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The 7 habits of highly effective people

Kirjoitettu 12.12.17
Esseen kirjoittaja: Minna Saukkonen
Kirjapisteet: 3
Kirja: The 7 habits of highly effective people
Kirjan kirjoittaja: Stephen R. Covey
Kategoriat: 1. Oppiminen, 9.08. Henkinen kasvu

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Most of us know the feeling after a workday, when you have had so many things to do but you still feel that you haven’t got anything done. At least in Team Academy it’s a common topic of discussion: How to be more effective when you feel that there are not enough hours in a day to complete everything on your to do list?

The 7 habits of highly effective people describe certain habits that effective people have and on the other hand, those like us who have the feeling of not getting anything done are lacking. Good news: there is only few if any people who have these habits by nature. The rest of us can learn them by hard work. See the thing is that we all have our own paradigms, the way we see the world and different situations. To change one’s paradigms needs constant practice. There are three stages of something becoming a habit – one need knowledge to know what to do, skills to know how to do it and finally, the right attitude: wanting to do it. So, for example, I might know that I must do my book points to graduate. I might also know how to do it, so I have the skills for it. But I might not care about graduating on time so I would not have the attitude for doing it. In another example, I might know that I must do the book points, I might want to do them and graduate on time but I might not know how to do them, I might not have the skill of writing and reflecting. In these kind of situations the paradigms in your head come up, and what is relevant is the way you handle them.




  1. Proactivity

The first habit of highly effective people is proactiveness. It means that the person is taking responsibility of his/hers life. It is very easy to think that others are to blame about things going wrong with your life: The boss is horrible, those kids are undisciplined, the horrible weather is ruining all plans. But in the end proaction is natural for human nature, we are made to react on the conditions that are surrounding us! A proactive person tries always to come up with solutions and is not a victim of the surrounding conditions.


  1. Begin with the end in mind

If there would be 4 speakers in your funeral, one family member, one from your friends, one from job and one from some community where you are working (for example from the church), what would you want them to say about you? The second habit is about making your own Mission statement: What do you want from your life and what are the values and principles that are guiding you? So basically, where are you going? In order to truly be effective and to know what you have to do to achieve true happiness, you need at first to have a clear vision about it. It can be also called “Personal leadership”. You have to proactively lead yourself to the right direction.

This is the part where me myself usually trouble. I leave myself very little time to just think. I keep going on with my life and work like the rest of us and never really give myself time to stop and to think where I really want to get. Partly it is because I have done it so much in the past and stressed about it – I have no idea what I want to do the rest of my life. Slowly I have started to realize, that I really don’t have to decide it now – I will have plenty of opportunities to change the direction if I feel so. I have started to slowly realize, that the only thing I should be thinking is what I feel now, not what I might feel in the future. If this job feels great now, it doesn’t matter if I get bored with it in some point, then I can start searching for other challenges. But this is a great example of something that hasn’t yet become a habit of mine: I know that I should concentrate on what feels good now, and I really want to do it but I am lacking skills. I don’t yet have the tools and confidence to trust in my cuts and start taking steps forward to all those things I enjoy doing now. My passion for cosmetics is a good example, I’m afraid that even though now I feel that it would be amazing to work in the field and for example start as a shop assistant in some cosmetic store, I’m afraid that I will eventually not have enough challenge with that shop. I keep telling myself that everyone has to start somewhere, that I could keep getting forward on my career, but it feels too scary. Probably it is also because of those high expectations that I have for myself. But here we come again to the question: What do I really want in order to be happy? What do I want that people remember of me when I’m dead? Probably no one cares about have I had a high and commonly respected position. Respect and caring comes from so many other things than a high position – it comes from the way you treat others.

I want that in my funeral people say that I was a person who really loved what she did. That I was a person who truly cared from others, no matter are they family or workmates. I would want to leave a warm feeling to everyone, and know how to truly listen others. But in the other hand also be a person, who knows how to take care of herself and who makes the effort on doing it, physically by exercising and mentally for example by knowing how to say know. I would want to be remembered by my family as a person, who at tried to prioritize our time together always when possible. And as a person who had a constant urge of learning new and developing herself.

So here I could summarize my values based on the previous:

  • Family and friends: being a good friend and a family member, prioritizing our time together whenever it’s possible. Learning truly to listen others.
  • Work: Doing something that I truly enjoy, not being afraid to take chances and try different things.
  • Personal growth: Constantly developing myself and learning new, by studying and by doing, learning to be a great listener and so developing my social skills.

Those are at least in the core values I have. Probably there is plenty of things I could add there, for example learning new languages and cultures and working in international environment part of the personal growth and work part, but in the end, these are things that we must keep constantly renewing. The values can change from as we grow and it is perfectly fine. I think what is important is to give yourself time to regularly think about them.



  1. Put first things first

If habit 2 was about Personal leadership, this habit is about Personal management. This is the part where you start organizing your actions so that they take you forward to your Mission statement. It is not managing time but prioritizing – knowing what is the most important to do now. This habit is where many of us keep failing, mostly because we try to prioritize things without really putting our mind in it. It is extremely important that you have adopted the habit number 2 before this, otherwise it is impossible to know what to prioritize.

Covey presents a tool for prioritizing that I have come across many times in Team Academy, only now I know where it’s from. You divide the things on your to do list on 4 categories: 1. Important and urgent, 2. Important but not urgent, 3. Urgent but not important and 4. Not important and not urgent. The key to management is category number 2. Usually those are the things that fit in a sentence: “If I did this thing superbly, the results would be marvelous”. Good example is spending time with your loved ones. It’s not urgent but it is important, it probably takes you closer to your Mission statement. Often these thing tend to not have enough attention from us, because those important and urgent things, urgent but not important things ( f. ex. ringing phone, unanswered emails) and not urgent and not important (for me social media) is taking all our time and attention, leaving us exhausted by doing many things but not really getting anything done. Things in category 4 are those that you have to stop doing now, because they are just taking your time without giving anything back – someone would say leisure time goes to this category, but you see if leisure time is important, it goes to category 2. For me social media is the worst thing in category 4, it takes a lot of my time but gives nothing back. But it’s good to notice that it takes a lot of discipline to leave out those category 4 things.

Shortly you should always try to take time from those thing in category 3. and 4. for things in category 1. and 2.


These first 3 habits are a foundation for the rest of the habits, and they are leading a person towards independency, not being dependent on others.

  1. Think win-win

The 4th habit is about social skills and empathy. It’s a paradigm of interaction, where you always want to find a win-win solution that benefits both sides. You have to be confident and empathic at the same time to really wanting to end on a situation that is not win-lose or lose-win, but win-win. It means that in some cases you have to be ready to say “win-win or no deal”.

  1. Communication

After stage 4. you have to communicate to find the win-win situation. And communicating means that you have to learn to listen first, then seek for understanding. This is another point that I have come across many times lately – people desire to be understood. And that’s why it’s so hard for us to truly listen one another. Often we are too busy on with our own thoughts that we forget to listen. So in order to effect in another person, you need to understand him/her first. So always at first, listen what the other has to say as long as he/she feels that you understand, and then express your point of view so that he/she truly understand. People feel it when someone listens them and understands and respects what they have to say – and they become more responsive.

This part takes a lot of energy, because you have to truly listen and be empathetic.


  1. Synergizing

After the both sides are heard and understood, comes synergizing – the part where you do hard work to come up with the win-win solution. It means no compromising, it means that you come up together with better third solution that either one came up alone. This part is fully relied on the habits of 4. and 5. Without those habits it’s impossible come up with the best solution for both.


  1. Sharpen the shaw

The final habit is about practicing all those habits before. As said before, it takes hard work to create a habit – you have to practice knowledge, skills and attitude. Covey reclaims that it takes atleast half an hour practice in a day to maintain the habits – and even more to get good at them. So this habit is all about self-development and making an effort.


It was surprising to me, how all these habits are in the end very basic things. I was expecting a lot more to go with managing time and to do -list. Though all the habits are important, what spoke to me the most now was the Mission statement: How could you know how to be effective if you don’t know where you’re going? I want to keep my values and principles clear to myself so that I can start going towards them. This was a great book for me to read right now, because my team is starting its last year in Team Academy and now is the time for me too to start focusing on the future after school. What are the things that I want to do after graduating? What skills do I need for it and who do I need to know?


Minna Saukkonen, +358 505 540 003

Osuuskunta Dimangia Innovations

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