self improvement

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

My review and version of my understanding of the

7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

Be proactive

Begin with the end in mind

Put first things first

Think win/win

Seek first to understand, then be understood


Sharpen the saw


A Brief Introduction

Covey believes:

Many individuals have achieved a high degree of outward success, yet find themselves struggling with an inner need for developing personal effectiveness and growing healthy relationships with others.

The way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions. In order to change a given situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.

It’s interesting that in the past 200 years, the concept of “success” and how people identify with being “successful” has changed over time.

In earlier times, the foundation of success rested upon Character Ethic:











the Golden Rule

But starting around the 1920s, the way people viewed success shifted to what Covey calls Personality Ethic:


public image

attitudes and behaviors

These days, people look for quick fixes. They see a successful person, team, or organization and ask, “How do you do it? Teach me your techniques!” But these “shortcuts” that we look for hoping to save time and effort and still achieve the desired result are simply band-aids that will yield only short-term solutions because they don’t address the underlying condition.

The way we see the problem is the problem.”  In order to achieve true change, we must allow ourselves to undergo paradigm shifts – to change ourselves fundamentally and not just alter our attitudes and behaviors on the surface level.

This is where the seven habits of highly effective people come in:

  • Habits 12, and 3 are focused on self-mastery and moving from dependence to independence.
  • Habits 45, and 6 are focused on developing teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills, and moving from independence to interdependence.
  • Habit 7 is focused on continuous growth and improvement, and embodies all the other habits.

So what would it mean to be highly effective and why is it so critical?

Mastering effectiveness is a life-long journey of constant learning and growth.

It means to be able to dictate our own direction rather than being a victim of circumstance.

It means having a greater sense of meaning and purpose that inspires us to take progressive actions every day.

We genuinely have the best interests of others at heart and build strong, meaningful relationships around us by always expressing our care and desire to connect and understand others.

Through this we are able to unite in order to evoke powerful change in all areas of our lives.

To the degree to which we commit to mastering effectiveness is to the same degree to which we inspire happiness, freedom, fulfillment and positive change in our lives. But we can’t do it alone. We must come together and seek the help and support of others along this journey to learn and apply the fundamental knowledge and wisdom of highly effective people.

So What Are The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?

Be Proactive


Quick Summary:

We are in charge. We choose the scripts by which to live our lives. Use this self-awareness to be proactive and take responsibility for your choices.

What distinguishes us as humans from all other animals is our inherent ability to examine our own character, to decide how to view ourselves and our situations, to control our own effectiveness.

Put simply: In order to be effective, one must be proactive.

Ractive people take a passive stance – they believe that the world is happening to them. They say things like:

“There’s nothing I can do.”

“That’s just the way I am.”

They think the problem is “out there” – but that thought is the problem. Reactivity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and reactive people feel increasingly victimized and out of control.

Proactive people, however, recognize that they have responsibility – or “response-ability.”

Response-ability:  the ability to choose how you will respond to a given stimulus or situation.

It is our willing permission, our consent to what happens to us, that hurts us far more than what happened to us in the first place.


In order to be proactive, we must focus on the Circle of Influence that lies within our Circle of Concern – in other words, we must work on the things we can do something about.

The positive energy we exert will cause our Circle of Influence to expand.

Reactive people, on the other hand, focus on things that are in their Circle of Concern but not in their Circle of Influence, which leads to blaming external factors, emanating negative energy and causing their Circle of Influence to shrink.

Rescripting:  changing some of the basic paradigms that you have, to recognize ineffective scripts that have been written for you and proactively write your own with your own values.

It is also important to identify our center. Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.

I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday, and I can choose otherwise. I take responsibility for my life, my choices, my direction.

a) I focus my attention and work on my Circle of Influence (things I can do something about), not on my  Circle of Concern (things over which I have no real control).

b) Anytime I start to think the problem is “out there”, I stop myself. That thought is the problem. I change from the inside-out:  by making my own choices, I affect positive change in what’s external.

c) The extent of my proactivity (and my growth) is the extent to which I honor my commitments and my promises to myself and to others. My proactivity increases as I make promises and keep them – as I set goals and work to achieve them.

Being Proactive:

What is it like to live the opposite? – We’re emotionally reactive, we can feel negative and struggle to turn our state around.  Perhaps we need a cigarette or drink to calm us down, we don’t believe in ourselves, and we struggle to follow through on basic commitments.

What does it mean to live this habit? – Someone who is proactive is willing and able to take more responsibility to make things happen. If we look at the word “responsibility”, it implies that people are more able to respond, but the key here is to respond through conscious choice rather than an unconscious reaction.

As Covey wonderfully describes, between stimulus and response is a space, and in that space is our freedom to choose. However, when we react, there is no space.  It means that our external environment dictates our actions because we react with no conscious choice, based upon conditioned programs from our past. We cannot create a new future if we are always living out the past.

Being proactive means you’re not a victim of your environment or your past.  You’re not pointing the blame at people or situations for your own life-situations. Proactive people always focus on their circle of influence, on what they can influence rather than constantly draining energy focusing on and complaining about what they can’t change.
The starting point of being proactive is firstly to become a student of yourself.  Become aware of your reactive patterns and how you can change them. Secondly, starting small, make commitments and keep them. Every time we extend ourselves to follow through with a commitment, we govern what happens in our lives, not circumstances.

Practice Success Habit 1:

Challenge yourself to test the principle of being proactive by doing the following:

1. Start replacing reactive language with proactive language.

Reactive = “He makes me so mad.”
Proactive = “I control my own feelings.  I won’t allow him to make me mad.”

2. Convert reactive tasks into proactive ones.

Keep a list and document your reactive tasks and how you could have converted them to being proactive.  At the end of each day, review your list and develop a plan to make the changes needed for those tasks from that point on.

Begin With The End In Mind


Quick Summary:

Many of us find it easy to get so busy in our quest to achieve victories, such as promotions, higher income, more recognition, that we don’t stop to evaluate the true meaning behind these victories.  We don’t ask ourselves if these outcomes we focus on so intently are what really matter to us.

To ensure we are taking the right steps to get to where we really want to be, we must begin with the end in mind.  We must use our conscience to decide what values will guide us to get there.

Start with a clear destination in mind. Covey says we can use our imagination to develop a vision of what we want to become and use our conscience to decide what values will guide us.

Most of us find it rather easy to busy ourselves. We work hard to achieve victories – promotions, higher income, more recognition. But we don’t often stop to evaluate the meaning behind this busyness, behind these victories – we don’t ask ourselves if these things that we focus on so intently are what really matter to us.  

Habit 2 suggests that, in everything we do, we should begin with the end in mind. Start with a clear destination. That way, we can make sure the steps we’re taking are in the right direction.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.


Covey emphasizes that our self-awareness empowers us to shape our own lives, instead of living our lives by default, or based on the standards or preferences of others.

Beginning with the end in mind is also extremely important for businesses. Being a manager is about optimizing for efficiency. But being a leader is about setting the right strategic vision for your organization in the first place, and asking “what are we trying to accomplish?”

Before we as individuals or organizations can start setting and achieving goals, we must be able to identify our values. This process may involve some rescripting to be able to assert our own personal values

Habit 2

2) Begin with the end in mind

I have a clear understanding of my destination. I know what’s deeply important to me, and, keeping that picture in mind, I’m able to manage myself each day to be and to do what really matters most. Thus I’m the creation of my own proactive vision and design, not the creation of circumstances, past habits or other people’s agendas.

a) I begin today with the image of the end of my life as the criterion by which everything else is examined. Each part of my life is examined in the context of what really matters most to me. By keeping that end in mind, I can make certain that whatever I do on any particular day is in keeping with the criteria I define as supremely important, and that each day contributes in a meaningful way to the vision I have of my life as a whole. Seeing things through that perspective it becomes clear that the most important thing is my salvation and my eternal life, which means accepting Christ as my savior and following God’s word and will for me.

b) I develop a personal mission statement which is made up of all the criteria I define as supremely important when faced with my life’s end. My mission statement reflects the vision and the values which direct my life. It is the basis for making daily decisions. It is my personal constitution and the essence of my proactivity. By reviewing it regularly I can be truly proactive, value driven, because my values are clear. My mission statement is principle-centered, It enables me to look at things through the paradigm of correct principles, fundamental truths of right living which derive from God’s word.  What I see in life is dramatically different from what I see through any other centered paradigm. God is the center that puts all other centers in perspective. Therefore, to be true to my mission statement is to put my trust in God.

c) I use affirmation and visualization to help me integrate my vision into my life on a daily basis. In every area of my life I can use this process to better ‘rescript’ myself in harmony with my values. In every situation I can see it, feel it and experience it before I actually do it. I begin with the end in mind.
2 –Begin With The End in Mind

What is it like to live the opposite? – We feel demotivated, everything seems mundane, we can often feel like we’re living on a treadmill, maybe we start something and don’t finish it and don’t really know where we’re going in life.

What does it mean to live this habit? – If you ask most people ‘what would you like to do in your life?’, many are unsure or are lacking in definitive clarity. Is it any wonder that our happiness and fulfilment is so shallow and fleeting? Having a greater sense of direction and purpose in our lives brings so much more meaning to each moment. Covey shares the story of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps of World War 2. Thankfully due to his level of awareness of his mind he was able to direct his thoughts and attention to a meaningful outcome after the war which enabled him to bring a sense of meaning to the horrific suffering. He attributes this as being the reason he survived those atrocities. If you have a strong enough vision that inspires you then the challenges along the way always seem so much smaller and navigable – to such a degree that we actually begin to see the problems as opportunities. We come to appreciate that it is only through those opportunities do we increase our capacity to go on to take on bigger things in the future.

Habit 3

3) Put first things first

Habit 3 is simply managing my daily life in accordance with my newfound life in Christ. Now that I know what God asks of me, what ‘first things’ are, it is management that puts them first, day-to-day, moment-by-moment. The essence of effective management is: Organize and execute around priorities. That’s why quadrant 2 is the heart of effective personal management (see notes: The time management matrix).

a) The quadrant 1 activities are usually crises or problems. As long as I focus on quadrant 1, it keeps getting bigger and bigger. When we focus on quadrant 2 though, quadrant 1 keeps getting smaller and smaller. Life stops being a big problem, and becomes a big opportunity.  The only place to get time for quadrant 2 is initially quadrants 3 and 4; in order to say ‘yes’ to quadrant 2 priorities, I have to say ‘no’ to other activities, sometimes apparently urgent things. We say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to things many times a day. A center of correct principles and a focus on our pesonal vision empowers us to make those judgements effectively. Also, quadrant 1 will shrink in size as we spend more time in quadrant 2, which means we’ll gradually have more and more time to spend in quadrant 2 activities.

b) Based on my mission statement I comprise a task list which includes long-term goals, and I make certain these goals cover every key role and area of my life. Then I look at the week ahead with my task list in mind and I make a weekly schedule, cutting my long-term goals into small steps and translating them to specific days in the week, as priority items or as specific appointments. Then, all I have to do to make my mission statement a reality is to follow my weekly schedule, the commitments and promises I make.

c) My weekly schedule is not written in stone. There are times when, as a principle-centered person, I need to subordinate it to a higher value. Because I’m principle-centered and I have Habit 2 inside my heart and mind, I can adapt and be flexible with integrity. I’m free to handle unanticipated events, savor relationships and deeply enjoy spontaneous experiences, knowing that I have proactively organized and live each day in accordance with principles and my inner vision.

Put First Things First


Quick Summary:

In order to manage ourselves effectively, we must put first things first. We must have the discipline to prioritize our day-to-day actions based on what is most important, not what is most urgent.

In Habit 2, we discussed the importance of determining our values and understanding what it is we are setting out to achieve. Habit 3 is all about actually going after these goals, and executing on our priorities on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis.

In order to maintain the discipline and the focus to stay on track toward our goals, we need to have the willpower to do something when we don’t want to do it. We need to act according to our values rather  than our desires or impulses at any given moment.

The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.


All activities can be categorized based on two factors: urgent and important. Take a look at this time management matrix:

We react to urgent matters. We spend our time doing things that are not important. That means that we neglect Quadrant II, which is the actually most crucial of them all.

If we focus on Quadrant I and spend our time managing crises and problems, it keeps getting bigger and bigger until it consumes us. These leads to stress, burnout, and constantly putting out fires.

If we focus on Quadrant III, we spend most of our time reacting to matters that seem urgent, when the reality is their perceived urgency is based on the priorities and expectations of others. This leads to short-term focus, feeling out of control, and shallow or broken relationships.

If we focus on Quadrant IV, we are basically leading an irresponsible life. This often leads to getting fired from jobs and being highly dependent on others.

Quadrant II is at the heart of effective personal management. It deals with things like building relationships, long-term planning, exercising, preparation – all things we know we need to do but somehow seldom get around to actually doing, because they don’t feel urgent.

In order to focus our time in Quadrant II, we have to learn how to say “no” to other activities, sometimes ones that seem urgent. We also need to be able to delegate effectively.

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.


Plus, when we focus on Quadrant II, it means we’re thinking ahead, working on the roots, and preventing crises from happening in the first place! This helps us implement the Pareto Principle.
Pareto Principle

80 percent of the results flow our of 20 percent of the activities

We should always maintain a primary focus on relationships and results, and a secondary focus on time.

Think effectiveness with people and efficiency with things.


Practice Success Habit 3:

Here are some ways you can practice putting first things first:

1. Identify a Quadrant II activity you know you’ve been neglecting. Write it down and commit to implementing it.

2. Create your own time management matrix to start prioritzing.

Free Template: This spreadsheet automatically sorts everything with the right quadrants for you.

3. After creating your own matrix, estimate how much time you spend in each quadrant. Then log your time over 3 days. How accurate was your estimate? How much time did you spend in quadrant 2 (the most important quadrant)?

3 – Put First Things First

What is it like to live the opposite? – We feel like there is never enough time, we tend to put off some of the big things and sometimes we feel like we get hit by problem after problem.

What does it mean to live this habit? – It is so easy to get distracted, right? Of the endless array of stimuli we could devote our attention to, or the countless things calling for our attention in any one moment, only a handful of them will actively propel us toward what we wish to achieve.

Have you heard of the 80:20 Principle? Also known as Pareto’s Law, it dictates that 80% of the results flow from 20% of the actions. This means that some actions will have a far greater affect in propelling you towards your goals, commonly known as ‘high-leverage’ activities. The more we focus on doing those activities, the more effective we will be at achieving our goals. So this habit is about ‘organising and executing around priorities’ – being very clear with what your priorities are and organising yourself on a daily and weekly basis to keep your attention focused to follow-through consistently.

Think Win-Win


Quick Summary:

In order to establish effective interdependent relationships, we must commit to creating Win-Win situations that are mutually beneficial and satisfying to each party.

Covey explains that there are six paradigms of human interaction:

1. Win-Win: Both people win. Agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying to both parties.

2. Win-Lose: “If I win, you lose.” Win-Lose people are prone to use position, power, credentials, and personality to get their way.

3. Lose-Win: “I lose, you win.” Lose-Win people are quick to please and appease, and seek strength from popularity or acceptance.

4. Lose-Lose: Both people lose. When two Win-Lose people get together – that is, when two determined, stubborn, ego-invested individuals interact – the result will be Lose-Lose.

5. Win: People with the Win mentality don’t necessarily want someone else to lose – that’s irrelevant. What matters is that they get what they want.

6. Win-Win or No Deal: If you can’t reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial, there is no deal.

The best option is to create Win-Win situations. With Win-Lose, or Lose-Win, one person appears to get what he wants for the moment, but the results will negatively impact the relationship between those two people going forward.

The Win-Win or No Deal option is important to use as a backup. When we have No Deal as an option in our mind, it liberates us from needing to manipulate people and push our own agenda. We can be open and really try to understand the underlying issues.

In solving for Win-Win, we must consider two factors: consideration and courage. Take a look at the following chart

To go for Win-Win, you not only have to be nice, you have to be courageous.


Another important factor in solving for Win-Win situations is maintaining an Abundance Mentality.
Abundance Mentality

the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody

Most people, on the other hand, think with the Scarcity Mentality – aka operating as if everything is zero-sum (in other words, if you get it, I don’t). People with the Scarcity Mentality have a very hard time sharing recognition or credit and find it difficult to be genuinely happy about other people’s successes.

When it comes to interpersonal leadership, the more genuine our character is, the higher our level of proactivity; the more committed we are to Win-Win, the more powerful our influence will be.

To achieve Win-Win, keep the focus on results, not methods; on problems, not people.

Lastly, the spirit of Win-Win can’t survive in an environment of competition. As an organization, we need to align our reward system with our goals and values and have the systems in place to support Win-Win.

Practice Success Habit 4:  

Get yourself to start thinking Win-Win with these challenges:

1. Think about an upcoming interaction where you’ll be attempting to reach an agreement or solution. Write down a list of what the other person is looking for. Next, write a list next to that of how you can make an offer to meet those needs.

2. Identify three important relationships in your life. Think about what you feel the balance is in each of those relationships. Do you give more than you take? Take more than you give? Write down 10 ways to always give more than you take with each one.

Pro Tip: Here’s how one top tier networker builds successful relationships by giving more than he takes.

3. Deeply consider your own interaction tendencies. Are they Win-Lose? How does that affect your interactions with others? Can you identify the source of that approach? Determine whether or not this approach serves you well in your relationships. Write all of this down.

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Habit 4

4) Think Win/Win

Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win/Win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel commited to the action plan. High courage and consideration are both essential to this habit; this means asserting my right to express and act in my own feelings, convictions, needs and goals, balanced with consideration of the fact that others have the right to -and should- do the same.

a) Win/Lose or Lose/Win is not viable because, although one party appears to win, the other party’s feelings, attitudes and the whole relationship has been negatively affected. The suppressed feelings, the trampled values, the resentment seething under the surface of the relationship cause a long-term impact that’s really a loss for both parties.

b) A higher expression of Win/Win is Win/Win or No Deal. If we can’t find a solution that benefits us both, we agree to disagree agreeably. Having No Deal as an option in mind is liberating because I have no need to manipulate people, push my own agenda, drive for what I want. I can be open, and really try to understand the deeper issues underlying the positions. It’s better not to deal than to live with a decision that isn’t right for all parties involved. Anything less than Win/Win in an interdependent reality is a poor second best that will have impact in the long-term relationship. I’m better off going for No Deal.

c) When dealing with a person who is coming from a different paradigm, the relationship is the key. The place to focus is my Circle of Influence. I keep making deposits into the Emotional Bank Account, I keep hammering it out until the other person begins to realize that I genuinely want the solution to be a real win for both of us.

4 – Think Win-Win or No Deal

What is it like to live the opposite? – We feel that sometimes people take advantage of us, that sometimes we’re doing a lot for others yet they aren’t willing to help us out in return. Perhaps at times we feel like there is not enough to go around or feel that we don’t have enough time or energy to help others.

What does it mean to live this habit? – ‘The Law of Karma’, ‘what goes around comes around’, ‘you get out what you put in’. Do any of these sound familiar? Sure they do. If drop by drop you keep throwing waste into the very watering-hole that you drink from, eventually you will fall ill. That is no surprise. Our actions all have consequences to others, either directly or indirectly. If we act in a way in which the consequences of our actions are detrimental to others, at some point or another it will come back around and start to impact us adversely even if not in the most apparent way. ‘Think Win-Win’ is about stepping out of our own world, putting ourselves into someone else’s shoes and wishing to do them good, not just looking to take.
This is characteristic of someone with an abundance mentality – ‘there is always enough to go ‘around’, ‘there will always be more’. The underlying subconscious belief behind this is ‘I’m capable of finding, creating and attracting more’. The converse is the scarcity mentality – ‘I must hold on to what I’ve got because there may not be much more’. To get anything in life, you must first be willing to give whole-heartedly.

Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood


Quick Summary:

Before we can offer advice, suggest solutions, or effectively interact with another person in any way, we must seek to deeply understand them and their perspective through empathic listening.

Let’s say you go to an optometrist and tell him that you’ve been having trouble seeing clearly, and he takes off his glasses, hands them to you and says, “here, try these – they’ve been working for me for years!” So you put them on, but it only makes the problem worse. What are the chances you’d go back to that optometrist?

Yet in our everyday interactions with others, we do the same thing. We prescribe a solution before we diagnose the problem. We don’t seek to deeply understand the problem first.

Habit 5 says that we must seek first to understand, then to be understood. In order to seek to understand, we must learn to listen.

You’ve spent years of your life learning how to read and write, years learning how to speak. But what about listening?


We can’t simply use one technique to understand someone. In fact, if a person senses that we’re manipulating her, she will question our motives and will no longer feel safe opening up to us.

You have to build the skills of empathic listening on a base of character that inspires openness and trust.


To listen empathically requires a fundamental paradigm shift. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. At any given moment, they’re either speaking or preparing to speak.

Empathic Listening

listening with the intent to understand, both intellectually and emotionally

After all, Covey points out, communication experts estimate that:

When we listen autobiographically – in other words, with our own perspective as our frame of reference – we tend to respond in one of four ways:

1. Evaluate: agree or disagree with what is said

2. Probe: ask questions from our own frame of reference

3. Advise: give counsel based on our own experience

4. Interpret: try to figure out the person’s motives and behavior based on our own motives and behavior

But if we replace these types of response with empathic listening, we see dramatic results in improved communication. It takes time to make this shift, but it doesn’t take nearly as long to practice empathic listening as it does to back up and correct misunderstandings, or to live with unexpressed and unresolved problems only to have them surface later on.

The second part of Habit 5 is “… then to be understood.” This is equally critical in achieving Win-Win solutions.

Seeking to understand requires consideration; seeking to be understood takes courage.


When we’re able to present our ideas clearly, and in the context of a deep understanding of the other person’s needs and concerns, we significantly increase the credibility of your ideas.

Practice Success Habit 5:

Here are a few ways to get yourself in the habit of seeking first to understand:

1. Next time you’re watching two people communicating, cover your ears and watch. What emotions are being communicated that might not come across through words alone? Was one person or the other more interested in the conversation? Write down what you noticed.

2. Next time you give a presentation, root it in empathy. Begin by describing the audience’s point of view in great detail. What problems are they facing? How is what you’re about to say offering a solution to their problems?

Pro Tip: One executive recomends planning your approach. Check out her specific tips here

Habit 5

5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival – to be understood, affirmed, validated, appreciated; to be heard, rspected and valued. When I listen with empathy, I give that person psychological air; love. And by doing this I make the most essential deposit in the Emotional Bank Account.

a) In order for empathic listening to happen, it must come from a sincere desire to understand and to contribute to the well-being of the other person. As an isolated technique it simply doesn’t work.

b) Empathic listening is to sense and express; I rephrase content and reflect feeling. I exhibit my understaning. I give a better description than they can themselves.

c) I seek to be understood in the context of demonstrating my depth of understanding and respect for the other person’s point of view and paradigms.

5 – Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood

What is it like to live the opposite? – Maybe at times we don’t feel understood or feel that others don’t care. Perhaps we find that people talk over each other and that reaching a common agreement is a struggle.

What does it mean to live this habit? – The root of virtually all of our problems in relationships boils down to two things: 1– the level to which each person is living the first 3 habits themselves, and 2– their ability to community effectively to each other and know what that really means. How many of us feel like the other person really understands and feels deeply what we may have gone through? It is rare… because good listening is extremely rare. To listen well we must give our absolute undivided attention, this also means we must have the awareness, willingness and ability to suspend our judgements to try to really put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. We have done this effectively when we can describe back to the other person how they are feeling better than they have described it themselves. This is when people open up, when people suspend their judgements of you and begin the journey of cooperating effectively with the least amount of ego possible. Try really listening to someone!!! It is actually a lot more difficult than we often think.



Quick Summary:

By understanding and valuing the differences in another person’s perspective, we have the opportunity to create synergy, which allows us to uncover new possibilities through openness and creativity.

The combination of all the other habits prepares us for Habit 6, which is the habit of synergy.


when one plus one equals three or more, when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts

For example, if you plant two plants close together, their roots will co-mingle and improve the quality of the soil, so that both plants will grow better than they would on their own.

Synergy allows us to create new alternatives, open new possibilities. It allows us as a group to collectively agree to ditch the old scripts and write new ones.

Without doubt, you have to leave the comfort zone of base camp and confront an entirely new and unknown wilderness.


So how can we introduce synergy to a given situation or environment? Start with habits 4 and 5 – we must think Win-Win and seek first to understand.

Once we have these in mind, we you can pool our desires with those of the other person or group. And then we’re not on opposite sides of the problem – we’re together on one side, looking at the problem, understanding all the needs, and working to create a third alternative that will meet them.

What we end up with is not a transaction, but a transformation. Both sides get what they want, and they build their relationship in the process.

By putting forth a spirit of trust and safety, we will prompt others to become extremely open, and feed on each other’s insights and ideas, creating synergy.  

Achieving synergy is often exciting, and is often felt so strongly when it happens that some people attempt to recreate a particular synergistic experience. This can’t often be done; however, we can seek new synergistic experiences around new and different purposes.

The real essence of synergy is valuing the differences – the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between people.

The key to valuing differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.


After all, if two people have the same opinion, one is unnecessary. When we become aware of someone’s different perspective, we can say, “Good! You see it differently! Help me see what you see.”

We seek first to understand, and then we find strength and utility in those different perspectives in order to create new possibilities and Win-Win results.

Synergy allows us to:

  • Value the differences in other people as a way to improve our point of view and expand your perspective
  • Sidestep negative energy and look for the good in others
  • Exercise courage in interdependent situations to be open and encourage others to be open
  • Catalyze creativity and find a solution that will be better for everyone by looking for a third alternative

Practice Success Habit 6:

1. Make a list of people who irritate you. Now choose just one person. How are their views different? Now put yourself in their shoes for one minute. Think and pretend how it feels to be them. Does this help you understand them better?

Now next time you’re in a disagreement with that person, try to understand their concerns. Why they disagree with you. The more you can understand this, the better you can make them agree.

2. Make a list of people who irritate you. Now choose just one person. How are their views different? Now write down a situation where you had excellent teamwork and synergy. Why? What conditions were met to reach such fluidity in your interactions? How can you recreate those conditions again?

Habit 6

6) Synergize

We live in an interdependent reality, which means that the realization of my mission statement is heavily dependent upon other people. Synergy is the key which allows  my dreams to become reality, and leads to true unity with other human beings. Synergy is creating new alternatives through my relationships with others; things that weren’t there before, and that are truly fulfilling, exciting and nurturing for each person involved.

a) I’m humble enough to realize that I have perceptual limitations, and I don’t try to clone others into my own thinking. When others don’t act the way I’d expect, when they don’t think the way I do, I don’t panic, I don’t register that as disappointment; I don’t try to pressure, manipulate or bail out of the relationship.

b) I value differences because they add to my understanding of reality, and they’re an essential prerequisite for synergy to happen. I’m not afraid of differences cause I know that it’s not ‘my way or your way’. It’s ‘our’ way, and by that I don’t mean a compromise. Compromise is a low form of Win/Win that lacks creativity, and a poor substitute for synergy.

c) I believe in  third alternatives and search for them. I keep my mind and heart open to new exciting possibilities and options. I communicate back and forth until we come up with something new everyone feels good about, a third alternative that is many times better than any originally proposed.

6 – Synergise

What is it like to live the opposite? – We judge and are judged for our differences. We leave interactions feeling more drained and less clear than when we started. People struggle to get on with each other and there is an underlying atmosphere provoking people to talk behind each other’s backs.
What does it mean to live this habit? – ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ So what does that mean practically? To be able to come together with others and achieve more than what we could all achieve individually. We benefit massively from tapping into the vast wealth of knowledge, experience, ideas and creativity amongst everyone. We all know this, however, in order to synergise we must actively value and seek value in everyone’s differences. It sounds simple right? Well, yes in principle, however, more often than not people don’t actively see the value because we unconsciously judge and limit the value we see in those differences. Synergising goes beyond just ‘that is what you want’, ‘this is what I want’ and then one person needing to compromise. It is through valuing those differences and seeking to find ideas, opportunities and solutions that a better, alternative solution can be found which is more beneficial for both than their own original ideas.

Sharpen The Saw


Quick Summary:

To be effective, we must devote the time to renewing ourselves physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially. Continuous renewal allows us to synergistically increase our ability to practice each habit.

Habit 7 is focused around renewal, or taking time to “sharpen the saw.” It surrounds all of the other habits and makes each one possible by preserving and enhancing your greatest asset – yourself.

There are four dimensions of our nature, and each must be exercised regularly, and in balanced ways:

Physical Dimension

The goal of continuous physical improvement is to exercise our body in a way that will enhance our capacity to work, adapt, and enjoy.

To renew ourselves physically, we must:

Eat well

Get sufficient rest and relaxation

Exercise on a regular basis to build endurance, flexibility, and strength

Focusing on the physical dimension helps develop Habit 1 muscles of proactivity; we act based on the value of well-being instead of reacting to the forces that keep us from fitness.

Mental Dimension

The goal of renewing our mental health is to continue expanding our mind.

To renew ourselves mentally, we can:

Read good literature

Keep a journal of your thoughts, experiences, and insights

Limit television watching to only those programs that enrich your life and mind

Focusing on our mental dimension helps us practice Habit 3 by managing ourselves effectively to maximize the use of our time and resources.

Spiritual Dimension

The goal of renewing our spiritual self is to provide leadership to our life and reinforce your commitment to our value system.

To renew ourselves spiritually, we can:

Practice daily meditation or prayer

Communicate with nature

Immerse yourself in great literature or music

A focus on our spiritual dimension helps us practice Habit 2, as we continuously revise and commit ourselves to our values, so we can begin with the end in mind.

Social / Emotional Dimension

The goal of renewing ourselves socially is to develop meaningful relationships.

To renew ourselves emotionally, we can:

Seek to deeply understand other people

Make contributions to meaningful projects that improve the lives of others

Maintain an Abundance Mentality, and seek to help others find success

Renewing our social and emotional dimension helps us practice Habits 4, 5, and 6 by recognizing that Win-Win solutions do exist, seeking to understand others, and finding mutually beneficial third alternatives through synergy.

Not a day goes by that we can’t at least serve one other human being by making deposits of unconditional love.


As we focus on renewing ourselves along these four dimensions, we must also seek to be a positive scripter for other people. We must look to inspire others to a higher path by showing them we believe in them, by listening to them empathically, by encouraging them to be proactive.

The more we see people in terms of their unseen potential, the more we can use our imagination rather than our memory.


The real beauty of the 7 Habits is that improvement in one habit synergistically increases our ability to improve the rest.

Renewal is the process that empowers us to move along an upward spiral of growth and change, of continuous improvement.

Practice Success Habit 7:

1. Make a list of activities that would help you renew yourself along each of the 4 dimensions. Select one activity for each dimension and list it as a goal for the coming week. At the end of the week, evaluate your performance. What led you to succeed or fail to accomplish each goal?

2. Commit to writing down a specific “sharpen the saw” activity in all four dimensions every week, to do them, and to evaluate your performance and results.

Habit 7

7) Sharpen the saw  

This habit is all about preserving, enhancing and renewing myself.  It’s personal P/C and the singe most powerful investment one can ever make in life.

a) This process should include all four dimensions of myself. Any dimension that is left neglected creates negative force field resistance that pushes against my effectiveness and growth.

b) The physical dimension is taking care of my body, and includes exercise, nutrition etc. The spiritual dimension is about my commitment to God and my value system, and includes prayer, Bible study, value clarification, visualization etc. The mental dimension is taking care of my mind, and includes educating myself, learning new things, reading good literature etc. The emotional dimension is about my relationships, and it includes empathic communication, synergy, great relationships and any activity that contributes to and blesses the lives of others.

c)  Renewal empowers me to move on an upward spiral of growth and change. By educating and obeying my conscience I sustain and direct this upward movement.

7 – Sharpen The Saw

What is it like to live the opposite? – We may feel lacking in energy or like things in our lives are stagnating – no progress.

What does it mean to live this habit? If you were to buy the basic version of a new car and wanted to increase its level of performance how well do you think it would perform if you left it out in the elements for 5 years, never cleaning or maintaining it? You’d be lucky if it even starts! If we wanted to increase its performance then we would need to make sure we are servicing it regularly, cleaning it, kept it in a garage, but furthermore, you would need to upgrade certain parts to ensure its increased performance. Well, why would that be any different for ourselves? Our lives can be so busy, but if we want to progress, or even just keep at our current level we must be treating ourselves well – giving ourselves space to reflect, relax, exercise, rest and learn.

How do we Learn to Live The 7 Habits?

Can you recall what it is like when you’re trying to push a really full and heavy shopping trolley around at the supermarket? You’ve got to put in a lot more effect to get it to turn. Well, it is similar to ourselves. We’ve lived for years, or decade even with the momentum of our limiting beliefs (many of which we’re not even aware of) carrying us away in a particular direction that we probably wouldn’t actively choose. The critical thing when it comes to learning these habits it to take them from an intellectual understanding to an internalised understanding which we can actually follow-through with and know how to apply in varying circumstances.
As Stephen R. Covey describes, we retain only 10% of the material if we just read it, 70% if we discuss it, 80% if we experience it, and up to 95% if we pass the knowledge on and teach it to others. Our personal development learning is far too solitary, we need to come together in groups, to discuss the material, to help each other digest it and learn from each other’s experiences so we don’t have to endure the same experiences ourselves in order to learn it.


Important notes
The time management matrix

We can categorize our daily activities under four quadrants, based on their urgency and their importance.

The first quadrant contains activities that are both urgent and important, like crises and pressing problems.

The second quadrant contains activities that are not urgent, but are important; all those things we know we need to do, but seldom get around to doing, because they aren’t urgent. Urgency means it requires my immediate attention. Importance, on the other hand, has to do with results. If something is important, it contributes to my mission, my values, my high priority goals. It’s stuff right out of my mission statement. Important matters require proactivity. They’re all about making things happen, creating opportunities. If we know what’s in quadrant 2 (Habit 2), and cultivate the proactivity to go after these things, our effectiveness takes quantum leaps. It contains all those things that make a tremendous positive difference in our lives, dramatically increase our Circle of Influence, and present us with miraculous opportunities.

The third quadrant contains activities that are urgent, but not important, like  interruptions, popular activities etc.

The fourth quadrant contains activities that are neither urgent, nor important, like pleasant activities, time wasters etc.

The Emotional Bank Account

An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the ammount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship. It’s the feeling of safeness I have with another human being, and a wonderful sense of unity and closeness. The higher the Emotional Bank Account is, the easier it becomes to achieve successful interdependence in our lives. That’s why we should make deposits in our relationships, and try to avoid withdrawals. And remember: our most constant relationships require our most constant deposits.

Some major deposits that build the Emotional Bank Account are:
– Really seeking to understand another person (empathic listening) is one of the most important deposits, and the key to every other deposit.
– Make what is important to the other person as important to me as the other person is to me. Understand the other person deeply as individual, the way I would want to be understood, and then treat the other person in terms of that understanding. This is the practice of ‘Do unto others…’, and a tremendous deposit.
– The little kindnesses and courtesies are very important. Little unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals. In relationships, the little things are the big things.
– Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal.
– Whenever I come into a new situation, get all the expectations out on the table. The deposit is to make the expectations clear and explicit in the beginning. The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.
– Honesty, which means avoiding any communication that is deceptive. My intent cannot be to deceive.
– Integrity. I’m loyal to my principles in all my interactions, and toward everyone. Integrity  in an interdependent reality is simply this: I treat everyone by the same set of principles.

Synergy step by step

First, see the issue from the other point of view. Really seek to understand and to give expression to the needs and concerns of the other party as well as or better than they can themselves.

Second, identify the key issues and concerns (not positions) involved.

Third, determine what results would constitute a fully acceptable solution.

And fourth, identify possible new options to achieve those results.

The P/PC balance

P stands for production of desired results. PC stands for production capability, the ability to produce the desired results. Effectiveness lies in the balance between these two, and neither part is to be neglected. The P/PC balance is the very essence of effectiveness.

This principle applies to all three kids of assets: physical, financial and human. Regarding physical assets, P represents using the asset, and PC stands for preserving and maintaining it. In the financial area, P represents our earnings while PC represents our own capacity to earn. In the human area, P represents getting the things we want from a relationship, while PC represents sustaining and improving the relationship by making deposits to the Emotional Bank Account



·         Review daily goal progress

·         Read goal journal

·         Review learning progress and learning journal and activities


·         What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered in trying to reach your goal?

·         How do you feel about the progress you have made so far?

·         Have you discovered anything new through this process?

·         What differences have you seen in yourself?

·         How has your progress impacted your life?

·         How has having a goal affected your life?


·         Provide encouragement.

·         Let them know you believe in them and their ability to achieve their goals.

·         Give meaningful feedback.

·         Ask how you can help.

·         Ask how you are doing as a support member.











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