even diagnosing the problem. Most people do not see to understand the problem efficiently first.
Listening is a skill. However, we didn’t spend a lot of time in schools learning about it. You learned to read and write, but what about listening properly?
If you actually observe group of people, what you will notice is that most people listen with the intent to reply instead of understanding. They are either speaking, or preparing to speak. People that actually take the time to understand the other people before talking are quite rare, and this is what highly efficient people do.
Habit 6; synergize
This habit about the fact that one plus one equals three. The whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. This habit is highly related to habit #4 and habit #5. Someone needs to think win-win and seek first in order to achieve this.
This is what leadership is all about; pooling our desires with the desires of other people in order to meet our goals. The idea is to do this by bringing everybody together. Good leaders are good at this. They are able to look at the problem, understanding all the needs, and work to create a third alternative that will please everybody.
This is what synergy allows you to do:
- Value the differences in other people’s point of view as a way to improve our own.
- Sidestep negative energy and look for the good in each person.
The author gives one exercise in order to be better at this. Make a list of the people who irritate you. Pick one person and ask yourself how their views are different than yours. Now what you are going to do is to put yourself in their shoes for a few minutes. Really think and pretend that you are this person. How would you feel? Do you understand them better now?
The whole point of this is that next time you are going to be in a disagreement with someone, really try to understand their concerns and why they disagree with you.
Habit 7; sharpen the saw
This habit is all about self-renewal in the four areas of our life.
- Physical : Eating properly, exercising and resting.
- Social/Emotional : Making great connections with other people.
- Mental: Reading, learning and teaching.
- Spiritual: Helping other people, meditation, music , etc.
Overall this was a great book. This is one of the first self-help book I read and it definitely changed the way I perceive things. The thing that hit me the most with this book was the habit #1. I read this book when I was about 17 or 18 years old and at that time I was really passive instead of being proactive. This book totally changed the way I see things in my day to day life and I highly recommend everybody to read it.