Tuesday, January 1, 2008


It’s that time of the year again. “I’m really going to lose weight this time.” “I’m going to devote more time to my family.” Instead of resolving specific issues how about a sweeping makeover instead?

This makeover is explained in a classic book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

If you’re ready to do that, read the book or listen to the recorded version. The book is a blueprint for personal development. It’s easy to understand, it's effective, but it requires your commitment to work.

Don't let the challenge daunt you. It’s worth it. It contains a remarkable set of inspirational standards for everyone who seeks to live a full, purposeful and good life. Its lessons are applicable today as they were yesterday and tomorrow.

It explains human principles and values that together create the foundation for your personal success. It shows how your success depends more on your character than on your personality. It explains how underlying characteristics such as integrity, courage, and patience determine your future more than your outward behavior.

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has sold more than 15 million copies in 32 languages and 75 countries and was ranked as the top best seller by the New York Times and Business Week. It was named as one of the two most influential business books of the last century by Executive magazine. It's author, Dr. Stephen Covey, has been likened to a modern-day Plato. Dr. Covey teaches that each of us can live our best life possible by living a principle-centered life. Practicing those seven habits will let us do that.

As the title implies, the blueprint for personal development consists of seven habits. Here they are:

Habit 1 - be proactive
Take charge of your destiny. Hold yourself accountable to yourself. Learn to control your environment, rather than have it control you. Your greatest power is the power to make choices. All choices have consequences. If you want good things to happen, make good choices. Above all, hold yourself accountable to yourself and yourself alone.
Habit 2 - begin with the end in mind
Identify what your values are. Imagine yourself going to a funeral wake. Four persons will deliver eulogies for the deceased. One is a family member, the second is a co-worker, the third is a neighbor, and the fourth is a fellow church member. You peer down at the deceased and realize that it’s you! Now, on a sheet of paper, write down the key words you would like them to say about you. What you’ve just written down are the values that matter most to you.
Habit 3 - put first things first
Now that you know what matters most to you, organize and implement those activities that bring you closer to those things that matter most. Any other activities that don’t are unnecessary and may even be bad for you.
Habit 4 - think win-win
Your achievements largely depend on the cooperation of others. Think win-win. Both of you must gain something from a transaction. When both of you are assured of that, you improve your chances of cooperation.
Habit 5 - seek first to understand and then to be understood.
Of all of our human skills, the most important one is communication. Think about it. We communicate four different ways: (1) by writing, (2) by reading, (3) by speaking, and (4) by listening. Of the four, we’ve all been taught the first three. But how much time was spent learning how to listen? This habit teaches us how to listen—how to first understand the other person before anything else. Practice this and watch how your relationships develop and stay positive.
Habit 6 - synergize
Cooperate. This habit fulfills habits 4 and 5. Synergizing creates a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. You’re usually able to find a better solution together than if you solved it yourself. Or achieved a greater goal than if you attempted it yourself.
Habit 7 - sharpen the saw
Constantly renew yourself. Your self has four parts: (1) your spiritual self, (2) your mental self, (3) your physical self, and (4) your social/emotional self. All four parts need to be fed and developed. Take the time and effort to do that.
Take the challenge. Practice the seven habits and amaze yourself. Good luck and have a fruitful New Year!

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