There’s no silver bullet to becoming successful, but there are some simple ways you can transform the way you work and become more effective. Stephen Covey has seven habits you can incorporate into your daily life.
Seven habits of effective people and how you can adopt them
Firstly, let’s look at why positive habits are crucial to productivity and what goes into building them. According to Stephen Covey, a ‘habit’ comprises three essential dimensions: knowledge, skills and desire. Covey believes a habit is the intersection of these three aspects, and therefore to introduce and maintain a particular habit in your life, it should be compatible with your knowledge, skills and desire. In simple words, these aspects signify:
Knowledge being the theoretical foundation: To describe this lucidly, the ‘knowledge’ behind a habit is the awareness about what has to be done, and why it should be done. Being aware of the need, pros and cons of a particular habit lays the foundation for developing it further.
Skill as expertise: Skill is the know-how behind a habit; having the ability and eventually developing the expertise to carry out a certain task as a habit.
Desire forms motivation: Most importantly, both knowledge and skill should amalgamate to create a deep desire to continue with a certain habit.
According to Covey, when knowledge, skill, and desire merge then the habit that you’re trying to adopt is highly likely stay to stay for longer. It could also possibly become a lifestyle! Now that the structure behind a habit is understood, let us have a look at the ‘seven habits’ that Stephen Covey is famous for explaining.
The seven habits which can boost your effectivenessBe proactive: this is the first and possibly the most important step to bringing about a real change in your life. If you want to boost productivity and how effective you are, then stop blaming external factors or depending on them for your success. Take charge of your own life, accept that your life is an outcome of your own decisions, choices, and actions – amidst the circumstances handed to you. Constantly endeavour to evaluate what you can change about the way you work, and do all you can to bring about this change. In short, be ‘self-aware’ and willing to improve yourself.
Be clear with the end goal of your actions: This translates to focus. Be convinced by the final goal that you want to achieve, and how the action you undertake will help you achieve that. Once that is decided, never lose sight of the end goal. Besides providing strong motivation, this will also ensure that you do actually achieve the target you intended to – which will boost your effectiveness.
Prioritize well: When faced with a barrage of work, don’t become a nervous wreck. you have several tasks to complete, organize them into a checklist in an order of descending importance. Assess the different tasks according to how important or urgent they are, and tackle the most pressing ones first. This helps to reduce stress, ward off procrastination, and also ensures that you complete your work in a way that doesn’t leave any stakeholder disgruntled.
Think of the success of all stakeholders: This is a crucial habit which has been sidelined in many organizations today. To explain this better: think of a particular business deal you have to negotiate with a client. Your goal is to maximize the profit of your organization, and striking a highly profitable deal would mean you’ve done your job right. On the other hand, the client wants to get the best value for money and does not want to compromise on quality. What would you do? You should make a balanced decision; consider the situation from the client’s viewpoint as well, and create a business deal which satisfies the client’s needs as well as helps you achieve your goal. The client will appreciate your work and you will have won a long-term source of business.
Communicate more to understand others: Listen as much as you speak. Take your time to understand the experiences, feedback or suggestions that others share with you, before launching into your own opinion. Clear and frequent communication can help you diagnose the problem to be worked on, and will give you a better idea of how others view the same issue. This new perspective could help you devise a much more effective solution – and will ensure you are tackling the actual challenge that your team is facing – and not something that you have mistakenly imagined to be.
Cooperate: A team is more effective than the sum of its individuals – cooperation with others is key to boosting your own effectiveness. No person can achieve professional success all alone. It takes the support of a like-minded team to boost your organization’s productivity. Stephen Covey also explains that one should freely information, and believes that success is abundant enough to share with others. He claims this will help you achieve greater heights, while being selfish and secretive with knowledge and expertise will eventually poison even your best efforts.
Regular self-renewal: Avoid complacency and constantly endeavour to learn about the latest developments in your field. Research well about what other organizations in the same domain are doing, and have the humility to learn from competitors or younger employees. Also, learn to de-stress by taking some time off from work, which will help you renew and refresh.
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