Business Books in Brief
‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, by Stephen R. Covey
Published in 1989, Stephen R. Coveys multi-million selling book was one of the first in the litany of business self help books that were to follow.
The book continues to be a bestseller today, and with good reason – it’s a practical, easy read that eschews complicated theories for straight forward advice. Here is a quick guide to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Take the initiative and get started. We are responsible for our own lives, and for making things happen within them. Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious or aggressive. It does mean recognising our responsibility to make things happen. Reactive people find external sources to blame for not getting things done, Proactive people recognise that they are responsible for action.
Each part of your life today can be examined in the context of the whole life view – are you living now what you want the end to look like?
Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
Covey asks readers to visualise their own funeral and how their friends and family might eulogise about them at the end of their life. Beginning with the end in mind means beginning today with the image, picture or paradigm of the end of your life as the framework of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. Each part of your life today can be examined in the context of the whole life view – are you living now what you want the end to look like?
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Effective management is putting first things first. Leadership decides what first things are, but it is management that puts them first, day by day, moment by moment. Management is discipline, carrying tasks out. If you are an effective manager of your self, you will have the discipline to carry out the tasks needed to fulfil the bigger picture, without getting side tracked by feelings, impulses or moods.
Win/Win is based on the idea that one persons success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Win/Win is a frame of mind that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win/Win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and mutually satisfying and that all parties come out feeling good about the decision and committed to the action plan. It is based on the idea that one persons success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others. (See Mark Gordon’s advice on how to achieve a Win/Win in negotiation here).
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Listen carefully, and try to understand the others side before you make your pitch. An effective sales person first seeks to understand the needs, concerns and situation of a customer before selling a product. The professional sells solutions to needs and problems which can only be discovered through first listening and discovering what they are. Seek first to understand – it’s the mark of true professionals.
Habit 6: Synergize
Put simply, synergy means “two heads are better than one.” Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. But it doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s a process, and through that process, people bring all their personal experience and expertise to the table. Together, they can produce far better results that they could individually.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Quoted in many business and executive training courses, ‘Sharpening the Saw’ means taking the time to look after your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional needs. Working ourselves to the point of exhaustion is not smart working. By investing time in ourselves to recuperate, we are sharpening our business performance and giving ourselves the tools to be more effective.