The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People draws on ancient wisdom, modern psychology, and twentieth-century science, wrapping the combination in a distinctively American can-do programme of easy-looking stages that mostly require self-discipline. This classic – now in a new 30th anniversary edition with an introduction by Jim Collins – is a popular, trustworthy self-improvement textbook, albeit certain prescriptions may be easier to agree with than to follow.

You are what you habitually do, so adopt productive habits. You have the ability to improve your habits and your life.

The following are the seven habits of highly competent people: 

  1. They take initiative. “Be proactive.” 
  2. They are goal-oriented. “Start with the desired goal in mind.” 
  3. They establish priorities. “First and foremost.” 
  4. “Think win/win.” They only win when others win. 
  5. They communicate. “Seek to understand first, then to be understood.” 
  6. They collaborate, or “synergize.” 
  7. They examine and correct their faults. “Refine the saw.”

Focus on developing character, not personality. 

Much of the modern corporate success literature has concentrated on building a good personality. This emphasis is incorrect. It is more vital and productive to develop a good character. When your character is based in and moulded by constructive ideals, your personality can emerge spontaneously. Forcing yourself to exhibit a personality that is contradictory with your personality is akin to wearing a mask. It’s deceitful, manipulative, and, in the end, destructive.

A sound paradigm, or a solid new way of perceiving things, is required to build a sound character. Surgeons, for example, did not wash their hands before germ theory established a new paradigm. No one knew why individuals died from infections. Sterile operating rooms arose as a result of a new paradigm, a new way of viewing sickness.

Choose sound principles

Many people today believe in a deterministic paradigm. They believe that their genetic composition defines how they will act, or that their parents’ failings irreversibly damaged their chances and permanently moulded them, or that their environment or experience have limited their ability to change. Determinism is, in fact, a paradigm. To develop a strong character, reject determinism and embrace a freedom paradigm. This new paradigm enables you to recognise that you can change, that character is a habit, and that a habit is something you do on a constant basis. You will form and become a new, improved character if you regularly act in a new way.

People become more productive when they adhere to some fundamental concepts and ideals. Fairness, equity, integrity, honesty, human dignity and worth, excellence, a spirit of service, patience, perseverance, nurturing, caring, courage, encouragement, and a can-do mentality that acknowledges limitless potential are some of them. The person whose character develops as a result of these timeless values is a leader who, having conquered himself or herself, can inspire and assist others. Character is formed via repetition. Excellence is a habit, not a talent. We are what we usually do, as Aristotle stated.

To create the habit of acting on these principles, you must do the following:
  • Know – Understand what you want to do and why you want to do it.
  • Develop skills – Become able to do it.
  • Desire – You must want and will yourself to do it.

The inner work is the most important. When you conquer your inner self, you will be able to master your outer self. Many individuals, incorrectly, focus on output, on making a quantitative, visible difference in the world. They overlook production capability, the source of power that enables production. They’re like the guy who runs several hours a day and brags about how many more years he’ll live but fails to see that he’s spending all of his additional time running. He may gain years, but he won’t be able to do much with them, and the time he spends running may be better spent creating deeper relationships with his spouse, family, and friends.

Habit 1: Be Proactive. 

People who are very effective take the initiative. They take the initiative and do not place restrictions on themselves that hinder them from performing. They know that they have the ability to shape their character by deciding how they will act. However, they may not be able to control their circumstances, but they may choose whether to exploit or be exploited by them. They live by the “personal vision ideals.”

Viktor Frankl was a Nazi concentration camp prisoner. Except for one sister, his entire family was killed in the camps. Despite his horrible circumstances, Frankl knew that he was free because he could choose how he thought and acted in the midst of the tragedy. Even as a starved prisoner, he saw himself talking in a classroom, informing children about the tragedy and what he had learnt.

His mental toughness made him more powerful than the camp guards. He inspired his fellow inmates as well as some of the officers. Frankl took the initiative. He took charge and accepted responsibility for his own fate. Then he realised it was up to him to decide his fate. He didn’t have the ability to leave the camp, but he did have the ability to dominate it.

Proactive people live in the world of possibility. They see what they are capable of and act on it. They broaden the scope of possibility by accepting responsibility and acting and become stronger over time. Also they begin by committing to altering something inside themselves, and then they may affect the world around them.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. 

Consider your goals carefully. Many people spend their entire lives pursuing a purpose that is ultimately pointless, unsatisfying, or toxic. You see them on the covers of trashy publications, affluent and famous, arrested for drugs or watching their marriages fail. They desired and obtained power, money, and celebrity, but at what cost? Effectiveness is more than just attaining a goal; it is also about achieving the proper goal. Consider yourself in the back of the room at your funeral. Consider what people would think about you based on how you are currently. Do you enjoy what you’ve heard thus far? Do you wish to be remembered in this manner? If not, modify it. Take control of your life. Use “personal leadership.”

Begin by writing a personal mission statement outlining your objectives and describing the type of person you want to be. Consider this mission statement carefully. Examine your own situation. Consider yourself as you truly are. Are you self-absorbed? Are you a workaholic? Money-grubbing? Determine what needs to change and who you wish to become. Make a statement. Make a promise to yourself. Maintain your commitment.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

You have the ability to change who you are, but doing so requires you to modify your behaviour. Never let your most critical priorities suffer at the hands of the least important. Many people spend their time reacting to urgent situations and emergencies, but they never make the necessary effort to develop the skills to prevent emergencies, or to practise “personal management.” They mix up the important with the urgent. The urgency is clear. The important is more difficult to detect. 

Plan ahead of time, avoid mistakes, build relationships, cultivate possibilities, and get enough exercise. Consider not cramming a lot of business into your calendar, but rather ensuring that you spend enough time on vital matters. Consider your duties as a husband, parent, manager, or community volunteer. Set up enough time on your calendar for each role. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul; ensure sure each function is properly compensated.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win. Multiply your allies.

Exercise “interpersonal leadership” in marriage, business, or other relationships to make both sides winners. Two wins improves everyone’s situation; two losses worsens everyone’s predicament. A win/lose relationship produces a winner while injuring someone. Highly productive people seek for win-win transactions that make it beneficial for everyone to collaborate since all parties benefit in the end. Any other type of transaction is damaging because it creates losers and, as a result, enemies and negative emotions such as resentment, defeat, and anger. Highly effective people get so by growing their allies rather than their foes. A good partnership is a win-win situation.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.

Discover what the other parties want and what winning means to them in order to establish win-win relationships. Don’t presume you know everything. Listen. Always strive to understand what other people want and need before outlining your own goals. Do not object, dispute, or disagree with what you hear. Pay close attention and think about it. Put oneself in the shoes of the other party.

Good lawyers make it a point to construct the most compelling case feasible from their opponent’s point of view. Only when they have determined the best potential arguments for the opponent do they begin to construct the case from the perspective of their client. This strategy is useful in both personal and professional interactions. Always be aware of what the other party requires and desires, as well as why. Then, when you define your own goals, phrase them in language that immediately respond to the other party’s aims. This is in accordance with the “principles of sympathetic communication.”

Habit 6: “Synergize.”

Cooperation multiplies one’s power. In truth, “creative cooperation” can produce a force greater than the sum of the parts, just as an arch can sustain more weight than two pillars. The power of both pillars is multiplied by the arch. This type of relationship is described by the term “synergy,” which means putting together a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts.

Communication is essential for effective harmony. By reacting from scripts, many people make harmony difficult. They do not listen, reflect, or reply; rather, they hear and react reflexively. Their reactions can range from defensive to authoritarian to passive. They may disagree or agree, but they do not actively cooperate. A synergistic relationship is built on cooperation and communication. Listen, think, reply, and actively participate.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.

A man is sawing a log in an antique yarn. The man is fatigued and the task is moving slowly. He cuts less as he saws more. A stranger observes for a time and proposes that the man take a pause to sharpen the saw. But the man claims he can’t stop sawing because he can’t stop sharpening the saw! A dull saw makes the job laborious, tedious, and inefficient. Highly effective people invest the time necessary to refine their tools, which are their bodies, souls, minds, and hearts. It’s time to “renew oneself.”

Effective people take care of their bodies through an exercise plan that emphasizes endurance, flexibility, and strength. It is simple to design such a programme, and you do not need to join a gym to carry it out. If they are religiously inclined, effective individuals care for their souls through prayer and meditation, or by reading great literature or listening to excellent music. Never ignore your spiritual dimension; it will fill you with vitality for the rest of your life.

Mental restoration may entail changing your behaviours, such as watching television. Watching television promotes the passive absorption of ideals, attitudes, and dispositions that dull the mind. To keep your mind alert, active, and engaged, read, solve puzzles, perform arithmetic, or engage in some hard activity. 

The heart refers to feelings that are highly dependent on others. Work on developing your heart, emotional relationships, and interaction with others. Communicate, listen, and be accommodating. Try to make others happy and put them first in whatever you do. You will become a highly effective person as a result of doing so.

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