Applying the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

7 HabitsSteven Covey passed away recently and it caused me to listen to his classic, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” again.  I have read/listened to this classic several times and each time I get more out of it. His simple, but profound principles or habits are particularly timely for GTD practitioners and CIOs today. Lets take a look at the 7 habits of highly effective people:

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Take ownership of your actions in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

This is GTD 101! Determine what outcome do you want to be true and then work backwards until you get to the Next Action. This works at all of the Horizons of Focus (50K down to the Runway) that GTD espouses. If you begin with the end in mind, you will envision a successful outcome to whatever you are trying to accomplish and then work backwards to figure out what needs to be true to make that outcome a reality.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Prioritize, plan, and execute your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Classic GTD here, use your trusted system to execute your priorities not what David Allen calls “reacting to the latest and loudest.”

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way. This is super important for CIOs who must negotiate success with several different and most likely competing interests every day.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, respect, and positive problem solving. Once again, this is an absolutely critical skill for CIOs and needs to be paired with habit 4 for long-term success.

Habit 6: Synergize

Combine the strengths of people and your staff through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone. Get the best performance out of your people through encouraging meaningful contribution, and modeling inspirational and supportive leadership. Challenge your high performers and push them outside of their comfort zone.  Assess each persons personality and manage/lead them in the way that will elicit the best they can give you in the context of the overall team’s objectives.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It is critical to understand “the whole” balance to success. You must exercise your body for physical renewal, find a way to relax, and get enough sleep to maintain peek effectiveness. You also need to keep investing in learning and growing. Expose yourself to new ideas and opinions. Don’t live in an echo chamber of what you currently know or believe.  Seek continual improvement thru knowledge. It is also important to “give back” with some sort of service to the society for optimal balance.
What are your thoughts or experiences with the 7 Habits?

About Michael Keithley

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