By Dixie Laite, Guest ContributorAugust 28, 2015
*a version of this piece first appeared on Like a Boss Girls
Good things come in sevens – seas, wonders of the world, fairy tale dwarves. Crap shooters call it lucky. But 7 can also be the key to being your best self and living your best life, thanks to the timeless classic, Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
I know what you’re thinking. In a word: YAWN. “Isn’t that, like, a million years old?” or maybe even “Who?”
It’s true the phrase “highly effective” is a little eye-roll-y, and it’s true the book was written over 25 years ago. And I know how you feel – I assumed it was just a bunch of old-fashioned statements about high-fiving white guys who play golf and always tuck in their shirts. But one day I figured, hey, I could stand to be a little more badass and successful, and I gave it a shot.
It’s no exaggeration to say it changed my life.
Turns out there’s a reason this book is such a widely-read classic. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is based on universal principles; it’s built upon the idea that when you become a certain type of person, a person whose character follows these seven “true north” principles, you organically find success. Adopting the ideas and behaviors, you’ll not only become effective, you’ll become a really good human being.
The book is absolutely worth checking out. Here’s a brief summary of the “7 habits:”
1. Be Proactive
Taking initiative is habit number one, and it’s the number one thing you can do to make your life rock. Take responsibility for your choices, and if you don’t like something in your life, take action. Say something, do something. That’s how you’ll become someone.
2. Begin With the End in Mind
You can’t get to where you want to go unless you know where –and what, and why, and WHO – that is. You need clarity about what you want, what your values are, who you are, and who you want to become. Write down your goals, re-visit them, and work toward them every day. (Well, almost every day. We get it, there’s friends to hang out with, shows to binge watch. It happens.)
3. Put First Things First
Now that you know who you are, what you want, and where you’re going, it’s time to prioritize what really matters. Don’t get side-tracked. Learn to focus and follow-through on what you absolutely value. Prioritize what’s truly important and necessary, not just what’s urgent and loudest.
4. Think Win-Win
It’s often tempting to go for solutions that serve you even if they don’t work or sit so well with others. But valuing and respecting others and working toward a solution that works for everyone is healthier and more powerful than only thinking of yourself. Besides, considering and collaborating with others really will make you more successful in the long run. That whole team player thing, it makes you (and everyone actually) a winner in the end. Really.
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
It’s the “first” and then the “then” that are the key words here. Listen carefully and you may find you actually want the same thing as someone else. Whether it’s your mother, your sister, your boss, your friend or frenemy: Hear them out. You might find you can solve her problem or calm her concerns without having to try to manipulate or argue with anyone.
This five-dollar word means combining everyone’s best to get the best results. It’s often the natural by-product of the “win-win.” By making Habits #4 and #5 part of the way you do things, you’ll find that 1 + 1 can = 3! When you take into consideration and use other people’s strength, you achieve way more than if you were all going it solo!
7. Sharpen the Saw (Maybe my favorite habit!)
Last but not least, we have what is probably my favorite habit. When I’m exhausted or want to take a break, I go on and take one -- and I don’t feel guilty. I know the smart thing to do is to re-fuel, re-charge, and to “sharpen the saw.”
Think about it: If you keep sawing away at a giant tree trunk, without ever stopping to sharpen the saw, you’ll eventually fail. The saw will get duller and duller, and your work will eventually slow and you’ll be wasting your time.
It’s important to refresh, nurture, and renew your resources and energy in order to be your most effective. That may mean reading, meditating, taking a walk –or even a nap. You have to take care of your health (physical, mental and spiritual) in order to sustain your long-term efforts and success.
So the next time you’re being all effective and proactive late into the night, close that book (or laptop or engine cover). Take a break and take care of yo’self. Dr. Covey said so!
And if anyone asks you what you’re doing, just say “Habit Number 7, that’s what!”
Seriously, check out the book and see for yourself how adopting these lucky 7 can make you lucky. Because as every seemingly “lucky” person knows, there’s a whole lot of activity, goal-setting, prioritizing, win-winning, and solid effectiveness behind all that luck!
Have you read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People yet? What did you think? Tell us below!
Dixie Laite is a freelance writer, speaker and branding and marketing consultant. She's been Editorial Director for TeenNick and Oxygen.com, and a columnist for WE-TV, Whole Living, Oxygen.com and the DIY Business Association. Dixie has a husband, 2 dogs, 4 parrots, and all her old Sassy magazines.
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