- Pro-activity is about the power of freedom and the ability to choose. We all have this ability.
- Begin with the end in mind is about checking you’re climbing the right ladder: · What do you want to be, do and have
- First things first – work out what tasks you are doing that are: Urgent and important / Urgent but not important / Important but not urgent / Not important and not urgent / Which describes your workload?
- Create ‘win win’ situations and develop a bank of trust with the person you’re interacting with. A deposit could be respect, feedback, compliments and asking for support etc. Withdrawals are failed promises, taking advantage, criticising or not listening etc.
- Seek to understand before being understood rather than listening with the intent to reply i.e. finishing other people’s sentences. This principle is about listening actively, there are 5 levels of listening: 1. We can ignore the speaker 2. We could pretend we are listening 3. We may be selective about what we hear 4. We could be attentive 5. Or we could empathise with what’s being said
- Synergy is about finding a third alternative, a better way of moving forward towards a co-operative solution. The essence of synergy is valuing and respecting differences then viewing them as opportunities for learning.
- Sharpen your saw is about the renewal of self, taking time out to look after ourselves, because we understand that we are our most valuable asset.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of a series of books written by the very insightful author – Stephen Covey (here after referred to as SC). In essence, his books are aimed at readers who are passionate about their own and others continuing personal development. This is borne out by SC’s request for us to learn the principles described in his books, apply them in our every day life and teach them to others as a way of practicing and sharing the techniques learnt. This requires discipline and is a clear declaration of intent to live the model.
Habit number 1, proactively is about enjoying the power of freedom and the ability to choose (for more information recommended reading includes Viktor Frankels book ‘Mans search for freedom’). We all have the ability to choose our response to the situations we find ourselves in. Therefore, proactive people know not to blame others for their emotions; they are aware that they alone have chosen a particular response. It can be liberating to know no one else can make us hurt or angry, we do that to ourselves!
A proactive person is prepared, has goals, waits actively, and has energy and enthusiasm. They are decisive, flexible, and assertive without being aggressive and can visualise the bigger picture.
Habit number 2 beginning with the end in mind is about checking you’re climbing the right ladder and have a tangible list of things you wish to accomplish:
- What do you want to be
- What do want to do
- What do you want to have .
A thought provoking exercise would be to fast-forward your life to a future birthday. Then visualise what you feel, see and hear as you listen in turn to your family; your friends; your colleagues and other associates discuss you.
What would you like them to say about you in terms of who you are, what you have achieved? Use the words you would like to hear about yourself to create your own mission statement, finish with a tribute statement, keep it and read it often.
The 3rd habit, 1st things 1st is about what matters most and how do we determine this? A good question to ask yourself would be ‘what am I not doing, but if I started doing, would have the biggest impact on my life?’ Keep asking the question in all areas of your life until you have a list of priorities – then grade them 1 – 10 in terms of importance.
Using the grid below, work out if the items on your list are urgent and important, not urgent and not important, important but not urgent or not important and not urgent. Which box do you think is the least stressful, gives you the most control and is the best one to be in?
|IMPORTANT||1Deadlines, meetings, crisis’s||2These things take time i.e. preparation to prevent poor performance, relationships etc|
|NOT IMPORTANT||3Interruptions, phones ringing etc||4Excess or irrelevant activities i.e. TV – time wasting|
The 4th habit is about thinking and creating a ‘win win’ situation with others. It’s also about developing a bank of trust with the person you’re interacting with which includes setting up a deposit and withdrawal system.
A deposit would be recognised as respect, giving feedback, compliments and asking for support etc. Withdrawals on the other hand would look like failed promises, taking advantage, criticising or not listening etc.
The habit of win win is demonstrated in the table below:
|Low courage||High courage|
|HighConsideration||‘I always loose’ – martyr mentality LOSE / WIN
|There are no losers WIN / WIN|
|Low consideration||‘Don’t care’ attitude over the end result LOSE / LOSE
|‘My way or the high way’ often at any cost WIN / LOSEN.B. an alternative could be to agree to disagree – amicably and walk away with no deal.|
Whilst balance is the name of the game, a relationship should always be more important than winning an argument, instead opt for boosting the other person’s morale, esteem and value and adopt win win.
Habit number 5 is about seeking to understand before being understood. In reality, what tends to happen is that we listen only with the intent to reply i.e. we often finish other people’s sentences or make assumptions.
Therefore, this principle is about listening actively. There are 5 levels of listening and all are important at some stage:
- we can ignore the speaker
- we can pretend we are listening
- we can be selective about what we are hearing
- we could be attentative
- or we could empathise with what is being said.
This is why your attitude becomes important to demonstrate a deeper level of understanding. Then of course our judgement comes into play and this will have an effect on which response we chose:
- If we think we know best and we’re focused on our own experiences, we tend to advise
- We may interrogate because we want to know more so will probe
- Alternatively, we may put our own experience on the situation so will interpret what we think we’ve heard
- Or we’ll make a judgement and evaluate the situation
- All the above are barriers to empathetic listening.
The 6th habit is about synergy, which is simply about finding a third alternative, a better way of moving forward. A third alternative is a co-operative solution reached in the win win spirit. For example, a couple have plans for the weekend, however, they both have their own ideas about what they would enjoy doing. The father wants to camp out and fish with their sons, the mother wants to stay with her parents who aren’t well.
They can’t do both and if one agrees to the others plans then its not a win win situation, so they agree on a third option that they would both enjoy i.e. stay in a hotel local to the mothers parents so she can visit them during which time, the father can take their boys fishing on the local river. Its not exactly what each other had in mind for the weekend, but it incorporates each others individual needs and ideas by coming up with a third, more acceptable option for all concerned.
Be aware that some blocks to synergy could be defensiveness, tradition, different values, fear of change, competitiveness, lack of rapport and attitude. The essence of synergy is valuing these differences, respecting them and viewing them as opportunities for learning.
The final habit, number 7 is what SC calls sharpening the saw. It’s about the re-newel of self, taking time out to look after ourselves, not saying ‘we’re too busy’ because we understand that we are our most valuable asset.
This is categorised into 4 sections and looks something like this;
|Physical||Spiritual & creative||Mental||Social interaction|
|Habit 1||Habit 2||Habit 3||Habit 4, 5&6|
Adopt and work on these habits now to create a better life for you, your practice and everyone you come into contact with.