You may have heard of a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. I’d heard of it, too, but have never taken the time to read it. Maybe that means I’m not a highly effective person, I don’t know. Anyway, I saw a graphic the other day from preventdisease.com web site that listed 15 habits and beliefs of highly effective people. That’s got to be better than seven, right? But when I went to their website to read the article, I found that it was no longer there. Drat!
OK, so taking the fifteen beliefs from the graphic, which is not that pretty, so I’m not going to upload it, I will present each one in turn and make a few comments.
1. Time doesn’t fill them. They fill time. In other words, they are proactive. They schedule things, rather than waiting for someone else to schedule them. They find productive things to do with their time, not just “busywork.”
2. They understand balance. They realize that personal interests and hobbies are just as important as one’s work. The joy of participating in our favorite activities can replenish our spirits and take us away from the problems at work. When we return to work, we are refreshed and ready to go. I think this also means that they understand that there must be a balance between periods of intense activity and periods of rest or less intense activity. Being intense all the time leads to stress.
3. The people around them are the people they chose. Effective people choose to be around others who are positive, energetic, upbeat, and focused. They choose to be around problem-solvers and go-getters, because that’s what kind of people they are. They stay away from people who complain or give up on finding solutions to problems.
4. They’re never bored and they never complain. The way the concept of boredom is expressed in French is very perceptive. They say, “I bore myself.” It’s true, people bore themselves. Life, itself, is never boring. The trick is to cultivate a sense of wonder about the world, and a sense of curiosity that keeps you learning new things. I think that effective people never – or seldom – complain, is because they tend to be optimists, who see success as something that they will have, eventually, if not at present, and they see obstacles as opportunities for growth and learning.
5. They have never paid their dues. When a person says, “I’ve paid my dues,” what the person means is that he or she has done the required amount of work and is unwilling to do any more. Effective people don’t set limits like that. They are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. Many times, others stop short of their goal, never realizing that it was within their grasp if they had only pressed on just a little bit farther.
6. They ask the right questions. They ask open-ended questions that allow them to learn as much as possible. Rather than asking others to agree with them, they ask others to teach them.
7. They admit failure. Sometimes you just have to bite the dust. What effective people understand, however, is that failure is a learning opportunity. They ask themselves, What went wrong? How can we do better next time?
8. They have the qualities of clarity, innovation and focus. Clarity means being able to size up a situation accurately, establish a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART goal). Innovation means thinking out of the box and trying out new ideas. It means being willing to entertain unfamiliar ideas rather than simply dismissing them. It also means asking oneself what will work in the future, rather than what works right now. Focus is the ability to maintain concentration on a specific goal, regardless of what may be going on around you. As the saying goes, “When you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s easy to forget that the initial objective was to drain the swamp.” Focus helps us “drain the swamp” in spite of all the “alligators.”
9. They volunteer to acquire opportunities. When the time comes to start a new project, effective people don’t hesitate to volunteer to be on the team, because they know they’ll learn something new, perhaps meet new people or get to know people they don’t yet know very well. They realize that even though they may be setting themselves up for more work, they will reap the benefit of learning a new skill or a new way of doing something. That benefit may very well be a promotion or a completely new job with better working conditions and better pay. It may mean more opportunities to travel or a chance to attend a seminar and hear famous people speak. You just never know.
10. They are the best communicators. They have a solid command of what educators like to call “market English.” This means they can use standard grammar and they have a useful vocabulary that is not only wide, but deep. In other words, they not only know a lot of words, but they know several ways to express the same thing with slightly different nuances. Their speech is more precise because of this. They are mindful of the emotional impact of their words, as well, and they know how and when to use powerful expressions to motivate people and neutral expressions to avoid negative emotional reactions. They can state goals and expectations clearly so that everyone on the team knows where the project at hand is headed.
11. They address solutions, not problems. Sure, they can state the problem, but they don’t dwell on that. They emphasize ways to fix current problems and prevent future ones. Their mindset is positive, not defeatist.
12. They are humble and happy to admit mistakes. As I pointed out in another blog, humility doesn’t require us to demean ourselves. It simply asks that we recognize the contributions of others around us. It requires us to focus on others, rather than on ourselves. Admitting mistakes is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a sign of strength and the ability to learn and improve.
13. They set higher standards for themselves. In other words, they don’t merely do what is required. They go beyond the basic requirements, in search of excellence in all that they do. They are the type of people who cross all their t’s and dot all their i’s. Their standard is excellence, not adequacy.
14. They finish what they start. Going back to #5, because they are willing to do whatever it takes, they eventually meet their goals, even if it takes a lot longer than they had planned, even if they had to start over several times, even if they had to change one or more elements of the finished product.
15. They are multi-dimensional and wonderfully complex. They know and accept the fact that they have weaknesses as well as talents, and they recognize that others have talents and skills that make up for their own lack. They hone and preserve as many of their talents as possible, which is always somewhat of a juggling act, but they know that this effort is absolutely worth it.
So there you have it. How many of these beliefs and habits do you have? What do you need to work on? 🙂