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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Video Summary)

Gente altamente efectiva. Highly Effective People: No matter how many people you lead, there is only one person you can change: yourself. The best investment you can make is in improving yourself by developing the habits that will make you a better person and a better leader.
Author: Stephen Covey. I recommend reading this book in its entirety

Initial Summary. Highly Effective People

No matter how many people you lead, there is only one person you can change: yourself. The best investment you can make is in improving yourself by developing the habits that will make you a better person and a better leader. If you want to change any situation, you have to behave differently. But to change your behavior, you must first change your paradigms, your way of interpreting the world

“The 7 Habits” presents a new way to change these paradigms, by establishing new habits that will allow you to escape from inertia and move towards your goals. The first three habits are about self-mastery. That is, they are oriented to achieve personality growth in order to gain independence. The next three habits deal with relationships with others, teamwork, cooperation and communications; they are oriented to achieve interdependence. Finally, habit seven focuses on continuous renewal that will lead you to better understand the remaining habits

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A habit is at the intersection of three overlapping components: Knowledge, Skills and Desire (or attitude). Knowledge tells you what to do and why. Skills teach you how to do things. Desire is the motivation, your desire to do them. To turn a behavior into a habit, you need all three components

Effectiveness and P/CP balance

The 7 habits are in harmony with the natural law called by the author “P/CP balance”. This principle is best illustrated by Aesop’s well-known fable: One day, a poor farmer discovers a golden egg in his hen’s nest

He cannot believe his luck. However, with each passing day, a new egg appears, making him a millionaire. But at the same time, he becomes greedy and impatient, he decides to kill the hen to get all the eggs at once, without having to wait from one day to the next

But when he opens the hen, he realizes that there are no golden eggs inside. This illustrates the law of effectiveness. Many people think that to be effective is to get all the eggs out as quickly as possible

But to be truly effective, you need the eggs and the hen to produce them. Hence the need for balance between P (production, i.e. the eggs) and PC (Production Capability, i.e. the hen)

This balance is the true meaning of effectiveness in all areas of your life. This principle can be applied to any type of asset: the people you supervise, the equipment you manage, your health, your personal finances, and your relationships with others at home or at work

Habit 1 – Be proactive

Being proactive means taking responsibility for your own life, exercising the ability to select your response to any stimulus. This implies behaving according to your conscious decision, based on your values, not on the conditions in which you find yourself, nor on the way you were raised, nor on your genetic makeup

Habit 2 – Start with an end in mind

This is the habit of personal leadership, which indicates the need to begin each day with a clear understanding of your desired direction and destination

It is necessary to understand that all things are created twice. Think of building a house, before you begin construction, you draw a blueprint (the first creation). Subsequently, you build the house (the second creation). In business it is the same: the first time, you define what you want to achieve, subsequently you design all the parts of the business to achieve the goal

Habit 3 – Putting first things first

In habit 1, you learned that you can create your own paradigm. In Habit 2, you discovered the basic principles by which you should live and work. Once you have learned this, you will be ready to put first things first every day, every moment. In other words, practice the principles of personal stewardship

Habit 3 takes us into the realm of time management. To be truly effective, you need to organize your time around your priorities. Consider the following matrix, which takes into account two factors

1) Importance: how critical an activity is to your mission and values; and

2) Urgency: how insistently it needs your attention

Any activity in quadrant I is important and urgent, such as a crisis, a key meeting for a project, etc

An activity in quadrant II is important, but not urgent. It includes maintenance activities, continuous learning, strategic planning, relationship building, etc

In quadrant III, activities are urgent but not important. The ringing phone, or a piece of mail, demand your attention, but are not connected to your priorities

Finally in quadrant IV are activities that are neither urgent nor important – tasks that keep you busy, without accomplishing anything

People who spend most of their time in quadrant I experience one crisis after another. When they survive one crisis, they have another one waiting for them. To escape the pressure, they resort to quadrant IV to waste time, which increases their stress level before they return to quadrant I

Other people frequent quadrant III, handling urgent but unimportant activities. Remember that these activities are urgent only because they are important to someone else

-> How to organize your time for quadrant II

1) Make a list of all your roles. Example: Husband, Father, New Product Manager, President of a charity, etc

2) Select your goals for the coming week. Think of 2 or 3 major outcomes you want to achieve for each of your roles. Make sure they are in quadrant II, and that they are linked to your long-term objectives. Example: in the New Product Manager role, your objectives might be to review consumer research and interview assistant candidates

3) Set aside time to work on each objective. Pinpoint your time slots, and make concrete appointments with others (you can get worksheets to organize your week and other tools by visiting Franklin Covey’s website –

Habit 4 – Think “win/win”

Habits 1 through 3 are about “private wins,” how to work with yourself to develop your character

Habits 4 through 6 will lead you to “public wins,” how to develop character to be successful working with other people

Habit 4 implies that both parties in any agreement should benefit. It is based on the paradigm that one person’s victory does not necessarily come at the expense of another’s defeat

The alternative to “win/win” is “lose/lose”. If one wins and the other loses, neither gains the trust and loyalty of the other in the long run. That is, you can win by making the other party lose, but that will affect the next negotiation

If you cannot reach a “win/win” deal, it is preferable not to make a deal. At least it will preserve the relationship, opening the field for a “win/win” deal in the future

Habit 5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood

This is the habit of effective communication. It is also the most exciting habit, and one that you can put to work immediately

Most people spend their lives learning to communicate in written or spoken form, but have little training in listening, in truly understanding the other person from their own frame of reference. The person who listens with the intention of understanding is rare. Generally, one listens with the intention of answering

Empathetic listening is a very powerful tool; it gives you accurate information to work with. Instead of filtering what the person says through the filter with which you see the world, you have to understand how the other person sees it

After the physical need to survive, a person’s most important need is to survive psychologically, to be understood and appreciated

By listening with empathy, you will be fulfilling that need (according to Covey, you are giving him “psychological air”). Once the person has their basic needs met, they lower their defenses, and you can then influence them and work together on a “win/win” solution

Habit 6 – Synergize

Synergy means that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The habit of synergizing then involves creative cooperation and teamwork: people with a “win/win” mentality, and who listen with empathy, can leverage their differences to generate options that did not previously exist. Bringing together several different perspectives, in the spirit of mutual respect, results in synergy. Participants feel the freedom to seek the best possible alternative, and often come up with proposals that are different and better than the original

Synergy is a problem-solving method based on human resources, as opposed to the method based on human relations. The latter is used by insecure people who tend to surround themselves with like-minded people who constantly tend to please or approve of everything they say. They mistake uniformity for unity

Habit 7 – Sharpening the Saw

This is the habit of self-renewal, the basic maintenance necessary to keep the remaining habits functioning properly

Effectiveness, as mentioned above, is achieved when you can maintain the balance between production (P) and production capacity (CP). However, it is often the case that people are too busy producing (sawing) to pay attention to maintaining their means of production (sharpening the saw). The reason this happens is that maintenance rarely pays immediate and significant dividends

Sharpening the saw involves devising a balanced, systemic program for self-renewal in four key areas. You should spend at least one hour each day working on them

1) Physical dimension: including physical exercise, nutrition and Stress management. By eating properly, and exercising 30 minutes a day, you will proactively improve your strength and endurance. Failure to do so will weaken your body

2) Spiritual dimension: renew your commitment to your values (from habit 2) by reviewing your personal mission, or through prayer, meditation, or immersion in music, literature, or nature. Failure to do so renders his spirit insensitive

3) Mental dimension: your mind is “sharpened” through activities such as reading, writing, and planning
It is also achieved by following habits 2 and 3, starting with an end in mind and putting first things first
If you don’t, your mind becomes mechanical

4) Social/emotional dimension: focus on habits 4, 5 and 6, using them in daily interactions with others.

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