My take on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Gibbous Moon
Photo: Gibbous Moon, courtesy of Chuck Kasun and Nadia Giordana.

This is my take on Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”  I’ve listed the 7 habits and then expressed in my own words, how I interpret their meanings. This easily applies to post-retirement careers, and endeavors. If there is something you have always wanted to do, now is the time. These 7 habits can help you resurrect and achieve long-ignored ambitions. It’s not too late. Reach for the Moon!

#1 Be Proactive: Make decisions, take action, take responsibility for your choices. If you embark on an exciting project, focus and follow through. It’s not enough that you have a great idea, and tell people about it. Having an idea is only the first step. You must do something about it before you can own it, be it, and live it.

#2 Begin With the End in Mind: This one has to be my all-time favorite. Before you can get anywhere, or make any kind of progress, you need to know who you are, and where you are going. It’s about your mission, vision, and ambition for what the overall picture of your life will look like. But before all that can happen, you must have a clear idea in your mind of the end result. (Reminds me of “Keep your eye on the prize.”) In my own mind, I often envision an unbreakable cord from my starting point (or from me) running outward and connecting to the end point I desire.

#3 Put First Things First: To me, this springs out of #s one and two. Once you become proactive and know what the end will be, it’s easy enough to get started. “First things first” means you need to have a foundation on which to build. Prioritize and plan. This is about goal setting from beginning to end.

#4 Think Win-Win: Neither your everyday life, nor your business need be competitions. There is enough to go around for everyone within each arena. Competition drains your energy reserves and quells creativity. If everyone comes out ahead, what could be better?

#5 Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: This can be a tough one, as people clamor to be heard. But if we take a step back and try to understand someone else’s point, then maybe we can make ourselves heard. Clear communication is the core of good results.

#6 Synergize: This means teamwork, partners, brainstorming and collaboration. Highly effective people are not always extraverts who come by these characteristics naturally. They can be introverts who do their best work in solitary focus. Even if this is so, Synergizing with others and exchanging ideas can bring about phenomenal success.

#7 Sharpen the Saw: This is my second favorite of Stephen Covey’s habits. You cannot be successful at even the most ordinary of things if you don’t have sharp tools. First, this means you. You must be in good shape mentally and physically. You are your single most valuable tool, and you have to be sharp! You may need continuing education and training in order to perform most effectively. Resistance, frustration, and other seemingly negative roadblocks are there to help you strengthen. Resistance training for success–it comes naturally, you won’t have to seek it out. It works much like resistance training for your body. And the irritation and grating things that come along to upset your day are just as good for you as the file that is used to sharpen the teeth of a saw.

To see the actual 7 habits as written by Stephen Covey, click here.

About the photo: My husband, Chuck Kasun (71) has always been interested in astronomy, but reluctant to buy the high-end equipment necessary for one or two astral photographs, he opted to use his personal ingenuity and knowledge of photography to see what he could do. This photo was taken by jerry-rigging a pair of high-powered 1950s-era German optics binoculars to a tripod and attaching an ordinary digital pocket camera to one of the eye pieces. From there, Chuck passed the file to me. I used some Photoshop techniques to bring out the details, and voilà! We have a spectacular image.