The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, written by Stephen R. Covey in 1989, is a book that examines 7 habits that should be followed in order for a person to become highly effective in what they do, whether at work, at home, or at play. By breaking down the principles of fairness, integrity, and honesty, this book aims to help people find the success they are looking for by practicing 7 habits in their everyday life. This page shows the basics underlying the 7 habits, and does not include every example or every page of the book. Examples of Habits, Dailies, and To Do's will be included at the bottom of each section in order to show how the habits can be integrated into Habitica.


A First Look: What is a Habit?[edit | edit source]

How Knowledge, Skill, and Desire Make a Habit

According to Covey, a habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge is the ability to know what needs to happen, skill is the ability to do what needs to happen, and desire is the motivation to do what needs to be done. Without all three a habit cannot be formed.[1] Simply put, a habit is knowing what to do and why (knowledge), knowing how to do it (skill), and wanting to do it (desire).[1] A habit cannot be formed if you do not know how to form it, or if you have no desire or motivation to form a new habit, which is why all three pieces are important in building a habit. The habits that Covey provides are meant to give you the knowledge and skill to create new habits and change your life, but you have to provide the desire to do so. Looking at the Habit Loop will explain more about how to form a habit.

Why Do the 7 Habits Matter?[edit | edit source]

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People moves away from time-management as a complete system, and instead focuses on changing the behaviors of a person in order to help them succeed and find meaning in life. The first step is to look at how you view your life, and prepare for a paradigm shift. Covey believes that stress and the hassled feeling that people get when they have too much to do and not enough time can be eliminated by approaching the issues at hand not only from a new angle, but from a new viewpoint. Instead of approaching problems from the personality ethic standpoint of "if I take care of these problems, my friends/family/coworkers will like me more", Covey says the more powerful and effective approach is to look at the challenges from the character ethic standpoint, or the standpoint of "I will face and overcome these challenges because I have integrity/courage/humility". In other words, what we are at the core is more universally translated than what we say or do, and by building up the foundation of character ethics to stand on, the personality ethics that are important (like communication and socialization) will follow to show a more complete picture of ourselves. The personality ethic standpoint alone shows a full dependence on other people, while the character ethic standpoint leans towards independence instead. To help with this paradigm shift, Covey broke the habits down into 3 sections: The Private Victory of Independence, the Public Victory of Interdependence, and The Art of Continuous Improvements.

Just to be Clear, What is a Paradigm?[edit | edit source]

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a paradigm is:

"an example or pattern, an example of a conjugation or declension showing a word in all its inflectional forms, or a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated, with a very broad definition being a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind".[2]

However, this doesn't necessarily clear up what type of paradigm Covey is talking about. In this case, Covey sees a paradigm as a road map to where a person wants to go in life.[1] This is why the character ethic standpoint is so important. If the underlying character values do not match where you want to go in life, it is like trying to drive through Los Angeles with a road map from New York - you'll never get anywhere even if you use the personality ethics of thinking positive and keeping a good attitude in life.[1] Your underlying beliefs, what makes up your moral and ethical character, is your paradigm, and you may have many different paradigms to follow, just like each city has many different maps that can be followed. The 7 Habits will help you change your paradigm, or update your road map, so that you can get to where you want to go in life.

The 7 Habits - A Step by Step Guide to Shifting the Paradigm[edit | edit source]

The Full Paradigm of 7 Habits

The first step towards becoming more effective, and therefore more successful, is to realize that your perception of the world has to change. If you keep taking the same actions again and again, why would the results be any different than they were the last time you took that action? Therefore, a shift in your beliefs and your perception is needed to start the journey. The first three habits help with this shift in focus by presenting new ideas to help you change your mindset, and once they are mastered you will have reached the step of Private Victory, or overcoming the challenge of changing how you see yourself.

Private Victory: Steps Towards Independence[edit | edit source]

Independence does not mean that you have to do everything by yourself, but that you understand you cannot rely on everyone else to do things for you. The following three habits will help you to step forward and accept that not only do you have the ability to change things, but this power that lies within you will help take you from relying on everyone else to get things done and instead give you the ability to rely on yourself for what you want to do and become.

Habit 1: Be Proactive[edit | edit source]

The normal approach to making decisions and handling problems is the reactive approach, meaning the issue shows up and then you react and make a decision without thinking, and then justify it later. For instance, if you become short-tempered, you might say it's genetic or runs in the family, which justifies your anger for the moment by taking the response out of your control. Being proactive means recognizing that you have a consciousness, a free will, and the freedom to choose how you are going to respond to a situation instead of just reacting.[1] Being proactive means taking responsibility for your life, holding yourself accountable for your decisions instead of blaming genetics, psychological disorders, or environmental factors. This step will eventually allow you to see, and say, "I am the person I am today because of the decisions and choices I made yesterday".[2] There are four steps to being proactive: Take the initiative, decide to act or be acted upon, listen to the language, and focus on the circle of influence instead of the circle of concern.

Take the Initiative[edit | edit source]

You have to recognize that you have the responsibility of making things happen in your life before things will start happening in your life.[1] The first step to being able to change yourself is to decide what you want to change, and how to best do that. Taking the initiative does not mean push your way to the front of the line or use others to get what you want, but rather research the different ways you can accomplish your goal and find out what best suits you. If you are reading this page, you are taking the initiative to find a way to change your habits. You have decided that you want to change, and are looking into ways to accomplish that. You have taken the initiative.

One way to help take the initiative is to use your To Do list, or even create a checklist to help you. Taking the initiative means you realize you are the only one who can change your circumstances, and you realize you want to change them. In order to know how to change what you want to change, you might need to do research. Here are a few sample To Do's that might help you.

Write a List of Habits to Change

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Research Methods to Quit Smoking

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Check Tea Drink for Artificial Sweeteners

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Habits Used for Inspirational Quotes Without the Plus or Minus

You can also make a Habit to help you remember to Take the Initiative. You have a choice on how to format the Habit. You can include just a plus to give you a good feeling whenever you do sit down and decide to change something, or you can add a Habit and remove both the plus and the minus if you just need a reminder to do it. Habits can be used as dividers, or for inspirational quotes as well. For more samples of this type of setup, see the Habits page.

Act or be Acted Upon[edit | edit source]

The next step after taking the initiative is to act. Face reality and realize you have the ability to choose your actions to what is going on around you. Reality might be that you have a negative habit that is making you feel depressed, or making you sick, but you have the choice to change that, and deciding to take that step will not only give you positive momentum, but will help with reducing the negative effects of the habit because you have started to change it. You have to make the conscious decision to act in order to start making the change, because even if you know how a change is made, if you never actually take that first step to start changing it, nothing will happen.

Listen to the Language[edit | edit source]

Reactive people tend to use language that removes any blame from themselves and pushes it onto someone else. For instance, a reactive person might say "She makes me so angry all the time," which conveys that whoever "she" is governs the emotional life of the speaker, and has managed to take control and make the speaker feel an emotion they don't want to feel. A Proactive person will realize "I control my own feelings, and I choose the action of being angry. I should decide to find out why I am angry, and not be angry anymore". Language is an indicator of the degree to which you see yourself as a proactive person, so when taking the initiative and deciding to change a habit, remember to change your language as well.[1] Here are some examples of language change:

Instead of "There's nothing I can do" (reactive) try "Let's look at our alternatives" (proactive).

Instead of "I can't" (denial of responsibility) or "I have to" (outside of your control) say "I choose" (acknowledging you have a choice).

Language becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the language you use shows what you believe in. By using language that limits your choices, you are actually limiting your choices. Instead, try to use language that allows for alternatives. The point is to realize that you have control of aspects in your life, and even though you cannot control everything, you can control how you act in a given situation. These sample Habits can help you remember that language is important: 

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Said "I Choose To" Not "I Have To"

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Said "I Will" Not "If I Only Could"

With both of these Habits, there is the plus for the proactive choice, and the minus for being reactive. Alternatively, you could create these Habits with only the plus to reinforce the positive habit that you want to strengthen. This is your life, and you can set up the game how you need to in order to fit your lifestyle and your personality.

The Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence[edit | edit source]

Each person has certain parts of life that interest or concern them, and other parts of life that don't matter. For instance, Coach might be concerned about the baseball season because of his love and dedication to baseball, while Die-hard Fan doesn't care at all about baseball, but rather loves soccer, while Farmer doesn't care about sports at all and instead cares about the weather. This demonstrates how every person has a different Circle of Concern.


There is another circle that sits inside the Circle of Concern, and it is called the Circle of Influence. The Circle of Influence holds every part of a person's Circle of Concern that they have direct influence over. For instance, Coach has an interest in baseball. His Circle of Concern can include things such as how well the other teams do in their games, how many games his team wins, and who is heading for the playoffs. All of these would be in his Circle of Concern, but none of them would be within his Circle of Influence because he doesn't have any control over any of those concerns. However, his Circle of Influence does include how much practice time he has with the team, how well prepared his team is for any given game, and how much research he does to teach his players different techniques to play well. These are concerns that he actually can influence, and are related to those that are in his main Circle of Concern. Proactive people have a Circle of Concern that is at least as big, or bigger, than their Circle of Influence.[1] Reactive people either have a Circle of Concern with a very small or non-existent Circle of Influence (they don't think they have control over anything), or they have a Circle of Influence that is larger than their Circle of Concern (they have plenty of influence but don't care about anything to focus it on).

One way to evaluate where you are now is to add this to your To Do list: 

Create a Circle of Concern and Influence

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You can't control when the leaves fall, but you can control what you do about it

Start by writing down everything you are concerned about, or everything you check every day. This could range from checking the weather to being worried about the global environment, or anything in between. Once the list is made of all your concerns, take another piece of paper and draw two circles on it. The outer circle is your Circle of Concern, and this is where you put everything on the list that you are concerned about, but cannot influence, like what the weather is. The inner circle is your Circle of Influence, and that is where you list everything that you can influence. For instance, the state of the global environment is in the Circle of Concern, but whether or not you recycle to help improve the state of the global environment is within your Circle of Influence. Once you have figured out your circles, try adding a Habit to help stay in your Circle of Influence.

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A sample task

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Our concerns fall into one of three categories: Direct, Indirect, and No Control. Direct concerns are concerns that we have direct control over, like how much effort you put into work. Indirect concerns are concerns that involve other people's behavior, like whether your boss decides you are going to get a raise at work or not. No Control concerns are concerns that you have no influence over whatsoever, like whether the company is sold to another company or not. Direct concerns belong in the Circle of Influence, No Control concerns belong in the Circle of Concern, and Indirect concerns can either be added to the Circle of Concern, or be rewritten so that they are in the Circle of Influence. You have no control on your boss' actions or choices, and he or she might decide to give the raise to someone else in the department. However, you do have control over how much effort you put into work, how helpful you are to others, and how much additional responsibility you take on, and each of these qualities might influence your boss's choice.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind[edit | edit source]

After deciding that you have the power to choose, the next step is to begin projects with the end in mind. This means that you need to have a clear understanding of where you are going in life, what your destination is, before you can work towards getting there. If you do not know where you are going, how can you know when you arrive, or that you are even going in the right direction? This habit helps you to work through this issue and end up beginning with the end in mind.

Books start in the author's mind, then maybe an outline, then the book is written

All Things Are Created Twice[edit | edit source]

This habit is based on the thought that all things are created twice. In order for something to manifest physically, it has to start in someone's mind. A house does not get built without the plans being in place, and said plans do not get drawn until the architect knows what kind of house they are going to make. This is embodied by the phrase "Measure twice, cut once". Without the plan in your mind, you might not transfer everything to paper that you want or need in your home. Without it being noted on paper, it will not get built into the home. Likewise, if you don't know what direction your life is going in, or where you want to end up, how can you get there? Understand that you have the ability to create things twice, to really decide what you want in your mind before you take steps to create it out in the world.

Rescript Your Life[edit | edit source]

People can have influence over other people, and expect to have influence over others. When this influence is trying to push you to do something, it would be like someone handing you a script to your life. Parents might hand a script to their kids saying "join volleyball and become a star athlete" when kids really have interest in art and no interest in sports at all. This rescripting changes the course of the child's life in a way, because now they are heading towards the wrong goal. Bosses can also hand out scripts. However, you have the power to choose, and the power to create. This means you have the power to rescript your life as well. One way to rescript your life is to sit down and decide what values you want to have in yourself. If you were to die tomorrow, what would you want others to say about you? That you were a great leader, a loving parent, an empathetic friend? These values can help you explore where you need to rescript your life in order to work towards your goals. Remember, this habit is about beginning with the end in mind, so by examining what you want to be said at your funeral about you as a person, you can help figure out what you need to do today to be the person you see yourself being.

Decide How I Want Others to See Me

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Find Your Center[edit | edit source]

Each arrow outward represents either Guidance, Security, Wisdom, or Power, and the checkerboard outside the Circle of Concern is everything else in life that you don't care about, or doesn't concern you at all

In order to find your center, you need to know what your paradigms are, or how you see the world, and you need to be standing in the center of your circle of influence. You need to know your beliefs, and know what you can change, and what is outside your circle of influence. The center of your circle reflects the center of your life, and this is where you will find your guidance, security, wisdom, and power.[1] Guidance is your source of direction in life, and the standards and principles that you use to guide yourself. Security is your sense of worth, as well as your self-esteem, your identity, your emotional anchor, and your basic personal strength. Wisdom is your sense of understanding of how each part and principle in your life relates to one another, and is where judgement and comprehension come in. Finally, power is the ability and capacity to act, as well as the strength and potency to accomplish something. Power really is the energy and capacity to overcome bad habits and make choices to form new habits instead. All four of these factors will be the crossroads of your center, and the underlying support for the rest of the work you do.

Each person has a unique type of center that lies over these support bars, and you have to decide what your center really is. Some people are family-centered, and get their sense of worth and emotional anchor from their family, while others might be work-centered or money-centered. Once you figure out what your center is, you can see if you have the right balance to handle life from that center. Covey suggests that whatever your current center is, you try to shift to a principles-based center. By basing yourself on your principles, you are creating a steady foundation and sense of self based off something that you and you alone have control of but can handle any type of situation. A principles-based center can handle work situations, or family issues, or money affairs, while still making sure you are true to your own sense of self and sense of worth.

Create and Follow Your Personal Mission Statement[edit | edit source]

You are the programmer, so program your life

A Personal Mission Statement is a statement or creed that lays out exactly what kind of person you want to be, or your character, and what you want to be known for doing, or your contributions. This Personal Mission Statement will be the Constitution of your life, a document that shows everything you stand for, everything you want to accomplish with your self, and how you want to be seen when your life is over. If Habit 1 says "You are the creator, you are the programmer", Habit 2 says "So Create, Write the Program" and that's what the Personal Mission Statement tries to accomplish. A mission statement is something that you might create and rescript again and again until you feel it is right, and can take weeks or months to perfect. The mission statement is your creed to live by, who you want to be and the rules that govern how you act and how you see the world. It's okay if you have to rewrite it in order to get it right. It is worth the effort.

Write a Mission Statement

Once you are finally happy with your mission statement, keep it somewhere you can review it regularly. Your mission statement is your criterion for seeing the world, and is all your core beliefs and values down on paper. Reading it often is extremely important, and you are also going to want to take time to review and change your mission statement as your life changes and your values change.

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A sample task

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Everyone has their own style when writing a mission statement, but one of the suggestions is to use a 5 part affirmation for each value that you want to strengthen. In other words, if the affirmation you write for a value is personal, positive, visual, emotional, and in present tense, when you read it you will be affirming a value that you want to strengthen in your life. Sometimes it is helpful to break the mission statement down into parts and roles, so you can write what pertains to your whole life, and then add specific values for each role you take in life, such as spouse, parent, employee, etc. Remember, Begin with the End in Mind, and Create Twice. If you need to jot down ideas, then walk away and come back to it, you can do so. The fact that you are even working on mapping out who you are is a step in the right direction.

Habit 3: Put First Things First[edit | edit source]

Once you have started to be proactive and begin with the end in mind, you need to be able to look at items and prioritize them. If Habit 1 is "You are the Programmer" and Habit 2 is "Write the Program", then Habit 3 is "Follow the Program and Make It Reality".

The Four Quadrants of Time Management[edit | edit source]

In order to help with putting first things first, a four quadrant system was created based on whether items were urgent, non-urgent, important, or non-important. For the quadrant system, urgent means something like an emergency, something that absolutely has to be taken care of right this second, while important means something that has meaning to you. For instance, if your son broke his hand, it would be both urgent and important to get him to the hospital, but if the neighbor next door is planting a garden, it might not be urgent or important to go help her plant. The four quadrants relate to both urgency and importance.

Cleaning could be considered Quadrant I if relatives are showing up without notice

Quadrant I[edit | edit source]

This is the quadrant for issues that are both urgent and important. Pressing problems, deadline-driven projects, and crises all reside in this quadrant.[1] This is the place for things that absolutely have to be taken care of right this second, and that are important to who you are and what you do. If you spend too much time in this quadrant, however, you risk burnout and high stress from always putting out fires.

Quadrant II[edit | edit source]

Quadrant II consists of all the important things in life that are important to you and what you do, but are not urgent. This could be building relationships or planning out your life. For example, if you wrote in your mission statement that you will be a calm, focused individual, then Quadrant II would hold the time you take for meditation class to reach that goal.

Quadrant III[edit | edit source]

When something is urgent but not important to who you are, it belongs in Quadrant III. Some work responsibilities go here, like certain meetings or reports, as do popular sports that might not help you personally. Interruptions and phone calls might also fall into this category if it is important for you to act upon them, but it doesn't help you reach your mission statement. This quadrant causes a short-term focus, and can result in shallow relationships and more time spent on crisis management instead of living life.

Quadrant IV[edit | edit source]

Quadrant IV is for items that are neither important nor urgent. Watching that new television sitcom would fall under Quadrant IV, as would busy work, and anything else you do when you are wasting time. Quadrant IV is not urgent, so there is no crisis to attend to, but it is also not important, and doesn't help you reach your goals. While taking a break every now and then to do something to refresh yourself is a good thing, Quadrant IV should be avoided for these activities. Instead, try doing something in Quadrant II, something that is not urgent, but at least is important to you.

The Four Quadrants

The Art of Living in Quadrant II[edit | edit source]

Quadrant II is the most effective quadrant to live in because it reduces stress by not having a crisis every time you turn around, but everything you do is important to you. Effective people spend 90% of their time in Quadrant II, with the remaining 10% spent in Quadrant I. Effective people avoid Quadrants III and IV as much as possible because there is no importance to the work there. Quadrant II helps to give balance and discipline to what you are doing, and can help you stay focused. When you work in this quadrant, you usually are working ahead, and being proactive in stopping a crisis before it happens. Therefore, working in Quadrant II can help reduce the frequency of Quadrant I issues. In order to do this, Covey suggests having a task manager that meets certain criteria. First, it must provide coherence between what you are doing, your vision and mission statement, your roles and goals, and your priorities. It needs to be able to hold both your short- and long-term goals. Second, it needs to help you with balancing your life by keeping your roles in front of you so you don't neglect important aspects of your life. Third, it needs to motivate you to focus on Quadrant II activities, and gives a "people" dimension so you are dealing with people as well as an organizer, a support group for those times when you just can't get in the groove or miss a step. Fourth, there needs to be flexibility enough for the tool to become your servant and serve your needs, not the other way around. Finally, it has to be portable so you can keep it with you. Covey does not suggest a specific tool for the job, just the requirements of that tool.

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Habitica meets all guidelines. By entering Habits and Quotes as Habits, you are able to keep your vision and mission statement on hand, and know what roles and goals you gave yourself, and can hold short-term and long-term goals, meeting the coherence criteria. By entering Dailies and Checklists of different items you want to fulfill in different roles of your life daily, it helps keep a balance in your life, and shows you what areas you might be neglecting, meeting the balance criteria. The motivation criteria is met with the RPG style play, the custom Rewards, and the ability to join parties and guilds for the "people dimension". With the options to change how a Habit, Daily, or To Do is set up, Habitica is your servant, a tool to help you change your habits, which meets the flexibility criteria. Finally, with online and mobile support, Habitica can stay with you while you move around, metting the portable criteria. By setting up the Habits, Dailies, and To Do's, Habitica can help you stay in Quadrant II and make the changes to your life you wish to make.

Public Victory: Becoming Interdependent[edit | edit source]

Before you can become interdependent, you must be independent. If you are following the first three habits, you have started to work your way towards that independence. Interdependence is the next step, and has an outward focus instead of an inward focus. Where the first three habits focused on you as an individual, the next three habits will focus on you as a social being. If you don't know who you are and who you want to be, how do you know how to act in social situations? That is why the independence groundwork comes first. However, once you really know yourself and know who you want to be, you can start showing who you are to other people, and they will sense the truth behind it.

The Emotional Bank Account[edit | edit source]

Sample Withdrawals and Deposits

Before looking at Habit 4, Covey brings up the emotional bank account. The emotional bank account is a metaphor for how much trust you can build up in a relationship, and works similarly to a regular bank account. By being kind, honest, and open, you make deposits into the emotional bank account, because you are showing and gaining trust from the other person. By being rude, close-minded, or ignoring the other person's thoughts and feelings, you make withdrawals from the emotional bank account, lessening the trust you have with them. It might be hard to judge what the balance is in an account, but by consistently offering kindness and honesty, it might become easier to judge when a high level of trust and understanding is reached. There are six major deposits that can be made to help get the emotional bank account on the right track:

  • Understand the other person, and accept that they have their own priorities for what is important to them. If you take the time to understand and share in some of their interests, even if they don't seem important to you, a deposit can be made because you were willing to learn about them.
  • Attend the little things, make the little gestures of kindness and caring, because you never know when that one little move will mean more than the world to someone.
  • Keep your promises, because a broken promise can be a relationship breaker from being such a huge withdrawal.
  • Make sure to keep your expectations clear, and explain what you expect to people when you need to. Sometimes people miscommunicate because they assume that expectations are the same across the board, when really everyone is expecting something different.
  • Keep your personal integrity intact. People respond well to others who not only know themselves and how they fit in life, but are willing to say and do things to support their self image.
  • Apologize sincerely when you do make a withdrawal, and explain why it had to be made. Sometimes you are going to have to break a promise because other things in life come up, but if you explain and apologize, you still could make a partial deposit to offset the withdrawal.

The emotional bank account is important when going into the next three habits, because the next three habits deal with you dealing with people.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win[edit | edit source]

How you approach a relationship, a deal, or even a conversation with a friend can change the dynamic of the entire scenario. Stepping onto a football field with the thought that you are going to lose means you've already lost, and stepping into a board room thinking it's your way or the highway is asking for trouble. Knowing how to approach a situation and make sure both sides end up happy is the benefit of following this habit.

Analyze What Is Meant By "Think Win-Win"

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What happens when it's time to choose the group theme for the party?

The Six Paradigms of Human Interaction[edit | edit source]

There are six ways to approach human interactions, and each approach has a different outcome given the situation. While some situations definitely need a different approach, the suggestion is to stay within the Win-Win paradigm in order to make deals and interact with people. When looking at the different paradigms, keep this scenario in mind: You and your friends are about to go to a "choose your theme" costume party. You have a great costume that you made by hand and have been dying to wear, and it perfectly fits in the theme of "A Royal Affair". However, your friends have ideas about different themes as well. What will you do?

Win-Lose[edit | edit source]

Win-Lose is the typical outcome of a football game, where one party wins, and the other party loses. In this case, you are the one that is going to win, and you won't take no for an answer. You might use power or opportunities to force your friends into matching your theme for the party. Maybe you are the only one with directions to the place, and so if they don't match what you want, you won't tell them how to get there. While you might arrive in high spirits because you got your way, your emotional bank account with them will suffer from withdrawals, and they could spend the party frustrated or angry.

Lose-Win[edit | edit source]

Lose-Win is the opposite of Win-Lose, and means that you are willing to give up on your wants so that theirs can be met. This might be something that you are willing to do if you are taking a significant other to a concert for an artist that maybe they like but you don't, because that act of showing your interest in what they like might be a big deposit in the emotional bank account. However, if you walk into a negotiation with the mindset of losing, you aren't going to be able to get your way. Lose-Win means you are willing to put aside your own desires and values for another, and could end up with you spending the party in a different costume made from pieces of other outfits instead of the costume you made for the occasion, just to fit the theme. While your friends might be able to enjoy the party, you'll spend it regretting or feeling like nothing goes your way.

Lose-Lose[edit | edit source]

Lose-Lose is what happens when two people with Win-Lose personalities meet, and is the mindset of "If I can't win, no one will". Followers of this paradigm might be so caught up in getting revenge against the person that denied them what they wanted that they miss seeing other opportunities for compromise. If you are set on your theme of "A Royal Affair", and the other half of the group is set on the theme of "Spring's Fashions", the whole night could be spent arguing about who has the right idea or which theme to go with, meaning no one would even get out the door to attend the party. It could leave both sides feeling frustrated and hurt that the other side wasn't willing to give in for the good of the group, or see the bigger picture.

If you can go as your theme, you don't care what they do

Win[edit | edit source]

Win is a one-sided approach to an interaction. Win means that so long as you get what you want, it doesn't matter to you if the other person gets what they want or not. This is a self-centered look that can end up in a Win-Win situation or a Win-Lose situation, but since you don't care which outcome it is, the feelings that are normally associated with a Win-Win approach might not be there. For instance, so long as you are able to go with the theme of "A Royal Affair", you don't care if your friends join in your theme or if they split into 5 different other themes, nor do you care if they get mad about the splitting up. Because you got what you wanted, that's all that mattered.

Win-Win[edit | edit source]

Win-Win is where the table is approached with the intent of making both parties happy. In a Win-Win interaction, the goal is to make sure both sides leave feeling good about their choices, even if the choice that was ultimately made is different from the two originally presented. If "A Royal Affair" doesn't fit those that want "Spring's Fashions", maybe the best choice would be to mix the two into something along the lines of "Royalty of the Seasons". This would allow everyone's costumes to fit in a theme without stepping on anyone's toes, and would make sure everyone is enjoying the party. This is a win-win situation.

Half can go as "Springs Fashions"...

Win-Win or No Deal[edit | edit source]

In some Win-Win situations, there is the option of No Deal. Not every Win-Win situation will have this option, but for those that do, it is a step above the normal Win-Win. Win-Win or No Deal means that if an option cannot be found that satisfies both parties involved, there is an option to walk away instead, avoiding the possible feelings of regret or frustration later on in the relationship. It acknowledges that the opinions and thoughts of the other party have merit. This is a powerful move when trying to

...and the other half can be part of "A Royal Affair", leaving both sides able to have fun and interact without being angry.

make new business transactions, or even working on a project with someone else, because it allows both parties to say "Hey, this isn't a good idea" and walk away before there are any hurt feelings or miscommunication. For instance, if "Royalty of the Seasons" still doesn't work as a theme, then maybe it's time to say "No Deal" and instead split into two groups that have their own themes. This allows everyone to still go to the party, wear their own costumes, and be happy and interact without feeling like they were pushed, bullied, or otherwise talked out of what they wanted.

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Lived "Win-Win"/Someone Lost

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Again, each situation is different. For instance, if your child is in a life-threatening situation, you might not care what anyone else gets or thinks so long as you get your child to safety. This would be seen as a "Win" paradigm, because there is a distinct lack of care about anyone else, and in the situation it is warranted. If you are going to play a football game, you are going to go in with a Win-Lose attitude, because someone has to win and someone has to lose. However, if you approach how you act at the game as a Win-Win scenario, you can leave the field feeling proud of yourself and how you acted, whether you won the game or not. This is the power of Habit 4: Think Win-Win.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood[edit | edit source]

One of the unique aspects of humanity is that everyone has a different way of looking at life. Everyone experiences life differently, sees situations differently, and has a different background that helps build how they see life. Because of these differences, two people can say the same thing and mean something completely different. In order to truly communicate with someone, the first step is to take a moment and understand before you try to be understood.

Is he cleaning or holding a microphone boon? Seek to Understand from his perspective first...

First Seek to Understand....with Empathy[edit | edit source]

The four basic forms of communication are reading, writing, speaking, and listening. There are plenty of classes that help people improve their writing, handle public speaking, or even speed-reading, but not many classes teach about active or empathetic listening. Most people only listen to part of the conversation so that they can form a reply, whether or not they fully understand what the other person is saying. In order to really communicate with someone, you need to be able to sit down and not only hear what the person is saying, but listen to the message they are giving.

There are two types of listening that go well with each other - empathetic listening and active listening. Empathetic listening is when you listen not only to understand, but so you can put yourself in the other person's shoes. This type of listening will allow you to see the opinion or viewpoint at hand from their perspective, and how they see things in life. Active listening means that you are actively listening - you have stopped doing everything else and are actually focusing on listening to what the other person is saying. Active listening removes distractions so you don't miss any of the information that the other person is giving you. One way to ensure you actually heard everything is to restate what they told you in different words. For example:

Son: "Mom, I hate school. I can't get into music class, and there is no reason to do math at all. I want to drop out."

Mom: "So you are having issues connecting in music class and don't see the point of math, so you want to stop going?"

That response shows the son that the mother was listening, and is trying to understand the full situation. She was able to diagnose the feelings and rephrase what the son was saying, therefore showing not only was she interested, but she was actually listening. This is part of diagnosing what is going on, seeing what the issue is from their perspective. You wouldn't trust a doctor to give you medication before actually seeing you and diagnosing the issue, and you wouldn't trust a surgeon to cut you open if they never even stopped to look at what they would be cutting into. Empathetic listening is the ability to diagnose the problem, and see what is really going on, while active listening is your chance to make sure you understand the issue correctly and from their perspective.

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Take A Moment to Breathe

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Sometimes people approach and say something to get your attention that doesn't really have anything to do with what they are talking about now. By actively listening and reading the feelings behind the words by using empathetic listening, you can show them that not only are you listening, but you are actually paying attention and want to help them. This in turn could influence them to open up and approach you with the real issue, and when they are ready, they will actually ask for advice on what they should do. Some people just need someone else to listen to them and be a sounding board for their own thoughts before they can really understand what they want to do next. If you are not able to listen, they might not open up. It is also important to pay attention to the responses after this point. If the responses from the other party go back to being emotional, it is time to go back to active and empathetic listening. If the other person is logically asking for help, you can ask questions and work through the issue with them.

Active and empathetic listening take more time than what most people are used to giving. In order to really be able to actively and empathetically listen, you have to actually care about the person you are listening to. It doesn't matter if you care about the subject--as long as you care about the person, you can show this by listening to them and actively trying to understand from their perspective. In fact, you might find that their interests really are interesting, and what they have to say had some insight you would have missed. Therefore, it might be helpful to add a Habit to help you remember to:

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Seek First to Understand

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Then Seek to be Understood: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos[edit | edit source]

The ancient Greeks brought up the concepts of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.[1] Ethos is the faith that others have in your competency and integrity, or your personal credibility in the eyes of others. Pathos is how aligned you are with someone else's emotional state, or how empathetic you are. Logos is the reasoning behind everything, or the sense of logic that you have with you. The three combined are what makes you who you are, and they are in the specific order of personal credibility, empathy, and then logic - not logic first like most people think. The first step, Seek First to Understand, shows the people around you that you are credible, and you actually care about what is going on. That means it shows your Ethos and Pathos. Once it has reached the point where you Seek to be Understood, you can use your Logos to show the reasoning behind your viewpoint because you have already shown you know their viewpoint and have accepted what they believe. This will pave the way for you to be understood, and will get them in the right mindset. Since you took the time to listen and understand them, usually they will be willing to listen and understand you.

Habit 6: Synergize[edit | edit source]

The other 5 habits give you the tools to accomplish synergy among groups and partners, and that is where the most effective work will be happening. Synergy occurs when there is high trust and high cooperation, meaning that the people involved need to want to work together, and the emotional bank account needs to have high deposits in it before synergy can happen. However, when two or more people get together that can follow the previous 5 habits, the synergy they create can do things no one person alone could do.

What is Synergy?[edit | edit source]

So what is synergy exactly? Synergy is what happens when people start cooperating and trusting each other, and work together to create something better than what they could alone. On its most basic level, synergy is the energy of a group that lets it create something larger than the individual parts could make, or the embodiment of "greater than the sum of its parts". By valuing opinions and strengths, the group can work to cover the weaknesses that are present. In the simplest of terms, to synergize is to create with other people, to transform the different problems on the table into an alternative that fulfills everyone's needs and wants without leaving a sour taste in the back of their throats.

How to Keep Good Synergy and Remove Bad Synergy[edit | edit source]

The key to releasing bad synergy is to value the differences in people. If you walk into a situation wanting everyone to agree with you, then it is a Win-Lose situation, because no other viewpoints will be brought to the table. In order for multiple people to create, there has to be a basis of multiple ideas to create from. All of nature is synergistic, and wants to work together; it is just what people have been taught and is ingrained in them that can create negative energy. By seeking first to understand before you are understood, and try for a Win-Win situation, synergy can grow even from the most negative of starts. It just takes extending some trust and showing you want to understand and genuinely care.

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Be Sincere, Show You Care

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Renewal: The Art of Continuous Improvements[edit | edit source]

Construction workers take care of their tools between jobs, teachers make sure their lesson plans and books are all in order, and farmers check the fields to ensure everything is ready for another year of planting. In each case, time is taken to make sure the tools of the trade are in top condition. It is no different for you, and the greatest tool you have in your arsenal is you! This is why it is important to take the time to Sharpen the Saw.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw[edit | edit source]

Covey explains "Sharpen the Saw" by using a little story:

Say you are walking in the woods, and while walking you find a lumberjack tiredly sawing at a tree. Concerned, you stop and ask, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," says the exhausted lumberjack. "I've just been at this for a while."
"How long have you been working on it?" You ask.
"About five hours now." The lumberjack replies, sawing away at the tree. "I'm beat. This is exhausting work to do, and I have to get it done."
"Well," You say, looking everything over. "Why don't you stop for a moment and sharpen your saw?"
"I can't. I don't have time for that!" Replies the lumberjack. "I'm too busy sawing!"[3]

If you don't take the time to sharpen the saw, it will take you longer to accomplish what you need to get done. Sharpen the Saw means that you take care of yourself in every sense of the word - your physical, mental, social, and spiritual needs. However, these needs take different actions in order to sharpen, or renew. That is where the balancing act comes in.

The Balancing Act: Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual Renewal[edit | edit source]

Physical renewal is the realm of exercise, nutrition, and stress management. This is where you take care of your physical body, in order to make sure you are able to carry on with what you need. Exercise is considered a Quadrant II activity that most people ignore, but it is important when trying to keep your physical self renewed and ready to go. Taking care of your body helps relieve stress, and makes sure you are in tip-top shape instead of having to battle colds or other ailments.

Mental renewal is where reading, writing, planning, and visualizing come in. This is your creative center, so create something that makes you happy and gives you time to renew your mental abilities. Continuing education is a great way to renew your mental state because it engages you in thinking and learning new things. By taking the time to write critical reviews or read educational books, you are strengthening your mind, encouraging it to think differently, and taking a break from the normal rigors of the world.

Social renewal is the realm of service and empathy, and is the most accessible area to renew. Social renewal can happen in normal, day-to-day life, just by talking to a friend or co-worker. However, in order to renew the social aspect, you have to take time to monitor your feelings and expand your social knowledge. Social renewal is stepping outside of the comfort zone to make a new connection, or strengthen a connection with someone currently in your life.


Spiritual is where religious study and meditation would fall. If you are religious, this is where you would read the scriptures or follow the rituals you believe in. If you are not religious, you could use meditation to focus yourself. Either way, you could listen to music, read an inspiring book, or spend time with nature in order to renew your spirit. Your spirituality is where your core strength comes from, and where your central ideals and principles reside. By taking the time to renew your spirit, you are taking a moment to step back from the world and just breathe.

Covey recommends taking time each day to renew each of the four areas in your life. Exercise and meditate every day to keep up your physical and spiritual strength. Learn something new and connect with someone daily so your mental and social aspects also stay renewed. By making the time for these Quadrant II activities, you will increase the amount of energy you have throughout the day to really interact with others and follow the previous 6 Habits.

Beyond the 7 Habits - More Room for Improvement[edit | edit source]

After writing The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey went on to write two more books to help people change themselves by changing their habits. The book The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness is meant to be a direct sequel to The 7 Habits, and introduces one more habit to focus on in order to be highly effective at home, work, and life. After The 8th Habit, Covey worked with David K Hatch to try to find examples of greatness in everyday life, and to show how the habits could be used to inspire a meaningful life. This book, called Everyday Greatness: Inspiration for a Meaningful Life, used Reader's Digest stories from as far back as 1922 in order to show how any person, any age, any path of life, could follow the teachings and improve their way of life and their satisfaction.

The 8th Habit: Find Your Voice and Inspire Others to Find Theirs[edit | edit source]

After looking at research, Covey found that even though people were improving their effectiveness, there was still a piece missing. When the price of entry to any business playing field is being highly effective, there has to be another step to strive for in order to stand a step above the rest.[4] Even though the 7 habits had mapped out how to ultimately know yourself, know your reactions, and become interdependent, people were not thriving or reaching fulfillment or greatness. Covey thought that when people took the time to find their voices, they would become great people, and when they stepped even further to help others find their voices, they would become great leaders. However, in order to gain greatness, more than just the original 7 habits was needed.

Find Your Voice[edit | edit source]

When you are 100% involved in what you are doing in life, to the point that your body, mind, heart, and spirit are all focused on what is important to you, you will find your voice. This means you need to use your natural talent, as well as pay attention to what you love to do and what interests you. Most importantly, you have to find that inner voice that tells you that doing what you love is the right thing to do.[5] There are three gifts that are given to each person to help them find their voice.

Gift 1: The Freedom to Choose[edit | edit source]

Accountability is a big part of Covey's Habits method, and the 8th habit is no different. You have the freedom to choose how you are going to act in any given situation. Remember the first habit of Be Proactive, and take a moment to choose how you are going to act. It will help you become more accountable for your actions, and is one of your gifts to help find your voice.

Gift 2: The Natural Laws[edit | edit source]

The Natural Laws refers to the principles that dictate the consequences of behavior.[5] For instance, by following the principle of kindness, you will receive a positive consequence in most cases. The Natural Laws then include fairness, kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, service, and contribution.[5]

Gift 3: The Mental, Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Intelligence[edit | edit source]

There are four sides to each person, according to Covey, and each side has a different approach and a different intelligence. Great people can take each intelligence and develop it to better serve their goals. For instance, physical activity can be used to calm the mind, strengthen the body, renew the soul, and take a step away from emotional times, or even work out emotional issues depending on the action. This activity, then, is being refined from just physical intelligence to discipline that can be used to help strengthen other parts of life. Likewise, emotional energy can become passion, mental energy can become vision, and spiritual energy can become conscience, or the moral sense of right and wrong. Working with all three gifts, including all four "intelligences", is what can help you find your voice.[5] Put your creativity, talent, and intelligence to use and you will soon be able to use your voice.

Inspire Others to Find Theirs[edit | edit source]

Once you have your voice, you fit under the definition of a great person. However, there are a few more steps you can take in order to become a great leader. Great leaders are the ones that have the mindset and the skills to look for the potential in other people, and then show the other person their worth so clearly that the other person opens their eyes to what they are really worth. In order to become a great leader, you need to model the 7 habits, as well as align and empower the people you lead, and find the path that needs to be followed. However, the key to helping others find their voice is to follow on the four top priorities:

  1. Focus on a few crucial goals, and only focus on what is important
  2. Create a compelling scoreboard and recognize that people play differently when they are held accountable
  3. Translate goals into specific actions like weekly and daily tasks
  4. Hold each other accountable, all the time[5]

These four priorities should be at the top of your list, and your habits should support them. By adding the 8th habit to the previous 7 habits, there are guidelines that can be followed in order to find out what you really want in life, what you need to change to get there, how to get there, and then how to help other people get to where they want to go as well.

Everyday Greatness: Inspiration for a Meaningful Life[edit | edit source]

Everyday Greatness was written by Stephen R Covey and compiled by David K Hatch, and was first published in 2006. The book uses stories taken from various editions of Reader's Digest to look at the 7 habits for a meaningful life, and the pillars that support this meaning. Some of these principles are similar to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and the stories are meant to help people see real life advantages to following the habits Covey supports.

Searching for Meaning[edit | edit source]

Within each person there is a need, or a longing, for meaning and to be seen as having value and worth. This search for purpose is what influences people to make choices that will allow them to get the most joy and satisfaction from life. However, the world seems to push for people to make choices that in the long run will have little value or meaning, but might look attractive in the short-run. Instead, Covey says to make contributions to the community, give to charity, and pay attention to the needs of others in order to make high value contributions that will help life gain meaning.

Taking Charge[edit | edit source]

Taking charge means to not only plan your course in life, but measure your progress on that course and accept responsibility for what happens. Both energy and discipline are needed in order to take charge of your life, but you can do it. Just remember to take responsibility, discipline yourself to follow the path you chose diligently, and have courage when things might not be going your way.

Starting Within[edit | edit source]

The most important element you put into anything is who you are, at the very core. What you say or do or have is not important if you cannot accept who you really are. Take the time to understand, explore, and strengthen your principles of integrity, humility, and gratitude. See yourself as the person you want to be, and then create goals and habits to work your way to actually being that person at your very core.

Creating the Dream[edit | edit source]

Covey wrote that one of the deepest, greatest joys in life is the art of being creative, and that the ability to be creative is what helps boost your happiness in life. A way to help cultivate this joy is to start doing something that you see as innovative and worthwhile, then support it as it grows and blossoms into full fruition. This takes vision, innovation, and a desire for quality work or quality effort. These principles can also spread into other parts of your life, like any habit, to strengthen your resolve and help clear up your vision statement of who you want to be.

Teaming with Others[edit | edit source]

Human life relies on social interaction, and you must learn how to live, work, and team with others. In order to work well with others, you need to focus on the principles of respect, empathy, and unity. People come in all types of sizes, colors, shapes, ages, genders, and social prowess. In order to have everyday greatness, you need to be able to not only see these differences, but accept them and realize that every difference is a strength to the group. A different viewpoint can help a group find synergy, and bring a new idea to the table.

Overcoming Adversity[edit | edit source]

Whether working alone or working with others, eventually you will come up against opposition or a conflicting view. The response that you take to this opposition can make or break your ability to actually accomplish your purpose and goals. In order to face opposition with greatness, practice adaptability, generosity, and perseverance. The good thing is that opposition is actually good for you. If you take a moment to step back and think about why someone is opposing you, you might learn something new, or can come to a better understanding of the idea.

Blending the Pieces[edit | edit source]

Life isn't going to just sit back and let you analyze every little thing. Part of having everyday greatness is the balancing act of dealing with all the different demands and situations that life brings to the table. Focusing on balance, simplicity, and renewal can help with the juggling act that we seem to do through life. With so many choices and so little time, having skills in these habits can help to break the big picture down into more manageable pieces while still allowing you to keep sight of the big picture.

The Pillars that Support Greatness[edit | edit source]

There are three different pillars that help support everyday greatness. These pillars are all choices you can make, and can be seen as everyday choices. The Choice to Act represents the energy you bring to your day and your life. You have to decide what kind of energy you want to bring to your life, and what energy you want to use to help get tasks done. The Choice of Purpose is the choice to decide where you want to go. You can sit down and actually decide what you want your purpose in life to be, what direction you want to go in. Finally, the Choice for Principles is the choice you make when you decide how you are going to change your principles in order to reach your goal. These three pillars are the crux of everyday choices.

See Also[edit | edit source]

  • Dr. Stephen R Covey's Website
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change whether checked out from the library, or purchased for a reference.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Covey, Stephen R.. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. 25th anniversary ed. New York: Free Press, 2004. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1
  3. Adapted from Covey, Stephen R.. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. 25th anniversary ed. New York: Free Press, 2004. Print.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4
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