📚 Book Notes: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Here are my notes from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

  1. As Sandra and I talked about the concepts I was teaching at IBM and about our own situation, we began to realize that what we were doing to help our son was not in harmony with the way we really saw him. When we honestly examined our deepest feelings, we realized that our perception was that he was basically inadequate, somehow “behind.” No matter how much we worked on our attitude and behavior, our efforts were ineffective because, despite our actions and our words, what we really communicated to him was, “You aren’t capable. You have to be protected.”
  2. Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are — or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. But, as the demonstration shows, sincere, clearheaded people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.
  3. Until the germ theory was developed, a high percentage of women and children died during childbirth, and no one could understand why. In military skirmishes, more men were dying from small wounds and diseases than from the major traumas on the front lines. But as soon as the germ theory was developed, a whole new paradigm, a better, improved way of understanding what was happening, made dramatic, significant medical improvement possible.
    I remember a mini-paradigm shift I experienced one Sunday morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly — some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.
    Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.
    The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.
    It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”
    The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
    Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm shifted. Suddenly I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn’t have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man’s pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. “Your wife just died? Oh, I’m so sorry! Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?” Everything changed in an instant.
  4. Had I been more mature, I could have relied on my own intrinsic strength — my understanding of sharing and of growth and my capacity to love and nurture — and allowed my daughter to make a free choice as to whether she wanted to share or not to share. Perhaps after attempting to reason with her, I could have turned the attention of the children to an interesting game, taking all that emotional pressure off my child. I’ve learned that once children gain a sense of real possession, they share very naturally, freely, and spontaneously.
    My experience has been that there are times to teach and times not to teach. When relationships are strained and the air charged with emotion, an attempt to teach is often perceived as a form of judgment and rejection. But to take the child alone, quietly, when the relationship is good and to discuss the teaching or the value seems to have much greater impact. It may have been that the emotional maturity to do that was beyond my level of patience and internal control at the time.
  5. Interdependence is a far more mature, more advanced concept. If I am physically interdependent, I am self-reliant and capable, but I also realize that you and I working together can accomplish far more than, even at my best, I could accomplish alone. If I am emotionally interdependent, I derive a great sense of worth within myself, but I also recognize the need for love, for giving, and for receiving love from others. If I am intellectually interdependent, I realize that I need the best thinking of other people to join with my own.
  6. When people fail to respect the P/PC Balance in their use of physical assets in organizations, they decrease organizational effectiveness and often leave others with dying geese.
    For example, a person in charge of a physical asset, such as a machine, may be eager to make a good impression on his superiors. Perhaps the company is in a rapid growth stage and promotions are coming fast. So he produces at optimum levels — no downtime, no maintenance. He runs the machine day and night. The production is phenomenal, costs are down, and profits skyrocket. Within a short time, he’s promoted. Golden eggs!
    But suppose you are his successor on the job. You inherit a very sick goose, a machine that, by this time, is rusted and starts to break down. You have to invest heavily in downtime and maintenance. Costs skyrocket; profits nose-dive. And who gets blamed for the loss of golden eggs? You do.
    Your predecessor liquidated the asset, but the accounting system only reported unit production, costs, and profit.
    The P/PC Balance is particularly important as it applies to the human assets of an organization — the customers and the employees.
  7. Effectiveness lies in the balance. Excessive focus on P results in ruined health, worn-out machines, depleted bank accounts, and broken relationships. Too much focus on PC is like a person who runs three or four hours a day, bragging about the extra ten years of life it creates, unaware he’s spending them running. Or a person endlessly going to school, never producing, living on other people’s golden eggs — the eternal student syndrome.
  8. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy — very busy — without being very effective.
    People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them. People from every walk of life — doctors, academicians, actors, politicians, business professionals, athletes, and plumbers — often struggle to achieve a higher income, more recognition of a certain degree of professional competence, only to find that their drive to achieve their goal blinded them to the things that really mattered most and now are gone.
  9. Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit; breaking one is a major withdrawal. In fact, there’s probably not a more massive withdrawal than to make a promise that’s important to someone and then not to come through. The next time a promise is made, they won’t believe it. People tend to build their hopes around promises, particularly promises about their basic livelihood.
    I’ve tried to adopt a philosophy as a parent never to make a promise I don’t keep. I therefore try to make them very carefully, very sparingly, and to be aware of as many variables and contingencies as possible so that something doesn’t suddenly come up to keep me from fulfilling it.
    Occasionally, despite all my effort, the unexpected does come up, creating a situation where it would be unwise or impossible to keep a promise I’ve made. But I value that promise. I either keep it anyway, or explain the situation thoroughly to the person involved and ask to be released from the promise.
    I believe that if you cultivate the habit of always keeping the promises you make, you build bridges of trust that span the gaps of understanding between you and your child. Then, when your child wants to do something you don’t want him to do, and out of your maturity you can see consequences that the child cannot see, you can say, “Son, if you do this, I promise you that this will be the result.” If that child has cultivated trust in your word, in your promises, he will act on your counsel.
  10. Anything less than Win/Win in an interdependent reality is a poor second best that will have impact in the long-term relationship. The cost of that impact needs to be carefully considered. If you can’t reach a true Win/Win, you’re very often better off to go for No Deal.
    Win/Win or No Deal provides tremendous emotional freedom in the family relationship. If family members can’t agree on a video that everyone will enjoy, they can simply decide to do something else — No Deal — rather than having some enjoy the evening at the expense of others.
  11. In business, executives can align their systems to create teams of highly productive people working together to compete against external standards of performance. In education, teachers can set up grading systems based on an individual’s performance in the context of agreed upon criteria and can encourage students to cooperate in productive ways to help each other learn and achieve. In families, parents can shift the focus from competition with each other to cooperation. In activities such as bowling, for example, they can keep a family score and try to beat a previous one. They can set up home responsibilities with Win/Win agreements that eliminate constant nagging and enable parents to do the things only they can do.
  12. If all the air were suddenly sucked out of the room you’re in right now, what would happen to your interest in this book? You wouldn’t care about the book; you wouldn’t care about anything except getting air. Survival would be your only motivation.
    But now that you have air, it doesn’t motivate you. This is one of the greatest insights in the field of human motivation: Satisfied needs do not motivate. It’s only the unsatisfied need that motivates. Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival — to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.
  13. You can pretty well summarize the first three habits with the expression “make and keep a promise.” And you can pretty well summarize the next three habits with the expression “involve others in the problem and work out the solution together.”

If you liked the above content, I’d definitely recommend reading the whole book. 💯

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Software Developer at Day | Aspiring Writer at Night

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