The first three habits surround moving from dependence to independence
Habit 1: "Be proactive"
Proactivity is about taking responsibility for one's reaction to one's own experiences, taking the initiative to respond positively and improve the situation. recognizing one's circle of influence and focusing on the center of one's influence.
Habit 2: "Begin with the end in mind"
envisioning what one wants in the future (a personal mission statement) so one can work and plan towards it, and understanding how people make important life decisions. To be effective one needs to act based on principles and constantly review one's mission statements, says Covey. Covey asks: Are you—right now—who you want to be? What do you have to say about yourself? How do you want to be remembered? If habit 1 advises changing one's life to act and be proactive,
habit 2 advises that "you are the programmer". Grow and stay humble, Covey says.
Covey says that all things are created twice: Before one acts, one should act in one's mind first. Before creating something, measure twice. Do not just act; think first: Is this how I want it to go, and are these the correct consequences?
Habit 3: "Put first things first"
Covey talks about what is important versus what is urgent. Priority should be given in the following order (in brackets are the corresponding actions from the Eisenhower matrix, which Dwight D. Eisenhower attributed to a former college president):
- Quadrant I. Urgent and important (Do) – important deadlines and crises
- Quadrant II. Not urgent but important (Plan) – long-term development
- Quadrant III. Urgent but not important (Delegate) – distractions with deadlines
- Quadrant IV. Not urgent and not important (Eliminate) – frivolous distractions
The order is important, says Covey: after completing items in quadrant I, people should spend the majority of their time on II, but many people spend too much time in III and IV. The calls to delegate and eliminate are reminders of their relative priority.
If habit 2 advises that "you are the programmer", habit 3 advises: "write the program, become a leader". Keep personal integrity by minimizing the difference between what you say versus what you do, says Covey.
The next three habits talk about interdependence
(working with others):
Habit 4: "Think win–win"
Seek mutually beneficial win–win solutions or agreements in your relationships, says Covey. Valuing and respecting people by seeking a "win" for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten their way. Thinking win–win isn't about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique; it is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration, says Covey.
Habit 5: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood"
Use empathetic listening to genuinely understand a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to be influenced. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem-solving.
Habit 5 is expressed in the ancient Greek philosophy of three modes of persuasion:
- Ethos is one's personal credibility. It's the trust that one inspires, one's "emotional bank account".
- Pathos is the empathetic side, the alignment with the emotional trust of another person's communication.
- Logos is the logic, the reasoning part of the presentation.
The order of the concepts indicates their relative importance, says Covey.
Habit 6: "Synergize"
Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals that no one could have done alone, Covey exhorts.
The final habit is that of continuous in both the personal and interpersonal spheres of influence.
Habit 7: "Sharpen the saw"
Covey says that one should balance and renew one's resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. He primarily emphasizes exercise for physical renewal, good (meditation.), and good reading for mental renewal. He also mentions service to society for renewal.
Covey explains the "upward spiral" model. Through conscience, along with meaningful and consistent progress, an upward spiral will result in growth, change, and constant improvement. In essence, one is always attempting to integrate and master the principles outlined in The 7 Habits at progressively higher levels at each iteration. Subsequent development on any habit will render a different experience and one will learn the principles with a deeper understanding. The upward spiral model consists of three parts: learn, commit, do. According to Covey, one must be increasingly educating the conscience in order to grow and develop on the upward spiral. The idea of renewal by education will propel one along the path of personal freedom, security, wisdom, and power, says Covey.