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The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

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Category: Book Reports

Autor: anton 05 March 2011

Words: 1785 | Pages: 8

The book that I decided to read for this assignment was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey. Initially, my reason for selecting this book was because my boyfriend had begun to read it and I noticed a drastic change in his vocabulary, which was beginning to irritate me. He was explaining every word and action in terms of choices; I choose to do this or I chose to feel that. And, because I didn’t understand where he was coming from, I got aggravated and asked him to quit it with the list of personal choices. But, now that I’ve read this book, I’m actually impressed by the way Covey guides his readers towards better communication and improved relationships.

In the first chapter of this book, Covey works towards explaining the concepts that make up the foundation of his teachings. We learn that the Character Ethic (what we are) is much more important than the Personality Ethic (what we say or do), but that for the last 50 years or so, we have been relying on the short-term benefits of the Personality Ethic to help us through our relationships. Unfortunately, relationships based on personality without character are like houses built on a foundation of toothpicks. This concept made a great deal of sense for me since I grew up in Southern California where image was everything and no one seemed to have an ounce of integrity. If a manager is busy kissing up to his superiors and pacifying his employees, he is wasting his time on showmanship and will never accomplish solid and lasting relationships. It’s like living from paycheck to paycheck; there are no relationship benefits accumulated after each interaction. Also discussed by Covey is the importance of shifting from a world of dependency (“you”) to one of independence (“I”). This way, an individual is more capable of having interdependent (“we”) relationships. “Even though independent people may be good individual producers, if they cannot think or act interdependently, they won’t be good leaders or team players.” Lastly, Covey mentions what he calls the P/PC Balance. This is a balance between the production of desired results (P) and the production capability or maintenance of the producer (PC). An excessive amount of focus in either production or production capacity will have disastrous results according to Covey. This makes a lot of sense in the business world because employees wouldn’t have jobs without enough quality product and the product can’t be produced without the commitment and interest of devoted employees.

The first of Covey’s seven habits is to Be Proactive. He believes that individuals driven by feelings, circumstances, conditions, and their environment are living reactively instead of proactively. According to Covey, between stimulus and response, humans have the power to choose their desired responses. He feels that too many people blame the problems in their lives on genetic, psychic, and environmental factors and that, instead, we need to take responsibility for who we are and how we respond to our world. Well, as a psychology major, I got a little bored with this chapter because for me, it all boiled down to an internal versus external locus of control. Individuals with an internal locus of control tend to have higher self-esteem and lower depression scores than individuals with an external locus of control. So, if you were trying to “build a better individual,” it would make sense to help these individuals regain a sense of control over their own lives. This is where my boyfriend found his new vocabulary and why he walked around announcing his conscious choices in life. He was discovering his personal power and it made him feel like a participant rather than a victim of his environment. Personally, I think there needs to be a balance. In reality, an individual doesn’t have time to process every single stimulus that enters their personal universe.

Covey’s second habit, Begin with the End in Mind, is a great idea even though it is a little morbid. “Begin today with the end of your life in mind and use it as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined.” Basically, he wants you to shape your perspective in terms of how you want to be remembered when you’re dead. By figuring out what you want to be when you grow up, you give yourself a mental pathway and are better prepared to identify the choices that will keep you on this path. Finally, someone is challenging the public to discover their own values instead of adopting those of the people or companies around them. It’s sad to say, but many of us can’t identify our core beliefs. So, I think this is a very important step in order for individuals to find the best fit in their personal and corporate lives.

Another valuable lesson is Covey’s third habit, Put First Things First. In a nutshell, Covey is teaching us the importance of organizing and executing around priorities. He distinguishes between urgent activities and important activities and suggests that too many people spend their time working on urgent problems rather than accomplishing important tasks. I totally agree with this habit and I plan to work it into my life directly following graduation. Even though I have determined that my values revolve around my friends and family, I still find myself sacrificing weekends for the papers and assignments, which must be completed by Monday. Even though I’m aware of my true values (leadership), I am not doing the best job of applying these values to my life (management).

During the first three habits of this book, Covey talks about Private Victories. He walks us away from a life of dependence and toward a new, independent reality. Yet, in the next three habits of his book, Covey discusses Public Victories. At this point, we are moving from independence to interdependence. Habits four, five, and six involve our interactions with others while maintaining this newly-discovered self The most important lesson that I learned from this book came from this section and was based on the Emotional Bank Account. According to Covey, for every relationship there is a sort of emotional bank account which revolves around deposits and withdrawals of trust. If you make regular trust deposits into this account, a relationship gains a certain degree of flexibility that makes up for any mistakes we may make along the way. But if we are discourteous, disrespectful, or oblivious to these relationships, we make large trust withdrawals from the account, which only time and effort can repair. This

explained to me why even long-term, loving relationships can deteriorate. Its not as though I didn’t know this concept in the first place, but it did have an impact on me to have someone point it out in such a well constructed way.

Now, moving on to the fourth habit of the book: Think Win/Win. In this chapter, Covey shares with us the flawed paradigm of trying to achieve cooperation from competition. Although the win/win mentality cannot work in every scenario, Covey believes that it should be the first choice in all situations rather than the last. And, once again, I agree with this view. If we want to work effectively with other individuals, we can’t view them as our sacrifice to the god of business and productivity. As a little kid, I used to hate playing games that involved direct competition with other individuals because I didn’t like the idea that someone had to go home feeling badly. And, believe it or not, I’m the same way today. If we are so intelligent and such great problem solvers, then we can find a better way to do business than the old win/lose standby.

Covey’s fifth habit, Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood, is not only valuable in the business world, but it can be a very helpful lesson for future psychologists as well. In this chapter, Covey teaches the reader about empathic communication. And unfortunately, most of us don’t communicate this way even though we’d like to think that we do. This is something that I really need to work on in my personal life. While growing up, I learned a bad habit of interrupting others and trying to finish their sentences, and I thought that it expressed how much I understood what they were trying to express. Well, now that I’m a little older and since Covey pointed it out, I know that I need to keep working on my listening skills. There is probably nothing more valuable to a large company than a human resources counselor who can truly understand the needs of the employees.

The sixth habit on our list is to learn how to Synergize. In order to work well with a group of individuals, we need to understand and internalize the concept of creative cooperation. We truly have to believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and then we can act in a way that reflects this view. In our classroom, I have noticed a lot of people complaining about working in groups. These individuals believe that their efforts will be much more productive if kept separate. Obviously, these individuals are very independent thinkers and cannot hope to work well in teams because they don’t believe in the benefits of the group. In order to synergize, these individuals need to learn how to combine their efforts and attack the issue as a team.

Lastly, habit seven is to Sharpen the Saw. This habit is all about renewing the four dimensions of our nature: physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional. It is the maintenance of ourselves (PC) in order to apply the lessons of this book (P). We have to take time out, step back, and sharpen the tools we’ve been given. Since Covey puts such a strong emphasis on long-term solutions rather than quick fixes, this is the habit that will help us to remember that we are making life-long changes.

When I first heard about this book from my boyfriend, I was not interested in it at all other than to make jokes about the title. But, now that I’ve worked my way through the seven habits, I find myself relating to the world in new ways. This book has opened my eyes to responsibility and maturity and I may even go back and walk through the process again. I really didn’t think that I would like this book, but now I find myself wanting to recommend it to other people. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised and I should probably apologize to my boyfriend about all of the jokes.

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