Most people, when asked who they would like to be if they were reborn, usually answer: “Myself.”
There’s no doubt about it, it is fine. But isn’t there something about yourself that you would like to improve? How to achieve personal change and become a better person is what the book, Seven Habits of High Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey, is all about.
All of us want success in life and enduring happiness. To have these, Mr. Covey suggests that we first begin by analyzing ourselves. What are our “paradigms”? – the way we perceive the world? Do you believe all is right with it, and we will find happiness in it? Or do we see it as a cruel world – one that is evil and unfair? This will influence the way we think and act. Our environment – family, school, community, friends – has influenced us in forming this frame of reference or paradigm. This explains why people – sometimes even members of the same family –see things differently.
Paradigm shift takes place when we see our priorities in a different light or when we assume a different role. This is particularly true when we become a husband or wife, parents or grandparents, manager or leader. Remember how we rebelled against some of our parents’ rules when we were young, only to adopt the same rules on our children when we, ourselves, become parents? This is because we now see things from a different perspective.
To achieve personal change, Mr. Covey explains the “inside-out” approach, which simply means to internalize the correct principles that will develop in us a strong character which is what really counts. For example, before we select the right partner for a satisfactory marriage, we must first be the kind of person who is good material for lasting relationship – one who is understanding, loving, and trust-worthy.
The first step is to develop the right habits. Habit 1 is “Be Proactive.” This means to be responsible for one’s actions and decisions without blaming circumstances and conditions for one’s behavior.
Habit 2 is to “Begin with the End in Mind.” Know what your goals are and what steps to take to achieve them.
Habit 3 is to “Put First Things First.” Set up your priorities and follow them through regardless of your feelings and desires at the moment.
Habit 4 is to “Think of Win/Win systems” based on cooperation rather than competition in interpersonal relationships.
Habit 5 is based on empathy. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen with your ears and heart and learn to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This is the secret of effective communication in any kind of relationship.
Habit 6 is synergy – the creative process of thinking up new alternatives. It simply means being flexible, being open to new choices and new possibilities.
Habit 7 is to “Sharpen the Saw”. Which is you. Renew and improve yourself continually –spiritually, physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. After all, everything we do or become, eventually depends on no one else but ourselves.