Have you ever wondered what habits you could cultivate to bring more zing into your life and work smarter, not harder? Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” tells us how.
Habit #1: Be Proactive. Reactive people “focus on things that they can’t control….on the other hand, proactive people realize: Look, even if my complaining were completely objective, it doesn’t help me. So I’m going to focus on what I CAN control.” Being reactive is easy. It’s far easier to complain about what’s wrong than to ask what we can do to make it better. As Jerzy Gregorek said, “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.”
Habit #2: Begin with the End in Mind. This may sound a bit morbid, but imagine yourself at your own funeral. You’re staring down at your casket. What do you want to be able to say about yourself? How do you want to be remembered? Adding this kind of weight to our actions is not easy. As Covey says, “almost all of us will have to readjust how we live when we ask this question.” But doing so will cultivate a mindful life leading toward the legacy we want to leave behind.
Habit #3: Put First Things First. What are the most important things to you? Covey says most people respond to this question with “my health” or “my family.” He points out, “You would never say: organizing papers and watching TV. But how many of us spend more time organizing papers and watching TV than planning our nutrition or going to the gym, or cultivating a healthy family environment?... There’s a horrible disconnect between what we say and how we actually allocate our time.”
Habit #4: Think Win-Win. It’s sad to say, but some people never seem to grow out of the schoolyard bully mentality, where to be on top, you have to put someone else down. Covey says that feeding and supporting other people’s dreams will actually aid and enhance your chances for success far more than constantly criticizing to look better in comparison. “Stop thinking of everything as a zero-sum game. For you to win, another person does not have to lose.”
Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood. Covey uses his video as an example. Instead of saying people should like and subscribe to his work because of how hard he worked on it, he instead asks: “Does it offer value to you?” By leading with this, we are able to put meaningful work into the world. If we create things that help and improve someone’s life, and make that the priority, the natural effect will be followers who dig what we’re doing and want to be involved.
Habit #6: Synergize. Synergy means “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Seeking synergistic opportunities where you can help someone else meet a common goal equates to better opportunities for both of you. Lead with improvement in mind, and don’t be afraid to ask for or offer help.
Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw. Magic tips and tricks on how to be more effective will do no good if we don’t take the time to build a solid foundation where we take care of our minds and bodies. As Covey points out, trying to cut down a tree with a blunt saw will get you nowhere. Take the time to sharpen the saw, and you’ll be able to fell objects in your path with greater ease down the road.
Many of our students come to us, budding entrepreneurs with big ideas and bigger dreams. Cultivating habits such as these will help build that solid foundation to ensure not only success in this life, but also secure the promise of a legacy that will live on long beyond our time.
What premeditated greatness will you embark on today?