Why did I choose this book? Not that this is the best book I have read so far and it has helped me transform myself to a highly effective and successful person. None of that crap! Simply because
- This is the most recent book I have read (with the contents still fresh in my mind)
- This book features in the Times 25 Most Influential Business Management Books
To sum it up, 7 habits of Highly Effective People is not a gripping page to page read. The content is very verbose and repetitive.It is one of those books which bombard you with a lot of management and self-discovery babble without actually teaching you something new . What Covey could have effectively said in 7 pages, he took 391 pages. Highly effective person he maybe, but not a highly effective writer I must say.
The book has its moments , but you could just skip through most of the stuff. Nevertheless, the 3 takeaways:
- Urgent and Important Matrix:
Urgent Task: Something pressing and which requires your immediate attention e.g. a ringing phone, a presentation that you have to complete for tomorrow’s board meeting, your house on fire,etc
Important task: Something which creates a tremendous positive difference in your life e.g. fitness, relationships, family, meditation, skill development,etc.
The Urgent & Important matrix is originally attributed to the US President Eisenhower who also famously said
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Now lets look at the matrix.
Quadrant II is the Highly effective people zone. What Covey suggests is that we should eliminate the Quadrant III and Quadrant IV tasks completely if we want to be highly effective. I beg to differ from Mr Covey , You need Quadrant III for maintaining healthy relationships with your peers and co-workers and you need Quadrant IV to wind up after a hectic day. Rather than trying to eliminate Quadrant III & Quadrant IV activities we should consciously take out time for Quadrant II activities, which unfortunately most of us are unable to do so.
Oliver Gearing has written a lot about productivity and time management in is blogs, you can check it out for more insights at www.olivergearing.com.
So, the next time your boss asks you to stay back late and complete some presentation while you have a movie date scheduled with your wife, don’t be a meek yes man. Remember, Your job is important NOT your boss. If that presentation is not urgent and important , refuse your boss pointblank. Because, you are going to spend the rest of your life with your wife and not your boss ( hopefully 😛 ).
- P/PC balance :
P: Production of desired result.
PC: Production Capability : Ability or asset that produces the results .
It’s a simple and powerful concept which has been reinforced many times in several children’s stories. Remember “The Goose with the Golden Eggs” story. The proverbial story has been mentioned umpteen times in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to drive home this point. Yes, Mr Covey! We got the message the first time itself.
People working in manufacturing sector can more easily relate to this concept. Suppose you are made the new incharge of a production unit and to meet and exceed the production targets you keep on pushing the installed machinery beyond its designed capacity and ignore all the standard maintenance practices. The consequence? Everyone is happy at the improved production figures, senior management pats your back and in a few years you are promoted to a different role.
Win-win situation for all? Think about the long term effects of what you have done with the unit under your tenure. The Installed machinery which could have run for 20 years would start demanding repair in only 10 years after taking all that beating. Your successor, who would have the pressure of bettering your production targets would be left with a battered and bruised machinery in a constant state of repair. Increasing costs and dwindling production figures with the management constantly breathing down that poor guy’s neck, all because someone ( YOU) did not see the bigger picture and concentrated on only things that were urgent and important ( production) while ignoring the thing that was important but not urgent ( production capability).
The same concept is equally valid in our personal lives with respect to health, family, relationships and friendships.
- Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern:
Circle of Concern: Things which affect our mental and emotional state. It is a combination of things over which we have no control e.g. the weather, what people think about us, etc. and things over which we have control e.g. our attitude.
Circle of influence: Things inside the circle of Concern over which we have control e.g. our attitude, how we interact with others, the skills we learn, the books we read, etc.
The proactive people work on their circle of influence only and hence their circle keeps on expanding until it equals their circle of concern or even encompasses it. Whereas, the reactive people are always bogged down by their circle of concern : who is dating whom, who is earning how much,etc. and consequently they are always in a constant state of despair and frustration.
Viktor Frankl , the eminent name in the field of Existentialism very correctly identified this proactive approach to life as “ the last of the human freedoms” .
Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose and ONLY what you choose to affect you CAN affect you.
P.S : The other key concepts which I could have shared here, if this was 5 takeaways instead of 3 are : Abundance Mentality and Emotional Bank Account.