Date posted: December 29th 2016
Book Title: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (continued)
Alright, in the previous page you read the first three habits of private victories. Essentially (1) control of your actions, (2) set goals and (3) prioritize. Fairly simple right? But from here on we start talking about our interactions with other people. And that’s where things get a little more complicated.
Stephen says that even though we like being independent, and that we are brought up to be “independent,” in reality we are inter‑dependent. We will always depend on other people, humans are social animals.
What we have learned up to now with habits one two and three are merely baby steps. Being interdependent is a whole new dimension, it is out there (through relationships) where we grow the most, where we learn the most, where we contribute the most, and where we have the greatest joys. Unfortunately… it is also where we can get hurt the most. So the P/PC balance is very important here, and in this case Stephen uses the analogy of a bank account. Our relationships with others, and the health of those relationships are a balance of how much we deposit in them, and how much we withdraw from them.
Stephen talks about six major deposits that we could practice on our everyday life. I’m going to mention two here:
The first deposit is showing personal integrity, which is basically self respect—and respect for others. If we don't have these, we will never earn other people’s respect. The way we treat other people is proportional to the respect we are going to get. If I talk shit about people, if I ignore those in need, if I treat people in condescending ways, I will never be respected—much less trusted! They say to be trusted is harder than to be loved. This couldn’t be more true.
The second deposit is apologizing sincerely, and like the eastern saying goes “if you are going to bow, bow low”. Apologies have a tremendous impact on people (when done sincerely), and can turn a withdrawal into a deposit very easily. Think about how many times you actually apologize sincerely.
Now before we go into habit four let me tell you one of my favorite quotes regarding relationships. It’s by Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary General of the United Nations. He once said that “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.” Think about that, and next time you feel like saving the world… don't. Help your brother, help your neighbor, help your friend!
Habit 4: Think Win/win
Yeah... this sounds very simple and cliché doesn't it? Well, it's not. There is a reason why it's so hard for people to think win/win—mainly because we are programed to think win/lose… In sports, win/lose, in school, win/lose, at work same thing, fuck that! Is such a shitty way of life. Nobody can be happy under the pressure that if they don't “win” they will end up being fired, rejected, or neglected. Thinking win/win gives us so much freedom and gratification yet we rarely do it, because society has made us into win/lose machines.
To break out of that pattern, he says we should have an abundance mentality. And this is one of the things I liked the most in this book. The reason we can't think win/win is because of this assumed perception that there is so little out there for us. Few job openings, few scholarships, few opportunities, no man! There is plenty for all of us if we really look, the world is huge!
Take that abundance mentality and free yourself from that win/lose shenanigans—or lose/win and lose/lose for that matter. Win/win or no deal, help others while helping yourself and be interdependent with them. Emancipate yourself from the mental slavery of scarcity! 1
Yes, that last line is partially stolen from Redemption Song by Bob Marley ↩
Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood
This is the one I have the most trouble with. And it is as simple as it sounds, listen to others! But for real... listen to others. We all love giving advice, don't we? We love telling others what to do, but we haven't even taken the time to understand their situation. I love Stephen’s example of a person going to the eye doctor, and the doctor taking his own glasses off and handing them over to the patient saying, “here, try these...” The patient grabs them, puts them on, and says “well it still looks blurry, Doc, these are yours...” The doctor then says “Oh come on, they work for me, you need to try harder, think positively!”—Obviously the patient says “what the hell kind of doctor are you?”—and the doctor finishes the conversation by saying “I don't know what is wrong with you man, but you really need to change your attitude...”.
That is exactly what we all do when we give advice, we are prescribing our autobiography, telling people what worked of us. But chances are their problem is very unique. For many reasons. And our solution simply won't work for them! So listen to people, understand where they come from, what barriers they might have (that we don’t), what is their current mental, social, economic, and maturity situations. Then, and only then, you’ll realize that your solution is NOT universal.
The greatest thing about this is that if we just shut up and listen, most of the times they will find the solution on their own. People often just need to speak it out, lay the cards on the table, and pick them up—one by one—to make sense out of them. And what we are doing when we give advice is shuffling those cards and throwing them back at their face [saying] “here’s how you do it.”
Habit 6: Synergize
This is a very powerful one, it is where all the win/win, the trust, the self‑respect and self‑control come together, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Elon Musk (the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla) says that we must surround ourselves with great people to accomplish great things. I think we must also try to find people that are very different from us—hopefully with similar core values—but with different opinions. Because those are the people that are going to give us the perspectives that we would have never thought of. Like Friedrich Nietzsche said “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct them to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently”. So open up to those who think differently, and you will find yourself synergizing like a motherfucker!
Different options and diversity are essential for a group of people to go from ordinary to outstanding. And if we accept different opinions, and put our beliefs to the test every day, we will have a better chance at accomplishing awesome things.
Habit 7: Renewal
This is the habit I love the most. Because it falls right in there, with all my silly rituals and disciplines. Working out, meditating, eating well, sleeping well, having meaningful conversations, visiting family members, reading, writing, etc, etc. All these habits of renewal recharge our batteries and allow us to tackle everything else in life. This habit talks about being an integral person, feeding our physical, mental, social, and spiritual sides. It also talks a lot about reading...in fact this was one of the reasons I started this website. It also inspired me to call my family members and friends more often, and you have no idea how much that enriches my life.
So make sure you add this book to your library, and read it every five years or so. It will make you a better person, I guarantee it. But who am I to give advice right?
As I said in the video, I read this when I was in highschool and changed my life, now I re‑read in my twenties and changed my life yet again… Two times! Those are the kind of books I want to keep summarizing in my posts!
Developing a habit means consciously doing something (periodically) so that a much bigger goal is achieved, right? And most habits that can improve our lives are very simple. For example: working out at least 30 minutes a day, going to bed before 11 pm, drinking water instead of soda, not sleeping with the TV on, not oversleeping, not overeating, etc. My question is, why is it so hard for us to introduce these seemingly simple habits into our lives? Are the habits more complex than they seem? Or is it that their results are not really making a difference and we choose to stop doing them? Please answer in the comments below, or tweet about it using #7habitsquestion
Thank you guys so much for reading, and don't forget to read more. But don't read books to say you did. Read them consciously! And write about them, for it is the only way for them to stay solid in the mind.