Effectiveness – the first 3 habits..


EFFECTIVENESS taken from Steven Covey’s book “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People”


Effective working depends on us balancing the production of desired results with our capacity to produce those results – Look after the goose that lays the golden egg!


This is a short précis of the first 3 habits used to help trainees become more proactive in setting goals and strategies when they are struggling. These 3 habits are the ones where we need to deal with our own issues. If you want a more detailed “précis” of all the habits contact Iain Lamb at diainhlamb@gmail.com


Habit 1 — Be Proactive

Proactivity. As human beings we are responsible for our own lives.

  • If we are reactive we are driven by feelings, circumstances, conditions, the environment.
  • If we are proactive we are driven by carefully considered, selected and internalized values.

Take the Initiative by recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.

Circle of Concern/Circle of Influence








  • Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence.
  • Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern.

Problems fall in one of three areas:

  • Direct control: problems involving our own behavior.
  • Indirect control: problems involving the behavior of others.
  • No control: problems we can do nothing about, e.g., our past.

Changing our habits, changing our methods of influence and changing the way we see our no control problems are all within our Circle of Influence.

Habit 2 — Begin with the End in Mind

  • To begin with the end in mind is to begin with the image of the end of your life as the frame of reference by which everything else is measured. (If the “end of life” is too difficult a concept then set a more realistic end point – for example 5 years on – as the end in mind.
  • We may be busy, we may be efficient, but we will only be effective if we begin with the end in mind.

When being proactive we first need to think and plan and then act and do.

  • Habit 2 is based on principles of personal leadership, which means that personal leadership comes first and our plan to manage this comes second.
  • Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.
  • Often people get into managing with efficiency, setting and achieving goals before they have even clarified values.

To try and do this consider what ROLES you have in life and what GOALS you have for them and write a personal MISSION STATEMENT that is based on principles and values and defines what destiny and future you envision.


Habit 3 — Put First Things First

We have various ways of managing our time efficiently but to be effective we need to work more in Quadrant II where things are important but at the time non urgent.

Example of a time management matrix

  Urgent Non-urgent

I Activities

  • Crises
  • Pressing problems
  • Deadline-driven projects


  • Stress
  • Burnout
  • Crisis management
  • Always putting out fires

II Activities

  • Prevention
  • Production capability
  • Relationship building
  • Recognising new opportunities
  • Planning
  • Recreation


  • Vision, perspective
  • Balance
  • Discipline
  • Control
  • Few crises
Not important

III Activities

  • Interruptions
  • Some calls, mail, reports, meetings
  • Popular activities


  • Short term focus
  • Crisis management
  • Reputation-chameleon character
  • Sees goals and plans as worthless
  • Feels victimised, out of control


IV Activities

  • Trivia
  • Some calls, mail
  • Time wasters
  • Pleasant activities


  • Total irresponsibility
  • Shallow or broken relationships
  • Fired from jobs
  • Dependent  on others or institutions for basics


What would your matrix look like?!













































The requirements of a Quadrant II manager are under 6 headings.

  • Coherence. Harmony, unity, and integrity between vision and mission, priorities and plans, and desires and discipline.
  • Balance. Success in the various roles of our life.
  • Quadrant II Focus. Organize your life on a weekly basis. Schedule your priorities don’t prioritize what’s on your schedule.
  • A “People” Dimension. Focus on people not just the schedule.
  • Flexibility. The planning tool should be tailored to suit you and this may be a simple notebook or the latest electronic gadget.
  • Portability. You should be able to carry your planning tool with you.

Blocks to effective Quadrant II management are

  • The inability to prioritize
  • The inability or desire to organize around those priorities.
  • The lack of discipline to execute around them.

Initially it is difficult to move out of Quadrant I work since it has a momentum of its own and also when you are always running to keep up it’s difficult to take time out and change things.

We should try and move out of Quadrant 4 but there is a need sometimes to give our brains a rest and do some mental housekeeping.

The challenge is to move from Quadrant 3 to 2 since lots of time wasters are here because something appears to be urgent – but in fact is unimportant.







Iain Lamb updated 2016