One of the Best Books for Small Business- 7 Habits
Covey, the 7 Habits author
7 Habits overview
I only just read "7 Habits" a few weeks ago (listened to on Audible, if you want to be technical about it), but I can already see some of the habits starting to take hold in smaller ways. Covey does a great job of breaking down a different way to look at opportunities in life, not just obstacles or even challenges. Disagreements between individuals are the basis for commerce, in a nutshell, and if we all agreed on everything, not only would the world be an incredibly boring place, but it would also be a very unprofitable one all around.
This is a fascinating and revolutionary way to look at different points of view, and it makes a great deal of sense to me. We are far stronger together, working as one group, than we are apart, and most people already get this, I think. What's surprising is that we're stronger not so much because of our differences, but our very individuality working together.
There are really two subsets of habits Covey calls independence and interdependence. Without independence, he suggests, there can never be interdependence, so it's good to focus on the former first.
Step 1: independence
With the above in mind, that the idea is to start with independence, the reader is guided to:
- be proactive
- begin with the end in mind
- put first things first
One of the big conclusions I drew from the above, a concept which has since been reinforced by two or three other business books I've been reading, is that you are in charge of how things play out to a very large degree. This sounds really simple, but the way it's explained was a new way to look at negotiating.
Being proactive means getting the jump on any goal, negotiation, or business proceeding. This is a simple but elusive concept most business owners simply don't do. The truth is that you can control a large part of what is about to happen.
Beginning with the end in mind means taking a general's view of the battlefield. Truly assess the situation at hand; don't merely shoot at whatever moves first. Instead, figure out first whether you should even be on this particular battlefield or not. If so, then figure out who you should be shooting, and so on.
Putting first things first means determining where to begin, not being arbitrary with your goal setting and "task lists" and so forth. Far too many people today, for example, dictate their entire day by checking out their email and then answering the emails, one at a time. This is not the best way to determine what to do first. Instead, do what is truly important first.
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Step 2: interdependence
The "interdependence" group focuses on:
- win-win or "no deal"
- seek first to understand
I don't care much for buzzwords like the last one, but the "seek first to understand, then to be understood" is something I've consciously brought to every single negotiation I've had in the last month (except the times I forgot). It's a new paradigm for your business, and this is a good book if you're looking for a little help along the way.
Win win or no deal means that you must seek a mutually beneficial way to make an agreement work for both parties. Often times, this means coming up with extremely creative and clever solutions that are not based on compromise at all. This mantra also had a strong impact on me.
Quick summary - the 7 habits
Here's a quick recap of the 7 habits:
- Be proactive
-Take responsibility for your decisions, and use this knowledge to decide what to do.
- Begin with the End in Mind
-See yourself the way you want to be, including your relationships and roles.
- Put First Things First
-The physical creation of "Begin with the End in Mind", and prioritizing.
- Think Win-Win
-Creativity is required here. It's not about you vs them; it's about mutual benefit.
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
-My personal favorite - using genuine interest and empathy to see where the person is coming from. This will help them to be able to reciprocate.
-Achieve goals together with varying skill sets you couldn't achieve individually.
- Sharpen the Saw
-Go back to the beginning and continue to improve all six previous habits. This also applies in general with life, and I've wholly embraced this concept - always improve yourself, every day.