The 7 Habits

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

Author John Maxwell (an authority on leadership) wrote “People don’t determine their future. They determine their habits, which determine their future.”  In short, if you want to change your life, you need to change something you do daily (habits). 

Thus, habits are a superpower that we all need to build or develop. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have accomplished. For example, a friend of mine worked hard for a year and got the 6 pack abs he was aiming for. Three months later, he stopped going to the gym daily. He was still working out 4 times a week. Over a period of time, 4 times became None. What do you think happened to his 6 pack? It’s now more like my 2 pack. Basketball Coach Phil Jackson said this powerful line (that I have kept in my notes where I relook at it regularly) “You are only a success for the moment you complete a successful act.” So, our future then truly depends on whether we have developed effective habits or our ability to develop effective habits.”.

There are so many amazing books written on Habits such as Atomic Habits, Tiny Habits, and The Power of Habit to name a few. These books have loads of research should you need more convincing about the power of the habit.  While many of these books attempt to make habits as simple as possible, the reality is that establishing “good to great” habits takes work.

Don’t believe it. You will.

Stephen Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” wrote “we will define a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire.

Knowledge – what and why to do. Skill is how to do it. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.

Mr. Covey further writes “I may be ineffective in my interactions with my work associates, my spouse, or my children because I constantly tell them what I think, but I never really listen to them. Unless I search out the correct principles of human interaction, I may not even know I need to listen. Even if I do know that in order to interact effectively with others, I really need to listen to them, I may not have that skill. I may not know how to really listen deeply to another human being. But knowing I need to listen and knowing how to listen is not enough. Unless I want to listen, unless I have the desire, it won’t be a habit in my life.  Creating a habit thus requires work in all 3 dimensions.

The objective of this post was to actually give a quick intro to each of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people and inspire you to think and build one or more habits. The best in our industry and profession globally have built many (if not all) of these habits in their day-to-day work. Let’s now look at the Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People along with how these might connect in the context of the work we do.

1. Be Proactive

Look at the word responsibility- response-ability- the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize this. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behaviour. In our industry, they do not blame the regulators, markets, competitors, or anyone else. They know they have a choice to respond to any given situation.

2. Begin with an End in Mind

“Begin with an end in mind,” is based on the principle that all things are created twice. First in the mind and then in reality. First, we must get clear about what we want. Then we create it. Think of building a house. What’s the first step? Do you finalize the design with an architect or directly get the construction crew to build? 

Similarly, highly effective financial professionals always begin with an end in mind whether it is reimagining the entire client experience or their process or investing in the firm. 

3. Put First Things First

What is the most important thing for your firm? To continue to get a steady flow of ideal clients. Client Acquisition thus is super important. While we all say this is important, what you really do to acquire clients and the process you have instilled determines the growth and value of your firm.

Ask yourself “How much time do you invest in this activity?”

4. Think Win-Win

Entering a relationship with someone and thinking how both of you can Win. How do you approach relationships today? Do you enter a relationship with someone with a genuine desire to see the other person become successful? I don’t need to plug this here, but I couldn’t stop myself from doing it, because we have jumped in the dirt & trenches the last few years to help our partners Win (without even considering our Win).

What’s one relationship that you need to spend time thinking win/win? And what are you going to do about it in 2022?

5. Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

While we are focused on making sure we are understood, how much time do we truly take to understand the other person. This is absolutely important and our work rests on this foundational pillar of diagnosis. Highly Effective Financial Professionals understand this, and they focus on diagnosing their clients thoroughly and ensure that their prospects and clients feel properly diagnosed

6. Synergize

Covey wrote “Synergy is everywhere in nature. If you plant 2 plants close together, the roots commingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated. The whole is greater than the sum of parts.” We have been taught this in childhood through a fable that United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

What are the synergies that you are working on?

 7. Sharpen the Saw

Finally, Covey tells the brilliant story of a man in a forest sawing down a tree with a blunt saw. He saws (and saws). Working hard but not getting by. A passer-by suggests that he takes a break and sharpen his saw only to get a reply “I don’t have time.”

Does that sound like you? Sounds like me on some occasions.

Do you find yourself saying “I don’t have time”?

You can dig deeper into the book to understand these concepts in greater detail or reflect on the above by carving out some Thinking Time.

Aristotle wrote “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Are you ready for Excellence as a Habit?

If you are, how do you propose to make it happen? I would love to hear from you.