In his best selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, the late Dr. Stephen Covey compiled the following habits taken from some of the greatest minds in human development:
- Be Proactive – are my actions based upon self-chosen values, or upon my moods, feelings and circumstances?
- Begin with the End in Mind – have I written a personal Mission Statement which provides meaning, purpose, and direction to my life?
- Put First Things First – am I able to say “no” to the unimportant, no matter how urgent, and “yes” to the important?
- Think Win/Win – do I seek mutual benefit in all interdependent relationships?
- Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood – do I faithfully reflect my understanding of the other person before seeking to be understood?
- Synergize – do I value different opinions, viewpoints, and perspectives of others when seeking solutions?
- Sharpen the Saw – am I engaged in continuous improvement in the physical, mental, spiritual, and social-emotional dimensions of my life?
Dr. Covey chose the word “Habits” based upon the Law of the Harvest: we tend to reap what we sow. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character, sow a character, reap a destiny.”
So how can we as Highly Sensitive People best benefit from Dr. Covey’s 7 Habits, considering our genetic trait of Sensory Processing Sensitivity? I will attempt to shed some light on that using some tips that I’ve found helpful to incorporate the 7 Habits into my life:
• Be Proactive – taking time to determine our personal values is such an underrated task. I did this activity with my personal Life Coach last year, and it’s changed the way I think of just about everything in life! When meditating or just sitting quietly, allow yourself to think about what’s important to you in life. Declaring your values is extremely powerful, and you will witness your actions aligned with these values much more often than your mood, feelings, and circumstances (to include other’s values which may not mesh with yours, especially if the person/s are non-HSP’s)!
• Begin with the End in Mind – whether using a personal Mission Statement, or just some clearly defined goals, taking the time to think about what we want out of life provides that “compass” effect which keeps us on track. For Highly Sensitive People, a little work on the front-end can provide peace of mind on a regular basis. We tend to be good planners and deep thinkers, so why not use our strength in this area of our lives as well?
• Put First Things First – when we as HSP’s focus on first doing what we define as important, we put ourselves in better position to avoid over-stimulation. This can best be accomplished through weekly planning of important, but non-urgent tasks. In this way we have plenty of time to deal with urgent matters that must be addressed, while already having time blocked out for our priority tasks/projects/etc. Don’t forget to schedule all-important down time for yourself to decompress following overstimulating tasks or events. Using a calendar in our smartphones, Outlook on our PC’s, and/or simply a pen and paper calendar system will bring this to fruition.
• Think Win/Win – Highly Sensitive People are at a disadvantage given we are the less-dominant 20% of the population. That said, I submit that everyone is either related to, or at the very least knows one or more HSP’s on this planet. At 20% of the population, we are near 1.3 billion strong! So there is some common ground to keep in mind in your dealings with others. Aside from that, working towards mutual benefit in our relationships is the right thing to do. When one party loses in a relationship, we never will know how many other lives may be negatively affected as an outcome.
• Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood – it’s so easy to say, and sometimes so difficult to do, right? As HSP’s we tend to have high Empathy for others, which provides us the opportunity to do what Dr. Covey refers to as “listening with the eyes and the heart, in addition to the ears”. When speaking with someone who is angry, “Seeking First to Understand” is an amazingly disarming approach that can alleviate stress for all involved!
• Synergize – For HSP’s, our opinions, viewpoints, and perspectives add additional value to discussions held among the other 80% of the populous, and we need to be heard! And by respecting and appreciating others’ opinions/viewpoints/perspectives, we can create the opportunity for a 3rd alternative, or what Dr. Covey refers to as “one plus one equals three or more”. So in cases where two sides fully understand each other, and still disagree, it may be wise to seek that 3rd alternative.
• Sharpen the Saw – Dr. Covey states this habit cultivates the previous six habits, and creates self-mastery. We need to take time for ourselves in the 4 areas noted, and those with full plates should schedule this time to make sure it happens. A good book to read for suggestions is “The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide” by Dr. Ted Zeff. Also check out my blog “The Highly Sensitive Person and Exercise”.
That’s my take on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” for HSP’s. If you like this post, please consider signing up for my newsletter.
All the Best!
“Coaching to Thrive through Sensitivity”