Habits of Highly Effective People

Life is a very complicated matter; sometimes, it becomes more stressful and more demanding.

We face problems and challenges almost everywhere – from personal lives to family, and organizations.

Wait. There is more.

The shift of the world we live in. We transitioned from the Industrial Age to the Information Age or the Knowledge Worker Age. Included are all its pro and consequences.

Admit it, we also get stressed out when the internet does not work well. More so if we are using a slow performance laptop.

With all these things at hand, let me dig into some of the habits that make people highly effective.

Apart from my experience, I got a lot of ideas from the book I have recently read by Stephen R. Covey, but I cannot put them all. So, let me give you the highlights.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Think about your mood right now.

How are you feeling?

Can you describe your present mental state?

Wait a minute!

How about how is you mind working? Are you alert?

Can you sense if you are torn in the middle of this mental exercise?

The ability to do what you have just done is unique to human. You know that animals do not possess this ability to evaluate oneself. We call this “self-awareness.” Self-awareness refers to your ability to think of your thought process. Self-awareness enables us to examine the way we see ourselves.

If the vision that we have of ourselves comes from the social mirror – your current social paradigm and from the opinions or perceptions of the people around you, your view of yourself is a reflection of the crazy mirror at the carnival.

“You’re always late!”

“Why can’t you understand? This is so simple!”

“You must be a doctor!”

These are disjointed visions out of a proportion. More often, these are projections and not reflections. It is projecting the concerns and the character weaknesses of the people giving the input rather than accurately reflecting what we really are.

In discovering the basic principle of man, Frankl described an accurate self-map where the habit of proactivity started.

Although the word proactivity is now fairly common in literature, it is also a word that you can find in any dictionary. Proactivity means more than taking the initiative.

As human being, we are all responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, and not of our conditions. We have the initiative, as well as, the responsibility to make things happen.

Know that our basic nature is to act and not to be acted upon. The difference between people who exercise initiative and those who do not is literally the difference between day and night. I am talking about not 25 percent, I am talking about 5000 plus percent.

Let’s see the difference between reactive language and proactive language:

Reactive languageProactive language
There is nothing I can do.
They won’t allow that.
That’s just the way I am.
He makes me so mad.
I have to do that.
I must.
I can’t.
If only.
Let us look at our alternatives.
I can create an effective presentation.
I can choose a different approach.
I control my own feelings.
I will choose an appropriate response.
I prefer.
I will choose an appropriate response.
I will.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

I always like what Oliver Wendell Holmes said. According to him, what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lied within us.

What does it mean to begin with the end in mind?

This habit applies to many circumstances and levels in life, but the most fundamental application of “begin with the en din mind” is to begin the day with an image or picture, a paradigm of the end of your life as your reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined.

To begin with an end in mind is to start with a clear understanding of the destination. It simply means to know where you are going so that you will better understand where you are now, and the steps that you take will always be in the right direction.

Think about it! It is easy to get caught in the activity trap; in the busyness of life; and to work hard and harder climbing the ladder of success. Then only to discover that you are leaning against the wrong wall.

It is possible to be busy, very busy without being very effective.

The most effective way to begin with an end in mind is to develop your personal mission statement or creed. It focuses on the things that you want to be and what you want to do. Since everyone is unique, your personal statement should reflect your uniqueness.

habit 3: put first things first

Geothe once said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of the things which matter least. “

To do this habit three, you must have already fulfilled habit one and two. You will not become a principled-centered man without developing your own proactive nature and without an end in mind.

In order to put things first, organize and execute around your priorities.

Putting things first means knowing yourself and having self-awareness. Focus on the notes and checklist. Recognize which of these require more time and energy.

Then, focus on your calendars and appointments to look ahead of the future activities and events.

Afterwards, identify your values and your priorities. Plan, control, and take your daily steps towards the realization of these goals.

Habit 4: think win-win

Win/Win is not a technique, but a total philosophy of human interaction. It is considered as one of six paradigms of interaction. Other alternative paradigms are the following:

Win/Lose

Lose/Win

Lose/Lose

Win

Win/Win or No Deal

I would rather think about Win/Win as the habit of interpersonal leadership. It also involves the exercise of each of the unique human endowments. These are self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will—in our relationships with others.

Moreover, it involves mutual learning; mutual influence; and mutual benefits. As you see, it takes courage and consideration to create these mutual benefits, specifically if we are interacting with other people who are deeply scripted in Win/Lose.

The principle of Win/Win is fundamental to the success in all our interactions, and it embraces five interdependent dimensions of life. It begins with character and moves toward a relationship, out of which flow agreements.

Human relationships are dominated by comparisons and competitions even from the early years of our lives.

Then we think about succeeding in terms of someone else losing. It is “if I win, you lose” or “if you win, I lose.”

It’s the mentality of fighting to get a larger piece of cake.

But what if both of us could eat some of the pie and be fully satisfied?

The fourth Habit is all about transforming life into a cooperative field instead of having a competition.

HABIT 5: seek first to understand, then to be understood

Admit it or not, most people do not listen with the intention to understand. Instead, they listen with the intent to reply.

It is essential to communicate effectively at all levels of the organization. Remember that communication is the most important skill in life.

You spend years learning how to read and write, and years learning how to speak. But what about listening?

What training have you had that enables you to listen for you to deeply understand another human being? Probably none, right?

“If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in this book about interpersonal relations, it would be to seek understanding first then be understood.

If you are similar to most people, you probably seek first to be understood. You want to get your point across. In doing so, you may ignore other people completely or pretend that you are listening.

You selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, however, you miss the entire meaning.

Why does this happen? It happens because most of the people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand.

You listen to yourself while you prepare in your mind the things that you are going to say, the questions you will ask, and many more.

habit 6: synergize

According to Dr. Stephen R. covey, Synergy is better than his way or your way. It’s our way.

Try to innovate and solve the problems with people who have better point of view.

Synergy means that tow heads are better than one. In short, synergy is the habit of cooperation. It is teamwork and open-mindedness. It is the adventure in finding new solutions to an old problems.

People can bring better results together rather than doing it individually.

Synergy lets us discover jointly the things that we are less likely to discover on our own. It is the lesson that the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.

One plus one equals three, or six, or sixty–you name it.


According to Stephen in his book, Synergy is not the same as compromise because in a compromise, one and one equals one and a half at best.

When people begin to interact together genuinely, and they’re open to the influence of each other. They begin to gain new insight, and inventing new approaches exponentially because of differences.

You have a synergy when you have a change of heart. When you feel new energy and excitement. When you see things in a new way. When you feel that the relationship has transformed and end up with the idea or results that are better than what either of you started with (3rd Alternative).

Valuing differences is what really drives synergy.

Do you truly value the mental, emotional, and psychological differences among people? Or do

Do you wish everyone would just agree with you so you could all get along?

Many people have been mistaken uniformity for unity and sameness for oneness.

One word–boring!

Differences should be seen as strengths, not weaknesses. They add zest to life.

habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

This habit simply means seeking continuous improvement and renewal professionally and personally.

Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have- it is you. It means that having a balanced program for renewing yourself in the four areas of your life. These areas are physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Here are some examples of activities:

Physical:Exercising, beneficial eating, and resting
Social/Emotional:Making a meaningful connections with others
Mental:Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
Spiritual:Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation,
prayer, music, art, and service

According to Stephen, “Renewal is the principle and the process that empower us to move on upward spiral growth and change, of continuous improvement. “

As you renew yourself in each of the four areas, you create growth and change in your life.

Sharpen the Saw makes you fresh so you can continue to practice the other six habits. Increase your ability to produce and handle the challenges surrounding you. Remember that without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish.

Not a pretty picture, is it?


Know that feeling good does not just happen. Living a balanced life means taking the necessary time to renew yourself. It is all up to you! You can also renew yourself through relaxation, or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything.

You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually or go through life oblivious to your well-being.

You can experience vibrant energy or procrastinate and miss out on the benefits of good health and exercise.

You can revitalize yourself and face a new day in peace and harmony or you can wake up in the morning that is full of apathy because your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone.

Just remember that every day provides a new opportunity for renewal-a new opportunity to recharge yourself instead of hitting the wall.

All it takes is the desire, knowledge, and skill.

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