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7 Lessons from 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People'

1) Be proactive

"Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values - carefully thought about, selected and internalized values. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions. Take initiative, and embrace the responsibility to make things happen."

2) Begin with the end in mind

"Imagine what your funeral would be like. What would you wish for people to say about how you led your life? Begin today with the image, picture, or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. By keeping the end clearly in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important, and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole. How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most."

3) Put first things first

"The human will is an amazing thing. Empowerment comes from the learning how to fuse this great endowment in the decisions we make every day. The degree to which we have developed our independent will in our everyday lives is measured by our personal integrity. Integrity is, fundamentally, the value we place on ourselves. It's our ability to make and keep commitments to ourselves, to 'walk the talk.' It's honor with self, a fundamental part of the character ethic, the essence of proactive growth."

4) Think Win-Win

"Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a win-win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win-win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena. Most people tend to think in terms of dichotomies: strong or weak, win or lose. But that kind of thinking is fundamentally flawed. It's based on power and position rather than principle. Win-win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, that one person's success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others."

5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood

"If you want to interact effectively with me, to influence me - your spouse, your child, your neighbor, your boss, your coworker, your friend - you first need to understand me. And you can't do that with technique alone. If I sense you're using some technique, I sense duplicity, manipulation. I wonder why you're doing it, what your motives are. And I don't feel safe enough to open myself up to you. The real key to your influence with me is your example, your actual conduct. Your example flows naturally out of your character, of the kind of person you truly are. It is evident in how I actually experience you. Your character is constantly radiating, communicating. From it, in the long run, I come to instinctively trust or distrust you and your efforts with me."

6) Synergize

"To put it simply, synergy means 'two heads are better than one.' Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. But it doesn't just happen on its own. It's a process, and through that process, people bring all their personal experience and expertise to the table. Together, they can produce far better results that they could individually. Synergy lets us discover jointly things we are much less likely to discover by ourselves. It is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

7) Sharpen your saw

"Investment in ourselves is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life. We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to improve ourselves in different areas. We must develop ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, and emotionally. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long-continued process."


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