For the past couple of years I’ve been engaged in starting my own business and have been reading up on productivity and effectiveness online. Although I’m not big on the self-help genre, seeing this book mentioned numerous times piqued my interest. If so many people refer to it, there must be a reason, right? Indeed, there is.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey, 1989) is a surprisingly excellent foray into how to best comport oneself to provoke the results one desires, both in personal life and in business. The seven habits –
1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win/Win
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
7. Sharpen the Saw
– are firmly lodged in the belief that “between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.” This means that for everything that happens to you, for everything that someone says to you, you have the ability to decide how you will react. You are not a pawn in someone else’s game. You are, to horrifically misuse a quote that kept coming to mind, master of your own domain.
While some of the wording may seem hokey – “synergize” in particular makes me think of Barney Stinson – the concepts in this book are sound. They are not a trick and they are not meant to be manipulative of others’ hard work or generosity (a la The Secret). They are a reminder to evaluate what matters to you most, focus on an end goal, and determine how you can best act to get yourself there. These are lessons everyone can work to incorporate into their daily lives, from working on a new business a little bit every day to taking a moment before screaming at the slow checkout person at the grocery store. Covey’s book is a classic because its main concern is for each person to be the best version of themselves that he or she can be. We can all benefit from putting a little more effort into that.