Using Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for Personal and Professional Growth

Often times when we look to make changes in our lives, we compartmentalize certain factions of what makes us who we are.

Often times when we look to make changes in our lives, we compartmentalize certain factions of what makes us who we are. Our professional selves are separate from our personal selves, for example. True, it’s healthy to separate work from other areas of your life so that you can enjoy a world outside of the job. However, all the qualities that make you good (or perhaps not so good) at your job also exist in your day-to-day life. So, when you’re looking to make changes in your life, it’s important to realize that personal and professional growth are interrelated. One of the most popular and proven ways for Australians and New Zealanders to improve upon all factions of their life – personal and professional – is through the implementation of Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. First published in 1989, Covey’s work has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, in 38 languages, and also enjoys massive success as an audio recording. But what makes Covey’s 7 habits so effective for Australians and New Zealanders? For starters, the word choice is key. Covey doesn’t use “tools” or “things.” He uses “habits,” because the 7 items he outlines must become a part of your being in order to truly take root.

Self-mastery

But it’s also the order in which Covey outlines his habits. In his book, Covey suggests that it’s absolutely imperative that an effective leader and person be independent, what’s known as “self-mastery.” All too often we’re told that we must focus on the welfare of others, and that the decisions we make must be based on their impact on others. Yes, that’s all true and ideal, however, what Covey suggests is that every single decision we make impacts our own lives. Sure, they may impact the lives of others as well. But we can’t lose sight that we have a tremendous influence on how effective we are, based on our own decisions. In short – we must take responsibility for our choices and the consequences that come from them. Also, unless our own house is in order, how can we expect to find order elsewhere? It’s like the adage “You can’t love someone until you love yourself.” The same applies for effectiveness. You can’t impart positive change and effectiveness in others if you’re unable to do so for yourself. To be master of your own domain, you must take stock in all aspects of your life, including your professional and personal relationships. Make note of what’s most important to you, so that you can truly define who it is you are. 

Working with others

Only after you master independence can you expect to be effective while “working” with others. “Working” is a deceiving word here. Working doesn’t have to mean “at work.” Working with someone is another way of saying co-existing. You co-exist with friends, family, neighbors, workers, your butcher. Within each of these relationships is the opportunity for you to learn how to respect and understand other people. But how do you do this? It’s important, at this point, to try to understand the other person before you seek to be understood. If you truly mastered independence, you don’t need to be understood by others to be validated, thus you won’t feel the need to get your point across at the expense of someone else’s feelings. Your goal is to become an empathetic listener, not just because you think you should, but because you value what this person has to say. Realize that their words, their point of view, might influence in you in some positive way. When people realize you take their thoughts into this kind of deep consideration, they’ll reciprocate and be open minded to be influenced by you.

Never stop growing

Personal growth is nothing like physical growth. With physical growth, not only is there an end point – where you stop growing – but we actually begin to go the other way, and retreat to a smaller stature over time. With personal growth, there never is a ceiling. You always have the opportunity to grow, professionally and personally. Rounding out the 7 habits of effective people is the notion that you can always refine and improve upon your skills. Each new interaction and relationship is an opportunity for you to “sharpen the saw.”

Professional and personal growth for Australians and New Zealanders

We all benefit from leaving work at the office, so that we can enjoy a fuller life. But we also have to realize that becoming an effective person means improving upon our relationships at work and at home. The skills we learn to work effectively with difficult people in the workplace are also the same skills we can use when dealing with a complex situation at home. Rather than compartmentalizing our selves into separate beings, we should begin to accept that every portion of our day is a small piece of our complete picture, and each moment we pass through is another opportunity to paint our canvas with brilliant colors to add to the masterpiece.