7 Habits of Highly Effective People

By Jose Meyer – Project Manager at Santex

Want to give up smoking? Lose weight? Maybe start a course or embark on a career you always wanted to start? These are some of the promises that we usually make, for example at the beginning of a new year.

We have renewed hopes, enthusiasm, joy! But usually it’s not enough, and many of these desires remain unresolved. It is said that only 8% of the people meet or achieve these self-imposed goals or resolutions made at the beginning of the year (or at any other time).

One of the causes of this can be attributed to the lack of habits that allow us to do what is needed, or on the contrary, to quit the habits that don’t allow us to move forward.

A habit is made up of 3 parts:

  • The stimulus or signal we receive to do something.
  • The routine or activities we do.
  • The reward we receive for having completed those activities.

Identifying these components is a great first step in being able to start doing or stop doing whatever we want.

In the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” the author, Stephen Covey, summarizes years of study and research on the habits that we need to incorporate to improve our efficiency in both professional and personal life.

Habit 1: BE PROACTIVE

Complaining, blaming the government, blaming our parents or other people about our fate is a characteristic of REACTIVE people. These people live their lives according to the circumstances that surround them, or given certain conditions.

On the other hand, PROACTIVE people are conditioned by their own decisions. They take responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences of what they have decided to do.

A reaction occurs when a stimulus is received. Human beings have the FREEDOM to choose their answers. Proactive people put that freedom to use.

Making an analogy with the IT world, the materialization of this habit would be the recognition of ourselves as the PROGRAMMERS of our lives.

Habit 2: START with the GOAL in MIND

The creation process is made up of 2 parts; all things are created 2 times. The first creation is the mental creation, then comes the materialization – the physical creation. Habit 2 is about mental creation, visualization.

This habit refers to the creative process of imagining what we want to be, where we want to go. Imagine what the result will be of the activities we want to carry out.

Following the analogy from the IT world, this habit refers to designing or creating the PROGRAM of our life.

Habit 3: FIRST things FIRST

When someone asks us what the important things in life are, most would say health, family, friends, and work matter the most. But then in the practice of our daily routines, we do things that do not go according with what we think or want it to be.

For example: We say that health is important, but we do not dedicate time to exercising, and/or we continue to consume unhealthy “foods”. We say that family and friends are important to us. However, we do not always dedicate the time necessary to preserve, understand, or make the relationship grow. In the work environment we often do not dedicate the time needed to renew ourselves and continue learning in order to keep ourselves “up to date”.

The third habit refers to defining priorities in all the orders of our lives and in all the roles that we as human beings must fulfill (parents, spouses, children, brothers, professionals, friends, neighbors, etc).

The relationship between “The Urgent” and “The Important” is raised with this principle. We should make time for the things that are “Important and Not Urgent”. These are the things we plan based on what we want to develop in our lives, and as a result should dedicate less time to the “Not Urgent – Not Important” or “Not Important – But Urgent”.

To end the IT analogy, this habit refers to EXECUTING the designed program. It has to be executed based on the priorities we have designed.

Habit 4: Think WIN – WIN

This habit is about seeking mutual benefits. We should share profits, knowledge, recognition, etc., especially in those relationships that we are interested in maintaining over time.

“Think Win-Win” is not an easy task. In general, we are prepared for the type of relationship Win – Lose. If the other wins, that means that we lose. We should stop believing that.

Thinking win-win requires the extra effort and creativity to look for mutually beneficial alternatives and solutions.

Habit 5: Search to UNDERSTAND First, BEFORE Being UNDERSTOOD

Most people listen to respond, but we do not listen to understand, and that is a big issue.

There are different levels of listening – each one depending on the degree of attention we pay to what the other person is telling us. In order to understand, we should develop what is known as “Empathic Listening” which consists of putting all of our attention and intention into trying to understand what the other person need to express to us.

For example, in the case of the development of a new product, the listening would be before manufacturing it in order to understand the needs of our future consumers. In essence, it is to get out of our own way of thinking and into the shoes of the other person.

It is similar to the fact that to be able to provide a prescription, a doctor must diagnose the patient. This means he/she must understand what is happening to us.

This habit responds to a deep and perhaps unconscious human longing to feel understood.

Habit 6: SYNERGY

This habit is based on creative cooperation. Synergy suggests that through the collaboration of a group of people, we can obtain greater and better results than working individually. “Everything is greater than the sum of its parts.”


Something very interesting about this habit is that it raises the differences between people. Not only should these differences be accepted, but also VALUED. Strength is obtained from differences and not similarities.

Two people with 10 years of work experience working together at the same time, sharing knowledge, have in fact 20 years of experience. There may be 5 primary colors, but by combining them we can obtain many more colors.

Synergy requires developing common objectives and a sense of mission: “Neither your idea nor mine, but an improved common idea”.

Habit 7: SHARPEN THE SAW

This principle refers to the renewal and continuous improvement of the body, mind, and spirit, social relationships (friends, family, neighbors, etc) and emotional relationships (relationships with ourselves). This well-applied habit generates or allows the development of the other 6 habits. Basically, it states that we must keep in mind the objective of continuously improving.

Although the concept of sharpening the saw refers to the integral improvement of ourselves, we can take an example of what happens in the world of software development. It is well known that one language or framework can become obsolete in a couple of years, and if programmers do not update themselves, they also become obsolete. This leaves them with less employability in the labor market.

CONTINUITY OF MATURATY 

During the development of habits, the author speaks of “Private Victory” and “Public Victory.”

The first three habits that refer to the private victory are habits that are achieved individually: be proactive; start with the goal in mind and prioritize.

The following three habits refer to the Public Victory: Think Win-Win – seek to understand before being understood and to synergize are habits that involve the relationships with other people.

To achieve the Public Victory, the author indicates that private victory should be achieved first. With the private victory we achieve the “Independence” that basically refers to being responsible for ourselves, our actions, and their consequences.

With the public victory we achieve the “interdependence”, needed to achieve, improve,  and grow through the relationship with other people.

With both victories, we leave aside the “dependence” of other people who rule over the state in which our life is located.

Reference:

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,  Stephen Covey, 1989

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