Seven Habits Study Guide/Quick overview of the seven habits

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'The Seven Principles Quick Sheet'

  • Be confident, having the freedom to choose (to act with responsibility)
  • Personal Leadership, It is your choice (With focus you plan, prioritize and visualize your actions)
  • Self Management, organize and execute around your priorities.
  • Relationships, aka respect Always listen while seeking solutions that support yourself and the other person, by actively listening before you talk, open yourself to communicate effectively with others

Private victory, the path to independence[edit | edit source]

Habit 1: Be proactive[edit | edit source]

Take action and take responsibility. This is the basis of all further habits and a cornerstone of success. You will influence your life more than anyone else. You have the opportunity to use your free will and hard work to change yourself and your circumstances. You are only a victim if you allow yourself to be; if you are reactive rather than proactive. The emphasis of this habit is to do whatever is in your power to improve your situation. You are the creator, the actor and the doer in your life; get started and "just do it". Since, in a situation, the thing that you can influence and change the most is your response to it - choose your response to any situation and you will find yourself in control. No one can "make" you angry if you decide you don't want to get angry. Don't let life set you up to be in a bad situation. Have confidence in yourself and believe that you can succeed at anything in life.

In your internal dialogue, replace language such as "I must do X" with "I choose to do X", "I have to" with "I want to", "If only..." with "Let's see about..." etc.

  • I choose to not be angry in my work environment
  • I choose to spend only planned expenses in my personal budget
  • I want to be more present and involved in my family's happiness

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind[edit | edit source]

Visualize where you want to go. Before you start something sit down and plan it out. A little planning will usually save you a lot of actual work later. Use your creative forces to create images and plans in your head first, then carry out your plan. The plan is called the first creation; the second creation is formed when you carry out the plan, and its success depends on a well thought out first creation.

It's extremely easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the business of life, the thick of thin things.
  • I want to be family physician
  • I want to have a full registration with HPSCA
  • I want to become a useful consultant
  • I want to be a good husband, to be a good father
  • I want to be respected

Habit 3: Put first things first[edit | edit source]

Set priorities. Decide which of your roles and goals are most important, then determine what steps will best achieve those goals. Basically it means doing life with your values in hand. It means defining your idea of success in life from the image you would like to leave in the roles that you assume (like spouse, grandparent, voter, activist, student, employee, manager). The idea is to have these clearly defined and on a piece of paper.

We need to schedule our priorities. We can use the time management matrix to determine where to spend our time.

There are four quadrants where we spend our time:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important but not Urgent
  3. Urgent but not Important
  4. Not Urgent or Important

To be effective we need to take care of everything in quadrant 1 and then spend as much of our remaining time as possible in quadrant 2. We need to live in quadrants 1 and 2.

Quadrant 1 activities are the things that are important and urgent: emergencies, deadline-driven projects, crises, some meetings, some phone calls. These are the things we cannot and should not ignore. They demand our immediate attention.

Quadrant 2 activities include: all work in each of the 7 habits, maintenance, recreation, self-care, learning, reading, and relationship building. These are the things we don't do because they're never urgent. They're important, but once we finish dealing with the Urgent and Important crises, we often don't want to work in quadrant 2. We get distracted by Urgent things that are not important—quadrant 3 activities—such as phone calls, text messages or interruptions from others. We might want to retreat to the gratifying but wasteful activities of quadrant 4 because we feel like we deserve a break. We don't realize that we are setting ourselves up for more crises in quadrant 1 by ignoring the important activities of quadrant 2.

Public victory, the path to interdependence[edit | edit source]

Habit 4: Think win-win[edit | edit source]

Many people grow up with a competitive mindset ("I win, you lose"), a beaten-down mindset ("I give up, do what you want to me"), or a mix of these and other mindsets. Each of these has its place. However, for your most valuable family and business interactions, the most mature and effective goal is usually to seek situations which benefit everyone involved.

When you negotiate you should seek to make deals that help everyone. In cases where this is not possible, it is best to have the mindset from the outset that you will walk away from the deal ("win-win or no-deal").

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood[edit | edit source]

To influence and help others, you must first actively listen to them and understand their situation and concerns. For example, imagine a doctor who gives a prescription over the telephone without knowing all the necessary information about the patient and their condition. This could be a serious or even fatal error if the patient takes the wrong medicine. In the same way, when giving someone advice we should be quite careful to understand their circumstances well. Even excellent advice can be useless and wasted if it does not apply to the situation of the person receiving it.

It is most effective to listen actively with empathy, consciously trying to understand and to see the world from the other person's perspective. It is also beneficial to listen without judging. Avoid "hearing" through a filter formed by your own worldview, and do not impose your preconceived ideas on what you hear, because doing so will inhibit your efforts to put yourself in the other person's shoes.

Once you have clearly understood the point of view of another person, it is equally important to be understood by them. You need to build the courage to respond to what you've heard and present your own view that takes what the other person has said into account.

Habit 6: Synergize[edit | edit source]

This habit deals with teamwork and opening yourself emotionally to work with other people. Optimistic, emotionally-charged individuals who are living out the previous habits can work together in amazing ways and see new paths none of them would have found alone. To synergize means to value differences or disagreements within a group. Instead of looking at the difference negatively, one can view this as beneficial and seek to understand why the difference exists. In coming to understand the difference or disagreement, and thinking with a win/win attitude, a "third alternative" may appear. A "third alternative" is one which neither party could have come up with alone but instead is generated out of understanding differences and seeking to reach a win/win solution. This synergy is a bit chaotic but is also fun and stimulating. When you use synergy you are also improving your spiritual, emotional and social side of your life.

The Seventh Habit - Renewal[edit | edit source]

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw[edit | edit source]

Take time to rejuvenate yourself and help prepare yourself to work better in the future. This often means relaxing, enjoying nature, meditating and praying (Steven Covey was a devout Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as he explains in the book's introduction), reading Scripture or great literature, listening to classical music, and spending time with high-quality relationships.

The purpose of this habit is to regularly exercise the four components which many believe make up the human being: body, mind, heart and spirit.

  • Body: Exercise for a sense of well-being.
  • Mind: Exercise to sharpen the intellectual abilities.
  • Spirit: Exercise with meditations and inner reflections.
  • Heart: Exercise care for important relationships.

The fourth category is not an exercise like the others, but rather a commitment to use habits 4, 5 and 6 in everyday life.

Keep positive enthusiasm.