Habit 1 – Principles of Personal Choice: You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you respond to certain things. When you are reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Being proactive means taking responsibility for every aspect of your life. Initiative and taking action will then follow. Covey argues that man is different from other animals in that he has self-consciousness. He has the ability to detach himself and observe his own self; think about his thoughts. He goes on to say how this attribute enables him: It gives him the power not to be affected by his circumstances. Covey talks about stimulus and response. Between stimulus and response, we have the power of free will to choose our response.
Habit 2 – Principles of Personal Vision: This is about setting long-term goals based on “true north” principles. Covey recommends formulating a “Personal Mission Statement” to document one’s perception of one’s own vision in life. He sees visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational mission statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization rather than prescribed.
Habit 3 – Principles of Integrity & Execution: Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at long-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear to be urgent, but are in fact less important. Delegation is presented as an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks that are to be agreed in advance, rather than on prescribing detailed work plans.
Habit 4 – Principles of Mutual Benefit: An attitude whereby mutually beneficial solutions are sought that satisfies the needs of oneself as well as others, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved.
Habit 5 – Principles of Mutual Understanding: Covey warns that giving out advice before having empathetically understood a person and their situation will likely result in that advice is rejected. Thoroughly listening to another person’s concerns instead of reading out your own autobiography is purported to increase the chance of establishing a working communication.
Habit 6 – Principles of Creative Cooperation: A way of working in teams. Apply effective problem solving. Apply collaborative decision making. Value differences. Build on divergent strengths. Leverage creative collaboration. Embrace and leverage innovation. It is put forth that when synergy is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.“
Habit 7 – Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal: Focuses on balanced self-renewal: Regain what Covey calls “production capability” by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities. Covey also emphasizes the need to sharpen the mind.