The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey (Book Summary)

January 27, 2016

GenrePersonal development, Motivational I Author Stephen R. Covey I Publisher Free Press First published: 2016 I Pages : 372p I ISBN 0743269519 I   Buy at : Amazon.comGoogle

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” written by Stephen R. Covey maybe almost 30 years old, but is still the most effective and inspiring book in the genres of self-help, motivational, and personal development. This has always been an international best-seller, has sold over 25 Million copies since its first publication in 1989.

What are Habits? Stephen Covey describes habits as the “activities that we repeatedly do in the same manner, day-after-day”. Our character is the composite of our habits. In the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

When we start practicing the proven- virtuous habits of successful people every day, we can also become successful. Fortunately, for those of us not born effective (no one is), these habits can be learned.

The author also remarks, “different people perceive the world differently”. We all have our own paradigm and we see things according to it. If we want to change our life, we must first change the way of looking at things; and focus on improving our attitude and behaviours.

After describing the importance of attitude and behaviors, the author reveals the 7 most effective habits. Here is a brief summary of them:

1. Be proactive
The first habit, being proactive is perhaps deeply embedded into the management psyche. It is important to focus on the long-term goals and think about the long-term consequences of our actions. Having a proactive attitude is a state of mind which makes a positive difference to almost every situation.

2. Begin with the end
For many, being successful at their chosen career does not bring any sense of real satisfaction. According to Covey, this comes because they do not begin with the end. Beginning with the end means to define the purpose of life. Only when you are clear about what you want (as your ultimate goal) you can be happy. Otherwise, you may spend your life in the pursuit of happiness.

3. First things first
‘First things first’ is nothing but time management. To get on with this, it is essential to first define what is important. Your work can be divided into the four categories – urgent and important, important but not urgent, not important but urgent and finally not important and not urgent. Completing your work according to your priority list will automatically help you manage your time.

4. Think "Win-Win"
‘Think Win-Win’ is again an attitude of the mind. This trains your mind to always find solutions that will truly benefit both sides of a deal/argument. The more you practice this habit, the more committed you will become to find solutions which would benefit both the parties. Stephen Covey has slightly amended the wording as Think Win-Win or No Deal😉. This attitude works well because it liberates people from the effort of trying to persuade the opposite party or compromise. Rather, it helps to strike a deal that will benefit both the parties.

5. Seek first to understand
‘Seek first to understand’ is not just about letting the other person speak first; it actually is the effort to understand what is being said by others. We often tend to misunderstand and misinterpret what others say. Therefore, it is important to carefully listen to and apprehend what is said in a meeting or a discussion to work on the right path.

6. Synergize
The word synergy means "joint work" and "cooperative" action. Therefore, the sixth habit talks about joint meetings and discussions between the heads of each of the parties in order to creatively brainstorm on a problem. Finding a synergistic solution means finding a solution which is better than what an individual party would have proposed. A synergistic solution can only be found if both the parties commit to the idea of working out a solution that would benefit all parties involved. In such a scenario, investing time and effort to come up with a joint solution proves fruitful.

7. Sharpen the saw
According to the seventh and the last habit, you are the saw. To ‘sharpen the saw’ is to become better, keener and more effective. Highly effective people always take time to ‘sharpen the saw’ that is to engage in activities that would enhance the different human conditions - the mind, the body and the soul.

Concluding notes: The author concludes the book by saying: “I believe that correct principles are natural laws and that God, the Creator and Father of us all, is the source of them and also the source of our conscience. I believe that to the degree people live by this inspired conscience, they will grow to fulfill their natures, to the degree that they do not, they will not rise above the animal plane”. As human beings, we cannot become perfect. But to the degree to which people align themselves with correct principles, divine endowments will be released within our nature.

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  1. I've heard of this book and good to see a review of it. Interesting points

  2. This was the first book of this kind that I read. I loved it and still do.

  3. All excellent points, if only I could stick with them ;)

  4. I have heard good things about this book! Great review and perspective. :)