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Matt Lahood: Why I love Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of my all-time favourites because it relates so well to what real estate agents do, or should be doing.

Published in 1989, the book takes a principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems.

Covey introduces a process of personal transformation by moving through what he identifies as the stages of maturity: dependence, independence, and interdependence.

He argues that effectively managing yourself and your relationships with others involves a paradigm shift that is increasingly necessary in the complexity of modern life.

The 7 habits are:

  1. Be Proactive: Covey suggests that individuals have the initiative and responsibility to make things happen. This habit is about taking control and making decisions rather than just adapting to a situation or being paralysed by it. It’s about recognising your responsibility to make things happen. This involves changing our perception of the world and understanding that we have the power to choose our response to any given circumstance.
  2. Begin with the End in Mind: This habit involves imagining your funeral and thinking about what you want people to say about you when you’re gone. It’s about setting life goals, developing values, and creating a mission statement that can serve as a guide for how to live your life. It focuses on what you want to be and do, based on your deepest priorities.
  3. Put First Things First: Covey divides tasks into a quadrant organised by urgency and importance. Most people spend their time on urgent, but not important, tasks (like interruptions and busy work), while the most effective people focus on non-urgent, important tasks (like relationship-building and planning), which prevents crises from happening in the first place. It’s about personal management, your organised effort towards efficiency and effectiveness.
  4. Think Win-Win: This habit challenges us to create cooperation and collaboration, fostering an environment where everyone benefits. It’s not about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It’s a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration. It’s the belief that all parties should benefit from a given situation – from contracts in business to personal relationships.
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: Rather than offering advice, prescriptions, or solutions upfront, we should empathetically listen to the other person first. This allows us to understand their needs and perspectives. This understanding generates a level of care and problem-solving that is distinctively effective.
  6. Synergise: Covey presents this as the crowning achievement of all the previous habits. It occurs when groups work together to create something greater than the sum of what each individual would achieve alone. It’s about the collaboration that leads to innovative solutions that would be unattainable individually.
  7. Sharpen the Saw: This habit is about self-improvement and continual learning. It’s about taking time to care for yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Covey suggests activities such as exercise for physical renewal, prayer and meditation for spiritual renewal, reading for mental renewal, and service to society for social/emotional renewal.

Each habit is intended to help you become more effective in your personal and professional lives, helping you navigate the complexities of modern life and relationships. Covey’s 7 Habits are universally applicable and have been highly influential in the realms of business and personal development.

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Matt Lahood

Matt Lahood is the CEO of Real Estate at The Agency Australia. Visit


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