You’ve taken the first steps on the road to self-mastery. While this is still a work in progress, you can already begin your journey of the public victories. Three of the remaining four habits are concerned with one of the greatest assets of humanity, cooperation. The final habit then binds all habits together. Combined, these habits are tools for effective living. You could argue that essentially, effective means happy. At least it does if that is your aim.

The Basics
Remember the P/PC balance? Well, this balance is the common theme through all seven habits. Whether it is in business or in your personal life, healthy relationships are fundamental to productivity in every sense of the word. But without continual investments relationships deteriorate. In other words, you have to take care of production capability. Consider looking at a relationship as a bank account. You can make a deposit in someone’s account by showing integrity or helping someone out. Meanwhile, you can make a withdrawal by showing up late or lying. Unfortunately, these deposits and withdrawals aren’t always as obvious. In fact, sometimes you may think you are making a deposit, while actually you’re making a withdrawal. Therefore, it is important to be sensitive to the perspective, or paradigm, of others. This will help you make the right decisions when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships.

The last and most desirable state is interdependence.

Next to maintaining the P/PC balance, the public victories focus on achieving interdependence. When we first enter this world we are extremely dependent. If it weren’t for our parents we would not have survived. This dependence gradually changes into independence. However, many people never even reach true independence. For dependence knows many forms. You can be financially independent, while emotionally you are still very dependent upon others. Therefore, self-mastery, as taught in the first three habits, is fundamental to the public victories. Furthermore, even when you reach true independence you’re still not quite there yet. The last and most desirable state is interdependence. It is this state of interwoven reliance that allows us to reach our full potential. It endorses creativity and excellence and is key to effective living.

Three Public Victories
From part I we know that everybody is subjected to conditioning. An example of this conditioning is the focus of modern culture on ‘win/lose’ thinking. We’re told that for one person to win, another person has to lose. Well, effective people don’t think this way. Certainly, sometimes there is only winning and losing, as in a game of tennis. But in most everyday situations it is far more profitable to think win/win. Consequently, this requires you to have an abundance mentality. Basically this means someone else’s success doesn’t take away from your opportunity to be successful. The opposite of the abundance mentality is the scarcity mentality. This mentality only leads to jealousy, egoism and bad cooperation. Ultimately, people who do this end up limiting themselves. Another obstacle seems to be that people just don’t see the ‘win/win’ possibilities. Even worse, they then just give up and settle for a far less desirable compromise or a ‘win/lose’ situation. It requires real resourcefulness and out of the box thinking to be able to explore possible ‘win/win’ solutions. However, if no ‘win/win’ solution can be found, it’s better to go for no deal. For no deal is often better than a bad deal. Finally, I would like to add that ‘win/win’ will pay off in the end. It’s a key tool in creating trust and building relationships based on integrity.

For no deal is often better than a bad deal.

People don’t want to be judged, they want to be understood. And great listeners are hard to come by.  You probably remember an occasion on which someone listened to you and really tried to understand you. This almost relieved you of some sort of pressure. It gives you the ‘psychological air’ that you need. You can’t fake this kind of listening, people can tell if you do. This kind of listening is part of effective behaviour. Covey coins the phrase: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Implementing this in your life will prove to be an essential tool in achieving your dreams and goals. The exponential increase in productivity that comes from mutual understanding is astonishing. Don’t just listen to what somebody says look at their body language, the tone of their voice and the context of the conversation. In other words, listen with the intent of understanding.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

We’ve reached the last of the public victories. While habit four and five focus on lubricating cooperation, habit six says cooperate. When you cooperate effectively, you synergize. Synergizing is based on the premise that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Compare it to two kids trying to pick apples from a tree. Without working together they are only able to pick a few apples. But when they synergize they can reach much higher and pick far more than they were able to pick before. Synergizing requires open-mindedness and celebrating differences. These differences allow us to benefit a great deal from the combination of our efforts. Using the lessons from the forgoing habits, you must show maturity, courage, consideration and integrity to truly synergize.

Personal Favourite
As hinted before, the seventh habit is the glue binding all habits together and it’s my personal favourite. Whatever you do and however you do it, you’ve got to ‘sharpen the saw’. Instead of just ploughing through, becoming increasingly less effective, it’s important you invest time maintaining your production capability. There are four dimensions to maintain and it is essential to work on all four dimensions. First off is the most obvious, the physical. You’re going through this life inside this machine, a.k.a. our body, using it day in day out. That’s a lot to handle so take care of it. To put it simply: work out, eat healthy and make sure you sleep enough. Next up, the mental. If you don’t challenge your mind in one way or another it will decay. Just like you’re body your mind requires maintenance. Read and learn new things on a regular basis to keep your mind ‘sharp’. The third dimension is the emotional. We are incredibly social beings. That’s why we have a natural inclination for relationships with other people and spend time with them. Therefore, work in a proactive way on these relationships by continuous investments. Last but not least, the spiritual. Although this may be the most abstract dimension, it is a very real part of the human experience. I’m not saying you should start practicing yoga or Buddhism, but you should put time and energy in it. This could be listening to certain music, enjoying nature or even going to see a comic. In short, take care of yourself and do so on a regular basis.

I’m not saying you should start practicing yoga or Buddhism

And now?
You’ve taken the first step onto the road of powerful personal change, i.e. you read this article. I encourage you to read Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book is filled with real life examples, tips for application and even more importantly, he makes a strong case for the application of the habits. When you learn a little more about the habits you’ll have a much easier time committing to them. You need this commitment when you face the difficulties that you’ll inevitably come across when applying the habits in your day-to-day life. Although it may sometimes be hard, I have no doubt that in the end it will be worth it. I would like to leave you with this quote by Leo Tolstoy: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”