Key Concepts: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

One of my top recommendations on my list of books that every business owner should read is Steven Covey’s classic – the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Here is a quick summary of the 7 habits along with some specific suggestions to apply them to make your business better.

1. Be proactive

This means taking responsibility for your own life and not blaming external circumstances or other people for your problems. Instead, you should focus on finding solutions and taking action to achieve your goals.

By taking ownership of your business and proactively seeking out solutions to challenges and opportunities, you can increase your chances of achieving your goals.

Try using these words: I choose, I prefer, I will.

  • Be a solution to problems, not the problems themselves
  • Do more than what is expected – anticipate needs and underlying concern
  • When presenting information – give an analysis and recommendations based on the analysis

2. Begin with the end in mind

This means setting clear goals and developing a plan to achieve them.

When humans create, we do so 3 times:

  1. First, we create in our imagination
  2. Next, we create a representation, like a blueprint or map (AKA, the plan)
  3. Finally, we manifest and make it happen for real

By setting clear and specific business goals and developing a plan to achieve them, you can create a sense of purpose and direction for your business.

3. Put first things first

When you put first things first, you prioritize your activities and focus on what is most important to you. By prioritizing your business activities and focusing on what is most important, you can be more productive and efficient in reaching your goals.

The best place to start with this habit is to conduct a time audit and develop a default diary.

From there, you can become a master of delegation.

Stewardship delegation is focused on results instead of methods, which gives choice and responsibility. I call this executive leadership.

4. Think win-win

Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions.  It’s not your way or my way, it’s a better way, a higher way.

Seek out mutually beneficial solutions in relationships and situations rather than trying to win at the expense of others.

By adopting a win-win mindset, you can create lasting, positive relationships with clients, partners, and employees who can help your business succeed.

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood

This means listening actively and empathetically to others, trying to understand their perspective and needs before expressing your own. By demonstrating understanding and empathy, you can build trust and establish better communication with others.

Empathic listening gets inside another person’s frame of reference. You rephrase the content and reflect the feelings.

The key is to genuinely seek the welfare of the individual, to listen with empathy, to let the person get to the problem and the solution at their own pace and time.

By actively listening to and understanding the needs of your customers, you can create products or services that better meet their needs and increase the chances of achieving your business goals.

6. Synergize

To synergize is to work effectively with others to create something greater than the sum of its parts. By collaborating with others and valuing diversity, you can create innovative solutions and achieve results that could not be achieved alone.

When you communicate synergistically, you are opening your mind to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options.

The more authentic you become, the more genuine in your expression, particularly regarding personal experiences and even self-doubts, the more people can relate to your expression and the safer it makes them feel to express themselves. Valuing differences leads to better teamwork.

7. Sharpen the saw

This means taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being in order to maintain balance and effectiveness in your life. By regularly investing in your own development, you can sustain your energy and effectiveness over the long term.

Balanced self-renewal:

  • Spiritual (value clarification, commitment, study and meditations)
  • Mental (reading, visualizing, planning, writing)
  • Physical (exercise, nutrition, stress management)
  • Social/emotional (service, empathy, synergy, intrinsic security)

In an organization, the physical dimension is expressed in economic terms.

The mental or psychological dimensions deals with the recognition, development, and the use of talent.

The social/emotional dimensions has to do with the human relations, with how people are treated.

And the spiritual dimension deals with finding meaning through purpose and through organizational integrity.

Here are some of my personal take-aways and favourite quotes from the book

Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.

Six major emotional deposits: understand the individual, attend to the little things, keep commitments, clarify expectations, show personal integrity, and apologize sincerely when you make a withdrawal.

“Sow a thought, reap an action, sow an action; reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

Habit is the intersection to knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do) and desire (want to do)

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~ Goethe

Think effectiveness with people and efficiency with things.

“We seek not to imitate the masters, rather we seek what they sought.”

In summary…

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a comprehensive guide to personal and professional development that can help individuals improve their effectiveness, achieve their goals, and create a more fulfilling life.

Covey’s habits are based on timeless principles and are applicable to people of all ages and backgrounds.

By incorporating these habits into your daily life (and business!), you can become more effective, achieve greater success, and live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

If you resonate with the 7 Habits and see how adopting them could transform your business, you’re probably a good candidate for business coaching.

Interested? Book 15 minutes on my calendar here: time with John and we’ll have a win-win conversation.

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner

become a better owner

If an owner wants a better business, first the business needs a better owner.

This post is part of my Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner. Visit the guide homepage to get my best advice and coaching exercises to help you with:

  • Mindset. Thinking like an owner and seeing the big picture of your business.
  • Planning. Deciding what you want, setting a goal, and making plans to get after it.
  • Habits. Changing your behaviours to help you get what you want.
  • Learning. Getting new information and developing new skills.
  • Growth. Facing your fears, stepping outside your comfort zone, and doing what it necessary to create the business of your dreams.