Stephen R Covey’s book on the 7 Habits of High Effective People has sold more than 30 million copies for good reason. It is hailed as one of the most influential books ever written.
He presents a step by step pathway for living with honesty, integrity, fairness and human dignity. In other words, being true to those positive, most primal characteristics of humanity.
HABIT 1: Be Proactive, not Reactive
How many of us get stuck in the trap of focusing on the things we can’t control and complaining about it, rather than concentrating on those things we can change? Covey explains the difference between being proactive and reactive and how to live in the proactive sphere. It reduces stress, enables us to get more done and to more forward, rather than sitting back and complaining about what we don’t have.
HABIT 2: Begin With The End In Mind
If you could see into the future and see you at your funeral, what would others say about you? What would be your legacy? Are you living in a congruent way with your beliefs and core values?
Principle 2 helps the reader examine their life’s goals and experiences to see if they are in sync and if they will get you to where you actually want to go.
HABIT 3: Put First Things First
Does your life actually reflect what you talk about? Do you do what you profess to do or is there a disconnect between your actions and your words?
Habit 3 gets readers to examine their time allocation to what they are actually doing. If asked what the most important thing to us is, most would say relationships/family. Few would deem watching TV or replying on Facebook as more important. But where do we actually proportion our time? Are our actions a reflection of what we truly see as important or are we caught in a cycle of doing unimportant things for the majority of our time and neglecting what we really see as paramount?
HABIT 4: Think Win-Win
For you to win, it doesn’t mean someone else has to lose. It is not an equation where you have to tear someone else down in order for you to be built up.
Thinking of a solution where everyone wins means you can stay true to your core beliefs and ultimately be more successful. For example: Think about if I am an author and have written lots of books and have access to a database of 100,000 people, and you are an author and have written around the same amount of books and have a database around the same size.
If I read your book and recommend it to my audience, you will have many more people start to buy your book as well as buy my books. If you did the same, both would end up selling more books in the end. Compare that with the strategy of tearing down to build up – going onto amazon and leaving a bad review, hoping the other author didn’t sell as many books. Thinking win-win helps not only you, but everyone around you.
HABIT 5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
Instead of reeling off a list of reasons why your child shouldn’t of done that, because you are tired and haven’t had much sleep, and you have told him 1,000 times already, seek first to understand them. Then seek to be understood by them.
When you take the time to understand others, particularly children, you set the stage for modelling understanding of others – that includes you! When you understand the perspective and motivation of others, it helps with being more proactive and less reactive (as in habit #1) and models skills for your children that will return to you in time.
HABIT 6: Synergize
The basis of synergy is that the sum is greater than that of all its parts. While it is not possible to synergize with everyone, we should be looking for opportunities to bring synergy into our lives.
Children do it all the time. Think about 2 children trying to get fruit from a tree and they can’t reach. At some point, they will work out if one helps the other, they will both get more than if just one is doing it. It could be an older child coercing a younger one, but the principle is the same. Working together, you both achieve more than doing it all on your own.
HABIT 7: Sharpen The Saw
Imagine a man trying to cut down a tree with a saw that is blunt. It takes hours and he doesn’t get very far. After a long time, the neighbour comes and says “If you you sharpen the saw you will cut the tree down much faster.” The other man replies, “But that takes time.”
That might not make sense when we read it, but as Mothers we tend to do the same thing every day. We don’t find the 30 mins to go to the gym 5 days a week and our health deteriorates to the point where we are no longer serving our family well. We don’t take 15 minutes out of every day to read a book or do something we love to keep our minds active and stimulated which leaves us feeling like we are lost in Motherhood and don’t know who we are anymore.
Taking time to sharpen the saw makes us better Mothers, wives, daughters and friends!
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. While it might seem common sense, they are principles that will help us to not only be more effective, but to leave us feeling fulfilled and happy. For anyone it is a great read, but for Mums, it is an essential read.
It gets 5 out of 5 in my book!