In the following blog post, we will focus on three of the seven principles. The foundation forms “be proactive” from independence. It is followed by the interdependence principle “think win-win.” Then, the ending comes with “sharpen the saw/growth,” the continual improvement aspect. These will receive more recent perspectives and support the timelessness of the principles.
In the book, it notes that one should move from dependence to independence. This movement refers to “self-mastery.”
According to the Cambridge dictionary independence is:
“the ability to live your life without being helped or influenced by other people”
Nowadays, we often find this term in connection with women. It is either being financially independent or in a relationship. Women have struggled for centuries to be as independent as men. Women have progressed a lot in the field of independence. Most countries provide the same rights and meet the same education. But, there are still many differences to be found, some of which are very subliminal.
“I am a strong independent woman”
One such move towards independence is becoming proactive and taking initiative.
Proactivity means that one takes initiative to improve one’s surroundings. It is better to do this. Instead of getting overwhelmed by it and remaining passive in decisions. Take full responsibility for one’s actions and bearing the consequences is part of that as well. Thus, it suggests being present in the moment and active when one sees a chance to enhance the standard of one’s life. Being proactive means that you are driven by a set of intrinsic values. It is the ability to stick to certain commitments within yourself and other people. After all, you cannot depend on other people to make important decisions for you.
In connection with women, this could be as mentioned before important if it comes to finances. Empirical observations on financial investing show a clear trend. Women tend to invest up to 40% less than men. See Why women invest 40 percent less than men (and how we can change it). This could be because women are hesitant to start trading and investing in the stock market. This hesitation might be due to subliminal factors. One of the factors is that society still sees men as the main income contributor. It is for a family or that in films wealthy men are more often depicted than wealthy women. In our subconscious, we associate wealth more with men than with women. It makes women less curious about earning more money in total. Additionally, until this date, women also tend to earn less. It exacerbates the financial situation of many women.
A proactivity approach is for women to educate themselves. Especially when it comes to investing to close the gap. One Youtuber who wants to support women in investing is:
Further, proactive decisions would be to track one’s incomes and spending and to regularly set financial goals. These goals could be about gaining education via courses, but also about salary expectations and/ or diversified income streams.
“The only solution to your problems is action”
Begin With the End in Mind
Ask yourself this set of questions:
- When you leave this world, how would you want your loved ones and the people around you to remember you?
- What vision do you have for yourself?
- What steps are you going to take to achieve them?
By putting this into perspective, you should have some idea of what your vision is going to be. To make this clear, try to write your own personal mission statement. It should focus on who you want to be, what you want to do, and what values are these things based on. Your character, contributions, and achievements will play a big role in this.
Put First Things First
After nailing down the first two habits, this one implies that you need to take action. Once you start taking initiative and having that vision in front of you, you need to set the wheels into motion. Everything that you start doing must bring you a step closer to your goals. If they steer you away from them, you should avoid them at all costs. Doing this will steer you in the right direction.
Many people encounter the word independence. But interdependence is rarely used.
“Interdependence is the state of being dependent upon one another.”
And yes, this is in sharp contrast to the statement we made before. The reason is this. In life, there has to be a balance of independence and interdependence. We can live only by ourselves, but most people prefer otherwise. We live in cities because life is easier that way. We work together in teams because we are more productive. We live in families because we feel safe and loved. We depend on each other in many complex ways and often forget about it. The chair we are sitting on was never produced by us, but by someone, we don’t know. The food we have in the fridge was never cultivated by us, but again by a stranger. And, we depend on them in a materialistic way. Yet, with family, friends, and colleagues we depend on them more emotionally. Here lies the contradiction with the first aspect Covey drew in his book.
Drawing this line between independence and interdependence is not always easy. Individuals have very different perspectives about that. Taking the example of women, they tend to be more emotionally attached to people than most men would be.
When people are too attached, they often sacrifice their goals and needs. This is to keep the relationship with the other one. Their win-win is actually a lose-win but blurred by the perception that “keeping the relation” is a win. This can not be a sustainable relationship and brings a lot of suffering and pain with it. Often, one side feels neglected and not appreciated. Ironically, the person himself or herself caused the situation.
A true win-win includes mutual solutions that respect each person’s position. These solutions ensure successful long-term relations. They are necessary for building trust and openness. With win-win outcomes, every person feels worshiped, valued, and understood. An example of a win-win solution is a classical compromise. It could take the form of dividing tasks such as cooking food or cleaning the house within families. In business, these could turn into deals of acquisitions or partnerships.
Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Empathy is the ability to sense the emotions of others. It is to deeply understand what he or she is thinking or feeling. By having empathy, you will create a positive atmosphere. It thrives on care and problem-solving abilities.
As they say, no man is an island. Everyone should learn how to work together. Whether it is at home or professional setting. There is a need to combine everyone’s individual strengths. You can achieve goals in the fastest time possible compared to if one were to work by himself or herself.
This continual improvement process should take place in two environments. It is both personal and interpersonal. It focuses on recharge and reflection. Especially on working progress and is crucial for a successful journey.
Sharpen the Saw/Growth
“If you neglect to recharge a battery, it dies. And if you run full speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race.”
― Oprah Winfrey
Maybe you know the following situation: In between studies, one has holidays. We often feel that these holidays, we view them as life-changing. They change the way I see the world. This is the time where I have time to think and reflect. Or it is the time where I read books or watch documentaries. It is also the time where I meet more friends and exchange stories about what has happened and what is coming. The point is, taking a break frees the mind and opens up new ways of seeing one’s environment.
In the book, these “recharge” times are necessary. They often associate with sports, meditation, reading books, or social services.
- Physical: Nourish your body with the right exercise and nutrition. Know how to deal with stress management effectively.
- Social/emotional: Understand your feelings. Know how to use them when dealing with other people.
- Spiritual: Focusing on meditation, value clarification, commitment, and study. In this aspect, it will bring you closer to your intrinsic value system.
- Mental: Educate yourself by continuing to learn through planning, reading, visualizing, and writing.
These are essential principles you’ll have in life. Next to them, there are four that form a wonderful balance as you can see in the list at the beginning. They aim to create mindsets of abundance and fulfillment with clear guidelines. Life is not about zero-sum games, where one’s success is another’s loss. Covey emphasizes that everything is a give-and-receive relation. With these principles, the right balance is being achieved. Further, the goal is to build high self-worth, inner peace, and confidence. It is to share profits with others and support them in their journey. It because according to Covey, they are the most fulfilling tasks in life. Helping each other grow.