This is a summary of the book 7 habits of highly effective people written by Stephen Covey.
This book shows the 7 most important habits that everyone should cultivate to become an effective person.
Let’s dive in
So before talking about the first habit, I wish to bring to your attention a new state of mind.
So before I read this book, I hardly ever had this super-awesome outlook on life. And in fact, it improved my thinking for good.
How to react to things in life and influence others
So when you’re in any position in life, you may choose to get reactive or proactive.
But the fundamental idea is that by deciding to be proactive, you decide to increase your circle of influence.
The simple truth is, there are things that you can control, and there are things you cannot directly control; such as the weather, where you were born.
Things that you can control consist of how you react to it.
This is the only thing you can control in life.
If you react without thinking or you say a harsh word to your buddy, or you drink all night and live in self-indulgent after a long day, where you just become depressed when the weather is ominous, you are becoming a reactive person.
You let the natural environment control you and you’re simply a person responding to stimuli.
When you are reactive, you give attention to things you cannot control.
For instance, you may have been born into a socioeconomic lower or middle-class home. You may be born into an abusive family. Maybe you might even be diagnosed with a terrible disease.
But concentrating on it will not change it.
Knowing what you can control is the secret to being proactive and becoming a productive person.
You may control your work ethic, you can control how you would treat other people in your life, and you could control if you put on your seatbelt or not.
By concentrating on things that you can control, you provide more power into your life and expand your circle of influence.
So to put it briefly, reactive people are individuals who complain a lot rather than going out and altering their actions. And proactive people know that even if their complaining is justified, stressing about it wouldn’t make a difference.
See a lot of people choose to complain due to the fact it’s easier.
Always ask the question “What others think of me?”
So let’s proceed on to the next habit.
How do you want others to think of you at your funeral?
The 2nd habit is all about being the person you intend to be by thinking deeply about how people think of you.
Now I am mature enough and don’t care what most people think of me, but I do care what my friends and family think of me.
I want my sweetheart to feel I’m faithful, trustworthy and fun to be around. And due to this, I’m not going to cheat on her. I’m not planning to lie to her, and I’m not going to fill our chats with problems or negative thoughts.
See as soon as you die; there are a bunch of people standing around your coffin, what will they think? What will their best memories of you and their bad memories of you be?
Think about the end before any major decision, and this will assist you to become a more effective person.
Do you wish to be remembered as the one that added value to the society? Perhaps start filling your Facebook statuses with more positivity and encouraging content.
Basically, are you doing stuff that allows you to say, you’ve become the person which you want to be?
Combine the first 2 habits, and you’ll be able to influence others
The second habit also goes into creating a little bit.
See according to Stephen Covey; the writer of 7 habits of highly effective people, everything is made twice. Once in mind and once in the real world. The problem is that a lot of things are set up in mind, but never manifested into tangible elements because we tell ourselves “I cannot do it.”
Most of the time, the only thing stopping you from doing something is yourself.
An even worse situation is whenever things aren’t created in mind at all.
For some people; debt, drugs or other life problems prevent a person from thinking of creation, and only on negative outcomes of their situation.
And this is where the first habit returns.
Stop concentrating on what you can’t control, and you’ll be able to create even more. You can add more value to the society.
How to make correct decisions through a personal mission statement
The final thing Steven Covey mentions in this part of 7 habits of highly effective people is something called a personal mission statement.
Now, this is a one-line phrase that you can count on to give you a sense of purpose in the world.
An easy personal mission statement is “I want the world to be better because I was here” and this is Will Smith’s personal mission statement.
And Oprah wanted to be a teacher and get recognized for motivating her students to be a lot more than they ever imagined they could be.
If you always keep this personal mission statement in mind when you make every decision, you will always keep the end in your mind.
Analyze what’s important through the Urgent and important matrix
Now that we’ve discussed the end let’s speak of the start.
Stephen Covey invented this thing named the urgent and important matrix.
Each and everything you can do drops into one of four types.
Here’s the super easy infographic that can make it simpler to understand the urgent and important matrix.
Basically, everything urgent is something that needs to be done as soon as possible, and anything important is something that makes us effective.
The advice the writer gives is to, do stuff that is not urgent, but they must be important as soon as possible. Because if you do stuff that isn’t urgent before they are urgent, then you won’t have to worry about doing them last minute.
What are the important things in life?
Here is the thing that annoys me.
If I ask most people what they assumed was important, they would say things such as their health, their relationships or their financial integrity.
But when we look into their activities, they spend their time doing other worthless things like arranging papers, going out for long lunches, spending time with the wrong people, talking over little crap, doing silly stuff for the better part of their day that doesn’t make them better the things which they said was important to them.
Therefore, you got to put first things first.
Spend time with your family before you decide to waste your time doing something like playing games.
Start putting effort into creating a monthly budget rather than putting your effort on pinning new things on Pinterest.
Go and exercise first before watching that new episode.
The issue here is something psychologists name cognitive dissonance.
It is when the things people say are most important to them are not the same things that they are investing a lot of their time on.
In fact, some psychologists say that it is unhealthy.
The disconnect between things we say we will do and what we do is not good for us, and I believe working on this can improve yourself.
Manage yourself by changing your attitude and mindset
So the first three habits were about dealing with yourself, and what you can do individually.
There are things you can make changes, mindsets you can alter and attitude you can change.
They set the foundation for the next three habits which are related to learning to be a productive person in the society and involve being dependent.
Be an effective person by understanding the 6 types of relationships
So the fourth habit is referred to as think win-win.
In 7 habits of highly effective people summary, Stephen Covey shows that there are six categories of relationships and you could think of these as personal, business or animalistic biological relationships.
Win-Lose or Lose-Win
The first two are what a lot of people believe that the world is made of; lose-win or win-lose.
In other words, for me to win you must lose or even the other way around.
People who have this type of attitude think that to own the largest skyscraper in the vicinity, they must rip off all the other skyscrapers down.
It is best to avoid these scenarios because someone will lose, despite the fact that the net gain is zero.
In fact, a lot of people don’t even agree with you on this. They believe in reciprocal altruism in the long run.
Win-lose is a lot like a parasite where one benefits, and the other loses.
Next relationship that we are going to talk about is just harmful and nasty. It’s called lose-lose.
The very best example I can imagine is; there’s a story where this couple got married, a few years later they made a decision to get divorced. But the man was aware that his ex-wife would get 50 % of everything that he possessed in court. However, he had quite the ego, and he did not want her gaining his Ferrari or Lamborghini. So he sold them both for 10 bucks each.
See the two people in this situation lost a significant amount of value because of their hatred and you ought to avoid any relationship similar to this.
The next two relationships are not bad, but they need to be avoided.
Specifically, win relationships are certainly not a relationship at all since they only affect a single person.
Individuals in such a relationship don’t care what anybody else gets as long as they get what they desire. It’s very egocentric.
So the next relationship is called No Deal.
Now No Deal is a neutral mentality, and it’s actually the most preferable one in case the last one is not offered.
Basically, each says that if both parties don’t win, there’s no deal.
Put simply; it’s completely unselfish. If I can’t get what I need without you gaining something, it’s not worth it, and there is no deal.
The next relationship we will talk about is called win-win, and these take place in couple relationships or business relationships and even in ecology.
Mutualistic relationships or symbiosis is the expression where two animals profit from living together. For you to win, each other doesn’t need to lose.
I could purchase and read a book that provides me massive insight into a current problem I’m coping with, and due to this, I gain benefit from the advice and the writer benefits from the cash.
I can create an article and upload it to my website and benefit from the advertisement income, and the readers will benefit from the life changing perspective.
So start looking for win-win relationships, and you should inevitably become a productive person.
How to give advice by understanding others?
Ha-ha, the next habit. I love this habit.
So the writer gives a little scenario where a father is talking to his friend about a situation with his son. The father and the son have a conversation. After the talk, the dad goes to his buddy for advice; “I just can’t understand my son sometimes” that dad says “he won’t listen to me.”
So his good friend goes “let me rephrase that, you can’t understand your boy because he doesn’t listen to you” says the good friend “I thought to know another individual, you have to listen to them first.”
Frankly, when I read this small story, I got goose bumps, but the writer is so correct.
How many times we get angry at another person just because they don’t think the way that we think, but we have never even try to see their side of the story, to begin with.
You see the world through your eyes. We are born egotistical and understanding others’ views doesn’t come naturally.
Becoming an effective person is figuring out everyone has their own perspectives and opinions from their own personal experiences in life.
You must seek first to understand.
Because, as soon as you understand the particular situation and the person’s thoughts towards that, you’ve got a better chance of helping them understand you.
5 levels of listening
So this is a little complex, but I want to go into the five levels of listening that Covey talks about in 7 habits of highly effective people summary.
The first level of listening is called ignoring and it’s just utterly rude.
And the second level of listening is the type of level, my sister, talks to my mom; it’s called pretending. “Yeah, uh-huh, right.”
You’re at least responding to the person.
The third level of listening is called selective hearing.
We just hear certain parts of that conversation. Only the parts that benefit us. And it is not that hard to do this with somebody who talks a lot or with a preschool kid.
Next level of listening is called attentive listening.
This isn’t necessarily listening to the content but instead, the way the words are being spoken, and you just concentrate on the energy.
If you ever listen to a motivational speaker in another language who’s speaking about how to improve yourself and you just get inspired, that’s called attentive listening.
The final level of listening we almost never experience, and it is called empathic listening.
This type of listening is the listening with the intent to understand.
You’ll get inside the other individual’s frame of thinking and know them better. And it’s not only the words they say or even how they’re saying them either. We allow them to have all of our attention which includes paying attention to their body language and paying attention to their emotions.
This is powerful because it gives accurate data to work with, to understand their thoughts, feelings, and motives, rather than you being a brick wall and saying “conform to me.”
Understand others before you provide advice
Another form of terrific advice Stephen gives is to analyze before you prescribe.
Which means to understand before you provide advice.
Possibly the best ways to find more win-win situations is to understand what the other person wants and needs before you find a way both of you can benefit.
How to improve yourself through synergy
The next habit is called synergize, and it took me a little while to fully understand this, but it means the interaction of several parts, to make an end result that is bigger than the sum of their individual parts,
So simple version of synergy comes from a teaching and physiology.
So one part can be our heart, and another can be your brain and also the third maybe your stomach. Surely these are very complex organs on their own, but if they come together, they are extremely effective.
One other example could be trees and squirrels.
Independently trees can reproduce by their nuts dropping to the earth. Unless there’s a monstrous wind, they will not spread rapidly.
Alternatively, squirrels can live without trees, but they would need to live in bushes and eat just berries, and they might have difficulties hibernating and eating in the winter.
With each other, squirrels get protection inside the trees as well as tons of nuts to eat. The trees get the advantage of getting their nut spread across far more land.
Together they achieve and grow a lot more than if they were separate.
And one last case may be drugs and alcohol.
The effects of sleeping medicine are increased tremendously when combined with alcohol.
And I never suggest trying this all on your own and in fact a lot of doctors and warned against this.
These are viewed as constructive synergy, but additionally, there is reductive synergy.
A good example of this is if you ever had the plague and you’re also diagnosed with depression.
Both are unhealthy to have, and if you get them concurrently, well you may want some external help with overcoming depression and plague.
In medical science, there’s a name for this, and it’s called comorbidity.
Every rose has its thorn
The opposite of synergy may also happen, usually referred to as negative synergy.
This is when waste is produced.
As an example, let us say you spend six million dollars on a business deal and some other company puts in another six million bucks. You both are able to invest in the same company for additional money.
Then again, the company that you just put money failed since it went over a specific threshold and because of taxation, it failed.
The sum of the two parts is lower than the total amount of both separately.
A good example of negative energy is one plus one equals one-half.
Find synergy and become an effective person
Searching synergy will enrich your life in lots of ways, but especially, your business relationships and normal life will benefit if you could find synergy.
Synergy is basically, one plus one equals three.
That’s the sixth habit, and that ends the habits which can be done with improving yourself by dealing with others.
How to enrich your life by investing in yourself?
Right now we are going to be moving on tips on how you can unleash your future potential by investing.
So the most effective investment you can make is to yourself.
By reading this book, you’re ahead of the competition, and by reading this article, you have a huge advantage over other people.
So in summary of 7 habits of highly effective people, Covey provides the example of this man cutting down a tree with a very dull saw. After all, it’s going to take him at the very least six hours to cut down this massive tree.
If perhaps, he was to spend an hour sharpening that saw, it would just take him three hours to cut down that tree, resulting in a total of four hours instead of six.
We see how uncomplicated this is. How easy it is for the man to cut the tree down a lot quicker, but we never apply the same theory to our lives.
For example, we can sharpen our physical saw by eating well, sticking to a healthy diet and exercising on a regular basis.
Let’s sharpen the saw by doing exercise three times every week instead of paying for it with sophisticated medical therapy in 40 years.
One other method of enriching our minds is by studying, reading, and teaching.
Many studies show teaching someone with something is a powerful way to ingrain creative ideas into our head, and in fact, it’s one of the motives I’m writing this article.
Rather than reading the instruction manuals, we try to do it by ourselves and waste three hours when you could have humbled our self and sharpened our saw.
In 7 habits of highly effective people, Covey also recommends enriching other areas our life like emotional and spiritual aspects.
It is possible to invest in your relationships with others in several ways. Some including chilling with your friends, playing games with your family or studying with friends.
Everything this is Important
To become an effective person enriching your spiritual lifestyle is also necessary.
No matter whether you’re religious or not, listening to music, creating art and spending time in prayer and meditation will consistently add value to your life down the road.
Living a thoughtful and effective life doesn’t merely happen. You must make time to enhance the areas of your life you ought to produce fruits, and you make it happen by sharpening the saw.
I really hope after reading this article you’ve gained at least one gold nugget of practical knowledge or practical life advice that may move you in the right direction to become a more productive person. If you like this post, please share this with your friends.