Reflection on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
One of my New Years Resolutions this year was to read a book a month for fun and personal development-- not for school and not for work.
The first book that I choose to read was 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. An oldie but a goodie, I first came across this book at my first professional job. Each new employee was given this book as part of their onboarding and professional development. Being an angsty recent
graduates, I thought the idea of 'professional development' books was 'square,' and needless to say, I did not read the book then.
5 years on, I finally completed it and I am glad that I did as this book is a great collection of tips, tricks, and tangible takeaways for being a better and more effective professional and person. I highly recommend it as the different habits can be applied to your life regardless of your career, objectives, or context.
To help give you a snapshot of what the book is about and how I plan to use it in my own life, I'm going to showcase several key takeaways organized by the relevant 'habit' that I will apply to my life and work.
Habit 1: Proactivity
Covey defines proactivity as taking responsibility for your actions and how you choose to respond to things in life. Covey essentially is saying that we only have control over what we have control over. Outside of that circle of control, we only have control over how we choose to respond to things. Being proactive means that you take responsibility for yourself and your life in both areas.
Proactivity is something that I think that I do pretty well already. I do not struggle with taking initiative and I tend to go for opportunities as they present themselves. I do struggle however with choosing how I react to things. I am not always the best at processing before speaking and often I suffer from inappropriate impulsivity. For this habit, I'm going to work on better processing situations especially ones that are conflict-oriented. By doing this, I hope to more consciously choose how I respond to better influence a beneficial outcome.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 3 is 'Put First Things First' meaning prioritize and prioritize better! An essential part of leadership and effectiveness, prioritization means ensuring that you execute on the most important priorities first. Further, it means recognizing that it is okay not to act on everything that comes your way.
I have to admit, I am not very good at 'Putting First Things First.' In my professional life, I have developed a strong ability to prioritize projects well but I constantly fall victim to overextending myself and acting on small things that come my way. Whether a non-urgent email or small requests that I could probably delegate, I tend to take these on and respond as quickly as possible. This is one of the thematic areas in the book that I will continue to return to many times in the future as I try to better prioritize and delegate.
Habit 6: Synergize
'Synergy' is the recognition that bringing diverse people's unique strengths together in creative cooperation leads to more effective collaboration and better outcomes than zero-sum discussions or compromise. Whereas compromise seeks to reconcile differences between collaborators to find common ground (I.e. 1 + 1 = 1.5), synergy seeks ways for collaborators to utilize their unique strengths for an outcome impossible to achieve by each individual alone (I.e. 1 + 1 = 6).
I think that this is a really interesting concept and one of the habits that I hope to apply to my life and work. Taking from the 'win-win' habit that is discussed in the book (but not here), finding synergy requires a shift in thinking from "how can I get the most while also realizing that they have different goals," to "how do we achieve both of our goals and more through collaboration and creativity." I am not sure if this is always possible but on a number of recent projects, I have started thinking about ways that I could better introduce this concept.
Find Out More:
Find out more information about the other 4 habits as well as the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, online at https://www.franklincovey.com/the-7-habits/. This website provides a great overview and supplement to the book! I really hope that you read this book as it really is a great guide for personal and professional development. Thanks to Franklin Covey for the images (all rights belong to them).