Josiah Nang-Bayi, MD
9 Min Read

In 1989, the global arena of literary inventions was dazzled by a new exhibition that has proven to be one of the most outstanding additions to the world’s unending collection of published written works – the publication of Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The principles laid out in the book are ageless and will remain relevant in decades and millennia to come.

To fully benefit, we must move beyond superficial understanding to integrate these habits into our character and identity. Only through conscious, sustained effort and applied practice can we transform ourselves. The payoff however is immense – as we come closer to realizing our highest human potential.

Below are the top ten lessons I want to share with you today:

Be proactive: Proactivity does not imply just taking initiative but one’s ability to choose how circumstances affect you. Instead of reacting to external circumstances, take responsibility for your life and actions. Proactivity means that you choose your responses and actions, and are not controlled by external factors.

Becoming proactive requires introspection and awareness – to chastise yourself when you unconsciously react due to ingrained habits and conditioning. Through conscious effort, you can train yourself to pause, evaluate context, and choose intentional responses aligned with your values. This capacity to self-correct is definitive of our humanity.

With proactivity comes freedom and responsibility. You get to write your life story rather than accept default scripts written by others. This awakening to personal power is both exhilarating and frightening. To achieve enduring change, you must balance initiative with humility and care for community. Change driven solely by egoistic motives often ends in disaster.

Begin with the end in mind: You cannot start on a journey without clearly determining your destination.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Without clarity of vision or purpose, you drift – allowing distractions and detours to dictate your path. Goal setting provides necessary direction, enabling priorities and effective strategy. It prevents wasted effort through misalignment across multiple aspects of life. 

Define your long-term goals and vision before you start working on anything. These goals will be your focus point, your destination to guide your choice of route- your decisions.  This will help you stay focused on what truly matters to you and make sure that your actions are aligned with your values.

Begin by defining your “end” – what would you like to achieve or accomplish long-term? The most meaningful goals reflect our core values and identity. These anchors provide guidance especially when experiencing doubt or temptation. When facing difficult choices, connect back to your essential intentions

Put first things first: Do you remember the concept of a priority list in basic economics and budgeting? That is one of the most vivid representations of “putting first things”. Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things that matter the least. This involves prioritizing important tasks over urgent ones, and avoiding distractions that take you away from your most important work.

The constant barrage of stimuli and information overwhelms our capacity to respond effectively. Everything seems critically urgent. We lose perspective on what activities are truly vital and end up majoring in minors

Regain control by categorizing your efforts based on long-term goals – identify importance independently of apparent urgency. Schedule your priorities ensuring you dedicate sufficient energy and resources towards execution. Batch less critical items to prevent distraction. Act with intention following your plan.

Think win-win: The greatest successes in life have been achieved not just through independence but interdependence. However, there can be no effective interdependence with others when one has not established sustainable independence. Seek mutual benefits and agreements in all your interactions. This approach requires a mindset of abundance and cooperation, where you believe that there is enough for everyone to succeed.

Connection represents a fundamental human need – giving context and meaning to our collective existence. Positive relationships provide love, friendship, community, and opportunity. They inspire you to become a better version of yourself. In isolation, we whither emotionally and spiritually. 

Seek first to understand, then to be understood: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you” – Luke 6:31. Stephen may not have not quoted this Bible verse but his presentation of the fifth habit resonates with it. Listen actively to others and try to understand their perspective before presenting your own. This requires empathetic communication and the ability to see things from multiple angles – to see things from other person’s perspective.

Synergize: Success in any endeavor can be viewed as a gestalt – an organized whole perceived as being more than just the sum of its parts. Synergy implies that the weaknesses and strengths of different entities are combined so effectively that all that seems to exist is strength. This involves valuing differences, building on strengths, and being open to new ideas.

Sharpen the saw: In the fable of the Golden Goose, Stephen opens our eyes to the fact that the source is as important as the results. In his own coinage, we must ensure a “producer/Producing capacity balance”.  Invest in your own personal and professional development to continually improve yourself. This includes taking care of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Surprisingly the most important activity gets scheduled last, if at all. We will make time for nearly everything else before looking after mind and body. Tragically once health begins deteriorating, often irreparable before we realize impacts across all aspects of life.

Monitor metrics like your energy levels, mental sharpness, and positivity. Invest to raise your baseline higher through periods of intensified training. Periodize your plan ensuring sufficient rest to assimilate gains.

Be proactive in learning: Being proactive applies to learning just as it applies to growth and development. I am of the view that learning precedes growth. Therefore your first point of proactivity is to expand your knowledge/skill base through continuous learning. You can take charge of your own learning by seeking out new experiences, being open to feedback, and continuously expanding your knowledge and skills.

The accelerating rate of technological and social change, often but always, renders previous generations’ sources of education and skills obsolete. Expertise has a shrinking half-life – even the leading experts must strive to be abreast of current trends. Survival depends on mastering the art of learning itself rather than transient, specialized knowledge.

Build strong Connections: Have you heard the saying, “your network determines your networth”? This is true even for families. There are families that have strong supportive, co-operative bonds and some that don’t. The same applies to all other forms of relations.   Relationships are key to success in any area of life. Building strong, positive relationships requires empathy, trust, and effective communication.

Embrace a growth mindset: Adopt a mindset of continuous learning and improvement, and see failures and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow, not excuses for inaction and avoidable mediocrity. This involves developing a positive attitude and believing in your own ability to learn and improve.

Hope you found value in this article, and have gained some enlightenment to develop a new paradigm, a more productive perspective of the world and how you act in it.

If you did, let us know in the comments and share the article to as many young people as possible. lets grow together!

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Josiah Nang-Bayi, MD is a medical doctor by profession, an author, a financial literacy and digital assets enthusiast, an entrepreneur and a growing philanthropist.
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