THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE
BY STEPHEN R .COVEY
The first habit is proactivity.Be proactive. The word proactivity is fairly
common in management literature, but you won't find it in the dictionary. It
means more than merely taking initiatives, it means that as a human being you
take responsibility for your own life.
Look at the word responsibility, ability to choose your response,
response-ability. I suggest effective people are proactive, that is they take
responsibility, their behavior is a product of their own decisions, based on
values, rather than being a product of their conditions, based on feelings. For
instance, you are planning a picnic with your family. You're excited. You have
all the preparations. You've decided where to go, and then it becomes
stormy...killing your plan. Proactive people carry weather within them. They
realize what their purpose really was, and they creatively have a picnic
elsewhere even if it's in their own basement with some special games, and make
the best of that situation. The opposite of being proactive is to be reactive.
Reactive people would say, "What's the use, we can't do anything," "Oh this is
so upsetting after all of our preparations we've made these arrangements." And
the whole spirit of negativism will tend to pervade those people's minds and
also the family. That's being reactive.
Being proactive is really just being true to your human nature. Your basic
nature is to act, and not be acted upon. That's true, despite widely accepted
theories of determinism used to explain human nature. Determinism says, that
you don't really choose anything, that what you call choices, are nothing more
than automatic responses to outside conditions or stimuli.
The language of reactive people, are people who are determined by their
environment, or by their conditions, or by their conditioning or their genetic
makeup. "This I can't, that's my nature." "...can't, don't have time." "I have
to, I have to." "I must." See the whole spirit is of that language is the
transfer of responsibility, I am not responsible, able to choose my response,
the spirit is, I am not responsible, psychologically isn't that easier to say
than "I'm a flake," and "I'm irresponsible." The problem is, this is a
self-fulfilling prophecy. People who believe they are determined will produce
the evidence to support the belief, and they increasingly feel victimized and
out of control. They're not in charge of their life or their destiny at all.
When you are proactive, you don't deny that genetics, upbringing and environment
make a difference. But you see them as influences only. A proactive person
exercises free will, the freedom to choose the response that best applies to
your values. In that way you gain control of your circumstances, rather than
being controlled by them.
Habit number two: Begin with the end in mind.That literally means to begin today
with an image or picture of the end of your life as your frame of reference, as
the criteria by which you examine everything else in your life.
I want you to think on this for a moment and get yourself into the frame of mind
of attending a funeral of a dear one. In your mind's eye see yourself driving
to that funeral, arriving, it's being held at a church, getting yourself
situated in the back seat. And you come to a growing awareness that it is your
funeral, that it is you in that casket, three years from now. There are four
speakers. The place is packed. And there's a great feeling of love,
appreciation, and resonating value of this person, your life. The four speakers
are these: one from your family -- not just your nuclear family, but aunts,
uncles, cousins, grandparents have come from all around the country to attend;
one from your friends that give a sense of what you were as a person, as a
friend; one from your work, your profession, or outside activity; and one from
your church or some community organization where you've been involved in giving
service. Now think, what would you like to have said, three years from now,
about you as a member of an intergenerational extended family, as a friend, as
a working associate, or a public servant? What would you like to have said
about your character, about your contributions, and about your achievements?
Think carefully on those roles, and write the eulogies.
This habit, to begin with the end in mind, means to start with a clear
understanding of your destination and it's based on the principle that all
things are created twice.
There are always two creations. The physical creation follows the mental
creation. Take the building or the house that you're in now. It was created in
every detail before the earth was touched. Right or wrong. If wrong, you've got
some pretty expensive change orders in that structure that might have
significantly increased the cost of it, even doubled the cost of it. The
carpenter's rule holds true: measure twice, cut once.
So what's habit two? Simply begin with the end in mind. Decide what your own
value system is. Write your own philosophy, your own mission statement, your
own creed, your belief system and get it written into your mind and into your
heart, through the use of imagination and your emotion. Don't tie yourself to
your history. Tie yourself to your potential. And if you learn to imagine
vividly enough and to also draw heavily upon the inner sense or conscious of
what is right or wrong, you will come to detect the most fundamental principles
that pertain to your life. And you can distill them in the form of a mission
statement or a value system or a purpose statement; whatever you wish to call
it. This is the essence of habit two.
Habit three, the management habit, is put first things first.This habit deals
with many of the questions addressed in the field of time management. The real
challenge is not actually to manage time but to manage yourself, to gain
control of time and events in your life by seeing how they relate to your
mission. Take a moment now to draw a square on a piece of paper. Then, make a
cross within the square dividing it into four smaller squares. What you've just
drawn is a time management matrix. And the four squares are called quadrants.
Label the four quadrants this way: label quadrant 1 "Urgent and Important",
quadrant 2 "Not Urgent and Important", quadrant 3 "Urgent and Not Important",
and quadrant 4 "Not Urgent and Not Important". And in business, Dr. Covey has
found that quadrant two is the key to management. Prado, the great Italian
philosopher in the field of efficiency, came up with what's called the
"eighty-twenty" rule. Eighty percent of the results flow from twenty percent of
the activities. Those are all quadrant two activities. All of them. What do you
think happens to quadrant one if you neglect quadrant two? If you neglect
prevention, what's going to happen to problems? It's going to grow and grow
until there's almost no other quadrants. It may consume your life. That's
called management by crisis, and management by crisis just beats you up, burns
you out. Fatigues ya. Gets very, very large. What's going to happen to quadrant
one if you attend to quadrant two? Gets smaller and smaller. You'll still have
some of it. Things you hadn't anticipated at all. Constant changes in our
environment will create some of that. But it'll be manageable. It'll be
workable. But you'll always have the sense that you're working on prevention
and seizing new opportunities. Now when are you going to get the time and
attention to get into quadrant two? That has to come from three and four.
Quadrant four is totally worthless quadrant. Can you name one thing of any
value or worth in quadrant four? Leisure. Is leisure important? Yes. Then it's
quadrant two. There's nothing of worth or value in quadrant four. Quadrant
three also is essentially without value except on the part of other people. So,
basically, you get your time for quadrant two from three and four. You just
keep doing it. You just keep stealing a little from quadrant three and quadrant
four. Learn to say no, pleasantly, smilingly, happily, but say no. Because in
saying no to quadrant three and four, you're saying yes to quadrant two, and
when you say yes to quadrant two, you make quadrant one increasingly small. And
you're working on things that will matter most, not on things that will matter
least. "Things which matter most", Gerta wrote, "must never be at the mercy of
things which matter least." However, the problem is it takes certain capacities
to work on quadrant two. What's the fundamental capacity? We've already talked
about it. What is it? You have to proactive. Why? Quadrant one works on you.
Quadrant one acts on you. Quadrant two must be acted upon. We are made in our
essential humanity to act and not be acted upon. That's quadrant two. All deep
relationship building, quadrant two. Planning and organizing, quadrant two.
Personal preparation, quadrant two. Exercise, quadrant two. Reading - broad,
deep reading, continuing education, quadrant two. Quadrant two is the key.
Watch the three habits: four, five and six.
First, think win win. Say to the person something like this, "Why don't we agree
to communicate until we can find a solution we both feel good about? Would you
be willing to do that?" In almost all cases, people will say yes to you.
Now watch habit five. Let me listen to you first. Most people do the very
opposite. They want to first be understood. And when both parties want to be
understood simultaneously, that's called the collective monologue, the dialogue
of the deaf. They're not really listening, they're either speaking or preparing
their speech. So the fifth habit is communicate, first by listening, then
Now what's habit six? That's where you're very creative and you think through
new and better ways, new and better solutions. For instance, let's say that I
want to go on a vacation out into the lake country, and you want to go on a
vacation closer to your ailing mother. It's important to you. The other is
important to me. I've looked forward to it. I'm a fisherman at heart. The boys
are excited about it. But your mother is ailing and you don't have an
opportunity to see her very much. And that's important to you.
Now, if I'm deep into authoritarianism, I might say, "I don't really care what
you think that much, when I want your opinion I'll give it to you. We're going
fishing. Or I'll beat it out of you." Or if I'm into martyrdom, I might say,
"Well, have your way with me." It's the way it always is. I always lose. In the
former case I'm into win-lose. In the latter I'm into lose-win.
Or we could apply habits four, five and six. Assuming we have an abundant
mentality and enough internal security to carry on this communication, and say,
"Let's agree to communicate until we can find a solution we both feel good
about, would you be willing?" "Alright, let's do it." "Let me listen to you
first. I understand that visiting with your mother is so important because you
haven't seen her for this, and here's your situation and you can relieve your
sister who've been taking care of her." And you keep expressing until the other
person feels deeply understood. "But you know what we've been doing with these
boys? And how much time and effort we've been giving to their lessons, and they
want to get into this fly-fishing, and it's just the perfect situation?"
And then I am understood. I am empathized to. And the spirit of mutual
understanding creates such an affirmation, such a respect for each other. We're
not going to go for lose-win, or win-lose, nor are we going to compromise. We
create new options, new alternatives in our minds. We find a lake near the
mother. Maybe it's not as good as the lake we had prepared, but I feel much
better about it, because I respect my wife. And I love her, and I love her
mother, and want to attend to that important need in a way that would also meet
my boys' need to have an expression of their fishing opportunity. It's a
Is it compromise? No. It's a better solution.
Some might say it's compromise, you really wanted to go to this lake. You're
compromising. Not so. I really don't. Because I care about my wife and I care
about her mother. Neither is it a compromise to her. She doesn't want to see
those boys just climbing walls while she tends to her mother, takes care of
her, has some good family visits. She likes to see those boys involved in doing
the thing they'd been preparing to do. So they go for a win-win solution.
Now this little story could be amplified in any conceivable situation, my
friends. Seriously, I am convinced that almost without an exception, if people
practice four, five and six, they can take almost any difference, and produce a
third alternative better than either of the other two.
The final habit No. 7 is the habit of self renewal. It’s the self maintenance
habit.It’s the habit that if you do it right, and do it completely, and do it
regularly, you will automatically develop the other six. It's called sharpening
the saw. So sharpening the saw is preserving and enhancing the greatest asset
you have - you. It’s continual daily self renewal of the four dimensions of
your nature: your physical self, your mental self, your spiritual self, and
your social emotional self.
To sharpen the saw means basically to exercise all four dimensions and then
organize your lives so that you have time in Quadrant Two to do that. One hour
a day, minimum. Well, I believe maintain these other six habits, to really get
good at those six habits, it takes more than that. What does this involve?
Physical exercise, the best kind is stretching, and aerobics, and a little
muscle toning, kind of a combination of the three. Aerobics is the kind of
exercise that deals with the cardio vascular system, the respiratory system,
which enlarges the capacity of the body to process oxygen. And that’s the key
to energy, oxygen, as well as interest. Stretching should proceed or follow
briefly the aerobics, muscle toning like calisthenics or weights or things of
this nature are also helpful. And if people can cultivate a habit of at least
30 minutes every other day, they can maintain. To really enlarge the capacity
of the body to work, they may have to do just a little more. But as they
do even a half an hour, their body becomes more efficient, the heart muscles
stronger, and more oxygen is pumped through the body and they have more
vitality, more energy inside. So I commend you to make your mind up, if you do
not now have a good exercise program, to start one. A little stretching, then
go on a vigorous walk or a jog, or a bike or a swim. But a good vigorous walk
for say 20 minutes, and then a little stretching at the end and a few
calisthenics, and you’ve got a minimal physical exercise program. What if you
only spent three hours in a week, of a week that’s made up of 168 hours? Is
that disproportionate with the only instrument you’ve got? I think it’s better
to try to give about an hour, a day, every other day, but at least give a half
an hour every other day, or four days a week.
With regard to spiritual exercise, that involves Habit No. 2. That’s where you
renew your commitment to your well-developed value system. You do it in a way
that is congruent with your own philosophy. It’s done differently. Some people
read important literature, even sacred literature, other people meditate, pray,
think deeply about key fundamental issues, this kind of we could call spiritual
activity is providing leadership, Habit Two. Then the mental planning and doing
and staying with that leadership is Habit Three. So you visualize and plan your
roles and goals for that week, and then review it for each day to make sure
that your life is in harmony with your mission and your overall long term roles
and goals. That's the mental habit, the mental creation Habit Two and Three.
The spiritual creation is Habit Two, the mental creation is part of Habit Two
cause you're still planning and thinking. But it's also having the mental
toughness to stay with it in Habit Three when perhaps there are distractions
and temptations that would lead you to capitulate and to give in to lesser
important items, items of low priority. The social emotional sharpening the saw
embrace Habit Four, Five and Six, so that you say to yourself, “I'm gonna
approach this relationship with a win/win attitude. I'm going to seek first to
understand, then I also want to be understood. But I will not seek to be
understood until the other feels like I understand, and then I am going to get
into creative problem solving with that person, synergize to see if we can come
up with better solutions than what originally we propose to each other, come up
with a better psychological agreement.”
Those are the four basic dimensions of the human personality, that basically
express and develop all of the other habits, if it's well done in a balance and
regular way, it will do exactly that.
由STEPHEN R.COVEY著 Malcolm Ke译