Behavioral Change

The 7 habits Highly Effective People

One-sentence summary of the book “The 7 habits Highly Effective People”: In his book, the author lays out the seven habits of successful people, the seven fundamental principles that enable the most successful and entrepreneurial people to achieve their goals. Used on a daily basis, they will help those who practice them to live a happy, well-balanced and successful life.

By Stephen R. Covey, 1989, 342 pages.

Note: This column was written by Ali Nejmi.

Chronicle and summary of “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People”

The book is a reference to the skills of personal development, effective communication and successful interaction.

Covey doesn’t claim he can produce an instant miracle, rather a gradual process of transition that, with practice over time, will give us the tools to make radical and positive changes.

It shows us how to explore ourselves in depth, our philosophies, the parameters that we set out and how we deal with the problems that happen.

It also shows us our most genuine, long term and deep-rooted values.

The book not only sets out a step-by-step approach to a successful business, but also defines the ethos of a way of life based on the principles of ethics, integrity, wisdom and common sense.

The laws of success, outlined in the book, are universal and applicable to all areas of life. However, they must be practiced on a daily basis. Success is a habit, as is failure.

With all the responsibilities and time constraints that are imposed on us, in such a competitive world, it is very helpful to have such a well-written guide.

We are also working on a free PDF version of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Introduction

Habits 1, 2 and 3 deal with the notions of being proactive, self-control and being independent. They set out the foundations for the skills required in order to succeed.

Habits 4, 5 and 6 chart the path to interdependence, and provide the route towards being successful.

Habit 7 refers to the previous points and the continual improvement required in relation to the various challenges that life brings.

You will find a free PDF of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at the foot of the article.

Part 1 : Perspectives and principles

Most people spend their lives seeking happiness through material gains and like to show off their achievements. However, this often results in a lack of self-fulfilment, without meaning or reason. These inner problems don’t always have a simple answer.

The cause of these problems is rooted in how we think and what it is that motivates us. We interpret the world through what we have learnt from the people we know and the environment in which we live.

The perspectives of the 7 philosophies

Dependency

1: Be proactive

2: Keep the final goal in mind

Personal success

3: Prioritise the priorities

Independence

4: Think win-win

Public success

5: Try to understand first and then be understood

6: Synergy

Interdependence

7: Sharpen your skills

Any effort to change that is restricted by our attitudes and behaviours is often counterproductive. To be more effective, the focus must be on our perceptions and philosophies. Real success relies upon the introduction of these core principles in to our basic character.

habits

For decades, the route put forward to success was presented as being able to persuade people to follow the message they were being told.

These techniques were mainly concerned with brand image, influence, manipulation and flattery (communication, status and image).

According to Stephen Covey, these techniques have a peripheral role in the achievement of a happy and successful life. To be more effective in the long-term, these techniques need to be combined with our most basic values, such as sincerity, empathy, dignity and trust. “Only fundamental goodness teaches the art of life!” It is the person’s character that communicates more eloquently.

The effect of these techniques is limited, as they often contradict natural laws of growth and development. “You reap what you sow.” There is no shortcut. This principle is also true, in the same degree, with regard to other human activities. The latter are also linked to “law of harvesting”.

The power of philosophy

The routines outlined by Covey are both basic and straightforward. They embody the internalisation of the principles on which long-term success and happiness are based.

The main difference lies in our philosophies: how we perceive and interpret things? “The map is not the territory.”

Our philosophies are our maps that guide us in our daily lives. They are blueprints that have been ingrained in us by others (family, society…).

These blueprints shape both our perception of reality and our expectations of this alleged reality. For us, reality is such that we perceive it.

Therefore, this perception is the source of our thoughts, emotions and actions. As logical as our perception may be, it is invariably fraught with subjectivity. We see what we want to see.

In this context, we can cite the phenomenon of denial, which is a psychological defence mechanism, where the individual ignores the existence of a pain they feel.

The more we are aware of our basic philosophies, and the different perceptions that are ingrained in us, the more we can assume our responsibility and take our destiny into our own hands.

As a result, we can examine these philosophies, test them, or even completely transform them. Our perspectives then become broader, images sharper and perceptions more balanced.

The paradigm shift propels change in life. It can be seen that significant breakthroughs in all fields (science, religion, art…) were, above all, breaks with traditions, old ways of thought and philosophies.

The principle of growth and change

What we see on the outside is a good indication of who we are on the inside.

Principles are set in stone. They are natural laws that cannot be broken. They are not esoteric, mysterious or religious. The keys to success transcend beliefs, schools of thought and cultures. They are unquestionable because they are clear.

Moreover, principles are not practices. The latter are specific actions that can work in one case and not in another.

Principles are not values either. Gang members may share values of friendship, compassion and respect, but in contravention to most of society’s perception of morality and ethics.

Literature is full of theories that advocate shortcuts, to get rich quickly or to succeed without the need to do any work. These theories only make the authors rich, and ruin the lives of people who believe in their false philosophies.

There are sequential stages of growth and development in all natural process. Each stage is important, and it takes time. We all recognise this fact in its physical form, but few of us can incorporate it into inner emotional and personal relationships. We want things to happen immediately.

The notion of achieving the result, quickly, with the least effort, contravenes the natural law of growth, and often leads to disappointment and distress. 

The problem is how we approach the problem

The more people look for quick solutions, and concentrate on problems and pain, the more this mind-set adds to the long term problem.

Most people who attend seminars on time management, strategic planning or self-improvement, do so in search of miraculous results. They generally fail in their attempt to be happy, productive or fulfilled in life, or to achieve their long-term goals.

The starting point of true selves is often forgotten, our perceived problems are found deep within ourselves, in our pattern of thought and how we approach them.

habits

Albert Einstein stated, “The important problems we create cannot be solved at the same intellectual level as the one we have at the time of their creation”.

Problems are signs of failure in the way we think; as a result, the solution requires a change to this failed process. “Don’t criticise the neighbour’s laundry if your windows are dirty!”.

Events are neutral and have no intrinsic value other than the one we assign to them.

The best approach is to restore the soul from within and reconnect it to Nature.

The power of repetition

We are the product of what we repeat. Excellence is not an attitude, but a habit. “Plant a thought, harvest an action! Sow an action, reap a habit! Sow a habit, reap a character! Plant a character, harvest a destiny!”.

Habits are a powerful force, which are often underestimated. Their power of inertia can be crippling. It requires a huge and sustained effort to overcome a habit.

In the final analysis, as Marilyn Ferguson observed, “Each of us is hiding a door of change that can only be opened from the inside. No argument or emotional appeal can open this door from the outside”. 

Continued growth

To reach maturity, the individual must transition from a state of dependency to one of greater independence (personal) and interdependence (relationships).

Someone who is independent is characterised by his or her habits, and by other people’s opinions and behaviours. They base their emotional lives on the weaknesses of the people around them. Being a truly independent character makes us responsible and leads us to be more proactive rather than reactive.

On a deeper level, interdependence reflects a greater maturity, as people share vast resources and a myriad of opportunities that a single person is unable to achieve.

Nevertheless, productive interdependence requires independent people. Dependency never leads, directly, to interdependence.

Definition of efficiency

If we adopt a lifestyle that purely focuses on results, while ignoring our basic needs, we will, sooner or later, exhaust our means to produce anything.

Efficiency means keeping a constant balance between production and means of production. 

In our pursuit of quick-fix gains, we are weakening our strong points (our golden goose) and undermining the long-term benefits.

Efficiency keeps the short term (production) and the long term (resources) in sync.

Part 2 : Private victory

Habit 1: Be proactive

Principle : I am free to choose and accountable for my choices

Definition of proactivity

Self-awareness allows us to distinguish us from ourselves, and permits us to examine the basis of our philosophies and determine how effective they are.

Is how we see ourselves the way society sees us? If this is true, our existence depends on the external environment. Our maps are drawn by others. Our character is defined by how we react to the situations that arise at the time.

“Between stimulus and response, man always has the freedom to choose the nature of his response”.

Stephen Covey cites the experience of Viktor Frankl, a Jewish deportee in Nazi concentration camps, who decided to exercise psychological freedom in response to the inhumane physical suffering inflicted by his torturers.

Frankl discovers that the most important trait of successful people is being proactive. Rather than just taking the initiative, it is about being completely convinced that you are responsible for your life. Our actions are the result of our conscious decisions, our choices, not our conditions. An unconscious decision is a thoughtless emotional reaction.

Reactive people build their own emotional lives on the weaknesses and defects of others, whom they then control and direct. 

“No one has the power to hurt you without your consent,” said Eleanor Roosevelt.

In Gandhi’s words: “they are not able to deprive us of our dignity without our agreement”.

In the real world, events or people could inflict physical or moral suffering on us, but our core identity does not have to be affected.

Challenging experiences leads us to re-evaluate our philosophies. They can signal a defect in how we think (alcoholism, divorce…), or they can trigger other levels of consciousness in us that we could never have reached.

Take the initiative

People are conditioned to be reactive: they wait for time to improve things, for someone to take care of them, or for others to make their decisions for them.

Successful people, on the other hand, are proactive: they anticipate, they seek solutions rather than focus on the problems.

Listen to your own language

The way we speak is a good indication of how proactive we are. Reactive people speak in a way that absolves them of any responsibility. It’s everyone else’s fault but theirs. This style of speech concentrates on the problem and the past.

Proactive language explores alternatives, different approaches and promotes interaction and compromise. Emotions are secondary to values. This style of speech concentrates on the solution and the future.

Be open minded, not a judge, an inspiration, not a critic. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. 

Circle of concerns. Circle of influence

People spend their time and energy on things that aren’t that important or that urgent.

As a result, our actions can be divided into two circles: a circle of concern and a circle of influence.

The circle of concern is made up of all the things over which we have little or no control :

  • The climate,
  • The conditions,
  • And the behaviour of others….

While the circle of influence is about things we can control:

  • Our attitude,
  • Our actions,
  • And our work…

The circle in which we spend most of our time and how we spend our precious energy affects how proactive we are.

To be more effective, our focus must be on our circle of influence, our field of action and production. The more time spent in your circle of concerns, the stronger the hold over other people in your life, the more you have negative thoughts and less self-confidence.

Sometimes it is not possible to change things. In this case, you must be able to accept things with serenity. “My God, give me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference” (Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity Prayer).

We have a duty to take control of our lives, and to make the right decisions. The consequences of our actions and mistakes are part of the circle of concerns. If you regret things or try to justify those mistakes it doesn’t help and won’t help solve the problems.

To be able to correct and accept mistakes is the proactive approach. Learn from it and move on.

Habit 2 : Keep the final goal in mind

habits

Principle : mental creation comes before physical creation 

  1. Habit 1: You are responsible for your life.
  2. Habit 2: You can create your life.

To live life without goals is like setting off on a journey with no destination in mind. 

The example given below is a clear indication of what goals and values are the most important to us. Visualise yourself at your own funeral, and reflect upon stories and memories you would like to hear from those whom you loved and those who loved you, from all walks of your life.

The goal is the aim by which we judge our actions. Each day you need to do something positive towards achieving that goal. 

Towards the end of life people often have the realisation that what they were trying to achieve is void of meaning or intrinsic value. Rather than these achievements you should care about the things that matter most: health, family, relationships…

These goals lead us in the right direction, stop us from straying into situations we can’t control and being overrun by day-to-day life.

A worthwhile goal must be based on our true values, and the accepted principles of fairness and care for others.

If you plan your future it creates a sense of responsibility, self-confidence and stability. It also helps you to react to and solve the problems that life presents

Without goals, we rely on our weaknesses, fitting in with society, being accepted and how people look at us.

Personal mission

Habit 2 states that we are not obliged to live life by the rules we are given.

We are imaginative and creative enough to set our own goals, as each individual is different and has their own thoughts and values.

Frankl’s studies have concluded that mental and emotional illnesses reflect a lack of self-belief and sense of purpose.

“People cannot experience change if they do not have an unwavering core within them”. Life’s mission forms this solid nucleus.

The core values to a stable life are the feeling of security, orientation, appreciation and power. Life’s main concerns should encompass family, business, money, leisure and friends.

Each one of these, individually, will not result in lasting happiness. On reflection, most of the things that we achieve and enjoy are pointless and have no meaning.

To live a life without regrets we must examine who we are and what our core values are. It is this that controls us. Our well-being is dependent on it.

If our core values don’t contribute to us being more proactive, there is an urgent need for fundamental changes.

Write your personal mission

The journey to writeyour personal mission statement is long. It requires constant changes, depending on how well balanced you are, feedback and sometimes re-evaluation.

For example, elements of the circle of concern could subconsciously creep into our routines and breakdown the proactive approach to life.

To write the statement requires a broad perspective, an open mind, with all of your senses engaged and to stay true to your emotions.

Assertiveness and visualisation are recognised as powerful tools in order to be successful. Great champions imagine, feel, live and mentally experience their achievement before transitioning to carrying it out. These two techniques are a kind of neurolinguistic programming.

Set out roles and objectives

Important roles and long-term objectives ensure a balanced and harmonious life. These roles make it possible to build and organise the framework of the personal mission statement. This simplifies the integration of specific objectives and very short-term activities.

For example, the mission statement of a group or organisation needs to be formulated in consultation with and involvement of all the relevant members. No involvement, no commitment! A mission that is reflective of the goals shared by all is the foundation for greater unity and active engagement. The members of the group will not always be told what to do, as their heads and hearts are fully immersed in the shared goals.

Covey quotes IBM’s mission statement, which places three principles above all: individual dignity, excellence and service.

Driving forces and constraints

The current level of performance is the result of the balance between driving forces and discouraging constraints.

The driving forces are related to the circle of influence. While the negative forces are related to the circle of concerns.

To succeed in life, we have to strengthen the driving forces that move us forward in the direction of our mission, whilst simultaneously reducing the constraining forces that hold us back.

It is a long process that requires patience and perseverance, along with a high level of proactivity and moral integrity.

Habit 3 : get your priorities right

Principle : The most important things should never be at the mercy of those who are unimportant. 

The third habit deals mostly with efficiency and discipline in the implementation of the plans of action.

In this process, determination and belief are the characteristics that drive emotions, impulses and temperament to achieve the goals set out in the personal mission.

“Successful people are used to doing things that those who have failed don’t like to do! Sometimes they do them without passion, but their reluctance is overcome by their desire to succeed!”

You could ask yourself the following question: what is it that, practiced regularly, could radically transform this project or specific areas of my life?

After the introduction of various forms of time management, Covey concludes that the term is a misnomer. The challenge is no longer time management, but self-management. Relationships and results, not time and methods, must be the first priority.

Time matrix

habits

Importance and urgency are the two main factors that govern any activity. From this evidence, we could draw a table consisting of four quadrants that categorise our work according to the level of importance and urgency.

Timetable

Important :

Urgent – I. Functions; Crises, Urgent problems, Project deadlines

Non-urgent – II. Functions; Prevention, Maintaining relationships, Exploring new options, Planning

Not important: 

Urgent – III. Functions; Disruptions, Mail and feedback, work to be completed, things that cause distraction

Non-urgent – IV. Funtions; Things that cause distraction, Mail, Unimportant phone calls, Trivia, Wasting time

Vital tasks are obvious but result in stress and pressure

Important tasks, on the other hand, are not as urgent, but are vital to the achievement of our long-term goals. They are results-oriented, which entails initiative and proactivity.

The instinct of “least resistance” diverts us from important tasks to easier ones.

Quadrant 1 includes activities identified as crises or problems. It takes up 90% of the time of inefficient people. You can find all the stressful vocabulary such as crisis management, meeting deadlines, red indicators…

Certain people spend most of their time in Quadrant 3, dealing with emergencies that are not important. The fact is that they are carrying out tasks that others deem to be important and urgent (time and energy thieves).

Quadrant 4 is the place for leisure and pleasure. The place of idle people!

Quadrant 2 is the primary focus of successful personal management, positive energy and growth. “This is the place for people who nurture opportunities, minimise problems and prevent them from happening! “. Successful people devote most of their time and energy there and develop their passions. They avoid being stuck in the other quadrants for long periods of time.

In management jargon, this approach could be compared to the “Pareto principle” which observes that 80% of the results come from 20% of the tasks.

However, that can’t be right, because most people fall into the habit of routine and find themselves, unknowingly, outside quadrant 2.

Quadrant 2, unlike the others, satisfies the following principles:

  • Coherence, harmony, unity between vision, roles, objectives and priorities.
  • Balance in all aspects of life (health, family, profession…).
  • Programming priorities and not ownership of the programmes.

Know when to say No

To stay focused on the important activities in Quadrant 2, sometimes you have to be able to say “No” to other tasks that may be urgent.“The enemy of the best is often the good! “. 

Quadrant 2 Management

Covey recommends setting yourself weekly tasks, though it can be flexible and open to change.

Four key components are necessary for good management:

  • The identification of roles that require a regular investment of time and energy: family, profession, leisure time…
  • Decide what you want to achieve each week and the goals, in relation to the points above.
  • Schedule the week’s activities based on the first two steps, but don’t lose sight of the target you wish to reach (the vision).
  • Daily adaptation: manage unforeseen events, reschedule appointments, make the most of unforeseen situations…. 

Efficiency or effectiveness?

The nature of humans is completely at odds with that of machines. In all manufacturing processes, the best results are achieved when machines are running at their full capacity. However, when dealing with human resources, the objective is based on efficiency, not performance. The ability to be spontaneous, flexible and adaptable with people will help nurture their respect and loyalty. 

Delegation

There are two types of delegation: delegation to time and delegation to others. The first relates to performance, the second to efficiency.

If you defer a task it means you sort out the most important thing first and reschedule the others for later.

Delegating tasks to others, who may be more skilled at them, increases production. It also shows good management, helps to bond the team and grow both individuals and the company. 

Part 3: Public triumph

The paradigm of interdependence

Public triumph is preceded by private triumph, which is the natural result of the first three habits. Independence, self-control and self-discipline are the foundations of successful relationships with others.

People do not see us by what we say or do, but who we are.

Emotional feelings

Each of us has an emotional bank account that gauges the level of trust that we have built in relation to others. This account is either a debtor or a creditor, depending on what is going in and out.

The account is credited when one is honest, kind, understanding, candid, respectful… Under these circumstances, communication is smooth, spontaneous and productive.

However, the account loses out when one is dishonest, duplicitous, unfaithful, manipulative, lying… in this case, communication is difficult, hypocrisy prevails and trust is eroded.

Large deposits

A willingness to take the ideas, scenarios and worries of others in to consideration is the most effective way to build relationships.

“Treat them the same by treating them differently!”, said a good father.

In relationships, small gestures build solid trust. People are inherently very tender and very sensitive, irrespective of age, social rank and gender.

Honour commitments and promises as it builds feelings of trust and respect.

Clarify expectations and responsibilities to eliminate the conflicts and misunderstandings that arise when results are not achieved. The assumption that expectations are clear and understood by all is the basis for things to go wrong.

Integrity is a fundamental quality of successful interdependence. Unlike honesty, where words reflect reality, integrity means that reality is in keeping with our commitments, promises and principles. Integrity commands respect, which is far more important than love.

Ask for forgiveness and apologise for mistakes and shortcomings, as it replenishes the emotional bank and sorts out problems.

People who are not self-confident will rarely apologise, for fear of being seen as weak. They are held back by how they think others see them.

Relationship problems are opportunities

Proactive people look at a breakdown of trust, conflicts of interest and misunderstandings as opportunities to develop stronger relationships based on integrity, mutual interest and meaningful discussion. 

The patterns of interdependence 

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

habits

Principle : There is no lack of resources, and there is enough for everyone.

In business, a win-win outlook motivates successful people. They look for common interest and mutual benefit. They do not see life as an area of competition, but rather as a chance for cooperation. 

The breadth of opportunity controls their thought process. The success of one will not be at the expense of the other. There’s enough for everyone. There is always a third and better alternative.

In some cases, it is preferable not to reach an agreement if a solution cannot be found that guarantees the win-win principle.

The other solutions, in which one of the parties suffers a loss, sow the seeds of resentment, suspicion and potential misunderstandings.

Because people have been raised to believe that you can only win or lose, or that great opportunities are rare, it makes their lives harder than they should be.

The win-win spirit requires very high personal abilities based on: 

  • Personal integrity.
  • Maturity: the balance between personal courage (personal) and consideration of others.
  • Plenty for everyone: there is no shortage of resources and there is enough for everyone. It creates opportunities for more sharing, collaboration, creativity and participation.

Habit 5: First try to understand and then to be understood.

The principle of empathic communication

“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know”.

“To touch a man’s soul is to walk on sacred ground!”

Within relationships, people tend to judge and make quick conclusions before properly analysing the situation.

Communication is the most important skill in life. Many years of experience are required to be able to speak, read, write and communicate well.

Yet, few people genuinely learn to listen, put themselves in the shoes of their audience and see things from another perspective.

We usually listen in order to respond: evaluate, justify, advise, refute or intimidate. We pass everything through the lens through which we see life. And we project what we are inside, our views of what others say and do. As a result, what we say is nothing more than a bunch of long collective monologues.

Know how to listen with the aim to understand. That is what makes the difference. 

Empathic communication does not mean to agree with everything. Be prepared to listen and contemplate the situation, surroundings and possible reactions of others on an emotional and intellectual level.

Communication experts estimate that 10% of the message is conveyed by words; the rest is by sound and body language. Empathic listening entails not only your ears, but also your eyes and heart. 

This approach unlocks the doors to peoples’ souls and hearts and reveals a clear image of thoughts and emotions. It also provides us with detailed information to properly evaluate the situation.

By their nature, humans need to survive psychologically through understanding, appreciation and affirmation. Empathic communication provides the state of mind that paves the way for solutions and agreements. It allows the problem to be put on the table and examined on the same side, rather than on two opposite sides. The result is a solution that is obvious and acceptable to all.

This concept can be implemented in the field of sales. While the amateur salesman sells products, the professional sells a service and provides a solution for any needs or problems.

From a family point of view, homes have turned into hotels, parents and children being disconnected due to a lack of empathetic communication. “Generation conflict,” they say! But the main reason stems from how parents deal with the situation, which is often judgmental, aggressive, linked to their childhood and conditional love.

To sum up, habit 5 is a combination of the art and the skill of knowing how to accept differences, with the objective of collectively building a beautiful world, united by its diversity. Diversity of perceptions, interests, traits and flaws. 

Habit 6 : Live in synergy 

Principle of constructive collaboration. 

All of the rules described above create a synergy. Like a molecule created by the union of several completely different atoms, a new life emerges through the collaboration of proactive people, whose intent is to achieve an empowered lifestyle.

Synergy defies mathematical laws. It is defined as follows: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts! 1 plus 1 is equal to 3 or more! Synergy governs nature in all its most miraculous forms.

Synergy is the embodiment of the spirit of abundance.

People who believe good things rarely happen, are competitive and only have a win or lose approach, are a total anathema to the liberated value of synergy.

In a quest for innovation, adventure and discovery, synergy opens up distant horizons, uncharted territories and incredible possibilities.

The very essence of synergy is based on the evaluation of differences by the consolidation strengths and the ability to solve any weakness. 

Synergetic communication 

“If a person disagrees with you, there must be a reason behind it that you don’t yet understand. So take time to see things from his point of view!” 

Synergetic communication opens up new perspectives and other alternatives. It liberates the mind and emotions from the vicious circle of a defensive, protective and self-centred mentality.

Negative synergy

People start new relationships, shaped by the memory of their last happy or unhappy experience. If it was hurtful, they proceeded with a negative mind and suspicion.

With such a negative approach and feelings of insecurity, synergy will never have a chance to flourish.

People who are insecure believe that reality must be in line with their philosophies. To feel safe, they need to be surrounded by people like themselves. They do not appreciate that growth is synonymous with diversity. Everyone being the same does not bring people together and neither does it create a culture of creativity. 

Evaluate the differences

“If two people have the same ideas, then one of them is not necessary.”

If you interact with someone who shares your ideas and thoughts nothing will be gained. You might as well stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself you’re the most beautiful person in the world.

Two individuals may disagree, and be right at the same time. This is not logic, but psychology!

Synergy is the appreciation of difference. It brings people together with different intellectual backgrounds, who possess different and complementary skills to achieve the results.

The truly empowered person has the modesty to recognise the limits of their own perceptions, and appreciate the rich talents of others.

Habit 7 : Re-address the balance

Principle: To maintain and increase our performance, we must refresh our physical, emotional, mental and intellectual resources.

“Sometimes, when I realise the enormous impact of small things, I tell myself that there are no small things!”

Habit 7 deals with personal development and constant improvement. A good craftsman never forgets to sharpen their tools, maintain their machines and improve their skills.

On a personal level, development must be balanced and embrace all four dimensions of personality: physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional. These dimensions form our moral heritage, our values, our assets and our productivity.

The quality of our lives relates to the development of each of these four aspects of human life.

The physical aspect

Healthy nutrition, sports and relaxation. Regular activities that help achieve a Zen state of mind, freedom of thought and invigorate us.

The spiritual aspect

David O. Macky said “The great battles of life take place daily in the silent chambers of the soul”.

The spiritual dimension is the heart of our existence. It is from this centre that the signs of our true nature and deepest values shine forth.

Meditation, reading great literary works, music and being in touch with nature, amongst others, are techniques to regenerate our spirits. These escapes foster a sense of inner peace, serenity and harmony.

habits

The mental aspect

“The person who does not read is no better than the person who does not know how to read.”

As soon as they leave school, most people let their mental development wane. They restrict themselves to their field of expertise and fail to discover other, more fulfilling opportunities.

The “I want it now” culture created by the mass media, social networks and fake news articles stifles any questioning minds. It undermines all thoughtful reflection and creates a dumbed down society.

There is no better way to learn and develop your intellectual abilities than through great literature. Great novels enable us to connect with some of the best minds in history. There’s no need to spend a fortune on courses.

Writing also enables us to develop the precision, lucidity and importance of ideas. 

The social/emotional aspect

The social and emotional elements are closely linked. Our emotions are our responses to how we react within our social environment. But these emotions also define the quality of our relationships with others.

Habits 1, 2 and 3, developed above, are designed to strengthen our emotional independence and personal safety.

However, a well-developed intellectual level cannot ensure a socially successful life, without strong emotional security, where everyday habits are in harmony with real values.

To limit one’s energy and time in search of self-interest, money and short-lived pleasures never leads to lasting success or true happiness. The latter is never found through a life of selfishness and greed.

Several studies have shown the link between the true meaning of happiness and the completion of projects that bring added value to society. This is what really brings joy to our hearts. Our life also extends to our community, to whom we have a duty of service and contribution.

Eldon said, “Service is the rent we pay for our enjoyment of life on earth!”.

Book critique of The 7 habits of Highly Efficient People”:

Covey’s book deserves to be an integral part of the school curriculum. We learn to fly like birds, to swim like fish, but we neglect to learn to live on land.

The author reconciles us with our inner nature. Certainly, the 7 habits are common sense. What is obvious when we think clearly is lost in the blur of the daily routine. The book reminds us and rekindles what lies within us.

Simply by reading the book, from a practical perspective, gives us an insight on how to grow in maturity, awareness and independence.

The construction of, and the way in which the ideas are presented, allow us to easily follow and understand the 7 habits. Each section begins with a statement of the key philosophy behind the rule. Then, the theoretical explanation of the philosophy is accompanied by a series of real life stories. Finally, each part ends with practical suggestions on how to implement the relevant concepts.

Personally, how I see things and people has been transformed, at least theoretically. I have started to be more empathetic towards people who have different points of view and to respect them.

Thanks to the book, I have begun to understand, in more depth, my emotional reactions, the roots of my anxieties and insecurities.

Admittedly, the path to change is long and sometimes difficult, but when you are clear about the end results, the will and desire to succeed are at their peak.

Strong Points :

  • The way the book is written is well put together. Simple and pleasant to read.
  • Ideas are clear; the concepts are both profound and straightforward.
  • The implementation of the practices is helped by exercises at the end of each chapter.
  • The book shows its merits compared to those that offer quick and unlikely answers. He advocates long-term work.

Weak Points :

  • The order of the contents could be better.
  • The same ideas are repeated a number of times.
  • Bulky book.
  • Needs to be read more than once.

My rating : effective successful people effective successful people effective successful peopleeffective successful peopleeffective successful peopleeffective successful peopleeffective successful peopleeffective successful peopleeffective successful people

Have you read “The 7 habits Highly Effective People”? How do you rate it?

Mediocre - No interestReasonable - One or two interesting paragraphsIntermediate - Some goods ideasGood - Had changed my life on one practical aspectVery Good - Completely changed my life ! (No Ratings Yet)

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