Seven Habits of Highly Effective People starts off with an introduction to the concept of Paradigm Shift which is, essentially, a change in basic assumptions. Author Stephen R. Covey prepares the reader to have a change in mindset. Covey explains that there exists a different perspective amongst individuals. Two people can see the same thing but each individual can have a very different understanding from one another. The first three habits introduced in the book deals shifting from dependence to independence.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

This habit is about taking initiative in life and realizing that our decisions are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in our life. Being proactive also entails taking responsibility for my choices and the consequences that follow.

This was definitely one of the first major life lessons that I learned in the Marine Corps. Much of basic training was about taking initiative and being accountable for our actions. Currently, I do find myself struggling with this particular habit in various aspects of my life. Not so much with being proactive because I am very much a, "do now, ask later," type of person. I'm, however, very much guided by immediate gains and that tends to dictate my initiative process. I know that I need to have a better method of prioritizing my everyday goals and tasks in a better fashion. I realize that once I've done that I will have better success by being more proactive in areas of higher importance.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

This habit deals with self-discovery and clarifying deeply important character values and life goals. It challenges the reader to envision ideal characteristics for various roles and relationships in life. It encourages the reader to create a life mission statement.

This is another example of where I'm failing to be proactive in a very important aspect of my life. I definitely agree with this habit and want to establish it firmly in my own life. I have not been completely certain of how I wanted my life to be but now, at 33, I do not what I want out of life and what type of career I want to have. I'm slowly building in more time in my day to focus on developing myself in order to reach my desired goals. Creating a plan that begins with the end in mind is definitely something I'm starting immediately since reading this book.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

This habit is about prioritizing, planning, and executing a week's tasks based on importance rather than urgency. It requires that I evaluate whether or not my efforts exemplify my desired character values, propel me towards my goals, and enrich the roles and relationships discussed in Habit 2.

I know for certainty that this is a habit I desperately need to acquire because mostly everything that I do is based on urgency. I always feel like I'm working with unreasonable deadlines. I know that I'll be more effective and productive once I've been able to prioritize my tasks based on importance rather than urgency.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

This habit, along with the next two, deals with interdependence. This habit deals with genuinely striving for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in my relationships. Valuing and respecting others by understanding that a "win" for all is a better long-term outcome than if only one person in the situation had gotten his or her way.

This is definitely a habit I already have. I know what it's like to feel like I'm being taken advantage of so I try very hard to ensure that all parties involved in any particular project or business dealing are satisfied with the outcome and how it affects them. I really believe that the successes that I've had over the years has been a direct result from approaching situations with this type of "open source" mentality in which everyone can provide input, share resources, and modestly compensated.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

This habit is deals with actively and emphatically listening to others and be genuinely influenced by their words. This compels the person to reciprocate the listening and be open minded to be influenced in return.

This is another habit that I've cultivated over the years. It isn't as strong with me as the "Think Win-Win" habit is but I am improving on it. I genuinely do listen to others just because I don't fancy myself and expert of anything. I've always been a "Jack of all trades, master of none," sort so to counteract the disadvantages of being that type of person, I always welcome feedback from someone that might be well versed in a particular field. On top of that, I tend to compare "notes" amongst a handful of experts in order to find the most accurate information. This habit has led me to become an active and pretty well known element of the local music scene in Gainesville. While I'm not a musician, venue owner, sound engineer, photographer, or videographer myself, the countless hours that I've invested in listening to those that are has earned me the respect amongst those different communities.