Dr. Stephen R. Covey was the author of the The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, an extremely popular self-help book that has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages since its publication in 1989. He was among Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans in 1996.
He also was the founder of the Covey Leadership Center, which later became FranklinCovey, a company focusing on leadership, strategy and individual effectiveness.
Covey had a profound effect on me during my time at West Point, in the Army and now in the business world. In almost everything I do, I use some aspect of Covey’s universal principles of leadership and ethics.
The Hawaii Army National Guard a few years ago saw the value of the seven habits and trained its senior leaders with Covey’s leadership principles. Covey and his famous book brought a new language to business.
Recently I have written about the importance of habits and how they are the building blocks to success and wealth in life. You can click here to learn more about how to break bad habits and start SMART ones.
No one knew the impact habits have better than the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of the bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Habits are the things we do everyday without consciously thinking about them.
Covey writes that our character is the composite of our habits and in order to be successful, we have to adopt these seven habits below. The first three habits help you move from dependence to independence and self-mastery.
Independence – Know Thyself!
Habit 1: Be Proactive – Take initiative and responsibility in your decisions instead of being reactive. This is the primary factor for effectiveness in our lives. Life doesn’t just happen, it is based on the choices we make. Choices give us the opportunity to be proactive and produce more positive results.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind – Where is it that you want to accomplish in life? Visualize what you want in life, who you want to become, and what you want to achieve. Create a mission statement for yourself. Understanding the end goal will help you keep focused on your values.
Habit 3: Put First Things First – Prioritizing, plan, and execute tasks based on what is important, not necessarily what is urgent. Focus on your top priorities so you don’t overextend yourself.
The next three habits talk about Interdependence and working with others.
Interdependence – Know how to work with others!
Habit 4: Think Win-Win – Life is about relationships and cooperating with people. Genuinely strive for what is best for everyone and mutually beneficial. This requires integrity, maturity, and an abundance mentality (there is enough for everyone!)
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood – Listening to others is critical to creating an atmosphere of mutual respect. Communication is the most important skill in life. Listen with the intent to understand, not just reply.
Habit 6: Synergize – No one person is greater than the whole. Teamwork is essential for the best performance of a group. Value differences to drive synergy and accomplish more than an individual can.
The final habit is that of continuous improvement in your personal and professional life
Self-Renewal – Know how to self-rejevunate!
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw – Have a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. Renewing yourself creates growth change in your life. Keeping yourself fresh is essential to maintaining the other 6 habits.