Project Management
Microsoft Office

Eight Habits of Highly Effective People

First Habit - Be Pro-Active

The first of the 7 Habits is - Be Proactive. It is perhaps a great compliment to Stephen Covey that today, the substance of this first habit is deeply embedded into the management psyche. We are told, in business, that we should be proactive; and broadly what is meant by that is to focus our efforts and attention on the long-term and to think in terms of the long-term consequences of our actions.

Covey contrasts being proactive or having a proactive mentality with being reactive. Reactive people, he says, are those who are resigned to the truth that whatever they do in the present can have no effect on their circumstances. And interestingly, for reactive people, it really is a truth, for whatever we believe in our heart affects our thoughts, words and actions. If we really believe that we can do nothing about our unreasonable boss or the daily events in our lives, then we simply do not make the effort.

Proactive people, on the other hand, simply will not accept that there is nothing that can be done about the unreasonable boss or the events of daily life - they will point out that there are always choices. It is by the decisions we make, our responses to people, events and circumstances that proactive people can and do affect the future. We may have no control over what life throws at us but we always have a choice about how we are to respond.

Begin with the End in Mind

The second of the habits is - Begin with the End in Mind. Many people in the west identify with the frustration of success. Being successful at their chosen career and committed to its progress they come to realize that it does not, in the final analysis, bring any sense of real satisfaction. The reason for this ultimate dissatisfaction is that they did not begin with the end in mind. For many people, it is not just that they did not begin with the end in mind; it goes a bit deeper - they did not ever get around to defining the end itself and so they simply could not begin with the end in mind. So what does all this mean? The end represents the purpose of your life. Until you can say what that purpose is, with assurance, then you just cannot direct your life in the manner that would bring you the greatest satisfaction.

Put First Things First

Put First Things First. Here, Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at long-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear to be urgent, but are in fact less important. Delegation is presented as an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks that are to be agreed in advance, rather than on prescribing detailed work plans.

Think Win/Win

Think Win/Win describes an attitude whereby mutually beneficial solutions are sought, that satisfy the needs of oneself as well as others, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved.

Think Win/Win

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.


Synergize describes a way of working in teams. Apply effective problem solving. Apply collaborative decision making. Value differences. Build on divergent strengths. Leverage creative collaboration. Embrace and leverage innovation. It is put forth that, when this is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Sharpen the saw

Sharpen the saw focuses on balanced self-renewal. Regaining what Covey calls "production capability" by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities.

From Effectiveness to Greatness

In today's challenging and complex world, being highly effective is the price of entry to the playing field. To thrive, innovate, excel, and lead in this new reality, we must reach beyond effectiveness toward fulfillment, contribution, and greatness. Research is showing, however, that the majority of people are not thriving. They are neither fulfilled nor excited. Tapping into the higher reaches of human motivation requires a new mindset, a new skill-set --a new habit. ▲ Up