Steven Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” made a big splash with this self help book, perhaps due to his savvy analysis of shared principles and characteristics of people who were truly effective in their lives. His analysis of these 7 habits of highly effective people boiled down to just seven characteristics, which gives hope to us all! Let’s take a brief look at what he found.

The first on his list of 7 habits of highly effective people is to ‘be proactive’. This habit was given first place because he found that all people were essentially proactive or reactive. Proactive people accepted the consequences of their own actions and realized that we always have choices. Reactive people tended to believe things just “happened” and their choices made no difference. Before progress can be made on the other six habits, the reactive person must make the switch to a proactive frame of reference.

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The second of the 7 habits of highly effective people is to ‘begin with the end in mind’. This means identifying your dreams, the end goal. You must define what will be fulfilling to you,whether in career choices or family life. Many successful careers ultimately prove unfulfilling, offer no true personal satisfaction, simply because the person failed to identify the end goal.

The third habit of the 7 habits of highly effective people builds on the second habit. Until you’ve identified your goals, Covey maintains you will not be able to distinguish what is important or unimportant to your end goal. The third habit is ‘first things first’. This habit deals with effective prioritizing and time management.

Fourth is ‘think win-win or no deal’. This is a revolutionary concept when you realize that in any dispute, there are solutions that will truly benefit both parties, without compromise and with both satisfied with the resolution.

Fifth in the 7 habits of highly effective people is ‘seek first to understand’ which is a profound observation. When two people talk, their goal is usually to be understood by the other person. A more fruitful strategy is to try first to understand the other person. When the other person sees you do want to understand his position, doors magically open to real understanding.

Sixth, we have ‘Synergize’. This is a creative brainstorming technique to find ‘win-win’ solutions. Using the technique results in creative solutions better than any individual participant might have thought.

‘Sharpening the Saw’, the last of the 7 habits of highly effective people, addresses four dimensions of humanity which must be exercised: body, mind and spirit, and – added by Covey – the interpersonal. Regular physical exercise, enrichment of your knowledge and spiritual contemplation or meditative practice are also necessary habits to be a highly effective person.

These 7 habits are a model for improved relations with other people, successful outcomes and personal satisfaction. We might all benefit from the lessons in this book.