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January 2, 2019

Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

Imagine a book that sells 25 million copies world-wide since 1989; and is the first audio book on planet Earth to sell one million copies. Today I review Stephen Covey’s best seller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It is obvious this book resonates with millions of people on at least 6 continents. There is even one version dedicated to teenagers. Interestingly, the first three habits focus on self-mastery and moving from dependence to independence. The second three habits focus on developing teamwork, collaboration and communication skills, moving from independence to interdependence. The last habit focuses on continuous growth and improvement. Covey emphasizes that in order to be happy and successful, most people need a paradigm shift, a fundamental change in behavior and attitude. Covey’s book shows the way. It is eloquent in its simplicity. The key feature of achieving success via the 7 habits is to build character, not to achieve success. However, if you build fine character, success will naturally follow.

  • In Brief:
  • Private Victory Habits:
    • 1. Be Proactive
    • 2. Begin with the End in Mind
    • 3. First Things First
  • Public Victory Habits:
    • 4. Think Win-Win
    • 5. Seek to Understand, Then to Understand
    • 6 Synergize
  • Personal Renewal Habit:
    • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
      •  Physical – Exercise, Nutrition, Stress Management
      • Mental – Reading, Planning, Writing
      • Spiritual – Study and Meditation
      • Social/Emotional – Srvice, Empathy
  • In Detail:
    • Be Proactive suggests that in order to be effective, you must take ownership of your life, not waiting for an epiphany, not waiting for your fortune to improve. The Big Idea here is to perform your due dilligence, make a decision and commit.
    • Begin with the End in Mind suggests that being busy is not the same as being productive. Lewis Carroll adeptly states, “If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.” In other words, without a clearly defined and specific vision for the future (i.e. academically, personally and professionally, it is impossible to plan today for the future).
    • Put First Things First suggests that your time, resources and willpower are limited. Thus, managing your time efficiently, focusing on your priorities is essential for growth and progress.
    • Think Win-Win suggests that your success and that of someone else need not be mutually exclusive. In today’s world, individuals and teams are successful when they work in collaboration and when they share information and resources. The “zero sum” mentality, where in order for someone to gain someone else has to lose is contrary to the Win-Win mindset where creative negotiations and solutions create winners on both sides.
    • Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood suggests that you must commit to seeing clearly, hearing completely and understanding entirely another’s point of view before you can optimally understand and address their issue. Many of us spend too much time preparing to respond in a conversation than you “emphatically listen and correctly interpret” the other person’s main point and perspective.
    • Synergize suggests that when we interact with others, when there is trust, respect and collaboration and a singular purpose, a unique harmony and productivity can be achieved where 1+1 can equal 3 or 5 or 10. Teams can either work in harmony or in chaos, either in dysfunction or “in the zone.” The ultimate goal is optimizing human performance, as individuals and as teams. Colleges are looking for students that play into this dynamic.
    • Sharpen the Saw suggests that in order for the first six habits to take hold, body, mind and soul need to be protected and optimized. Specifically, this applies:
      • Eating healthy and Exercising Regularly
      • Daily pray and/or Meditation
      • Nature Walks
      • Keep a journal of your thoughts, experiences and insights
      • Meaningful Service to the Community
      • Limit Videos and Social Media
    • Stephen Covey’s strategies can undoubtedly provide anyone with a sound foundation, resolve and balance. In this framework, opportunities that didn’t exist emerge, increasing the probability of success and happiness.