Required reading for responsible human beings and those who aspire to be.
Succinctly, this is a handbook to being a successful adult. It’s about finding out who you are, who you want to be, and how to communicate with other people in your life in order to convey respect and ensure that productive personal growth takes place regularly.
The 7 Habits, presented by Mr. Covey:
1. Be Proactive – recognize that although you may not be able to control your current circumstances, you can control how you respond to your current circumstances. If a reader picks this book up and only reads all about this first habit, that chapter alone will be well worth the price paid for the entire book. I especially enjoyed the concept of the circle of influence and the circle of concern. Thinking about our circumstances and what we can and can’t control, working with the circle of influence is where we find power to enact personal change.
2. Begin with the End in Mind – the opening visual imagery of one’s own funeral is a powerful way to establish this particular principle: the goals we want to reach in life won’t happen automatically if we haven’t purposely defined those goals and are not taking active steps to reach them each day. The invitation to develop a personal mission statement in this chapter is challenging, but necessary if the reader wants to actually realize their purpose someday.
3. Put First Things First – once habits one and two have been properly developed, it is time to begin planning on a daily basis and to follow the necessary steps to arrive at the planned destination. This chapter is all about time management and planning at the hourly, daily, and weekly level.
4. Think Win/Win – after establishing a personal foundation in the first 3 habits, this chapter offers insight to daily navigation and how to negotiate honestly and openly with others without compromising the values and goals that you declared to be important. The meat of this chapter is in the discovery that many say “win/win” while they practice another philosophy because they do not truly understand what win/win entails.
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood – this habit is the easiest to comprehend and the hardest to put into practice when the heat is up and the chips are down. Our natural tendency is to be defensive when stressed or questioned, but patience and the opportunity for the benefit of a doubt should rule the day. I loved the analogy of the prescription glasses. They may work perfectly for you, but when you offer them to someone else who mentions they are having trouble seeing, they don’t seem to work in exactly the same way for the other person. We have to purpose to see it the other way first; not to give up our position, but to see if there may be a 3rd position that is most beneficial to both parties.
6. Synergize – this chapter is about putting it all together and seeing how success in one habit can enhance success in another area. It’s also about the exponential success that can take place when multiple team members are all working within the seven habits.
7. Sharpen the Saw – this is the most fun part of the book, because it is about taking time for the things in your life that recharge your batteries in four different areas: physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional. I think most readers would see strengths in at least one area, but also a weakness in another area. This is good stuff, because it helps you to see where you need the most help for personal growth so that you can plan and focus accordingly.
Overall, a solid must-read book. Although the title is accurate (it’s how to become “Highly Effective”), the entire book is written so practically that anyone who reads this will feel as though the concepts taught within these pages are within their grasp. Attaining the title of “Highly Effective” is not out of reach. The tools for personal growth are all right here. Nothing more is necessary, other than the commitment of the reader, and Mr. Covey makes it doable with the instructions and activities within these pages.