There is a saying, ‘perception is reality’ and in Stephen T Covey’s book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, it is Coveys belief that the way we see the world is entirely based upon our own perceptions. Therefore, to change a given situation we need to change ourselves and our perceptions.

Below is a very succinct summary of Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:

  1. Be Proactive.

In order for us to be effective, we must be proactive.

Reactive people take a passive stance — they believe the world is happening to them. They make comments such as:

There’s nothing I can do.

That’s just the way I am.

They think the problem is “out there” — but that thought is the problem. Reactivity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and reactive people feel increasingly victimized and out of control.

Proactive people, however, recognize they have responsibility — or “response-ability,” which Covey defines as the ability to choose how you will respond to a given situation.

  1. Begin with the End in Mind

Beginning with the end in mind is extremely important not only from a personal perspective but for businesses also. Being a manager is about optimizing for efficiency. But being a leader is about setting the right strategic vision for your organisation and asking, “What are we trying to accomplish?”

Before we can start setting and achieving goals, we must also be able to identify our values. Your values assist with your purpose of being.

  1. Put First Things First

We must have the discipline to prioritize our day-to-day actions based on what is most important, not necessarily what is most urgent.

As discussed above, the importance of determining our values and understanding what it is we are setting out to achieve is important to ascertain. This is where we actually go after our goals, and execute our priorities on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis.

  1. Think Win-Win

Win-Win situations are what are mutually beneficial and satisfying to each party. With Win-Lose, or Lose-Win, one person appears to get what he wants for the moment, but the results will negatively impact the relationship between those two people going forward.

  1. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Before we can offer advice, suggest solutions, or effectively interact with another person in any way, we must seek to deeply understand them and their perspective through empathic listening. We must not prescribe a solution before we first know the problem.

Most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. At any given moment, they’re either speaking or preparing to speak.

When we’re able to present our ideas clearly, and in the context of a deep understanding of the other person’s needs and concerns, we significantly increase the credibility of our ideas. This is when we are able to be understood.

  1. Synergize

By understanding and valuing the differences in another person’s perspective, we have the opportunity to create synergy, which allows us to uncover new possibilities through openness and creativity.

So how can we introduce synergy to a given situation or environment? Start with habits 4 and 5 — you must think Win-Win and also seek first to understand.

  1. Sharpen the Saw

The 7th habit is about making ourselves better and more effective. We must take the time to “sharpen the saw”, from a physical, spiritual, mental and social aspect. This habit makes all other habits possible.