Summary by Darlene Magito McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Steven R. Covey’s #1 Bestseller presents a framework for personal effectiveness. Here are some important “take home” points that will take you into the start of a great school year.
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Covey explains that character is a collection of our habits, and habits have a powerful role in our lives. Habits consist of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge allows us to know what to do, skill gives us the ability to know how to do it, and desire is the motivation to do it. The Seven Habits move us through the stages of Dependence, where we rely on others; Independence, where we can make our own decisions and take care of ourselves; and Interdependence, where we cooperate to achieve something that cannot be achieved independently. Here are the habits at each stage:
Habits of Self-Mastery: (1) Be Proactive; Change starts from within; highly effective people make the decision to improve their lives through the things that they can influence rather than by simply reacting to external forces. (2) Begin With the End in Mind; Develop a principle-centered personal mission statement, and extend your mission statement into long-term goals. (3) Put First Things First; Identify the key roles that you take on in life, and make time for each of them.
Habits of Interdependence: (4) Think Win/Win; Seek agreements and relationships that are mutually beneficial. In cases where a “win/win” deal cannot be achieved, accept the fact that agreeing to make “no deal” may be the best alternative. (5) Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood; Be an effective listener; put yourself in the perspective of the other person before offering suggestions. (6) Synergize; Find ways to leverage individual differences to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Renewal and Continual Improvement: (7) Sharpen the Saw; Take time out from production to build production capacity. Maintain a balance through personal renewal of the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual dimensions.
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