Published: August 13, 2009 Last Updated: September 02, 2021

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I’ve just started reading Stephen Coveys “8th Habit” book and must say that I am inspired. If you haven’t read (or listened) to any of Covey’s stuff then I would definitely recommend it. It’s probably the most powerful stuff I have come across (up there with Napoleon Hill).

In fact, his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” was the inspiration for most of Probity Partners Values Statement. So with this inspiration in mind, I thought I would write this month about the 7 Habits and give my take on it.

So what are the 7 Habits?

The 7 Habits are:
1. Be Proactive
2. Start with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think Win/Win
5. Seek first to Understand and then to be Understood
6. Synergise
7. Sharpen the Saw

1. Be Proactive
This seems pretty obvious, but is very often forgotten in our busy business lives. I believe we are all guilty of it, just at different levels. It basically means that we should always strive to be proactive rather then reactive. That is, be proactive at making change happen rather then reacting to change when it is thrust upon you. The best current example of this would be the doom and gloom of the “Global Economic Crisis”. Many people reacted to the media portrayal of this and became negative about their business. Rather then being proactive and looking for the opportunities that they could take advantage of. A Proactive person is in charge of their destiny.

2. Start with the end in mind
Yes, you guessed it. We all need goals. A successful business needs to have an overall vision that you work towards, otherwise where you end up is left to chance. This is true for even small projects. Take the time to quickly decide what it is you hope to achieve and then set about achieving it.

3. Put first things first
This goes hand in hand with Habit 2. Once you know what you want to achieve, you need to plan out how you are going to get there. Otherwise, you might get ahead of yourself. This doesn’t always mean a formal plan, but may simply be a to do list you keep in your head.

4. Think Win/Win
This is one of my favourites. Whenever you are negotiating with someone else, always aim to get a solution where both parties win. Never set out to rip people off and take advantage of them. This may work a few times, but will ultimately catch up with you. I’m sure we’ve all seen great ideas get destroyed by somebodies greed.

5. Seek first to understand and then to be understood
This is similar to the saying “you have 2 ears and one mouth, so use them in that proportion”. Most people want to put their side forward first (this includes sales meetings) and leave little opportunity for the other party to put forward theirs. A great way to get the best possible outcome is to really understand the other party’s issues first, before trying to fix them. This is especially true in a heated exchange. You will be amazed at how much people calm down when you simply listen.

6. Synergise
This replaces compromise. Often when dealing with people you may not get consensus (think price in a sales meeting). In these circumstances, we generally compromise to get an agreement. However, the very definition of compromise means that one party must lose out and what they really want (think habit 4). Synergise means to brainstorm to come up with a solution that is better than the first. One that means that both parties win. In a Sales Meeting you may not budge on price, but throw in an additional product or service. These may cost you very little, but mean a lot to the customer, leading to a Win/Win situation.

7. Sharpen the saw
This is probably my favourite and one that I can struggle with at times. It’s best explained by something that happened to me recently. When we build an online shop website, we need to organise the products into a spreadsheet ready for importing into the site. The price field needs to have “AU/” put in front of the price to signify that it is in Australian Dollars. Every time I set up one of these spreadsheets I start by trying to work out an easy way to add this to the 100+ products, but after a few minutes decide I’m wasting time and add it individually. This can take hours. The last time I had to do one, I decided to take the time needed to find the solution (Sharpen the Saw). After 30-45 minutes I had found it and it took me 10 minutes to complete the job. Now if I had done this the first time, I believe I would have saved close to a week of my time. So the moral of the story is, don’t let yourself get that busy doing stuff (sawing), that you don’t have time to work out a way to make it easier (sharpening the saw).

I hope you have enjoyed my take on these Habits. I believe that these are powerful and am just now starting to teach them to my 2 young sons, as I believe it will make them better people. I would love to hear your thoughts.

But what’s the 8th Habit?

As I mentioned, I’ve only just started the book, but fully intend to talk about it in the near future. But from what I’ve read, it is “To find your voice and inspire others to find theirs”.