The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

The international bestseller ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ is the Dr. Stephen Covey’s first and most influential book published in 1989.  The book describes powerful ideas that became bases for his another best seller Principle-Centered Leadership and provided a wide range of resources for the empowerment of individuals, organizations, businesses, and entrepreneurship.

Stephen Covey is well known for writing about leadership.  He begins this book with an observation that all people view the world differently and from their own unique “lens”.  Covey talks about how each of us have an ideal view and map of how we perceive the world and how we think the world should be.  He writes, “The way we see things is the source of the way we think and the way we act.” 

Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits are a simple set of rules for life.  Each habit is adaptable to anyone and is worthy of following and adopting in life.  Here is an overview of each habit.

1.Be Proactive

Adopt a perspective of responsibility for your actions, reactions, and results.

Covey explains this habit as the ability to control one’s environment rather than have it control you.  Covey explains that you must have self-determination, choice and the power to decide your response to stimulus, conditions and circumstances.

2.Begin With the End in Mind

Make sure your efforts start with establishment of your personal principles.

Covey calls this the habit of personal leadership or leading oneself towards what you consider your aims.  This is the belief that developing the habit of concentrating on relevant activities you will build a platform to avoid distractions and become more productive and successful.

3.Put First Things First

Spend your time on things that are important, not on things that are urgent.

This is the habit of personal management.  It is about organizing and implementing activities that are in line with the goals established in habit 2.  While habit 2 deals with the mental aspect this habit deals with the physical.

4.Think Win-Win

Approach every interaction with the perspective of trying to fix the system, not the person, in order to find the solution that is best for all involved.

This is the belief of interpersonal leadership.  Covey states this is necessary because achievements are largely independent on co-operative efforts with others.  Covey believes that success follows a co-operative approach more naturally than the confrontation or win-or-lose mentality.

5.Seek First To Understand and Then To Be Understood

Meet people’s need to be understood, establish trust, and communicate your emotions; communicate your logic last.

This is Covey’s habit of communication.  He uses the analogy of “diagnose before you prescribe”.  He states that this habit is essential for developing and maintaining positive relationships in all aspects of life.


Combine the first five habits for an exponentially higher level of effective and cooperative daily interaction.

Covey says this is the habit of creative co-operation or the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  He points out the importance of always seeing the good and potential in the other person’s contribution.

7.Sharpen the Saw

Take the time to maintain and renew your mind, body, emotions, and spirit.

This is the habit of self-renewal.  Covey believes this habit necessarily surrounds all the other habits, enabling and encouraging them to happen and grow.  Covey interprets the self into four parts: the spiritual, mental, physical and the social/emotional, and he says all need feeding and developing.



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