Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to what he calls “true north” principles based on a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless.

Who is this book for?

  • Readers who are interested in persuasive and leadership oriented books.
  • People who need to use persuasion to generate sales or inspire change.
  • Anyone interested to learn how to use why to get desired results.

Meet the author

Stephen Richards Covey (October 24, 1932 – July 16, 2012) was an American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker. His most popular book is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary

Habits are the key to success.

Have you ever wondered how you could be more successful? Or perhaps why you are not as successful as you want to be? The answer to both of those questions we can answer in a straightforward sentence: You need to have the right habits.

Habits are those things that we do when we aren’t thinking about it. Maybe you like exercising, and perhaps you prefer to read a book.It could be that you prefer to start your morning with a cup of coffee rather than a full breakfast. These things are not something we consciously decide to do, but instead, things that we have “taught” ourselves to do over a period.
Now you might ask: So what if I have coffee instead of tea? So what if I like television more than music? And you would be right. These examples might not make much of a difference.

But there are also other habits that can have a much more profound effect on your life. These are the habits that make you the person you are, and they can drastically change how you interact with the world.
These habits can include how hard you work, whether you are a positive person and even whether you smile a lot. It is therefore vital that you focus on making sure that you have as many positive and helpful habits as possible.

Of course, not all habits are going to be good for everybody, but luckily, there are a few that can help anyone, regardless of their situation.
In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains them.

Focus on Habits that work for you

As mentioned, not all habits are going to work equally well for everyone. If you want to be truly useful, you, therefore, need to make sure that you can identify which particular habits work best for you. Now, this does not mean that we can ignore others entirely.

Focusing on too few of these habits will make you too one dimensional, so you do need to make sure that you keep all of them in mind.

The point of identifying the specific habits that work best for you is that you will be able to decide better precisely what kind of person you want to be. Perhaps you are a business owner going into a negotiation where “being flexible” would be the best habit to utilize. Or perhaps you are a writer who needs to focus on the habit of “being hardworking.”

Your situation and experiences are different from those of other people, so this cannot merely be a “copy and paste” job. If you do the same thing as someone successful, it won’t necessarily help you and in fact, could do much more harm than good.

What you can do, however, is to look at what successful people have done, and find out if maybe there are things they have in common. If you can identify these things, you can find habits that can work for you in your situation, or perhaps even habits that you can change and adapt to suit your needs better.

It is where you can find value in Covey’s book. It does not offer you a solution, but rather a way for you to see that solution for yourself. If you can think of the book as a roadmap, you’ll be well on your way.

Get your Character and Personality right.

Now all this might sound relatively simple, but it takes quite a bit more work than it looks like it does. Imagine that you are planning to go on a road-trip vacation. Before you leave, you will make sure that you have a map to guide you along your way, but it is even more important to make sure that your car is in excellent condition.

When you are forming habits for success, you are in the same situation. All the right habits in the world (your roadmap) won’t help you if you (the car) are not ready to apply them. So to make a success of using your habits, first you have to make sure that your character and personality are right.
But what does this mean? What is the “right” character and personality?
That is a good question, and the answer might surprise you: The “right” personality is the one that works!

Hang on second thought. What does that mean? Well, we all know the stereotype of the high powered Lawyer who walks into a courtroom and dominates. Everyone is listening to every word he says, and his opposition is scared of him. Witnesses don’t want to talk to him. He’s successful, right? That’s a great personality to have.

But how do you think that person would do as a Teacher? What about if he was a Librarian? Or a Pediatrician? That person isn’t going to work there at all.

And this is what we mean by the “right” personality is the one that works. You need to make sure that you are applying your habits toward success in areas that match your character and personality. The mild-mannered librarian is never going to be a successful lawyer and recognizing that is the first step to being successful in whatever area you choose.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary

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But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.” 

― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

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