Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of Jason Hartman’s all time favorite books. While the the contents of the bookstore’s self-help section offers a variety of content quality, this book has stood the test of time and remains a brisk seller more than a quarter of a century after its original release. Never read it? Here is a quick look at the critical habit he discusses.

Habit 1: Be Proactive
It should be no surprise to anyone that your effectiveness in life is determined by the quality of your decisions. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences, good or bad.

Habit 2: Start with the End in Mind
Life is a journey best undertaken with some sort of plan. Unless you’re Forrest Gump, take the time to examine yourself, clarify what goals and character values are important, then plan your activities accordingly. Flailing around with no sense of direction gets old after a while.

Habit 3: First Things First
Habits 2 and 3 are closely related. Before you can manage other people or activities, you’ve got to be able to manage yourself. A manager must manage his own person. As Covey explains it, habit 2 is the mental creation, and habit 3 is the physical creation. Want to know more? Read the book!

Habit 4: Win-Win is the Plan
It’s not just a touchy-feely thing. Whatever the situation, it’s usually a better resolution to include as many as possible on the winning side. Alienating everyone else just so you can claim a “victory” is not much of an accomplishment and probably won’t last for long.

Habit 5: Understand, Then Be Understood
It’s all about empathic listening. To inculcate an atmosphere of positive problem solving, you need to really listen deeply and with an open mind to people. Then you can worry about getting them to understand you. Human nature tends to leave us yapping at each other with our ears closed. Be the one to listen well. There’s a good chance it might rub off on others.

Habit 6: Synergy
It’s the idea that the total is better than the sum of its parts. Find out the strengths of each team member and let them contribute to the task. It’s amazing how often you will achieve more than any one person could have done alone.

Habit 7: Continuous Improvement
Is “continuous improvement” a boring, New Age catchphrase that says a lot and means little? Uhh, no. Covey stresses in his final habit the necessity of never stopping to rest on your laurels. Always seek to improve your personal and interpersonal spheres of influence. He calls it sharpening the saw. A long-term, effective lifestyle requires a balance between physical and mental renewal.

If this summary of Stephen Covey’s book hasn’t made you want to run out and read the darn thing, you haven’t been paying attention. This is good stuff.

Onward and upward! (Image: Flickr | quoteseverlasting)

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Derek and the Speaking of Wealth Team