Thursday, March 6, 2014

7 Habits

I have finally finished The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People!! It took me forever to finish, so I'm obviously not all that effective.  I'll be honest, while I really loved the idea behind this book, I feel that it is a bit overwhelming and hard to follow.  Maybe I'm just too simple, because I know a lot of people rave about it, but I like to read "self-help" books where I feel that I can implement the ideas into my life. I got a bit lost in this book because it is so detailed. However, the principles of the book are wonderful and so I will do my best to recap my favorites for you! While I'm certainly not doing justice to the book, this is what I got from it and hope to add to my life.

The author, Stephen Covey, coined this term where P stands for production and PC stands for production capability. As far as I can tell, the point is that to be effective, you must maintain a balance between the two. If you push, push, push, for production (in work, relationships, children, etc), you will eventually lose the ability to produce. Instead, you must also spend time cultivating production capability. This might be spending extra time to make your spouse feel happy (PC) in order to keep growing in love (P). While it might seem like more of an effort up front, expecting love without putting anything in is surely going to lead to an unhappy marriage. It's the same with our jobs, our kids, and every other relationship. I love this idea because it really goes along with the idea that we get back what we put in. If we take the time to make an effort, we will truly experience richer lives.

Proactive, not reactive
To be proactive is about taking responsibility for our lives. It is accepting that the way we act is actually not controlled by our circumstances but by our choices. Reactive people allow their circumstances to dictate their happiness, and therefore their actions. Instead, we must realize that we can take control and choose how we respond! YOU are the only one who has that power!

Beginning with the end in mind
The idea here is that instead of getting bogged down in the daily minutia of life, you focus on WHO you want to be at the end of your life. If you don't work on that person now, they will never exist.  Stephen Covey suggests writing a personal mission statement that includes what you want your character to be like, what you want to achieve in life, and what values will guide you. If you pick up a copy, he has some wonderful examples of personal mission statements and I really liked writing mine! It is focusing on the big picture, not the tiny things!

Seeking to understand
I love this concept! How often do you listen to other people and interpret what they say in your own viewpoint? If you disagree, you are quick to tell them how they really should act/feel and then you move on to the next conversation. However, this is simply not effective when you are dealing with people! People seek to be UNDERSTOOD.  Whether talking to your business partners, children, or neighbors, it is important that you put yourself in their shoes and take the time to show that you relate to them. The author gives many examples of how using this tactic brought about the desired results (business partnerships, children obeying, etc) because it shows them you are investing in the relationship. He suggests doing what he calls mimicking content, where you essentially repeat back what a the person says but in your own words. This shows that you are absorbing, understanding, and reflecting what they are feeling. Boy, does that go a long way in relationships!

Sharpening the saw
The last of the principles I loved in this book is somewhat similar to the P/PC concept. It goes back to the idea of taking the extra time up front to save yourself all kinds of time and energy in the end.  Covey gives the example of a man who has spent many hours cutting down a tree with a dull saw.  When asked why he doesn't just sharpen the saw, the responds that he doesn't have time to because he is cutting down the tree! Obviously, we see how ridiculous it is that the man is spending all the extra time instead of taking a few minutes to sharpen the saw.  But how often do we do the same thing in our own lives?  He gives the example of exercising. Although we know that in the long run, exercise will save us from all kinds of illness and cost as we grow older, many people choose not to exercise for a mere 30 minutes a day because they don't have time.  How ridiculous that is! Thirty minutes a day is nothing and investing that time will save many, many problems as we age.

Lastly, I'd just like to say that while I felt that this book was a bit overwhelming, I still thought that the ideas were wonderful. If someone were able to break it down and apply it in life, I think they would truly be more fulfilling. Stephen Covey, the author, seems like an absolutely amazing person. I thought that he was going to be focusing on how to be effective in business, but he just as much talked about how important his family and family life are. And to me, that's true success!

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