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 short-term solutions; they don’t address the underlying problem.
“The way we see the problem is the problem,” author of the best-selling book, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey emphasizes. We must allow ourselves to undergo paradigm shifts – to change ourselves fundamentally and not just alter our attitudes and behaviors on the surface level – in order to achieve true change.
That’s where the seven habits of highly effective people come in:
- Habits 1, 2, and 3 are focused on self-mastery and moving from dependence to independence.
- Habits 4, 5, 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.
The habits are:
1. Be Proactive
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.
Simply put: In order to be effective, one must be proactive. Be in charge. Choose the scripts by which to live your life. Use this self-awareness to be proactive and take responsibility for your choices.
Reactive people take a passive stance – they believe that the world is happening to them. They say things like:
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.”
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 – STEPHEN COVEY
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.
Practice Success Habit 1: Challenge yourself to test the principle of pro-activity by doing the following:
1. Start replacing reactive language with proactive language.
Reactive = He makes me so mad.
Proactive = I control my own feelings. There’s nothing he can do to mess with my inner peace.
2. Convert reactive tasks into proactive ones – Free Resource: These 7 email templates saved an entrepreneur 520 hours a year by replacing reactive tasks with proactive emails.
2. Begin with the end in mind
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. 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. – STEPHEN COVEY
According to Covey, 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 individuals or organizations can start setting and achieving goals, be able to identify your values. This process may involve some re-scripting to be able to assert personal values.
It is also important to identify your center. Whatever is at the center of your life will be the source of your security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
You may be…
- Spouse-centered – Your sense of security stems from the way your spouse treats you.
- Family-centered – Your sense of security is founded on family acceptance and fulfilling family expectations; your daily actions are limited to family models and traditions.
- Money-centered – Your personal worth is determined by your net-worth. Profit is your decision-making wand.
- Work-centered – You tend to define yourself by your occupational role; you make decisions based on the needs and expectations of your work.
- Possession-centered – Your sense of security is based on your reputation; your social status or the tangible possessions you have. You tend to compare what you have with what others have.
- Pleasure-centered – You make decisions based on what will give you the most pleasure; you see the world in terms of what’s in it for you.
- Friend-centered – Your security is a function of the social mirror; you are highly dependent on the opinions of others.
- Enemy-centered – You make decisions based on what will thwart your enemy; you’re defensive, over-reactive, and often paranoid.
- Church-centered – Your sense of security is based on church activity and the esteem in which you’re held by those in authority and influence. You find identity in religious labels and comparisons.
- Self-centered – Your sense of security constantly changes and shifts depending on how world events, decisions and circumstances will affect you.
- Spiritually-centered – Your sense of security is based on your deep relationship with God and how He views you. You make decisions based on whether or not it sits well with your Spirit.
Our centers affect us fundamentally – they determine our daily decisions, actions, and motivations, our interpretation of events.
However, Covey notes that none of these centers are optimal, and that instead we should strive to be principle-centered. We should identify the timeless, unchanging principles by which we must live our lives, and this will give us the guidance that we need to align our behaviors with our beliefs and values.
Practice Success Habit 2 – Challenge yourself to test the principle of beginning with the end in mind by doing the following:
1. Visualize in rich detail your own funeral – Who is there? What are they saying about you? About how you lived your life? About the relationships you had? What do you want them to say? Think about how your priorities would change if you only had 30 more days to live. Start living by these priorities.
Inspiration: The late Steve Jobs used a similar motivation in his daily success routine. Learn about it here.
2. Break down different roles in your life – whether professional, personal, or community – and list three to five goals you want to achieve for each.
Inspiration: Google even has a specific framework for goal setting. Learn about it here
3. What scares you? Public speaking? Critical feedback after writing a book? Write down the worst-case scenario for your biggest fear, then visualize how you’d handle this situation. Then write down exactly how you’d handle it.
3. Put First Things First
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. – STEPHEN COVEY
Remember; all activities can be categorized based on two factors: urgent and important. Here’s an example of a 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 the ones that actually 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 -STEPHEN COVEY
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 a.k.a the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of our results flow out of 20% of our activities.
In other words, 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 – STEPHEN COVEY
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)?
We’ll discuss the last four habits next Monday, which will be another #MotivationMonday. You’ve got this and God’s got you. #YouArePossible
Sourced from the HubSpot