The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Stephen Covey [2/9]

How did you come across the book?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey was recommended to over six years ago, by a good friend. Even though it's been a long time since I read the book, re-reading my notes, still fills me with the same excitement that I felt when I picked it up for the first time.

What is the book about?

The book, as you probably expect, details out seven timeless principals that Stephen Covey states should be used to lead your life and, especially, in any interaction you have with other people.

One of the key concepts underlying the book is the life-cycle of human development during their lifetime. The development starts at the beginning of life where we are, as children, complete dependents and then continues as we develop towards being independent personalities. As Stephen Covey explains 'independence' however should not be our final goal and does not satisfy the needs of the current reality. Instead, we should aim for the ultimate goal of 'interdependence' where we, not just learn, to tolerate each other but through the act of genuine cooperation reach levels unobtainable to us as independent individuals.

What is your favourite quote or passage from the book?

One of my favourite sections of the book comes relatively early-on where Stephen Covey describes the current landscape of self-development as a place full of advice in the form of 'low hanging fruit', 'quick-wins' and 'tips and tricks'. He goes on to explain that while interesting, none of these will lead you to fundamental change, with the reason being that change is not a place you reach, but rather a journey. A journey that can only start internally when you truly understand who you are, your paradigms, your values and the ways in which you do or don't live these in daily life.

What are your three key takeaways?

Stephen Covey addresses all seven of these habits in detail, but I'll share with you just my three favourite below:

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive: Be a product of your decisions, not your circumstances. Rather than reacting to or worrying about conditions over which you have little or no control, focus your time and energy on the which you can control.

  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: Make your first priority in an interaction to understand. When you can see how the other persons see's or feel how the other person feels the picture of their reality will start to come clear to you.

  • Habit 6: Synergize: When we cooperate with others, and I don't mean tolerate, I really mean the experience of genuine interaction, in which we are open to the possibility of influence, we gain new, different, perspectives. Through this process and the difference in our perspectives our collective capability to develop new approaches increases exponentially. The sum of the whole, really is worth more than the sum of the parts.

I think these principals are really helpful in so many settings and I am proud to say that I have managed to implement some of these in my life, and Claire and I are working together each day to bring these into the business too. We can always do more, and this book inspires me to do exactly that.

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