The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, is a business and self-help book written by Stephen Covey. Covey presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to what he calls "true north" principles based on a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless.
Covey defines effectiveness as the balance of obtaining desirable results with caring for that which produces those results. He illustrates this by referring to the fable of the goose that laid the golden eggs. He further claims that effectiveness can be expressed in terms of the P/PC ratio, where P refers to getting desired results and PC is caring for that which produces the results.
Covey's best-known book, has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its first publication. The audio version became the first non-fiction audio-book in U.S. publishing history to sell more than one million copies. Covey argues against what he calls "the personality ethic", that he sees as prevalent in many modern self-help books. He promotes what he labels "the character ethic": aligning one's values with so-called universal and timeless principles. In doing this, Covey is deliberately and mindfully separating principles and values. He sees principles as external natural laws, while values remain internal and subjective. Our values govern our behavior, while principles ultimately determine the consequences. Covey presents his teachings in a series of habits, manifesting as a progression from dependence through independence on to interdependence.
1. Sharpen the saw. Don’t work yourself to death. Strive for a sustainable lifestyle that affords you time to recuperate, recharge and be effective in the long-term. 2. Be proactive. You have a natural need to wield influence on the world around you so don’t spend your time just reacting to external events and circumstances. Take charge and assume responsibility for your life. 3. Begin with an end in mind. Don’t spend your life working aimlessly, tackling whatever job is at hand. Have a vision for the future and align your actions accordingly to make it into a reality. 4. Put first things first. To prioritize your work, focus on what’s important, meaning the things that bring you closer to your vision of the future. Don’t get distracted by urgent but unimportant tasks. 5. Think win-win. When negotiating with other, don’t try to get the biggest slice of the cake, but rather find a division that is acceptable to all parties. You will still get your fair share, and build strong positive relationships in the process. 6. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. When someone presents us with a problem, we often jump right to giving a solution. This is a mistake. We should first take time to really listen to the other person and only then make recommendations. 7. Synergize. Adopt the guiding principle that in a group, the contributions of many will far exceed those of any individual. This will help you achieve goals you could never have reached on your own.
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