Revisiting the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for New Times

Revisiting the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for New Times

I read, skim and listen to a lot of books! When I look back at the past year, I think I have tallied almost 200. Some of them are truly life-changing, some are forgettable, and some of them only have one or two nuggets, and you end up asking, "Why did I read that whole book just to get those two concepts?" I love it when a book stays with you, and it becomes a part of your way of life. These are the books that, once you finish them, you can't wait to reread them! This is how I feel about a little-known book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, which was first published in 1989 and has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide to date.

The 7 Habits is a timeless classic, and I have read it so often that I have integrated it into my human operating system. As impressive as it is, I often wonder if we can improve on the amazing insights and make it even better. Here is my humble attempt to revisit a masterpiece for our current times (hat tip in tribute to the late, great Stephen Covey).

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Highly effective people don't just take initiative; they are proactive. They don't let their circumstances prevent them from taking action. They may not be able to control their circumstances, but they can decide how they will respond to those circumstances. Proactive people operate in the realm of the possible. They see what they can do and do it. By taking responsibility and acting, they expand the realm of the possible. In these current times, many things are out of our control, but what we do have control of is how we show up.

What is truly in your control? What steps can you take to move forward? What could be possible if you took action?

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Think carefully about your goals. Many people spend a lifetime pursuing a goal that proves meaningless, unsatisfying, or destructive. Begin by drafting a personal mission statement that outlines your goals and describes the kind of person you want to be. Decide what you need to change in order to embrace what you want to become. Envision what you want in the future so you can work and plan towards it. With the chaos and uncertainty in the world right now, you can still look within and set your sights on what you truly want for yourself (this is in your control).

What is your personal vision? What does success look like for you?

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Never let your most important priorities fall victim to the least important. Many people spend their time reacting to urgent circumstances and emergencies and never invest the necessary effort to develop the ability to prevent emergencies. They confuse the urgent with the important. Emphasize planning, avoiding pitfalls, developing relationships, and cultivating opportunities. Right now, putting first things first is even more critical. We are all living our lives online with constant distractions pulling us away from our most important work.

Are you focusing on what is important, not just what is urgent? How are you managing your time?

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Highly effective people strive for win/win transactions, leaving everyone better off in the end. Any other kind of transaction is destructive because it produces losers and, therefore, enemies and bad feelings. Win-win replaces competition with collaboration through honest conversations. When you think about the complexity of the world's current problems, we need more win-win thinking than ever before.

Where could you create something bigger with Win-Win thinking?

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

Communication is a two-way street. To develop win-win relationships, find out what the other parties want and what winning means to them. Always try to understand what other people want and need before you begin to outline your own objectives. In other words, try to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Use empathetic listening to genuinely understand a person, and in return, this might compel them to reciprocate the listening and be open to your ideas. This creates an atmosphere of caring and positive problem-solving. In today's noisy world, we could use more empathetic listening in all areas of our life. There are so many people who just want to be heard in the workplace and beyond, and we can all play a role in driving this change.

What does the world look like through other people's eyes? Where could Seek First to Understand thinking be helpful in your life?

Habit 6: Synergize

Synergy has been an annoying corporate buzzword as far back as the '60s, but it became a buzzword for a reason; because it works! It all boils down to the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Effective synergy depends on cooperation and communication. I hear this again and again from people who have come on my podcast and shared stories of working together with others to create a bigger impact in the world.

What goal can you set for next year that would be so big that it would require more than you to accomplish it?

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

As the story goes, a dull saw makes the work tiresome, tedious, and unproductive. Highly effective people take the time they need to sharpen their tools, which are, in fact, their bodies, souls, minds, and hearts. You need to renew your resources, manage your energy, and sustain your health to be effective. The concepts of self-care and a learning mindset are essential, and it is what supports all of these habits for the long-term.

How are you sharpening your saw? Where are you looking to grow yourself now? How are you taking care of yourself?

Well, there you have it! My attempt to look at the 7 Habits for our current times (thank you for sticking with me). So what would you add here? I hope this inspires you to embrace some new thinking as you go into the new year.

Go forth, my friend!


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