First published in 1989, Stephen Covey’s best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold over 25 million copies in 40 languages and is one of the best-selling, non-fiction business books of all time.
Now, I love a great business book as much as the next person, but they tend to be so relentlessly positive, I find they can get in the way of truly useful self-reflection. So, I thought I’d change things up a bit and share with you the seven habits of highly ineffective people. Spot any familiar behaviour?
Habit 1 – Be reactive
Life just happens and we have no way of changing the outcome, right? If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you spill your coffee, your client cancels a meeting, well that’s just unavoidable and certainly not your fault and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. If a driver cuts you off on the freeway it’s both natural and justifiable to feel frustrated and start shouting at them. Nothing is your fault, so there’s no point in looking inward or at the things you could control, when you can instead, focus on and criticise what everyone else is doing.
Habit 2 – Begin with now in mind
Why bother looking at the future and making plans? After all, as we’ve learned from habit 1, nothing is in your control anyway. Don’t be concerned with what you might achieve in the next month, year, five years or a lifetime – just focus on the here and now. No need for goals. It’s best to just wing things and see where you end up.
Habit 3 – Put first things later
Brian Tracy says in his book, ‘you need to eat the frog first’. WHAT? I’ve been to France and the frog’s legs were not what I wanted to be eating for breakfast. What kind of person does the hard tasks first when there are far more important things like watching Netflix and catching up on daily funny cat videos to be taken care of? Planning is for schmucks. Best to simply fight fires when they start. It’s not like you can stop them from starting in the first place.
Habit 4 – Think win/lose
There simply isn’t enough business out there for everybody, so you have to manipulate situations to your advantage. Fight over that slice of pie, because if you don’t, you’ll be left with just a few crumbs and an empty stomach. And make sure you always take credit for all the success and none of the failure – nobody wants to be working with a loser.
Want more articles like this? Check out the health and wellbeing section.
Habit 5 – Seek first to be understood, end of story!
Stephen Covey says that only 10% of our communication is made with words, 30% by our sounds, and the remaining 60% with our body language. My recommendation, therefore, is to talk, grunt and use a commanding stance or posture.
And remember, people simply don’t know what they’re talking about and they certainly don’t know what they don’t know. YOU are the expert, so don’t waste valuable Netflix-watching time listening to others. You need to get your message out there loud and clear and make sure that people are paying attention to what you are saying. If you give potential clients a chance to ask questions, they may well decide that your products or services are not for them. This is to be avoided at all costs. Talk them into a corner and get them into your sales funnel at all costs.
Habit 6 – Separate
“When one plus one equals three or more, then the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Clearly, the person who wrote this did not pay attention in maths class. One plus one does not equal three, and it certainly doesn’t equal more than three! That’s like saying if you cut a chocolate cake into four pieces and put it back together, then the cake would be bigger…… if that were the case, I’d be doing it ALL the time.
Habit 7 – Blunt the saw
There are, according to Covey, four dimensions of our nature and I will endeavour to explain them below:
- Physical dimension: Sleep in, eat cake, relax and try to avoid any unnecessary physical exertion.
- Spiritual dimension: Watch cat videos on YouTube or visualise that next piece of cake.
- Mental dimension: Try and fit in as much Netflix viewing as possible or read a glossy magazine.
- Social dimension: Think about what you can get from every interaction. Don’t waste time doing things for other people if they don’t give you something in return.
So, there we have it – a bit of a different take-off one of the most popular business books of all time. Let me know in the comments – do you prefer Covey’s version … or mine?!