Good Sunday morning everyone!

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Today I’d like to share and write about a book that had a major impact on my life. I just had breakfast, drinking a nice tea and the work week is nearly over so I guess it is a good time to write! I read this book for the first time in 2013 and I have been coming back to the audio book format every 6 months or so as a refresher and deepening my understanding of its principles. I will cover the first half in this post and the second part will follow up very soon (hopefully tomorrow!).

The book is called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey (Amazon; Audible).

The book is made of 7 habits and I will cover them one by one and tried to share briefly the principle, while as well adding what it meant to me and how it helped me. If you’d like a deeper review of the content of the book itself, just google it, there is hundreds of them out there!

This chapter could be renamed as Be Responsible. In life we chose our reactions to what happen to us and most of the time, it is actually the only choice we have. Whether it is a promotion at work or the death of a loved one.
We’re in charge of our life so we shouldn’t take a passive stance like reactive people do. The problem isn’t “out there” and victimising is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let’s be proactive! Covey use the well-known principle of Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence:

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1. Be Proactive

This principle seems easy, right? When was the last time you blamed something or someone that wasn’t you for what happened to you? WRONG! According to Stephen R. Covey.

I tend to be responsible for myself for quite a long time now, so this principle reinforced what I was believing in already. My understanding of it was mostly a feeling or simply confirmations from various experiences in life. Reading this chapter really puts a finger on the principle, make it clear and easier to apply as well as seeing in others. It also helped me to control my own feelings, which I struggled heavily with I was a young adult. Something stuck with me “Others can’t hurt you if you don’t let them”, I have the choice to not give power to someone who is hurtful, whether they mean it or not.

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This principle is really a foundation and I keep going back to it. I would be careful and not playing the blaming game on our-self either, we need love and compassion towards our-self! There is definitely a balance were we are responsible but not guilty and giving our-self shit for what we take responsibility from.

2. Begin With the End In Mind

The point here is that we can develop a vision for our lives, we should be guided by our values and ask ourselves if the things we focus on so intently are what really matter to us. Our self-awareness can empowers us to shape our own lives, instead of living our lives by default.

In the Chapter Stephen R. Covey explain the importance of where you should spent our focus, time and efforts in life. Pick areas that really matter to us. He suggest to do an exercise, picturing yourself at a funeral, which is yours, a few years from now. The initial focus is on who is there? what people say about you? (life you lived, your relationships etc.)
Then imagine a few speakers, one from your family, your partner, a work colleague and someone from your community for example and imagine they would they say about it to everyone. Based on what would you like them to say in a few years, start taking the steps for them to have reasons to do so.

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This habit is an on-going challenge for me as I need to improve my visualisation of the future and something I still start actions without the end in minds. One thing I find working well as when I do have the end in minds and I do achieve what I was trying to, I need to keep that close to my heart and memory so the next times, I can remember how valuable this is and make the efforts to find the end so I can shape my journey.
I did that with my body weight for, example, my end goal is 85 KGs while looking more muscular and while being functional and more importantly not being over-weighted anymore for my long term health. This leads me to changes that aren’t short term, I am working out regularly for nearly 4 years and I go on my own, which could never happen for the previous 10 years of my life, I would always give ups after a few weeks. I eat cleaner and healthier, I am also willing to spend a bit more to get quality food and ingredients as I understand the importance of what I put in my body. As a big part of it is health, I also looked in my sleeping habits, I’d like to try meditating in the near future for my minds and so on.
I knew where I wanted to go, the journey is more complicated than I planned but it is enjoyable to see the various improvements and the work paying back!

3. Put First Things First

This habit is about prioritising our actions based on what is important and what we defined in the habit 2. Here is how the matrix look like:

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Where you want to be is of course in Quadrant 2 and most of us are stuck in Quadrant 3 according to Covey.

This is the habit out of the first 3 that I have the more work to do. I like to be someone comfortable in my life so I tend to keep my routines that I have already in place instead of putting new ones that will serve me more in the long term.
My actual love relationship is good example of spending time in quadrant 2. My partner and I are working diligently to make the time we share together valuable in most occasions if possible. It is of course okay to just watch something fun on Youtube but if we would only do this kind of activities, we will not invest in our emotional bank account (a concept that will be detailed more in depth in the next chapters) nor we would build memories or making our bounds stronger.
Quadrant 2 for us would be for example to be in the present moment when being together, trying our best to hold space when needed and communicating as clearly and openly on your needs, expectations or feelings. These aren’t emergencies in front of us, these are not based on someone else weakness (habit 1). These moments are part of our vision for our couple and sharing any of these is highly enjoyable and bounding. It makes both of us feeling grateful to have the other as a partner.
We are for example planning one date a month and have at least, one evening a week fully for each other. So we have dedicated moments to connect to each other, to be together.

I will cover the rest of the book in follow up post(s) (possibly 2 more, at least one!).

If you have experiences with these principles, please do not hesitate to share them. How did these principles improved in your life? How did you put them into actions?
If you start reading the book and wants to share your discoveries, I would be happy to read that in the comments!

Have a good Sunday!

Nicolas

 

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