Discover 4 powerful ideas to help you make the most of your life – starting today.
Successful people are always on the lookout for ideas and proven ways to become more effective. They want to make an impact on the world and know that they’ve used their time, resources, and gifts well.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is chock-full of ideas that empower you to become more effective by making simple tweaks in how you think and act. The ideas Covey shares have had a profound impact on my life, which is why this book is #7 on my list of top 10 favorite leadership books.
With more than 40 million copies sold, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the most influential books of the 20th century. It goes without saying that this is a must-read if you want to create a successful life. In fact, I’d say it’s a “many-read” – a book you’ll want to return to again and again throughout your life and career.
Unbelievable, beautiful gold comes from the principles in this book — if you put them into practice. In this post, I’ll share four of the most powerful takeaways that I’ve found to be of value in my life.
1. Focus on Character
According to Covey, your character ethic is the hands-down most important principle for success in life and as a leader. As he explains the idea, there are universal principles that make for great character, and great character makes for great success.
To develop your character ethic, Covey says, you must work on your paradigm. A paradigm is a set of beliefs about how you think the world works.
Everybody on the planet — including me — has aspects of their paradigm that can absolutely be challenged. By changing your beliefs — releasing the beliefs that limit your success and replacing them with beliefs that align with the dreams you want to create — you change your character and your results.
Covey encourages us to focus on our paradigms, because they are the roadmap to get what you want. Your beliefs — how you create your dreams on the inside first — control what you create on the outside, in the physical world.
Helping clients change their paradigms if one of the main focuses of my coaching and of our work at the Brave Thinking Institute. This principle has dramatically impacted my life, as well as the lives of hundreds of thousands of students that we’ve served around the world.
2. Develop an Attitude of Interdependence
One of the primary goals of human development is to move from a state of being dependent on others to becoming independent. The strive to take care of ourselves and do things our way fuels our growth from infancy all the way through adulthood.
Some people continue developing this attitude of independence beyond being able to find a job, pay for housing and food, buying a car and other material needs. They work on evolving their state of independence by embracing the idea that we alone are responsible for our results.
There is definitely truth in the idea that we must take responsibility for the results we create. But this is where most personal and professional development stops. What Covey reveals is that true success comes only when we move beyond independence into an idea he calls interdependence.
Interdependence is when we bring and contribute everything that we have in harmony and cooperation with others. The world’s most highly effective and successful people understand the principle — and benefits — of working well with others.
In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill codifies it this way: No one amasses great wealth without the help of others. Covey encourages us to apply this idea to all areas of life.
3. First Things First
“First things first” is the third habit of successful people that Covey identifies in his book. I first learned about this principle early in my life, from my first mentor.
My then-mentor drove a $200,000 sports car that I, being in my twenties, thought was very cool. I wanted that car!
The car sported a license plate that read “1THING1.” One day, I asked my mentor to explain what 1THING1 meant and he said (you guessed it), First Things First.
Simply put, highly successful people prioritize what is most important to them – and they focus and take action on those items first.
Put this habit into practice starting today. Identify what is most important to you in life and business. Are you focused on taking care of those things first? Do you take consistent action on the things that are most important to you?
4. Sharpen the Saw
Covey’s seventh habit is the final idea I want to share with you here. It’s “Sharpen the Saw,” which means to continually be learning and improving. Continually invest in yourself and grow a little bit every day.
Sharpen your saw, because if you don’t, you’ll grow dull – and life will pass you by.
I’ve definitely had periods in my life when I grew a bit lax in what I was doing. It’s amazing to see how powerful — in the wrong direction — growing lax can be. Just as we can see the effect on our bodies rather quickly when we stop working out, you’ll soon notice a downward trend when you stop sharpening your saw.
Now, sharpening the saw doesn’t mean you need to have an attitude of “pedal to the metal” at all times. You don’t need to live in a state of continuous stress and ambition. That’s not what Covey is saying, nor is it what I encourage.
Instead, just make a little bit of progress each day. Watch a video here and there. Do a little reading, do a little reflecting. Exercise a bit every day, and eat a little bit better. Sharpen your saw a little bit each day, and those incremental steps will produce results.
Want to see better results in your life? Start Today!
Becoming a more effective person doesn’t have to be complicated. Get clear on what matters to you, stop getting in your own way and limiting your success, become a little bit better each day, and remember, you can’t go as far alone as we can go together.
What’s your favorite takeaway from this article? How do you use these ideas in your life? Please share it in the comments below.
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