HABIT 1 : BE PROACTIVE
Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully
designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness.
you choose sadness. you choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence.
You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose
fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new
choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things
differently to produce more positive results.
Habit 1: Be Proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. You can’t
keep blaming everything on your parents or grandparents. Proactive
people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame
genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior.
They know they choose their behavior. Reactive people, on the other
hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external
sources to blame for their behavior. If the weather is good, they feel
good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame
the weather. All of these external forces act as stimuli that we respond to.
Between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power–you have
the freedom to choose your response. one of the most important things
you choose is what you say. Your language is a good indicator of how you
see yourself. A proactive person uses proactive language–I can, I will, I
prefer, etc. A reactive person uses reactive language–I can’t, I have to, if
only. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say
and do–they have no choice.
Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have
little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things
they can control. The problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall
into two areas–Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.
Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work
on the things they can do something about: health, children, problems at
work. Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern–things
over which they have little or no control: the national debt, terrorism, the
weather. Gaining an awareness of the areas in which we expend our
energies in is a giant step in becoming proactive.
HABIT 2: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
So, what do you want to be when you grow up? That question may
appear a little trite, but think about it for a moment. Are you–right now–
who you want to be, what you dreamed you’d be, doing what you always
wanted to do? Be honest. Sometimes people find themselves achieving
victories that are empty–successes that have come at the expense of
things that were far more valuable to them. If you ladder is not leaning
against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place
Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what
you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that
all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a
physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just
as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to
visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other
people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It’s about
connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the
personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily
express and fulfill it. Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day,
task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and
destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make
One of the best ways to incorporate Habit 2 into your life if to develop a
Personal Mission Statement. It focuses on what you want to be and do. It
is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in
focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement
makes you the leader of your own life. You create your own destiny and
secure the future you envision.
HABIT 3: PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST
So live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not
doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to
overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no
when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.
Habit 1 says, “You’re in charge. You’re the creator.” Being proactive is
about choice. Habit 2 is the first, or mental, creation. Beginning with
the End in Mind is about vision. Habit 3 is the second creation, the
physical creation. This habit is where Habits 1 and 2 come together. It
happens day in and day out, moment-by-moment. It deals with many
of the questions addressed in the field of time management. But that’s
not all it’s about. Habit 3 is about life management as well–your
purpose, values, roles, and priorities. What are “first things?” First
things are those things you, personally, find of most worth. If you put
first things first, you are organizing and managing time and events
according to the personal priorities you established in Habit 2.
Two Keys to Making Deposits
1. Deposits need to be frequent and consistent. The closer the
relationship, the more frequent and consistent the deposits need
2. Deposits do not occur until the recipient considers it a deposit.
You simply don’t know what constitutes a deposit until you
understand the other person. If your motives for making a
deposit are not sincere, others will feel manipulated.
Remember that when it comes to relationships, little things are big
HABIT 4: THINK WIN-WIN
Think Win-Win isn’t about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a
character-based code for human interaction and collaboration.
Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition.
We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing–that is, if I
win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life becomes a zero-sum game. There
is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less
for me; it’s not fair, and I’m going to make sure you don’t get anymore.
We all play the game, but how much fun is it really?
Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win
is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all
human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually
beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, and it tastes pretty
A person or organization that approaches conflicts with a win-win attitude
possesses three vital character traits:
1. Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments
2. Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and
consideration for the ideas and feelings of others
3. Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone
Many people think in terms of either/or: either you’re nice or you’re
tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between
courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be
empathic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be
considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that–to
achieve that balance between courage and consideration–is the essence
of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.
HABIT 5: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
Communication is the most important skill in life. You spend years
learning how to read and write, and years learning how to speak. but
what about listening? What training have you had that enables you to
listen so you really, deeply understand another human being? Probably
If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you
want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other
person completely, pretend that you’re listening, selectively hear only
certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words
being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen?
Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand.
You listen to yourself as you prepare in your mind what you are going to
say, the questions you are going to ask, etc. You filter everything you
hear through your life experiences, your frame of reference. You check
what you hear against your autobiography and see how it measures up.
And consequently, you decide prematurely what the other person means
before he/she finishes communicating. Do any of the following sound
“Oh, I know just how you feel. I felt the same way.” “I had that same
thing happen to me.” “Let me tell you what I did in a similar situation.”
Because you so often listen autobiographically, you ten to respond in one
of four ways:
Evaluating: You judge and then either agree or disagree.
Probing: You ask questions from your own frame of reference.
Advising: You give counsel, advice, and solutions to problems.
Interpreting:You analyze others’ motives and behaviors based on your
You might be saying, “Hey, now wait a minute. I’m just trying to relate to
the person by drawing on my own experiences. Is that so bad?” In some
situations, autobiographical responses may be appropriate, such as when
another person specifically asks for help from your point of view or when
there is already a very high level of trust in the relationship.
HABIT 6: SYNERGIZE
So put it simply, synergy means “two heads are better than one.”
Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, openmindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems.
But it doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s a process, and through that
process, people bring all their personal experience and expertise to the
table. Together, they can produce far better results that they could
individually. Synergy lets us discover jointly things we are much less
likely to discover by ourselves. It is the idea that the whole is greater
than the sum of the parts. One plus one equals three, or six, or sixty–you
When people begin to interact together genuinely, and they’re open to
each other’s influence, they begin to gain new insight. The capability of
inventing new approaches is increased exponentially because of
Valuing differences is what really drives synergy. Do you truly value the
mental, emotional, and psychological differences among people? Or do
you wish everyone would just agree with you so you could all get along?
Many people mistake uniformity for unity; sameness for oneness. One
word–boring! Differences should be seen as strengths, not weaknesses.
They add zest to life.
HABIT 7: SHARPEN THE SAW
Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you
have–you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the
four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Here are some examples of activities:
Physical: Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting
Social/Emotional: Making social and meaningful connections with
Mental: Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
Spiritual: Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self
through mediation, music, art, prayer, or service
As you renew yourself in each of the four areas, you create growth and
change in your life. Sharpen the Saw keeps you fresh so you can continue
to practice the other six habits. You increase your capacity to produce and
handle the challenges around you. Without this renewal, the body
becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit
insensitive, and the person selfish. Not a pretty picture, is it?
Feeling good doesn’t just happen. Living a life in balance means taking
the necessary time to renew yourself. It’s all up to you. You can renew
yourself through relaxation. Or you can totally burn yourself out by
overdoing everything. You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually.
Or you can go through life oblivious to your well-being. You can
experience vibrant energy. Or you can procrastinate and miss out on the
benefits of good health and exercise. You can revitalize yourself and face
a new day in peace and harmony. Or you can wake up in the morning full
of apathy because your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone. Just
remember that every day provides a new opportunity for renewal–a new
opportunity to recharge yourself instead of hitting the wall. All it takes is
the desire, knowledge, and skill.