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What Are the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?

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Stephen R. Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” claimed that developing seven specific habits can put you on the path to success. The seven habits of highly effective people can be expressed as seven brief statements, but attaining a full understanding of what each means and how to apply them to your life requires reading Covey’s book.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Taking initiative to conquer a task is a vital step to success. Covey points out that every individual has the freedom to choose how he will handle a given situation. Reacting with positive thoughts, choosing to act rather than be acted upon, and making and keeping commitments will help you develop a habit of being proactive.

Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind

The second habit is based on the principle that “all things are created twice.” You must envision and make plans before you can put your plans into action. If you focus on the desired end result, you won't stray from the road that leads you there.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Prioritizing tasks, people and things that are most important leads to the desired end result in an organized and effective fashion. The German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once stated, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Putting first things first requires self-discipline and time management, but it propels you toward faster goal achievement.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Working together for the good of the company is more effective than attempting to beat everyone else, as occurs in a win or lose situation. This habit requires cooperative -- not competitive -- relationships. If you work in a way that is mutually beneficial to everyone involved, you become more productive and more successful.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Listen before you speak. Diagnose before you prescribe. These are important points Covey makes in reference to the fifth habit. If you do not truly listen to what people say before jumping in to give your advice or opinion, you are doing them no favors. Gain a firm grasp on what you are being told, take all matters into consideration and then give your response.

Habit 6: Synergize

The sixth habit is based on the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that valuing the differences in others leads to better teamwork and a spirit of cooperation.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

The first rule in emergency response is to take care of yourself so you are able to take care of others. Sharpening the saw refers to self-care. You must care for your physical, mental, spiritual and social or emotional components so you can be effective and successful at the task at hand.