The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 11/19/2013
One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for 25 years. It has transformed the lives of presidents and CEOs, educators and parents—in short, millions of people of all ages and occupations across the world. This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Stephen Covey’s cherished classic commemorates his timeless wisdom, and encourages us to live a life of great and enduring purpose.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

About the Author

Stephen Richards Covey (1932-2012) is mostly recognized for his highly influential book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey enrolled at the University of Utah for business administration at the age of 16. In both the U.K. and Ireland, he spent years serving as a Mormon missionary. He attended Harvard Business School in 1957 and received his MBA. In 1976, he received a doctorate in religious education at Brigham Young University where he led self-help classes. In 1983 he founded the Covey Leadership Center, in Provo, Utah which merged in 1997 with Hyrum Smith’s Franklin Quest Co., becoming the Franklin Covey Co. Time magazine named Covey one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1996. In 2011, Covey was ranked 47th in the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top 50 business thinkers. He is also credited for writing a multitude of business books and being a successful educator, public speaker, and overall businessman. Covey died in Idaho in 2012 from complications following a bike accident.


Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People offers the following 7 habits to become effective: 1) Be Proactive 2) Begin with the End in Mind 3)Put First Things First 4)Think Win/Win 5) Seek First to Understand 6) Synergize and 7) Sharpen the Saw. Covey argues that to be a more effective person, one must have a mental paradigm shift. Paradigms relate to the ways in which people see the world and how they react to situations. His quote “the way we see the problem is the problem” speaks to the need for people to change the way they see to develop better approaches to situations. The author states that changing behavior can produce mild personal changes whereas changing the way we view the world can lead to greater positive changes. He encourages readers to always have their end-goal in mind to avoid distractions on the journey to success. He also encourages people to take action to ensure their physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional well-being is intact so they can be more effective in achieving their ultimate goals.

Habit 1 (Be Proactive)

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Managers are chosen to do a great job at carrying out duties whereas there are no assigned duties for leaders to follow. Leaders create rules based on their value system.

Genetic determinism, psychic, and environmental determinism all suggest that there are outside factors such as family and community that prevent people from progressing. However, highly effective people understand that their own values and actions are just as much responsible for their life outcomes.

-Habit 2 (Begin with the End in Mind)

Consider how time and energy is spent. Don’t spend too much time on jobs that have nothing to do with the end-goal.

Covey wants readers to imagine the words that will be shared about them at their funerals. Through considering the end, people can work toward ensuring that the words shared about them at death reflects the way they wanted to live their life.

Habit 3 (Put First Things First)

Determining one’s ultimate goals can help a person prioritize the tasks that will get him or her closer to meeting those goals.

Covey uses a quadrant system to help people prioritize their tasks. Urgent matters are placed in quadrant 1 because they must be completed immediately. However, quadrant 2 includes tasks that are important but not urgent. Those tasks should also be considered priorities. Those are the duties we often wish to complete for our own fulfillment but become too overwhelmed by urgent tasks to start.

-Habit 4 (Think win/win)

Successful negotiations should be beneficial to both parties. If one person only considers what he or she can achieve from making a deal, then the other person’s commitment to the cause can lessen. Building trustworthy partnerships is more valuable than short-term gain.

It is fair to either have a mutually beneficial agreement or to not make a deal at all.

-Habit 5 (Seek First to Understand)

Understanding others is pertinent to moving away from the “problem” mindset. Once a person is humble enough to learn someone else’s story, her or she can gain more clarity about his or her own story.

Avoid immediately offering solutions to other people’s problems. Listen, first, in order to provide meaningful insight.

-Habit 6 (Synergize)

The Circle of Influence refers to the people or things that a person has the power to impact. Covey distinguishes between the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern by expressing that the Circle of Concern is bigger and it includes all of the things and people that one cares about. The Circle of Influence is smaller because people do not have the power to influence all of things or people that concern them.

Covey encourages readers to focus more on what they can impact instead of losing the power to influence others by focusing on issues or people that are out of their control.

People who focus on concerns that are outside of their Circle of Influence are often negative and critical because they cannot impact what they care about. This behavior can contribute to them losing the ability to impact even more people.

The positive personality of a person can help enlarge that person’s social network.

Synergy is the collaboration between two or more people which can help produce greater results. For synergy to exist, people must be willing to see positive qualities in one another.

-Habit 7 (Sharpen the Saw)

Sharpening the Saw involves improving one’s physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being which can be achieved respectively through 1) exercising and eating nutritious foods 2) engaging in meaningful conversations and enjoying activities with others 3) accessing information that contributes to positive, transformed thinking and 4) committing oneself to a value system and practices that work on behalf of one’s overall well-being, such as meditation, prayer, deep reflection, and a day of rest.

When a person’s physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual well-being is healthy more space is created for a person to be successful in other areas of his or her life.


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