The 7 habits of highly effective people is one of the most iconic personal development books in the world and a must read for anyone who wants to be the best version of themselves. At its core it does exactly what it says on the tin. It outlines 7 key habits that differentiate highly effective people from the rest of the population. Most people with a fixed mindset like to put success down to luck, but the truth is that those who are successful share consistent habits that the rest of the population do not. For example, a survey of millionaires in the US shows that self-made millionaires read on average an hour a day, while those who are not, only read on average two hours a week. The figures for watching TV or playing computer games etc were the opposite. Everyone likes the idea of living a 1% lifestyle, but very few are willing to change their habits in order to align to that lifestyle. If you want to develop winning habits this book is for you. So, what can we learn from the book?
Take control of your own destiny
The first habit identified in the book is to be proactive. Each of us have a choice, we can react to the world around us or we can proactively influence it. Those who are highly effective choose to influence it. Those who avoid being proactive will often say phrases such as “It wasn’t my fault” or “It’s out of my hands”. Whereas those who are proactive will say “I have decided to” or “I am going to find a solution to this problem”. Proactive people will focus on their circle of influence and choose to work on things within their control. For example, your boss may decide if you get a pay rise and a promotion, but you can learn new skills and work on additional projects to make a promotion and pay rise much more likely. Likewise, you may want to start a business but not have the money to do so, but there is nothing to stop you working a job and then spending extra hours before and after work to get your business up and running so you can run it full time in a few years.
The majority of people take the view that if one person wins the other must lose. Their instincts are usually selfish in nature. But not those who are highly effective. They always think win-win. They understand that most situations in life are not a competition. The world is abundant and there is enough of the pie for everyone and that a win-win solution not only benefits both parties, but they also understand that it makes successful long term, mutually beneficial relationships more likely. After all, would you want to do business, or have some sort of relationship with someone who constantly puts you on the end of a bad deal? Likewise, would you be more inclined to give a fair deal to someone who has consistently given you a fair deal? This is of course logical, but most people think short term and act in a greedy and selfish manner. Successful people do not.
Find time to rest
Have you ever heard of the phrase “sharpen the saw”? If you have not, think of a lumberjack. If a lumberjack spent all their time sawing down trees but never once paused to sharpen their saws, they’d soon have such dull tools that they couldn’t fell a single tree. Its important for the lumberjack to take a break and repair the saw so that it is able to continue working effectively. The same is true of you. If you never take a break, you will not be able to continue to operate at the required pace and will eventually break down. Highly effective people operate at a significantly higher level of activity and output than others. But in order to maintain that level, it is important to rest and recover. This may mean taking regular holidays. It may mean finding a hobby that allows you to take a mental break but find a way to ensure you get some time to sharpen your saw.