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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change - Stephen R. Covey This is a tough book to rate. Some of the content changes the way you approach life and it really could make you a more effective person. I know I'll be managing my schedule and communicating with people differently from now on. However, some of the content feels like fluff, filler, and preaching. At times, it sounds no better than the "self-help" and "motivational" books the author makes fun of. In short, the book is worth reading, but be prepared to skim.

These were the biggest takeaways for me:

* To be more effective, you have to make yourself better, and not just change your outlook or attitude. Think of Benjamin Franklin's attempts at self-improvement rather than all the "think positive" BS.
* Mission statements can be useful in all aspects of life. You could have a personal mission statement, a company mission statement, and a family mission statement.
* Begin with the end in mind. This is also useful in all aspects of life. The idea of imagining your own funeral and what you'd want people to say about you in a eulogy is pretty eye opening.
* There is a difference between "urgent" and "important." Don't let urgent items drown out important ones.
* Seek first to understand, then be understood. To do that, listen to the person, then rephrase what they said (both content and emotions!) back to them in your own words. Only when you can explain their problem as well as they can should you then start to introduce your own thoughts. It sounds obvious, but I've always had a tendency to jump in with my own opinion before I've fully understood the problem. This works in negotiations (clearly explain the other person's wants before getting into your own), presentations (explain the audience's point of view before going into your own), arguments (explain the other person's point of view before going into your own), and just about everything else.

Some of my favorite quotes:

Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm—to forget to plant in the spring, play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest? The farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.

As Emerson once put it, “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”

In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do. We all know it. There are people we trust absolutely because we know their character. Whether they’re eloquent or not, whether they have the human relations techniques or not, we trust them, and we work successfully with them.

Where we stand depends on where we sit.

“Inside-out” means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self—with your paradigms, your character, and your motives. It says if you want to have a happy marriage, be the kind of person who generates positive energy and sidesteps negative energy rather than empowering it. If you want to have a more pleasant, cooperative teenager, be a more understanding, empathic, consistent, loving parent. If you want to have more freedom, more latitude in your job, be a more responsible, a more helpful, a more contributing employee. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. If you want the secondary greatness of recognized talent, focus first on primary greatness of character.

In the words of both Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

Efficient management without effective leadership is, as one individual has phrased it, “like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.”

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

The amateur salesman sells products; the professional sells solutions to needs and problems.

Notice the sequence: ethos, pathos, logos—your character, and your relationships, and then the logic of your presentation. This represents another major paradigm shift. Most people, in making presentations, go straight to the logos, the left brain logic, of their ideas. They try to convince other people of the validity of that logic without first taking ethos and pathos into consideration.

I do not agree with the popular success literature that says that self-esteem is primarily a matter of mind set, of attitude—that you can psych yourself into peace of mind. Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.