Stephen R. Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Instructor: Brianna Whiting
Do you know someone who seems to have it all together and who is happy and successful in both their personal and professional lives? Perhaps they read Stephen Covey's book, ''The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,'' which is the focus of this lesson.

A Beginning Look at Stephen Covey

Have you ever been highly motivated? Maybe you woke up one day and were determined to finish college. Or, maybe New Year's brought about motivation to lose weight. Whatever the cause of your motivation, in order to fully achieve a better you, you needed to look deep inside yourself and make a commitment to make those positive changes. Stephen Covey (1932-2012) was famous for his book and ways of thinking when it came to personal change. In fact, his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was voted one of two most influential business books of the 20th century. In preparation for his book, Covey reviewed years of literature about success and came to the conclusion that in order to make those changes, we need to have a foundation of principles and values. He also determined we need to be confident to make decisions and take control instead of merely reacting to things happening around us. He summed up his findings in 7 Habits.

Covey's Contributions

Covey was not only famous for his book, but he was also famous for his contributions to the business world. Among being a sought-after author on business topics, Covey founded a website that offered online courses, helped with managing goals, and offered social networking. He also had his own webinar series to help those who were struggling due to the poor economy. Additionally, Covey was a successful research professor who spoke at many campuses and offered advice to instructors who taught in business schools.

Stephen R. Covey
Stephen Covey

The First Three Habits

Stephen Covey believed that before you can be successful with other people, you must first become successful within your own self. The first three habits focus on personal change and they are as follows:

Habit 1: Be Proactive

This habit states you should only focus on what you can control. It is based on the premise that we need to take control of our own environment and let go of those ideas or situations that are out of our control. For example, if you are waiting on a test result from your doctor, you can't control when you will get that result. The result will come when the tests are finished. Instead of waiting around and dwelling on the unknown results, you need to be focusing on other aspects of your life that you can control.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

This habit focuses on guiding yourself towards those core values you feel are the most important. In his book, Covey refers to the example of imagining your own funeral. When your family, friends, and coworkers speak at your funeral, what are they going to say about you? What do you hope they say about you? The things you really want them to say are those things you value the most and, therefore, are your core values.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Based on the core values you thought about in Habit 2, Habit 3 is where you organize and plan your schedule so that you take time to do the things that are most important. Habit 2 prepares us mentally, and Habit 3 is the act of actually doing. In our lives, we have things that are either important or not important or that are urgent or not urgent. Habit 3 is the act of setting goals for the week and placing them in your schedule. These goals are not urgent, so you can accomplish them with some flexibility, but they are important and must be placed in your schedule. An example might be to play a board game as a family. You may not need to set an exact time because it isn't urgent, but you need to place it in your schedule because it is important to you.

The Final Four Habits

In this section we will explore the last of the 7 Habits. These habits pertain to ourselves as well as to others.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

This is the first habit that deals with both ourselves and others. It is the habit that promotes looking for solutions that are beneficial to all parties involved. This means finding a way that both you and the other person win. Often times, achieving something is a group effort, and finding a solution where everyone is happy creates a win-win situation. For example, maybe you have one child who wants to go to the park and another who wants to go out to eat. Perhaps you find a win-win situation where you have a picnic in the park. Both sides essentially get what they want and both sides are happy.

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