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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people

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Personal Leadership


During my Erasmus exchange in the Netherlands I had a very interesting course about personal leadership, which I wanted to tell you guys about! When I started studying in The Hague University of Applied Science (THUAS) I was expecting to have very theoretical lessons where I would just sit and listen hours and hours. But when I saw the course list where I could chose my own courses almost all of the courses had some practical parts also. My favorite course was called Personal Leadership where we also had to read Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Higly Effective people.

Here is the course description, if you are interested to hear how the whole course was planned.

The course consists of Personal leadership combined with Career Writing. Students take two lectures every week: one lecture on Personal Leadership, one lecture on Career Writing.  The course provides a practical output of universal and timeless principles that help the student to achieve his or her highest personal aspirations and to overcome his or her greatest challenges. Some of the topics that will be dealt with are: freedom & responsibility, character ethics, being pro-active while putting values above feelings, having a response-ability whatever the circumstances while keeping the end in mind and putting first things first. They are tools to lead a (more) happy, harmonious life, while being (more of) a leader. Active participation in class and qualities to be practiced in daily life will foster the student’s aim to become a leader in his or her own right. The writing exercises through the Career Writing formula help the student to achieve a deeper insight in his or her behavior and provide worthwhile input for leadership qualities. The content of the course will be experienced in the student’s personal daily life and will be reflected in his or her personal portfolio.

Personal leadership

The Personal Leadership course is set up in the line of the, worldwide accredited Franklin Covey’s Leadership Foundation which prepares emerging leaders to take on significant roles and responsibilities in the future. Dr. Krijtenburg, who delivers the Personal Leadership course, has taught this course for over 15 years, not only in The Netherlands, but also at Infinity Business School to MBA students and at other universities in India. Students are surprised for the positive effect the course has on their lives.

Career Writing

Career Writing © is based on the scientific method of Career Writing by Reinekke Lengelle PhD 2015.  Ms. Post researched, published and taught the about Career Writing with success from 2012. From evaluations of Career Writing over the past years, student who did the course report the following benefits from the course:

1)         improved sense of creativity

2)         increase in general writing skills

3)         improved productivity & stress and time management

4)         deep reflection & more self consciousness

5)         improved leadership qualities


Book essey


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a number 1 National Bestseller book on personal development, written by Stephen R. Covey. It has sold more than 15 million copies since its first publication in 1989.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a self-improvement book. It is written on Covey’s belief that the way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions. In order to change a given situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.

“The way we see the problem is the problem,” Covey writes. We must allow ourselves to undergo paradigm shifts — to change ourselves fundamentally and not just alter our attitudes and behaviours on the surface level — in order to achieve true change.

That’s where the seven habits of highly effective people come in:

  • Habits 1, 2, and 3 are focused on self-mastery and moving from dependence to independence.
  • Habits 4, 5, and 6 are focused on developing teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills, and moving from independence to interdependence.
  • Habit 7 is focused on continuous growth and improvement, and embodies all the other habits.

Our character, basically, is a combination of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, habits constantly express our character and produce our effectiveness – or us in effectivenes

Changing our habits to improve what we are is a long process. Getting new habits, we must be patient with our self because changing you character is not a quick fix but we can see immediate benefits.


Paradigms and Principles


The seven habits described in this book are based on natural laws and if you adopt them, they will bring the maximum long-term beneficial results for you. People perceive the world differently. We all have our own paradigm and we see things according to our paradigms.

If you want to change your life, you must first change the way you look at the things, you should focus on improving your personal attitude and behaviour.


Three habits of private victory

HABIT 1: Be Proactive


We’re in charge. We choose the scripts by which to live our lives. Use this self-awareness to be proactive and take responsibility for your choices.

Proactivity means that as human beings we are responsible for our own lives.



We’re in charge. We choose the scripts by which to live our lives. Use this self-awareness to be proactive and take responsibility for your choices.

Reactive people take a passive stance they believe that the world is happening to them. They say things like:

“There’s nothing I can do.”  or  “That’s just the way I am.”

They think the problem is “out there” but that thought is the problem. Reactivity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and reactive people feel increasingly victimized and out of control.

Proactive people recognize that they have responsibility or “response-ability,” which Covey defines as the ability to choose how you will respond to a given stimulus or situation.


Exercise for 30 days to become more proactive:

1) Work only in your smaller circle of influence

2) Make small commitments to yourself and others, and keep them

3) Be a light, not a judge; be a model, not a critic; be the solution, not the problem. If you stall to think some important problem in your life is “out there” somewhere, stop yourself. That thought is the problem.


In order to be proactive, we must focus on the Circle of Influence that lies within our Circle of Concern in other words, we must work on the things we can do something about.




The positive energy we exert will cause our Circle of Influence to expand.

Reactive people, on the other hand, focus on things that are in their Circle of Concern but not in their Circle of Influence, which leads to blaming external factors, emanating negative energy, and causing their Circle of Influence to shrink.

It is also important to identify our centre. Whatever is at the centre of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.

In the book there is a long list of different kind of centers. However, Covey notes that none of these centers are optimal, and that instead we should strive to be principle-centered. We should identify the timeless, unchanging principles by which we must live our lives. This will give us the guidance that we need to align our behaviours with our beliefs and values.


HABIT 2: Begin with the end in mind


Start with a clear destination in mind. Covey says we can use our imagination to develop a vision of what we want to become and use our conscience to decide what values will guide us.

Most of us find it rather easy to busy ourselves. We work hard to achieve victories — promotions, higher income, more recognition. But we don’t often stop to evaluate the meaning behind this busyness, behind these victories — we don’t ask ourselves if these things that we focus on so intently are what really matter to us.

Habit 2 suggests that, in everything we do, we should begin with the end in mind. Start with a clear destination. That way, we can make sure the steps we’re taking are in the right direction.

We should strive to be principle-centered. We should identify the timeless, unchanging principles by which we must live our lives. This will give us the guidance that we need to align our behaviours with our beliefs and values.

One of the best ways to incorporate Habit 2 into your life is to develop a Personal Mission Statement. It focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world.


Personal mission statement template:

My mission in life is to [insert mission].

In order to accomplish my mission I will work hard on [issues that need to be addressed or skills that need to be developed].

My life’s purpose is to [insert purpose with description].

For this reason, I seek to live my full potential by [include actionable strategies].

I will stop wasting time and concentrate on [detail what you would like to spend your time with].

In order to reach my goals, I strive to become a person of [insert desired qualities and character traits].

Because of my mission, I will start today with [detail how you wish to change your life].


“The principles you live by create the world you live in. So when you change the principles you live by, you can change your world. Your mission statement serves to summarize the principles you want to live by. ”Stephen R. Covey


HABIT 3: Put First Things First


In order to manage ourselves effectively, we must put first things first. We must have the discipline to prioritize our day-to-day actions based on what is most important, not what is most urgent.

In Habit 2, we discussed the importance of determining our values and understanding what it is we are setting out to achieve. Habit 3 is all about going after these goals, and executing on our priorities on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis.

In order to maintain the discipline and the focus to stay on track toward our goals, we need to have the willpower to do something when we don’t want to do it. We need to act according to our values rather than our desires or impulses at any given moment.



Hanna’s time management matrix


Not urgent


Quadrant 1



-pressing problems

-deadline-driven projects


Quadrant 2


-Relationship building

– long range planning

– exercising


Not Importan


Quadrant 3


-interruptions, calls

– proximate, pressing matters

– popular activities


Quadrant 4


-Some calls

-some mail

-time wasters

-pleasant activities


Quadrant II is at the heart of effective personal management. It deals with things like building relationships, long-term planning, exercising all things we know we need to do but somehow seldom get around to actually doing, because they don’t feel urgent.

In order to focus our time in Quadrant II, we have to learn how to say “no” to other activities, sometimes ones that seem urgent. We also need to be able to delegate effectively.




From every single page I found something that made me put the book down for a couple of minutes and think about it. I already know that I’m going to have to re-read this at some point in the near future.

Basically, this book will teach you about effective ways to be a compassionate, kind, enjoyable human being. It will teach you about personal responsibility (personal as in to your self, and to others). It will teach you how to be a better parent, employee, spouse, daughter, or boss.

I can’t give it enough praise. It is a truly outstanding book.



“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey