The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Part I (Overview)No Comments
Speaking of books that can change your life… I’ve just finished reading ‘The 7 Habits’, by Stephen Covey. Before actually starting to read the contents of the book, I took a quick glimpse at the chapters (I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who does that), read a few summaries, and then I knew it was going to change my views to a certain extent. To my great surprise, it ended up affecting me in a deeper way than I thought. But why?
What makes this book special?
Initially, the word effectiveness, understood as getting better results, suggested that the book would explain some methods or techniques shared among highly effective people, which is quite a recurrent subject in this kind of books (I mean, who doesn’t want to get better results?). Chapter names such as ‘Be Proactive‘, ‘Put First Things First’, ‘Synergize’ reinforced that idea. In fact, they sound like techniques, but they’re actually mindsets.
That is what makes this a great book. It doesn’t deal with task-specific superficial techniques, but it proposes a whole new paradigm of thought, based ultimately on the idea that even though you can’t always control external stimuli, you can decide how things affect you, and then decide how to respond, following your deeply instilled values.
I won’t make a summary of the whole book, since it’s already been done thousands of times (there’s a nice, brief summary on the second paragraph of this great post by Damian Schenkelman), and it would make this post larger than you and I would like it to be. Instead, I’d like to highlight some concepts I found throughout the book, which made the greatest impression on me.
Something I really like about this book is that it focuses on the long term, but with a particular approach. It says that if you dedicate enough time to important but not urgent things, you will develop a production capability that in the end, will have a great impact on your productivity, and will free you from the overwhelming pressure of important and urgent things, as these are mostly going to be taken care of beforehand. Managing the balance between production and production capability is a key ability to be effective in every task that can be done. By speaking of balance it assures that you don’t need to completely sacrifice short term productivity in order to achieve long term success.
This often involves knowing how to say no to unimportant matters; that is, in order to find time to do those vital important but not urgent things, you must abandon some unimportant activities. This seemingly difficult task needs two things: first, you have be sure what exactly is important for you, so your objectives must be clear to you; then, you must have the inner strength not to succumb to the temptation of doing unimportant things due to external pressure.
That is the general idea of the Private Victory, which is the key of achieving independence. But that’s not all that matters, as we live in an interdependent reality.
In order to benefit from the great results of effective, creative cooperation, one must first recognize the importance of relationships. Indeed, if you prioritize long term results, it’s a lot better to establish a lasting, mutually beneficial, trust-based relationship than to ‘force’ someone to do something by using techniques, recurring to your position, and so on.
In order to truly form this kind of relationships, one must understand other people before trying to make your point understood. This is absolutely essential, not only to foster fruitful interactions, but also to enrich your views with other people’s ideas and experiences. If you take the time to actually listen their ideas openly, instead of thinking only of what you’re going to answer, you’ll be surprised to find how many times this brings your thoughts to a higher level.
But being open usually leaves you in a vulnerable state, so you must be strong enough to face that risk. The source of both the strength required for that openness and the skills necessary to have effective relationships must be your integrity, and your inner sense of security and worth, which must come from inside, not from the ‘social mirror’. People value that integrity, and if you try to bypass that by using techniques or something, they sense the duplicity and it’s impossible for them to trust you. Public victory is based on trust, cooperation and understanding, and as you imagine, it’s the key of achieving interdependence.
That is, basically, what I think the message this book communicates is about. In the following post I’ll explain how these ideas relate to the culture inside Southworks, and why I think I was given this book to read.
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