Becoming More Effective

By: Coach Vince

I just recently finished reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.  I really enjoyed this book because I think it can apply to any person looking to take their life to the next level. Here is a quick summary of each of the 7 habits that changes everything.

Habit 1 - Be Proactive

This means more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.

Your language plays a big role on whether you will have success with this habit or not. I can, I will, I choose, are examples of phrases the Proactive person uses.

Habit 2 - Begin with the end in mind

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.  Deep, I know but it’s very important to have that understanding of your destination in order to make the best decisions possible to get you there. It is possible to be busy, very busy, without being very effective.  This habit is based on the principle that all things are created twice.  There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation, to all things. Whether we are aware of it or not, whether we are in control of it or not, there is a first creation to every part of our lives. We are either the second creation of our own proactive design, or we are the second creation of other people’s agendas, or circumstances, or past habits.

Developing a personal mission statement/philosophy/creed is the most effective way to ensure that this habit succeeds. It focuses on what you want to be, and to do, and the values or principles upon which being and doing are based.

Habit 3 - Put first things first

This habit is the practical fulfillment of Habits 1 and 2.  This habit requires independent will, the power to do something when you don’t want to do it, to be a function of your values rather than a function of the impulse or desire of any given moment. It’s the power to act with integrity to your proactive first creation. This habit helps you manage your time around activities that are relationship building, prevention, recognizing new opportunities, planning, and recreation.  These are the activities that are often not urgent but are important.  They have the bigger picture in mind, not just the day to day activities that are so easy to get lost in.  Don’t be problem minded, be opportunity minded.  The results of those activities are Vision, Balance, Discipline, and Control.  In order to work on those activities it might mean you say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.  The enemy of the “best” is of the “good.”

One of my biggest takeaways from this chapter was planning your week ahead of time and every night planning your next day.  This has helped me out tremendously to make sure I am working on the important things not just the urgent things.  

Habit 4 - Think Win/Win

This is a great habit to apply when working with others.  When both people begin the process of making a decision on how we can both win, they will win more of what they want by going to what you both want.  Win/Win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a Win/Win all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win/ Win is a belief that it’s not your way or my way; it’s a better way, a higher way.

Habit 5 - Seek first to understand, then to be understood

We have such a tendency to rush in, to fix things up with good advice.  But we often fail to take the time to diagnose, to really, deeply understand the problem first.  This habit involves a very deep shift in thinking.  We typically seek first to be understood.  Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.  They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.  They’re filtering everything through their own beliefs, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives. When a person speaks, we are listening at one of four levels; ignoring, pretending, selective listening, attentive listening.  The fifth and highest level of listening is empathic.  It means listening with intent to understand.  When you listen with empathy it’s easier to be understood.

Habit 6 - Synergize

When properly understood, synergy is the highest activity in all life- the true test and manifestation of all of the other habits put together.  It means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It means that 1+1 may equal 8,16, or even 1600. As individuals we are limited but together we are unlimited.  Valuing the differences is the essence of synergy-the mental, the emotional, the psychological differences between people. The key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.

Habit 7 - Sharpen the saw

This is the habit that makes all the others possible. It’s preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have….you.  Its renewing the four dimensions of your nature-physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional.  Physical-exercise, nutrition, and stress management. Spiritual-value clarification and commitment, study and mediation. Mental-reading, visualizing, planning, and writing. Social/Emotional-service, empathy, synergy, and intrinsic security.

This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life-investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute. We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw in all four ways.


It starts with habit 1, get really good at being Proactive.  Once this becomes your habit, the others will begin to fall in place.  They all require a level of learning, committing, doing and repeating.  As you get better and more consistent with that, so will your effectiveness in all these habits.

My biggest passion is to help others Sharpen their saws.  Taking care of you first, so you can take care of everything else. If you need help in any of these areas, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am not an expert but I love learning and understanding other people.