Stephen Covey — The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People Book Review
Today, I’m going to review the best-seller book of Stephen Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. How to be effective enough to become successful? How to unleash the giant within you?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is a self-improvement book.
It is written on Stephen Covey’s belief that the way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions. In order to change a given situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.
What we are says far more than what we say or do.
Stephen Covey argues it’s your character that needs to be cultivated to achieve sustainable success, not your personality. When you value the correct principles, you see reality as it truly is.
Greatness starts from the inside out.
This is a factThis book has touched millions of people’s lives — it’s one of, if not THE, most well know success books out there. As its name reveals, it’s a book about change — changing yourself to become more effective in every area of your life.
The problem is that people don’t focus on the foundation, they focus on the appearance.
They are looking for shortcuts and quick fixes, but there are no shortcuts. This is not a quick fix program but if you endure and apply the following habits, you will absolutely achieve your goals and it will help you develop better relationships.
It’s time to develop yourself and grow as a person. Are you ready?
No matter your achievements, there is always room to improve. Enjoy this book summary of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which offers the following seven profound solutions to reach toward your full potential.
The first habit that Stephen Covey discusses is being proactive. What distinguishes us as humans from all other animals is our inherent ability to examine our own character, to decide how to view ourselves and our situations, and to control our own effectiveness.
We’re in charge. We choose the scripts by which to live our lives. Use this self-awareness to be proactive and take responsibility for your choices.
While external factors have the ability to cause pain, your inner character doesn’t need to be damaged. What matters most is how you respond to these experiences. Proactive individuals focus their efforts on the things they can change, whereas reactive people focus their efforts on the areas of their lives in which they have no control.
If you feel down, it’s because YOU allowed the stimulus to bring you down.
This is a factYou are responsible for your life. You, and you alone, are responsible for your life. If you’re successful, it’s because of you. If you’re struggling, it’s because of you.
A common paradigm used to shrug off responsibility is known as the deterministic paradigm. It says: Everything is predetermined—so why bother to try and make things better.
It is comfortable and convenient to blame your genes, or the economy for your troubles. In any case, you are the only one who is responsible for your current condition. No matter your situation there is always at-least one choice you can make to live a better life: You can choose how any situation affects you.
The clearest manifestation of proactivity can be seen in your ability to stick to the commitments you make to yourself and to others.
This includes a commitment to self-improvement and, by extension, personal growth. By setting small goals and sticking to them, you gradually increase your integrity, which increases your ability to take responsibility for your life.
📚 Additional reading
Proactivity is not an optimistic stance. Instead, proactivity means understanding the reality of a situation.
Begin With The End In Mind
The author recommends that as much as you think about your life goals, you also think about who you want to be. When you have that clear, you can draft principles and values in accordance with that person.
Beginning with the end in mind means being clear about who you want to be and where you want to go.
This is a factWith your principles and values clear you will approach life and all the events in your life with a high level of clarity and confidence. Stephen Covey emphasizes that our self-awareness empowers us to shape our own lives, instead of living our lives by default or based on the standards or preferences of others.
To get where you want to go in life, you need to have a map. you need to determine your life goals, your destination, and you also need a plan on how to get there.
Otherwise, you’re just aimlessly wandering around in life. Do you know where you want to be in 5, 10, and 15 years from now? If not, then you’re wandering around aimlessly at the whims of everyone else.
Developing a personal mission statement is my favorite exercise in this book. I recommend you give it a try and update it regularly.
This is a factDeveloping this mission statement should take time. And, it should also be to the point. So, lubricate and impregnate your future with good by making sure your mission statement centers around your values, and the fundamental principals mentioned previously.
Create your ideal life and your legacy. It can be whatever you want. Dream big and don’t hold yourself back.
As you know where you want to go and how you want to be, you make sure that what you do aligns with those things. With the destination in mind you automatically go in the right direction so that each day contributes meaningfully to what you want in life.
Put First Things First
In order to manage ourselves effectively, we must put first things first. We must have the discipline to prioritize our day-to-day actions based on what is most important, not what is most urgent.
Having an independent will means you are capable of making decisions and acting on them. How frequently you use your independent will is dependent on your integrity.
Your integrity is synonymous with how much you value yourself and how well you keep your commitments. Habit three concerns itself with prioritizing these commitments and putting the most important things first.
Time management can be summed up as: Organize and execute around priorities.
This is a factDo not let the illusion of busyness fool you into believing you are effective. To be truly effective, you must focus on your long term goals (found in your mission statement) for the future.
To focus on your mission statement’s priorities, Stephen Covey has developed a four by four matrix to help organize all your activities. It is subdivided by things that are Important/not-important and urgent/not-urgent.
An effective time manager spends as much time as possible in quadrant II. They do things that are important before they become urgent.
The more time you spend in this quadrant, the less time you will have to spend in quadrant I. Delegate or otherwise cut out anything in quadrants III and IV.
Instead of reacting to the impulse of the moment, we should act in accordance with our main goals.
Just reacting to what happens and do what seems to be important right now. It’s just doing things with a short-term focus. Eventually, he states, this will lead to stress or even burnout.
In order to establish effective interdependent relationships, we must commit to creating Win-Win situations that are mutually beneficial and satisfying to each party.
Stephen Covey argues that win/win isn’t a technique, it’s a philosophy of human interaction. It’s a frame of mind that seeks out a mutual benefit for all concerned.
This means that all agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, and all parties feel satisfied with the outcome. To embody this mindset, life must be seen as a cooperative, not a competition.
The Win/win frame of mind requires a shift in our paradigm, or way we see the world. We have to go from dependence to independence to interdependence.
When we are emotionally dependent on other people, then our own self worth hinges on their approval. Independence is the next step up, and this is a very popular message in our society today. Interdependence, which means having a life that is interwoven with others, but not being dependent on them, is creating win/win agreements.
To achieve Win-Win, keep the focus on results, not methods; on problems, not people.
This is a factIn most difficult situations, the problem is the system, not the people. By approaching those situations with the question of how we can change the system to make it work for all involved, many difficult problems can be resolved.
Try thinking about your relationships as an emotional bank account.
By proactively making deposits, you ensure that the emotional funds will be there when the time comes to make a withdrawal. Trust is essential to achieving win/win agreements. You must nourish your relationships to maintain a high level of trust.
Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Before we can offer advice, suggest solutions, or effectively interact with another person in any way, we must seek to deeply understand them and their perspective through empathic listening.
The ability to communicate clearly is essential for your overall effectiveness, as it’s the most important skill you can train.
If your principles are solid, you’ll naturally want to engage and listen to people without making them feel manipulated. Consequently, it’s through your character that you transmit and communicate what type of a person you are. Through it, people will come to instinctively trust and open up to you.
We should listen empathically instead of forcing our natural autobiographical responses onto each situation. If we do this, we can get beyond a surface-level, transactional exchange and have a real impact.
This is a factNeeds stop motivating people once those needs are satisfied. Satisfy the need to be understood, and you can move on to being productive. Subsequently, the other half of this habit is being understood.
The author claims that when we “listen” we have the tendency to rush in and try to give good advice. We don’t even let the speaker finish what she’s saying.
Try to understand. Try not to think about what you’ve experienced or what you’ve done. Do not look within your own autobiography for an answer. Just try to listen and understand.
A practical way to start is by reflecting back what other people say to you. This basically shows that you’re paying attention and you’ve taken in what they were saying.
Crisis negotiators at the FBI use similar techniques. In his book, Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss shares some of the most effective negotiation techniques he used with criminals, kidnappers, and then later in his business and personal life.
📚 Additional reading
The word SYNERGY comes from the Greek word for working together and it’s based on Aristotle’s theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Synergy allows us to create new alternatives and open new possibilities. It allows us as a group to collectively agree to ditch the old scripts and write new ones.
This is a factWhen synergy is operating at its fullest, it incorporates the desire to reach win/win agreements with empathic communication. It’s the essence of principle-centered leadership. It unifies and unleashes great power from people.
The idea behind this is that different people bring different opinions, ideas, perspectives, and strengths to the table.
Instead of simply tolerating or accepting these differences, we should celebrate them. We should value these differences. This is what any good leader does — they get their different subject matter experts and get their input to come up with the best solution.
Synergy is the highest level of communication.
Basically, be a sponge that sucks up everything, even if what’s being said does NOT agree with you. You need to stay open-minded in order to achieve creative cooperation.
To be your best (synergized) self, you must use both sides of your brain to their full capacity.
This is a factRespecting both your analytical and creative sides will lead to greater success. Each side of you has something to offer. Do not stifle one over the other.
📚 Additional reading
Sharpen The Saw
To be effective, we must devote the time to renewing ourselves physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially. Continuous renewal allows us to synergistically increase our ability to practice each habit.
To sharpen the saw means to express and exercise all four of these motivations regularly and consistently.
This is a factThis is the most important investment you can make in your life, as you are the instrument of your performance. It’s essential to tend to each area with balance, as to overindulge in one area means to neglect another.
When you neglect any one area, you damage the rest. So, commit at least one hour of every day to these practices.
To reach any new level of progress, you must— learn, commit and do. And then repeat. And then, keep on repeating. Renewal will help power an upward spiral of continuous improvement.
Renewal is the process that empowers us to move along an upward spiral of growth and change, of continuous improvement.
Plus, as we focus on renewing ourselves along these four dimensions, we must also seek to be a positive scripter for other people. We must look to inspire others to a higher path by showing them we believe in them, by listening to them empathically, by encouraging them to be proactive.
This will help you become more effective in all areas of life.
You will grow as an individual. Grow as a person. Grow in character. You become a better person. You come closer to the best version of yourself.
As you continue down the path, you will hit obstacles, and you will fall back a time or two, but this is necessary.
Old habits will pull you down, but don’t give up.
Keep pushing yourself and you will hit new heights and levels of effectiveness. As you progress, be open to self discovery and be open minded.
To achieve true effectiveness, you need to find balance between producing and looking after yourself. YOU are your biggest asset.
So, become the best ever possible version of yourself. Again, start with yourself. Start today by trying to be proactive. Take initiative and get started. Step by step.
Make these seven habits a part of your life. Don’t just attempt to understand them intellectually, try to live them.
This is a factApply these habits and teach them to others because the best way to learn is by teaching it to someone else. This is a life long process that requires patience. It’s not a quick fix, it won’t happen overnight, and it will be a challenge.
The better you get, the more you realize you can do even better.
I hope you have enjoyed this book review of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. If you have feedback about this book review or would like to share what you have learned, comment below!