7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The best lessons that are taught in 7 Habits are to be a proactive person, execute around priorities, avoid blame, exhibit extreme ownership, be interdependent, have a Win/Win mindset, establish a burning yes for your purpose in life, start with the end in mind and understand the importance of synergy & interdependence. Reading this book taught me to begin each day with my values and goals firmly in mind. Then, as the vicissitudes and challenges of each day come, I can make my decisions based on those values. I can act with integrity. I don’t have to react emotionally and to each individual circumstance. I can be truly proactive and value-driven because my values are clear.
Key lines and concepts include:
- To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.
- Develop a personal mission statement or philosophy or creed.
- Avoid blaming others and instead focus on “Inside-out”, which means to start first with yourself first before looking at how to correct the faults of others.
- Pygmalian Effect: High expectations lead to improved performance in a given area. Attitude determines Altitude (how high you will go). Goethe taught, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”
- Begin with the end in mind. When you begin with the end in mind, you gain a different perspective. Begin with the end in mind is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation, to all things. Take the construction of a home, for example. You create it in every detail before you ever hammer the first nail into place. You try to get a very clear sense of what kind of house you want. If you want a family-centered home, you plan to put a family room where it would be a natural gathering place. You plan sliding doors and a patio for children to play outside. You work with ideas. You work with your mind until you get a clear image of what you want to build. Then you reduce it to blueprint and develop construction plans. All of this is done before the earth is touched. If not, then in the second creation, the physical creation, you will have to make expensive changes that may double the cost of your home. The carpenter’s rule is “measure twice, cut once.” You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you’ve thought everything through. Then you put it into bricks and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. This is the value of beginning with the end in mind.
— Try this exercise: Think about what others would say at you funeral and how your eulogy would read. If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success. It may be very different from the definition you thought you had in mind.
- Organize and execute around your priorities: How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most. If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster. We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.
- A burning Yes and saying no to other less important things. You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. Keep in mind that you are always saying “no” to something. If you aren’t saying no to wasteful activities, you are probably saying no to the more fundamental, highly important things.
- N. Eldon Tanner has said, “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” And there are so many ways to serve.
- Develop a personal mission statement: focus on what you want to be (character) and to do (contributions and achievements) and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based. Because each individual is unique, a personal mission statement will reflect that uniqueness, both in content and form. Writing or reviewing a mission statement changes you because it forces you to think through your priorities deeply, carefully, and to align your behavior with your beliefs. As you do, other people begin to sense that you’re not being driven by everything that happens to you. You have a sense of mission about what you’re trying to do and you are excited about it.
- Logotherapy: mental and emotional illnesses are symptoms of an underlying sense of meaninglessness or emptiness. Logotherapy eliminates that emptiness by helping the individual to detect his unique meaning, his mission in life. Once you have that sense of mission, you have the essence of your own proactivity. You have the vision and the values which direct your life. You have the basic direction from which you set your long- and short-term goals. You have the power of a written constitution based on correct principles, against which every decision concerning the most effective use of your time, your talents, and your energies can be effectively measured.
- Being a proactive person: Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase. Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value driven; and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.
- The downside to Reactive people: instead focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and their performance. Proactive people are driven by values—carefully thought about, selected and internalized values. Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response. As Eleanor Roosevelt observed, “No one can hurt you without your consent.” In the words of Gandhi, “They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.” It is our willing permission, our consent to what happens to us, that hurts us far more than what happens to us in the first place.”
- Reactive people are also affected by their social environment, by the “social weather.” When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive or protective. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them. The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment.