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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Be sharp, be effective

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7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen Covey

Milja Laakso


At the moment I think I couldn’t have chosen a better book to read right now. During this spring semester I have witnessed my motivation and effectiveness fall dramatically while I juggle my studies, entrepreneurship, work, health and social life. Things have been very hard to keep up with. After reading Stephen Covey’s book 7 habits of highly effective people everything I have been struggling to balance in life somehow became more concrete. The book made me sit up and try to put everything again in order. Even though I have been reading other motivation based books this one somehow managed to simplify some issues I have not truly understood I was actually doing.  This essay will be mainly my reflections of weather I am an effective person and how I see myself.


Being an effective person isn’t really the word I would use when describing myself. I see myself as someone who gets things done, but I really need that kick in the butt (either from myself or someone else) to perform perfectly and in time. Reflecting my own feelings at the moment with the points in this book, however, made me realize that other points do describe me as a person. Everyone can be effective, but it all comes down to how you see things. The first three points have a lot to do with personal ways of dealing with certain situations while the other four points focus on how you perform with other people.


The first habit Covey pointed out was to be proactive. Why worry about things that you can’t have an effect on? Being proactive has a lot to do with how you live life your life and how think about things around you. Do you see things with a positive or negative aspect? When reflecting the points in the book with myself I could point out that I am a proactive person. I see myself as someone who mainly thinks about the positive side of things and as someone who doesn’t want to worry about things that cannot be changed. Thinking negatively about things that can’t be helped becomes ultimately a greater stress and changes your focus to things that are not important. At least that’s what I do.


According to Covey everyone has a “circle of concern” that is made up of things we worry about. Inside the circle there is a smaller one named the ”circle of influence”. The circle of influence includes three main things you should concentrate on. Your health, your social life and your spirituality. Those are things you have a grip on and can control. When they are in order there is very little to worry about in the long run.


The second point of how to be an effective person was to ”begin with the end in mind”.  Know your goal before you work hard to achieve it. Knowing exactly what you want and where you want to go is needed before working towards getting it. Working on something without having a specific goal can be frustrating and time consuming. I am a person who doesn’t always believe in my good results of hard work however much praise and feedback I get. When having a specific goal to work towards I feel good when accomplishing something I concretely wanted to achieve. For example, years ago I wanted to attain a job that involved a visual aspect and the clothing industry. I worked hard and now looking at my situation and knowing what I wanted, I can say that I have achieved my goal. Another example of the same situation was getting into TAMK. Being effective is when you know what you are reaching for. The feeling is the best, once you know you reach it too.


Put first things first, in other words – know how to prioritise.  The third point of being an effective person is knowing what things to organize to do first and to concentrate on. Time management is important when working and trying to maintain balance with everything else you do in life. Knowing what is the most important things to do first help with going forward in general and getting things done. This is a point I need to start working on.


I saw most of myself in the fourth point of being an effective person. Think win-win. Covey described this part by saying that for you to win, someone else doesn’t necessarily have to lose. This way of thinking might change the world someday, if you ask me. Working together to achieve something bigger is always better than having to work on your own and competing. Competition very often turns things to be negative that is not necessary. In business it is very common for big co-operations to work with only their own business in mind. As an example small businesses and entrepreneurs can benefit by helping one another grow and by supporting each other. In the long run that would be the better good.


The fifth point was about understanding. Seek first to understand and then to be understood. With this in mind you can truly avoid misunderstandings in different situations and thus be more effective than be wasting time trying to solve them. To understand, you need to listen and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Seek to understand the other point view and then explain yours. This will help avoid conflict and unwanted negative situations. This is something Proakatemia has taught me. As an example, in training sessions you talk about topics and learn about different perspectives.


During these 5 months I have become more effective and working in a team requires understanding other’s opinions. The same can be said about the sixth point, Synergizing. Learning to value what everyone has to offer and the differences in others. Turning that into a positive outcome is what Proakatemia has taught me as well.


The last point in a way brought everything together. “Remember to sharpen your saw” means that to be effective you need to keep yourself sharp, like a saw. For you to be affective you need to remember to keep you soul, mind and body in shape and in balance. Learn, be healthy, know yourself, feel good about yourself. This is something that I can see I have been lacking. The most common excuse for not concentrating on these important things is the lack of time.


However, there always is time to do these things and it should be a priority to find the time. My personal goal for this spring and summer is to become more effective and the process will start with me becoming stronger from inside out. First I will start with sharpening the saw.

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