7 Habits of Highly Effective People
I was hesitant to read this book because of the title. I’m always skeptical when I read books or articles that promise dramatic change in XX steps, or promise “secrets” to success, happiness, love, etc.
Still, over 15 million copies have been sold so I bought a copy and brought it to the beach (side note: beach + interesting book = great afternoon).
Thankfully, the book proved to be extremely interesting. So interesting that I took 8 pages of notes – all of which you’ll find below. This book will defiantly change the way I see things.
Our Paradigms are the way we “see” the world or circumstances — not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting.
The power of a Paradigm Shift is the essential power of quantum change, whether that shift is an instantaneous or a slow and deliberate process.
Paradigm Shifts, instantaneous or developmental, move us from one way of seeing the world to another. And those shifts create powerful change. Our paradigms, correct or incorrect, are the sources of our attitudes and behaviors, and ultimately our relationships with others.
Sometimes the conditioning of a lifetime can’t be reversed, regardless of what occurs
We see the world, not as it is, but as we are — or, as we are conditioned to see it.
Amazing how two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right.
What paradigm shift have occured your life? What caused them? Was it a unexpected death or illness? Was it 9/11? Maybe the recent economic downturn made you relaize life is too short.
Albert Einstein observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
As we look around us and within us and recognize the problems created as we live and interact within the personality ethic, we begin to realize that these are deep, fundamental problems that cannot be solved on the superficial level on which they were created.
Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
For our purposes, we will define a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why. Skill is the how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.
Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.
Basically, there are three kinds of assets: physical, financial, and human.
In our quest for short-term returns, or results, we often ruin a prized physical asset — a car, a computer, a washer or dryer, even our body or our environment.
When two people in a marriage are more concerned about getting the golden eggs, the benefits, than they are in preserving the relationship that makes them possible, they often become insensitive and inconsiderate, neglecting the little kindnesses and courtesies so important to a deep relationship. They begin to use control levers to manipulate each other, to focus on their own needs, to justify their own position and look for evidence to show the wrongness of the other person. The love, the richness, the softness, and spontaneity begin to deteriorate. The goose gets sicker day by day.
To maintain the P/PC Balance, the balance between the golden egg (Production) and the health and welfare of the goose (Production Capability) is often a difficult judgment call. But I suggest it is the very essence of effectiveness. It balances short term with long term. It balances going for the grade and paying the price to get an education.
It’s a principle you can see validated in your own life when you burn the candle at both ends to get more golden eggs and wind up sick or exhausted, unable to produce any at all; or when you get a good night’s sleep and wake up ready to produce throughout the day.
You can see it when you press to get your own way with someone and somehow feel an emptiness in the relationship; or when you really take time to invest in a relationship and you find the desire and ability to work together, to communicate, takes a quantum leap.
There are actually three social maps — three theories of determinism widely accepted, independently or in combination, to explain the nature of man.
1.Genetic determinism basically says your grandparents did it to you.
2.Psychic determinism basically says your parents did it to you.
3.Environmental determinism basically says your boss is doing to you
Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.
Look at the word responsibility — “response-ability” — the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.
It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.
What matters most is how we respond to what we experience in life. Reactive people are affected by their social environment, by the “social weather.” When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive or protective. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.
The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values — carefully thought about, selected and internalized values. (Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response.)
Taking the Initiative: recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.
People who end up with the good life are the proactive ones who are solutions to problems, not problems themselves, who seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles, to get the job done.
The difference between positive thinking and proactivity is with proactivity you face reality. We faced the reality of the current circumstance and of future projections. But we also faced the reality that we had the power to choose a positive response to those circumstances and projections. Not facing reality would have been to accept the idea that what’s happening in our environment had to determine us.
They can combine the creativity and resourcefulness of proactive individuals to create a proactive culture within the organization. The organization does not have to be at the mercy of the environment; it can take the initiative to accomplish the shared values and purposes of the individuals involved.
Listening to our Language
Because our attitudes and behaviors flow out of our paradigms, if we use our self-awareness to examine them, we can often see in them the nature of our underlying maps. Our language, for example, is a very real indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as proactive people.
The language of reactive people absolves them of responsibility.
“That’s me. That’s just the way I am.” I am determined. There’s nothing I can do about it.
“He makes me so mad!” I’m not responsible. My emotional life is governed by something outside my control.
“I can’t do that. I just don’t have the time.” Something outside me — limited time — is controlling me.
“If only my wife were more patient.” Someone else’s behavior is limiting my effectiveness.
“I have to do it.” Circumstances or other people are forcing me to do what I do. I’m not free to choose my own actions.
Reactive Language: There’s nothing I can do. That’s just the way I am. He makes me so mad. They won’t allow that. I have to do that. I can’t. I must. If only.
Proactive Language: Let’s look at our alternatives. I can choose a different approach. I control my own feelings. I can
Love is something you do, not something you have.
Circle of Concert // Circle of Influence: when we work in our Circle of Influence, when we focused on our own paradigms, that we began to create a positive energy.
The problems we face fall in one of three areas: direct control (problems involving our own behavior); indirect control (problems involving other people’s behavior); or no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past or situational realities). The proactive approach puts the first step in the solution of all three kinds of problems within our present Circle of Influence.
Have the End in Mind
Each part of your life — today’s behavior, tomorrow’s behavior, next week’s behavior, next month’s behavior — can be examined in the context of the whole, of what really matters most to you. By keeping that end clearly in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important, and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole. To Begin with the End in Mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.
Climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them.
Design by Default: It’s a principle that all things are created twice, but not all first creations are by conscious design. In our personal lives, if we do not develop our own self-awareness and become responsible for first creations, we empower other people and circumstances outside our Circle or Influence to shape much of our lives by default. We reactively live the scripts handed to us by family, associates, other people’s agendas, the pressures of circumstance — scripts from our earlier years, from our training, our conditioning
A good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, it’s positive, it’s present tense, it’s visual, and it’s emotional.
One of the major problems that arises when people work to become more effective in life is that they don’t think broadly enough. They lose the sense of proportion, the balance, the natural ecology necessary to effective living. They may get consumed by work and neglect personal health. In the name of professional success, they may neglect the most precious relationships in their lives.
You’re the creator. You are in charge.
It’s based on the four unique human endowments of imagination, conscience, independent will, and particularly, self-awareness.
If you are an effective manager of your self, your discipline comes from within; it is a function of your independent will. You are a disciple, a follower, of your own deep values and their source. And you have the will, the integrity, to subordinate your feelings, your impulses, your moods to those values.
Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
Security represents your sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it.
Guidance means your source of direction in life. Encompassed by your map, your internal frame of reference that interprets for you what is happening out there, are standards or principles or implicit criteria that govern moment-by-moment decision-making and doing.
Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. It embraces judgment, discernment, comprehension. It is a gestalt or oneness, an integrated wholeness.
Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.
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 center, the basic paradigms at your very core.
The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are. And if our words and our actions come from superficial human-relations techniques (the personality ethic) rather than from our own inner core (the character ethic), others will sense that duplicity. We simply won’t be able to create and sustain the foundation necessary for effective interdependence.
The Emotional Bank Account TM
We all know what a financial bank account is. We make deposits into it and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship. It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.
If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me “an offender for a word.” When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.
But if I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, becoming arbitrary, betraying your trust, threatening you, or playing little tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn. The trust level gets very low. Then what flexibility do I have?
Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits. With continuing expectations, old deposits evaporate. If you suddenly run into an old high school friend you haven’t seen for years, you can pick up right where you left off because the earlier deposits are still there. But your accounts with the people you interact with on a regular basis require more constant investment. There are sometimes automatic withdrawals in your daily interactions or in their perception of you that you don’t even know about.
It takes character to be proactive, to focus on your Circle of Influence, to nurture growing things, and not to “pull up the flowers to see how the roots are coming.”
Six Major Deposits
1.Attend to the “Little” Things: The little kindnesses and courtesies are so important. Small discourtesies, little unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals. In relationships, the little things are the big things.
2.Seek to understand the Individual: Really seeking to understand another person is probably one of the most important deposits you can make, and it is the key to every other deposit. You simply don’t know what constitutes a deposit to another person until you understand that individual.
3.Keep your committment: Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal. In fact, there’s probably not a more massive withdrawal than to make a promise that’s important to someone and then not to come through.
4.Clarifying Expectations: The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.
5.Showing Personal Integrity: Personal integrity generates trust and is the basis of many different kinds of deposits. Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create high trust accounts. People can seek to understand, remember the little things, keep their promises, clarify and fulfill expectations, and still fail to build reserves of trust if they are inwardly duplicitous.
6.Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal: It takes a great deal of character strength to apologize quickly out of one’s heart rather than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologize. People with little internal security can’t do it. It makes them too vulnerable. They feel it makes them appear soft and weak, and they fear that others will take advantage of their weakness. Their security is based on the opinions of other people, and they worry about what others might think. In addition, they usually feel justified in what they did. They rationalize their own wrong in the name of the other person’s wrong, and if they apologize at all, it’s superficial. “Gentleness can only be expected from the strong. ”
The Laws of Love and the Laws of Life
When we make deposits of unconditional love, when we live the primary laws of love, we encourage others to live the primary laws of life. In other words, when we truly love others without condition, without strings, we help them feel secure and safe and validated and affirmed in their essential worth, identity, and integrity. Their natural growth process is encouraged. We make it easier for them to live the laws of life — cooperation, contribution, self-discipline, integrity — and to discover and live true to the highest and best within them.
The key is to make deposits — constant deposits of unconditional love.
When people see others problems as opportunities to build the relationship instead of as negative, burdensome irritations, it totally changes the nature of relationship. Become more willing, even excited, about deeply understanding and helping others. When someone comes to you with a problem, instead of thinking, “Oh, no! Not another problem!” their paradigm is, “Here is a great opportunity for me to really help and to invest in our relationship.” Many interactions change from transactional to transformational, and strong bonds of love and trust are created.
As with many, many problems between people in business, family, and other relationships, the problem in this company was the result of a flawed paradigm. The president was trying to get the fruits of cooperation from a paradigm of competition. And when it didn’t work, he wanted a technique, a program, a quick-fix antidote to make his people cooperate.
But you can’t change the fruit without changing the root. Working on the attitudes and behaviors would have been hacking at the leaves. So we focused instead on producing personal and organizational excellence in an entirely different way by developing information and reward systems which reinforced the value of cooperation.
They are graded in relation to other people. And grades are carriers of social value; they open doors of opportunity or they close them. Competition, not cooperation, lies at the core of the educational process. Cooperation, in fact, is usually associated with cheating.
Another powerful programming agent is athletics, particularly for young men in their high school or college years. Often they develop the basic paradigm that life is a big game, a zero sum game where some win and some lose. “Winning” is “beating” in the athletic arena.
Another agent is law. We live in a litigious society. The first thing many people think about when they get into trouble is suing someone, taking him to court, “winning” at someone else’s expense. But defensive minds are neither creative nor cooperative.
Certainly we need law or else society will deteriorate. It provides survival, but it doesn’t create synergy. At best it results in compromise. Law is based on an adversarial concept.
Win-win is not a personality technique. It’s a total paradigm of human interaction. It comes from a character of integrity, maturity, and the Abundance Mentality.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
“Seek first to understand” involves a very deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives.
Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is a form of agreement, a form of judgment. And it is sometimes the more appropriate emotion and response. But people often feed on sympathy. It makes them dependent. The essence of empathic listening is not that you agree with someone; it’s that you fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually.
Empathic listening involves much more than registering, reflecting, or even understanding the words that are said. Communications experts estimate, in fact, that only 10 percent of our communication is represented by the words we say. Another 30 percent is represented by our sounds, and 60 percent by our body language. In empathic listening, you listen with your ears, but you also, and more importantly, listen with your eyes and with your heart.
Ine of the greatest insights in the field of human motivations: Satisfied needs do not motivate. It’s only the unsatisfied need that motivates. Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival — to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated
Maturity: the balance between courage and consideration.
The more authentic you become, the more genuine in your expression, particularly regarding personal experiences and 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 person’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.
Insecure people think that all reality should be amenable to their paradigms. They have a high need to clone others, to mold them over into their own thinking. They don’t realize that the very strength of the relationship is in having another point of view. Sameness is not oneness; uniformity is not unity. Unity, or oneness, is complementariness, not sameness. Sameness is uncreative…and boring. The essence of synergy is to value the differences.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Four Dimensions of Renewal: Although different words are used, most philosophies of life deal either explicitly or implicitly with these four dimensions. Philosopher Herb Shepherd describes the healthy balanced life around four values: perspective (spiritual), autonomy (mental), connectedness (social), and tone (physical).
I believe that a life of integrity is the most fundamental source of personal worth. I do not agree with the popular success literature that says that self-esteem is primarily a matter of mindset, of attitude — that you can psyche yourself into peace of mind.
Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.
There is also the intrinsic security that comes as a result of effective interdependent living. There is security in knowing that win-win solutions do exist, that life is not always “either/or,” that there are almost always mutually beneficial Third Alternatives. There is security in knowing that you can step out of your own frame of reference without giving it up, that you can really, deeply understand another human being. There is security that comes when you authentically, creatively, and cooperatively interact with other people and really experience these interdependent habits.
There is intrinsic security that comes from service, from helping other people in a meaningful way. One important source is your work, when you see yourself in a contributive and creative mode, really making a difference. Another source is anonymous service — no one knows it and no one necessarily ever will. And that’s not the concern; the concern is blessing the lives of other people. Influence, not recognition, becomes the motive.
Viktor Frankl focused on the need for meaning and purpose in our lives, something that transcends our own lives and taps the best energies within us.
In an organization, the physical dimension is expressed in economic terms. The mental or psychological dimension deals with the recognition, development, and use of talent. The social/emotional dimension has to do with human relations, with finding meaning through purpose or contribution and through organizational integrity.
Achieving unity — oneness — with ourselves, with our loved ones, with our friends and working associates, is the highest and best and most delicious fruit of the Seven Habits. Most of us have tasted this fruit of true unity from time to time in the past, as we have also tasted the bitter, lonely fruit of disunity — and we know how precious and fragile unity is.
Obviously building character of total integrity and living the life of love and service that creates such unity isn’t easy. It isn’t quick fix. But it’s possible. It begins with the desire to center our lives on correct principles, to break out of the paradigms created by other centers and the comfort zones of unworthy habits.
Sometimes we make mistakes, we feel awkward. But if we start with the Daily Private Victory and work from the Inside-Out, the results will surely come. As we plant the seed and patiently weed and nourish it, we begin to feel the excitement of real growth and eventually taste the incomparably delicious fruits of a congruent, effective life.