Effective people are the ones who are capable of producing an intended result or have a striking effect. They must be able to accomplish a task or purpose and function effectively. Individual character is a collection of habits that have a powerful role in their lives. Desire, skill, and knowledge are regarded to be the constituents of habits. Knowledge allows us to realize what to do, skills provide the ability to know how to do it and desire is the drive towards accomplishing the set goals. The seven habits for highly effective people are:
Habit 1: Be Proactive
We are the ones who design who we want to be and this normally happens either with or without our consciousness. After all, we are the ones who choose to be happy, decisive, successful, failure, courageous, fearful, ambivalent, or even sad. We do things differently to achieve good results because a new choice is provided in every situation and moment. It entails one to take responsibility for his /her life. Proactive people should not direct their blame to others. Research shows that pro-active people do not blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. This is because they know they chose their behavior.
The language used by proactive people is a clear indicator that they are responsible for what they say. Their focus is mainly on things that they can control and they direct their energy and time on them. They direct their effort on the things they can do something about, that is, health, children, and problems at work. For an art and design graduate, the habit applies in that the graduate needs to direct their energy in areas that they know they have control. (Covey, 2000) They should also accept their results and not blame the outcome on others.
Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
Effective people should always evaluate whether they have accomplished what they wanted in life. They should make a conscious effort to visualize who they are and what they want in life. Failure to do so will empower other people and circumstances to shape their life. One should begin a task, with a clear vision of desired direction and destination. One should plan, put his/her goals in focus and move the ideas in accomplishing the set goals. It is believed that people create their destinies and secure the future they envision. Art and design graduates should have a clear mission, vision, and objectives of what they want to achieve in life. (Covey, 2000)
Habit 3: Put First Things First
People need to manage their life and live a balanced one. They should realize and recognize when they are supposed to do a certain thing and not everything that comes their way. Priorities should be put first in all activities. Things we find worth should be put first for this will help in organizing and managing time. Art and design graduates should apply the habit by making sure that they put the context of art and design first. This will help them to become more competent in their field as well as organize and manage their time well. (Covey, 2000)
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
People are supposed to cooperate and not compete with one another. We should not play games of thinking that we will succeed when someone fails. Generally, we should collaborate and interact with others freely for our benefit as well as others. Our mind and heart should seek mutual benefit in all interactions. The solutions or agreements we make should be mutually satisfying and beneficial. The habit suggests one stick with true feelings, values, and commitments.
Express ideas and feelings with courage and respect those of others. One should also believe that there is plenty for everyone and this will reduce the existing competition. (Covey, 2000) For people to go for this habit, they must be confident, considerate, sensitive, brave, and emphatic. Graduates need to work as a team instead of competing with each other and this will increase their knowledge and skills. Cooperation will help them to learn from one another and adopt skills that they do not possess from their colleagues.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
The habit outlines that effective people need to pay attention to what other people are saying to deeply understand another human being. They should not only focus on the words being said but also they should make sure they understand the meaning of the message. Listening to a reply should be discouraged because one will not understand the whole content. People listen to themselves as they prepare in their mind what they are going to say or questions they are going to ask. (Covey, 2000)
This leads to a premature decision on what the other person means before he/she finishes communicating. In some situations, another person may ask for help from your point of view or when there is a mutual relationship. In such situations then we can say that autobiographical responses may be appropriate. Art and design graduates should make sure they pay attention and consider the opinion of another person. It is by listening that they will come to know where they lie and what people think about them.
Habit 6: Synergize
They make sure they work as a team. There should be creative cooperation of people involved in the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. As the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” then I believe people should be open-minded and work as a team. People should bring all their personal experience, expertise, and contributions to the table so that they can be discussed. This can bring far better results than they could if they were working alone.
When people interact freely, they become open to each other and consequently start to share their experiences. By this, they can discover things that are difficult if they work individually. Differences and especially mental, emotional, and psychological are what drives synergy. Therefore they should be regarded as strengths, not weaknesses. (Covey, 2000) Graduates should try to identify common differences among themselves and work on them to build a better life. They should realize that commonness brings boredom and inefficiency.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
They make sure they preserve the greatest asset they have. This can only be achieved if the four areas of life, that is, physical, mental, spiritual, and social/emotional are balanced for self-renewal. This will enhance growth and change in one life for the better. The habit helps one to continue practicing the other six habits as well as remain fresh. This renewal is vital because it prevents the body to become weak, the mind mechanical, the spirit insensitive and the emotions raw.
The end product is a selfish human being. One needs to take the necessary time to renew themselves. What should be put into consideration is that each day provides a new opportunity for renewal, recharge yourself. Graduates should make sure they pamper mentally and spiritually. All it takes is the desire, knowledge, and skill to do it. (Covey, 2000) This will help them to face a new day in peace and harmony. If they expect to perform then they should realize that things don’t just happen they need to be planned.
To summarize, it is my opinion that if people agree to embrace and practice all the seven habits then they will become effective. Some of the habits that make me an effective person are: I learn to listen first before I open my mouth to say something. I also believe in working as a team for I know as the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” Failure to plan is planning to fail, and this has made me plan and remain focused until I achieve the set goals. I believe the seven habits will add zest to life if they are adopted.
Stephen R. Covey. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Running Press, 2000.