Many people have heard of "The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People." Stephen Covey wrote this book years ago, but it is still the gold standard for goal setting books.
But not everyone really understands all the concepts of those simple life habits. There are a couple in particular that I've been asked about since I posted our page about Stephen Covey. So I'm offering up a sort of illustrated guide to these 7 habits. My hope is that you will not only get a clearer view of the power behind these seven ideas, but will be able to break bad habits at the same time.
We'll begin with the first of those 7 habits of highly effective people. As I wrote in that initial page about Dr. Covey, I think this one is very important. I'm not sure if he placed this one at the top for the same reason or not.
Number one on the list is to "be proactive." When I think of proactive, I think of the opposite of "reactive." Maybe it will help if you replace proactive with "responsive." As I've written before, people in panic react while people under control respond to the same situation.
There are some things we cannot control. We may not like them. They may really irritate us. But if we can't control them, we're wasting valuable time and energy worrying about them. I can show you the scars from not following this first suggestion.
But I also think part of the problem with following the first of the 7 habits is that it takes far less effort to complain and bemoan our fate than it does to get busy fixing the things we can control. Such are seeds to the growth of repetitive generational cycles of welfare and despair.
Are your stated goals in line with your core beliefs? All the how to books in the world and all the motivational pep talks from the wisest people will not get us to do something that isn't really in line with our most deeply held values.
We have to see in our own minds what we want to accomplish and more important, we must know why we want to accomplish the goal. We can't be driven by what other people think of us.
Which leads to the biggest stumbling block about this second of the 7 habits. If we don't have a clear vision of the successful completion, fear of failure will hold us back from ever starting. The definition of failure never includes missing a target. Not trying to hit it because we might miss is however, an accurate description.
Many people have a goal of a healthier lifestyle. They can see the end result and they would like it. It lines up with their goal of a long, vibrant life. The four chambers of heart health found in the right margin of every page promote areas to help in this goal.
Other people set the goal to get out of debt, once and for all. They can visualize a life free of money worries. They really hope for better things in their future.
But their time is spent in other areas. Complaining about their lot in life instead of doing something everyday to improve themselves. Rather than reading for 20 minutes from an empowering book such as Dave Ramsey's classic, "The Total Money Makeover," they watch three hours of television and wonder why their bills keep coming.
They take the easy way out and go into the drive through lane at those places with two yellow arches because it's faster. They don't take out one hour per day to walk because after all, those three hours in front of the television are coming up each night.
Place your best effort into areas that will get you closer to your real goals. Put first things first.
This one is hard for many to understand because our cultures are based on competition and contests. Neither are necessarily bad in and of themselves, but so much more can be achieved in so much shorter time if there is a strategy for success that lifts up more than just ourselves.
That doesn't however imply a requirement to carry those who are fully capable, but unwilling to help themselves. We have a moral obligation to help those in need. We are called to help those less fortunate. It is not our duty to continually feed entitlement mentality.
But there are countless examples in every life where creating a win-win scenario increases accomplishment all around. Perhaps by following the next step, those scenarios will be more visible to all of us.
In every aspect of our lives, if we can take the time to really place ourselves in the shoes of the people we encounter each day, I think most differences would dissolve into thin air. We know why we're right. And if someone doesn't agree, they must be wrong. Think back to number four of the 7 habits. Is there some middle ground to create a win-win?
I would love to have thousands of new readers everyday. But first I need to create value for those readers. There must be something within these pages that leads them to books-empower.com. I need to understand how I can help them in their particular situation. Which leads us to one of the 7 habits that is least understood.
Synergy is such a powerful method of creating group success. It ties these 7 habits together. The whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. When we have synergy, we have everyone pulling together toward the same goal.
A household committed to better health places nutritious food, free of excess carbs and sugar on the dinner table. They carve out time for exercise and they get quality sleep. They work as a committed force.
If you're the one constantly complaining and bringing down the team in your job, you really need to grasp this habit. If you bring that bad habit home with you and dump it on the family, synergy is impossible.
Another misunderstood concept. Imagine trying to cut down a large tree with a dull saw blade. It will take hours and still may not get finished. But if you take the time to sharpen the saw, the tree falls in short order.
Too often we resist sharpening the saws that could cut down obstacles blocking us from our goals. We won't take 60 minutes to walk for better health. Instead we hope for a new pill that will do the work for us.
We won't read a classic book on breaking through procrastination, but instead hope for a lottery win or an inheritance. We're looking for that miracle that will get us off the hook.
There's an old story about a traveling salesman who happened upon a man sitting on the porch with his old hound. As the salesman went through his pitch, the dog rose up and yelped. Then he settled back down.
After a moment or two of silence from the dog, he did the same thing again. A painful yelp and then a return to his previous position. This happened a couple more times spurring the salesman to ask, "What's wrong with your dog?"
The man on the porch answered, "He's laying on a nail." To which the intrigued salesman asked, "Why doesn't he get up and move?" The man responded with wisdom for the ages. "I guess it doesn't hurt enough yet."
When it finally hurts enough for us, we have these 7 habits to guide us past the pain to whatever goals we can visualize and then prioritize.