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The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 3258 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In today’s competitive world, looking for your next advantage is an ongoing exercise that requires a commitment to continuous improvement, reflection and a candid belief that the process of learning never ends. Some say that the day that you stop learning, is the day that you stop living and so comes one of the great minds on personal development, Dr. Stephen R. Convey author of the critically acclaimed book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to assist with that process. Before our analysis of 7 Habits, I will provide some information and background on the author, Covey. Covey is the author of several books including the international best seller, 7 Habits, a book named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century and one of the top-ten most influential management books every. The book has been sold more than 15 million copies in thirty-eight languages throughout the world. Dr. Covey holds a M.B.A from Harvard University and a doctorate from Brigham Young University, where he was a professor of organizational behavior and business management.” [1] With such esteemed credentials, the book 7 Habits presents “a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems.” In his writings, Dr. Covey defines a step-by-step framework for living and working based on fundamental principles that provide the reader with the wisdom and power that change reveals and creates. [2] The book is divided into four primary sections, first principles, Private Victory, Public Victory and Renewal, through which revealing seven effective habits that one should pursue if they are to be “effective” in their professional and personal lives in bring about change. The following analytical essay seeks to describe each of these seven “effective habits” and analyze each of them would apply in one’s life, be it professional or personal.

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In his first chapters, Dr. Covey seeks to set out the fundamental framework for all other Habits are based on, Principles. These habits “represent the internalization of correct principles upon which enduring happiness and success are based”. [3] Covey establishes the need to create a “paradigm shift” that involves changing the way we view the world. The events may be completely identical, however, the manner in which we view and interpret them need to be altered in order to make a problem situation into an opportunity i.e. make “lemons into lemonade”. This very same concept was demonstrated while attending a new release film, featuring Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston titled “Love Happens”. In the film Eckhart, an author of a book on self motivation, takes a group of readers down into the streets of Seattle into the middle of a busy intersection, stopping traffic and then asking the group of people to describe what they see in an effort to demonstrate an important point. “Traffic! Noise! Honking! Cursing! Anger! Frustration! Concrete buildings,” shouted the people from the group as they stood blocking busy downtown traffic. Eckhart, then took the group of people back into the hotel up to the rooftop and once again asked the same question, “Now describe what you see,” asked Eckhart. “Sunshine, rivers, horizon, open roads, HOPE!”. Eckhart went on to describe the very concept that Covey describes as he opens the papers to his book on 7 Habits – a shift in paradigm, changing your view of the world and good things will follow. What you are seeing is the same (i.e. the city) but seen from different perspectives (i.e. street vs. rooftop) and consequently they offer a different feeling and outlook on life. The first step in 7 Habits begins with the author moving the reader to shift our perspective. An additional example of this is illustrated by Convey by presenting two photos (one of an old lady and one of a young woman) combined into one where the viewer, since they were exposed to one or the another of the pictures only sees the original picture that they were exposed. In his writing, 7 Habits explores a principle-centered, character-based, “inside-out” approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness. “Inside-out means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self – with your paradigms, your character, and your motives. [4] “

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life conscious endeavor”, Henry David Thoreau. The chapter on Habit 1 describes principles of personal vision and the paradigm of Being Proactive. The Habit of Being Proactive is described as achievable through first learning to control our language and avoiding the use of “reactive phrases”. Let’s compare and contrast reactive and proactive phrases: “there’s nothing I can do” versus “let’s look at our alternatives”, “I have to do that” versus “I will choose an appropriate response”. The next mechanism under Habit 1 is being aware of the “Circle of Concern/Influence”. This concept is best explained using the illustration below:

Circle of Influence

Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things that they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their circle of influence to increase. Reactive people, on the other hand, focus on the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, they problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feeling of victimization. Focusing on this, will result in Circle of Influence to shrink. [5] Building on the vision of “self-fulfilling prophecy”, leveraging the power of positive thinking, combined with control over our language to help yield positive results, with the opposite also being true, negative thoughts will result in the same. We control our happiness, since it starts and ends with the state of mind and in a position of power or influence, one can only be effective if he/she makes strides to radiate this energy.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us,” Oliver Wendell Holmes. Under Principles of Personal Leadership, Covey introduces Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. This Habit describes the idea of a paradigm built on four primary factors, power, security, wisdom and finally, guidance. There are several others including money, family, work, etc but I will chose to focus of the first four.

The four factors are described to be interdependent and when present together, harmonized and enlivened by each other, they create the great force of a noble personality, a balanced character, a beautifully integrated individual. The location of these factors on the continuum, the resulting degree of their integration, harmony, and balance, and their positive impact on every aspect of your life is a function of your centre, the basic paradigms at your very core.

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least,” Goethe. Habit 3 develops the Time Management Matrix, through a habit titled “Put First Things, First”. The idea behind this habit is primarily, prioritizing based on whether the task is important versus not important and urgent versus not urgent. Being a person of influence and being effective in life is based on your ability to operate effectively with finite resources. There is never enough time to do get it all done. But making the best with what you have and focusing on the important and urgent matters will lead to effective leadership.

The next set of Habits revolves around securing the Public Victory and migrating from Independence to Interdependence. This migration involves moving the interests of the many into a cohesive set of values, concepts and vision. As summarized by Samuel Johnson, the paradigms of interdependence are best noted through the following quote: “There can be no friendship without confidence and no confidence without integrity.” Within his discussions on paradigms of interdependence, Convey wrestles with several philosophies related to building cohesion with individuals and describes the Emotional Bank Account, a concept that notes relationships require that one make frequent deposits through courtesy, kindness and keeping commitments. These deposits, are needed in the journey to effectively mobilizing individuals and creating “interdependencies” in relationships. What makes you effective as an individual, is not necessarily true as a leader – leadership is not management and it is important to distinguish between them. As a leader, responsible for the vision of a group, it is needed that you have the support of your team and draw on the reserves (withdrawals) from the emotional bank account in order to maximizing the return of your planned assignment and/or project.

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“We have committed he Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life”, Edwin Markham. Habit 4 Think Win/Win is an eye-opening concept that looks to build synergies between individuals by teaching one to change their frame of mind and heart to constantly look for mutual benefit in all human interactions. This means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. [6] The paradigms of interaction through Win/Win are divided into six sections in order to assist an individual avoid the traps: Win/Win, Win/Lose, Lose/Win, Lose/Lose, Win and finally Win/Win or No Deal. The specifics of each individual paradigm are a bit too detailed and perhaps out of scope, however, I conclude analysis of this concept with an observation that each person must work hard to understand the interest of all parties if they are to arrive at resolutions that secure longevity in commitment to the cause, project, relation and so forth. Representing each parties interests when arriving at resolutions, serves to ensure that the diversity of concept allows for the needed commitment to ensure that the initiative is seen through. Win/win as described by Covey is not a personality technique. It is a total paradigm of human interaction. It comes from a character of integrity and maturity. It grows out of high-trust relationships, embodied in agreements that effectively clarify and manage expectations as well as accomplishment. It thrives through supportive systems built on culminating and supportive environment built to last with humility and self determination.

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of,” Pascal. In the chapter of Principles of Empathic Communication, Covey simply breaks down the process of effective communication into the most basic definition which is “listening for the purpose of understanding”. This effort, described in Habit 5 as “Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood” works to explain to the reader that effective people listen more than talk. Hence humans were created with two ears and only one mouth, right? Covey sets out the principles and defines under the act of ignoring, pretending, selective, attentive and finally empathetic. Under each of these definitions of listening the ultimate goal is to first set out understand what the other party’s main idea and decode it using effective methods of using probing questions, being empathetic to the other persons position and them moving into seeking to be understood. A common trap everyone is victim of. No one wants to be misunderstood, may it be cultural or language, non-verbal distractions effecting the transmission of one’s message – the goal and failure are closely linked to the receiver’s ability to properly listen to what and how the message is being delivered. As a receiver, be the first to lead by working hard to understand the ultimate goal of what is being said, then recapping what is being said to provide the sender with a certain level of comfort, then set out to deliver your message.

“Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things…I am tempted to think…there are no little things”, Bruce Barton. The 6th and the third in the process of transferring from Independence to Interdependence, Convey introduces the Habit of Synergizing. Synergy is a natural part of nature. Our ecosystem is built on the synergies between environment, the elements, its inhabitants, all working in tandem to support the renewal and progression of the natural world. Family life provides many opportunities to observe synergy and to practice it, says Covey in his chapter of Principles of Creative Cooperation. The very way a man and a woman bring a child into the world is synergistic. The essence of synergy is to value differences – to respect them, to build on strengths, to compensate for weaknesses. The differences between the genders in this example, support the concept of strength in diversity through synergizing since each one person nurtures a self-esteem and self worth that creates an opportunity for each to mature into independence and gradually move into interdependence. [7] Synergizing requires a high level of trust and cooperation to mobilize effectively. It is a natural being of the highest complexity that comes from creating an environment conducive to a network connected with the raw emotions of human trust, cooperation, belonging, all combined together to make for a sustainable goal of achieving a common objective.

“There is no real excellence in this entire world which can be separated from the right living,” David Starr Jordon. The 7th and final Habit, is Sharpen the Saw”, the very idea that we began with – continuous improvement and self reflection. Though we may think we’ve mastered the 6 Habits to effective people, we must remained honest in knowing that we will always need to look back and reconsider how we’re interpreting the world in order to continue to progress effectively. This is the commitment is to preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have – you. [8] This is represented by renewing the four dimensions of your nature – physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional.

The four dimensions of yourself are the elements that form and sharpen your character and well being. Mental Dimension, like your physical being, requires exercise and proper nutrition in the form of literature, writing, strategic thinking and formulating ideas through the written word. Social/Emotional Dimension is gratified through giving back to society in service, charity, being empathetic to those in need and giving back in one form or another. Spiritual Dimension is belief in an absolute truth that formulates the greater purpose in this life. This is fundamental trust and belief in a greater Being that helps to make sense of what cannot be logically explain of life events. The Physical Dimension is the primal need to preserve your physical well being through exercise, proper nutrition and a sound outlet to overcome and manage the stress of life.

Seven Habits. Neatly organized in three hundred and seven two pages, supported with examples and personal insights by one of the most acclaimed business academics of the modern age. Where does the thesis of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People stand in my mind after reviewing it in thorough detail? Simply, I agree. Covey is not the first or the last to write a self help book, looking to organize the soft elements of life into nice boxes and short lists that people are can follow to find the great answer to life’s struggle. But 7 Habits isn’t just about cute habits organized in boxes. It starts with building on a fundamental concept etched with something everyone needs to be successful in their affairs – personal principles. Covey never looks to advocate the laundry list of principles that one should follow to govern their decision matrix. The underlying principles must be based on one’s own personal values. Each individual has a value set based on the elements that their life has exposed them to. Regardless of your personal faith, gender, even professional or academic background the principles and Habits outlined by Covey transcend to provide the reader with a scripture and guide that they can use to be more “effective” in their life, both professionally and academically. No one will ever define the formula of life, but we can train ourselves to understand the decision making paradigms to help make more consistent choices that mobilize first ourselves as individuals, then those interdependent organizations seeking unity and synergy towards that shared objective. 7 Habits is not a self help book, it’s a book of self reflection to help oneself achieve what they are destined to become. Starting with understanding our personal values, Covey moves the reader through Private Victory: Dependence to Independence by mastering Being Proactive, Beginning with the End in Mind and Putting Fist Things first. Public Victory: Independence to Interdependence by mastering think Win/Win, Synergize, Seek First to Understand, then Be Understood. And that invaluable commitment to continuous improvement and preserving your essential being with Sharpen the Saw. Is 7 Habits the best book I have ever read? Not really. Does it present ideas never considered? No. Then, what makes it great? The unity, simplicity and trust in you as a reader to find the answer within yourself. It takes a wise person, one with an MBA from Harvard perhaps, to understand that you cannot possibly write a book that would transcend 30-some languages and millions of copies with a message that would be applicable to all. It is the courage to provide a framework tailored to personal and individual values that allows everyone to consider this a guiding light to greater prosperity.


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