When embarking on new endeavours we oftentimes let excitement get the best of us and lose focus of the steps we need to follow to get where we want to be.

In his best seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Steven Covey suggests that we incorporate seven reasonably simple habits into our personal and business lives to help us on our road to greatness.

Counting Coins decided to juxtapose Covey’s seven habits with seven deadly business sins that often lead to businesses crashing and burning.

1. Wrath vs Be proactive

Covey suggests that one adopts a proactive attitude towards life in Habit 1. According to Covey, reactive people tend to accept things the way they are, blaming everything and everyone else for their failures.

Denying responsibility might lead reactive people to feel increasingly out of control and even victimised by the world. Proactive people, on the other hand, actively investigate their own attitudes and feelings towards things that happen to them and the people they come into contact with.

Whilst a reactive person might state that someone or some situation evokes feelings of extreme anger, a proactive person will resolve to take control of his or her feelings and avoid allowing them to become out of control.

The bottom line: Try to avoid feeling angry at the world for being the way it is and actively engage in conversation with yourself about what you are feeling, and why you might be feeling that way. Then, take responsibility for your feelings – you are not a slave to them.

2. Sloth vs Begin with the end in mind

In a rushed world that is always changing, prioritising tends to be an issue for most of us. In Habit 2, Steven Covey suggests that we start with a very clear purpose in mind.

Are you starting a new business? You should already have desired end-result in mind. This should help you to decide what steps to take to ensure that you achieve your goals.

The steps you take should be governed by the principles that will guide you on your road to success. A successful individual is one that continuously evaluates his or her principles and adjusts them with the endgame in mind. Here the cliché that the one who fails to plan, plans to fail, rings true.

The bottom line: Once you know what you are aiming for in any given endeavour, you can take the steps and make the lists to hit the target, whatever it might be. This is an absolutely essential part of any start-up. Even in your personal life, having some kind of plan is crucial. Floating through life is only one thing: lazy.

Determined businessman

3. Gluttony vs Put first things first

So, you’ve started your business and you know where you’d like it to go. This is all good and well, but now it’s time to decide what is really important.

According to Covey, this is where prioritising is of the utmost importance. Your time should always be managed according to what is most important, and not what is most urgent.

Habit 3 argues that while a crisis or pressing problem might seem like the most important thing to do because it is the most urgent thing, this is not necessarily the case.

Any good leader will rather focus on aspects like building relationships, planning and looking out for new opportunities. Remember: proper planning will stop last-minute problems and crises.

The bottom line: Running a business is like a huge buffet. Trying to stuff your face with everything in sight means you will be filled up before getting to what you really want. Without a strategy in place, you also won’t get through everything, and only have a stomach ache to show for your trouble.

4. Greed vs Think win-win

Greed gets you nowhere. Only focusing on your own goals, wealth and power is self-defeating if you don’t establish interdependent relationships with people and organisations that you come into contact with.

When establishing these relationships, it is necessary to adopt a win-win attitude. If something is not beneficial to other people as well as yourself, why would they commit to you? This is not conducive to forging real and lasting relationships.

Covey says that an Abundance Mentality is key here. The fact of the matter is that there really is enough of everything for everyone: enough opportunities and enough money to go around, so no need to “hoard”. This is fundamentally different to people who live with a Scarcity Mentality, who believe that if someone else gets something, they won’t.

When a leader thinks win-win, their influence becomes bigger. As a leader, the importance of influence can never be underestimated.

The bottom line: When you banish greed from your life, you aren’t just able to build lasting interdependent relationships, you are also able to expand your circle of influence to use these relationships. Ultimately, these will mutually benefit you and the organisations that you deal with.

Greed in business

5. Envy vs Seek first to understand and then to be understood

To develop win-win solutions to problems, we need to actively listen and try to understand the actual intentions of people we come into contact with. Merely hearing what people around us say does not open us up to the intent behind their actions, and will not benefit us in networking.

Empathic listening means listening with the intent to understand both the intellectual and the emotional meaning behind the words and deeds of others. Not listening with the intent of understanding others often results in trying propose solutions to problems that we haven’t even diagnosed yet.

When we really understand why people act and think the way they do, we can plan our actions in relation to and consideration of them, which might benefit both parties.

The bottom line: Having feelings of envy towards the people and organisations you come into contact with doesn’t lead to the desired results – on either side. When you don’t try to understand the perception that other people have, you will not be able to build long-term relationships and reap the benefits thereof. Never forget that it’s not what you know, but most definitely who.

6. Pride vs Synergising

Once we’ve got the win-win down and we actively try to understand others, we can start pooling resources and synergising our goals and aspirations, which leads to new possibilities we might not have thought of before and, inevitably, to win-win results.

Just being content with our own achievements will provide short-term satisfaction, but does not guarantee long-term success as it excludes networking as an indispensable tool of progress.

Covey’s Habit 6 suggests that we open up to a different way of thinking when our opinions differ from those of the people around us. After all, nothing can change if we always agree with others, and if nothing changes, there is no room for growth.

When you look back on a successful project, isn’t it just so much better when it’s a shared success that has led to mutual benefits that pave the way to further development?

The bottom line: Put your pride on the backburner – there will be much more to be proud of when you’ve started a business empire that can actually converse with other business empires. Sure, you are the king of your own castle, but of what use is a castle when it’s located on a remote island that no-one knows about?

7. Lust vs Sharpen the saw

Desire is worth nothing if it doesn’t drive us to turn our needs into deeds. Covey’s Habit 7 is focused on implementing the other six habits as a means to continuous self-renewal.

Covey argues that we need to take care of the four parts of the self: the mental, spiritual, and the emotional and social aspects of our lives. Neglecting any one of the dimensions of the self will hamper personal growth, as well as the growth potential of the business.

It is critical to actively pursue growth in every aspect of the self to inspire others to also be better. We need to pay attention to every part of our development if we want to stay sharp in the bigger scheme of things.

The bottom line: Simply lusting after success has no part in the realisation of it if you do not seek to constantly improve yourself in every aspect of your waking life. It is only when we integrate the whole self that we can improve our situation as a whole.

Is your interest piqued and you’d like to get to know a little more? Why not read Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and incorporate his ideas into your everyday life?


About The Author

Angie Gallagher

Angie Gallagher is a freelance writer in the Upper Karoo. Aside from writing content for Counting Coins, Angie has tried her hand at a few juvenile attempts at poetry filled with storms and stress, and a marginally successful radio station, Radio Grootoor, recorded on cassette tapes when she was ten.

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