The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This week I had the opportunity to go through a training based on the bestselling book by Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Despite having the name of a throw in your own mouth, self-help type of methodology, the training turned out to be indeed highly effective. I came out with a clearer list of priorities for my life and a stronger understanding about how to improve my really mildly weaker points (serious attention deficit disorder and selfish narcissism).

The 7 habits are

1. Be proactive – this one is interesting, because it’s actually defined as the opposite of being reactive.  When faced with a situation of being provoked by someone, stop for a moment to think about your end objectives and then act accordingly. Doing otherwise will mean that you are letting an outside person dictate your path. We all know that feeling of “I wish I did not say/do that..”. I experience this about twice a day, on average (serious reduction from 10 or so..).

2. Begin with the End in Mind – Know where you want to get to both professionally and personally before you start going down a path. Anyone who worked in or has a friend in consulting or banking has heard the story a million times – how the work is endless, not that rewarding and leaves no room for personal life. But, but, but…. it looks sooooo orgasmic on one’s resume. Hmm..  Case in point: When people reflect back on their lives they normally don’t tend to want to be remembered as the guy who made that amazing 4×4 matrix or that valuation model or got a huge bonus. They want to be remembered as someone who other people loved, looked up to, as someone who made a difference. But yet, we spend our efforts on ungrateful paths, that leaves us even more empty. Pure masochism,  eh?

3. Put first thing first – knowing to prioritize in order to be able to execute. Pick your big stones (your priorities) and schedule them into your agenda, and do not let the multiple little stones suffocate you. Now that’s a toughy. I think that procrastination is one of the worst viral diseases of our generation. I tend to do this with anything related to chores or errands. I delay them and delay them and delay them.. which, in return, ends up wasting my nervous system and the few left memory cells to try to remember everything I should have done already and feeling guilty about the infinite accumulation of those things that should have been done. If only I could just do all those things instead of indulging in guilty pleasures such as watching Netflix, my free time will be so much more productive. Maybe I would even start focusing on those important things, such as my health. 

4. Think Win/Win – that one is really easier said than done. You can think all you want, but the tough part is convincing others that your math adds up in their favor. Add to this an unequal power play or a different level of education and you got yourself into a serious fickle.

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood  introduces the concept of empathetic listening. This means, genuine, caring listening that really looks to put yourself into the other person’s shoes instead of putting them through your own lens. Don’t react, listen instead. The biggest challenge of this for our ADHD Gen Y crowd is that one cannot use the typical impatient techniques (judging, interrogating, patronizing, interpreting) to get the other person to come to the conclusion of what they wanted to say. Instead, a careful listener will help the other party go through a self-reflection. Solutions can only be presented if they are openly solicited (i.e.: can you help me solve my issue?). I tries this empathetic listening magic trick on a couple of friends this past weekend and the results were amazing! Kids, please try this one at home.

6. Synergize didn’t add much to the above as it offered the typical integrated stakeholder approach about how the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts, 1+1=3, hallelujah, kumbaya, etc,.

7. Sharpen the saw – keep learning and go back to step 1. Not much to add here.

My main takeaway from these two days was that I spend too much time caring about things that are not on my priority list and too little time and mental efforts on the things that I do care about – family, love, friends, writing (which is, as obviously evident from this post, is rapidly deteriorating).

The second takeaway was that career coaching is pretty damn cool! I want.

I got so effective after writing this post that I immediately had to write one about how to be ineffective. Read it here.


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