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Business // Thinking Smart
David S. Chang

Seven Habits Of Successful People

Last week, esteemed author Dr. Stephen R. Covey died. He was the author of the The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, an extremely popular self-help book that has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages since its publication in 1989. He was among Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans in 1996. He also was the founder of the Covey Leadership Center, which later became FranklinCovey, a company focusing on leadership, strategy and individual effectiveness.

Covey had a profound effect on me during my time at West Point, in the Army and now in the business world. In almost everything I do, I use some aspect of Covey’s universal principles of leadership and ethics. The Hawaii Army National Guard a few years ago saw the value of the seven habits and trained its senior leaders with Covey’s leadership principles. Covey and his famous book brought a new language to business.

Here the seven habits with a brief description:

Independence or Self-mastery – Know thyself!

Habit 1: Be Proactive.

Take initiative and responsibility in your decisions instead of being reactive. This is the primary factor for effectiveness in our lives. Life doesn’t just happen, it is based on the choices we make. Choices give us the opportunity to be proactive and produce more positive results.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. Where is it that you want to accomplish in life? Visualize what you want in life, who you want to become, and what you want to achieve. Create a mission statement for yourself. Understanding the end goal will help you keep focused on your values.

Habit 3: Put First Things First. Prioritizing, plan and execute tasks based on what is important, not necessarily what is urgent. Focus on your top priorities so you don’t overextend yourself.

Interdependence – Know how to work with others!

Habit 4: Think Win-Win. Life is about relationships and cooperating with people. Genuinely strive for what is best for everyone and mutually beneficial. This requires integrity, maturity and an abundance mentality (there is enough for everyone!).

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Listening to others is critical to creating an atmosphere of mutual respect. Communication is the most important skill in life. Listen with the intent to understand, not just reply.

Habit 6: Synergize. No one person is greater than the whole. Teamwork is essential for the best performance of a group. Value differences to drive synergy and accomplish more than an individual can.

Self-renewal – Know how to self-rejuvenate!

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw. Have a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual. Renewing yourself creates growth change in your life. Keeping yourself fresh is essential to maintaining the other six habits.

Covey’s teachings will influence generations to come. That is the greatest legacy anyone can leave. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Covey family today.

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