There are certain books for which you take notes as you read along. 7 Habits is one of them. In my case, a COPIOUS amount of notes (12 pages worth, I think?) There were just that many nuggets of knowledge I wanted not just to gloss over but hold on to for the months and years—lifetime, really—to come.
In a nutshell, Stephen Covey boils down the 7 basic principles he views as the principle-centered, character-based building blocks of a productive life. Here’s a run-down of the habits and some of the gems I put down in my beloved Moleskin—a peek at why you need to pick up this book with your best New Year’s intentions for 2012.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
• Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. Reactive people tend to focus their energies on their Circle of Concern.
• The Circle of Concern is filled with “haves” (If I had more obedient kids…If I had a degree…If I could just have more time to myself) and the Circle of Influence is filled with “be”s (I can be more patient…I can be wise..I can be loving). It’s the CHARACTER FOCUS.
• Any time we think the problem is “out there,” that thought is the problem. WE EMPOWER WHAT’S OUT THERE TO CONTROL US.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
• Think about what you want the end of your life to look like—what you want people to say about you—and use that as the criteria upon which you examine all else in your life.
• We are either the 2nd creation of our own proactive design or the 2nd creation of other people’s agendas, or circumstances, or past habits.
Habit 3: Put 1st Things 1st
• Effective people aren’t problem-minded; they are opportunity-minded…work on feeding opportunities and starving problems.
• You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage to say “no” to other things. And the way you do it is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. You are always saying “no” to something.
• Work on building the emotional bank account with people (understand the individual, attend to the little things, keep commitments, clarify expectations)
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
• Aim to see life as a cooperative, not competitive arena, one in which your frame of mind is constantly seeking the mutual benefit in all human interactions.
Habit 5: Seek to Understand, Then Be Understood
• Don’t project your own “home movies” onto someone else’s behavior. Seek to listen to others empathetically.
• Next to physical survival, the greatest need is psychological—to be understood, affirmed, validated, appreciated.
Habit 6: Synergize
• When working with others (spouse, employee, friend) synergize and reach solutions that both can feel good about. Honor one another’s differences and what each of you can bring to the table.
***I LOVE THIS THOUGHT***
• The more authentic you become, the more genuine in your expression, particularly regarding personal experiences—even self-doubts—the more people can relate to your expression and the safer it makes them feel to express themselves. That expression in turn feeds back on the other’s spirit, and genuine creative empathy takes place, producing new insights and learnings and a sense of excitement and adventure that keeps the process going.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
• Routinely review your four dimensions: physical (exercise, nutrition, stress mgt.), mental (reading, writing, planning), social/emotional (service, empathy, synergy, friendships) and spiritual (study, meditation)
• Covey’s Daily Private Victory: Spend 1 hour a day in some combination of physical/spiritual/mental dimensions in a way to keep yourself centered
• What do we reflect to others about themselves? How much does that reflection influence their lives?
• The things you do in 1 dimension have a positive impact on other dimensions because they are inter-related. Physical health affects mental health; spiritual health affects social/emotional health. Improving in 1 dimension increases your ability in other dimensions.
And finally, a quote from George Bernard Shaw that Covey shares and that I love more than just about anything else I’ve read this year:
“This is the true joy in life—that being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. That being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possibly before handing it on to future generations.”
And that, friends, is a wrap on reading 12 business/betterment/photography books for 2011. Whew! Here’s a peek at the other 11 books I dove in to for this purpose this past year: