We all strive to be more effective in our jobs, relationships, social scene and spiritual life. By becoming more effective, we get more fulfillment in our lives. There are coaches who can help you to accomplish this and one of the foremost ones is the late Dr. Stephen Covey (1932 - 2012). He was a management professional who guided people and organizations on how to be more effective in what they do. He wrote one of the most famous books on this topic. It is known as "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". The book was published in the year 1990 and became an instant best seller in personal and organizational development. The principles in his book can be applied to your work, leadership roles, management roles and generally any other area of life. By applying Covey's concepts in your life, you can evolve and be transformed into a more effective person. Here are some lessons we learned from "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People".
Strive to be proactive
Any change that you desire in your life must start from within you. You must be ready to make the decision to change your life and turn it into what you want it to be. Dr. Covey shows us that effective individuals make this decision and change the elements that are within their control to reflect the sort of life that they desire. By doing this they begin to gain freedom from the external forces that affect their lives. Therefore, if you desire any change in your life, make the decision within you and then act upon it. Put simply, be the change that you want to see.
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Ensure that you prioritize your goals properly
Always remember to put first things first. The activities that you intend to perform so as to achieve your goal should first of all fall in line with your principles of life. Thus, these activities should have first priority. After you do that, identify what sort of skills and resources you need to gain. Once you do this, identify if you have the capacity to gain them. This gives you a clear picture of whether your goals are achievable or not within the time-frame that you have envisioned. Lastly, identify the roles which you play in life. Proceed to make some time for each one while keeping an eye on your overall plan.
Make your plan based on what you desire the end to look like
Mission statements are commonly associated with organizations and companies. Dr. Covey indicates that you can have a personal mission statement too. Develop your statement based on the principles that you have laid out for yourself. Let it be formed by your guidelines of life. You believe in your principles and any statement that you create based on them will be easy to believe in too. After you develop it, create some long term goals based on this statement. Your goals will reflect your personal principles and therefore result in a solid and achievable plan.
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Strive to understand the other person before you try to be understood
Human being are social creatures. We live and thrive in groups, communities and families. Due to this fact, we regularly engage in interpersonal relationships. As is the norm when interacting with people, you may get into a conflict with each other. This requires you to come to an understanding with the conflicting party so as to preserve the peace. Dr. Covey says that the first step to achieving this peace is understanding the other person. This is done through active listening. This is a form of listening where you not only view the other party's perspective but you empathize by putting yourself in their shoes. Listen with the intention to understand, not to reply. This helps you to know why they act in a certain way and will allow you to explain yourself from an informed position.
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Make agreements where you and the other parties involved all win
The best agreements are the ones where it is a win/win situation for the involved parties. These are symbiotic relationships where each party benefits from the other. In case you are unable to structure such a deal, the only alternative should be no deal. This forces you to stay committed to making mutually beneficial agreements. Dr. Covey indicates that agreements where all the parties win lead to good interpersonal relationships in future. They are long-term partnerships. If you are in charge of some employees, reward win/win deals and discourage win/lose ones.
Try your best to create some synergy
For a team to work like a well-oiled machine, there needs to be trust between its members. This trust should allow each member to be as honest about their strengths and weaknesses as possible. Strive to elicit this form of honesty and trust through leading by example. After you have discovered everyone's weaknesses and strengths, create a network where the overall strength of the group is more than the total capability of its parts. In this way, you can solve conflicts and make collaborative plans through synergy.
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Practice your skills individually and as a group
Every once in a while, you should take some time off from working and sharpen your skills. These can be the skills which you use to complete your tasks or soft skills such as communication and interpersonal relations. According to the author, you can take this time on your own or alongside your colleagues. It is important to take this time because it allows you to improve your performance capability. You can refresh your physical, mental, spiritual, psychological and professional capacity. In addition to that, you can create a balance that sticks when you do this. Dr. Covey indicates that this is the key to individual and organizational evolution.
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The Important Take Away
By following the lessons indicated above, you can increase your effectiveness in any field. Not only that, you can also increase the effectiveness of your family, team, workgroup or organization. Dr. Covey gives us some highly efficient guidelines that are practical and are easy to apply in our lives. Learning and applying these lessons can help you to make a step forward in your professional or personal life.