The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - by Stephen Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – by Stephen Covey

ISBN: 1451639619 READ: April 2016

A good read, with a well thought out and meticulous approach to living a better life. This is not a tips and tricks book as I had originally thought. It is about going deep into the human psyche and changing your perception of the world so that you can overcome challenges by thinking differently. I found it a little longer than necessary believe reading a summarized version would yield the same positive results.


I will link to an AMAZING summary of the book that I found here. I highly recommend checking it out as it outlines the most important points of the book in a beautiful infographical way.

I have also included my own notes below.

To learn and not to do is really not to learn.

We must look AT the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.

Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world not as it is, but as we are – or, as we are conditioned to see it.

This book is about a principle centered, character-based “inside out” approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness. “Inside out” mean to start first with the self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self – with your paradigms, your character and your motives.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

A habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire.

True independence of character empowers us to act rather than be acted upon. It frees us from our dependence on circumstances and other people and is a worthy, liberating goal.

As an independent person, I have the opportunity to share myself deeply, meaningfully, with others, and I have access to the vast resources and potential of other human beings. Interdependence is a choice only independant people can make.

Private victories precede public victories.

Effectiveness lies in the balance – what I call the P/PC balance. P stand for production of desired results, the golden egg. PC stand for production capability, the ability or asset that produces the golden eggs.

Too much focus on PC is like a person who runs three or four hours a day, bragging about the extra ten years of life it creates, unaware he’s spending them running. Or a person endlessly going to school, never producing, living on the other peoples golden eggs – the eternal student syndrome.

Within the freedom to choose are the endowments that make us uniquely human. In addition to self-awareness, we have imagination – the ability to create in our minds beyond our present reality. We have conscience – a deep inner awareness of right and wrong, of the principles that govern our behaviour, and a sense of the degree to which our thoughts and actions are in harmony with them. And we have independent will – the ability to act based on our self-awareness, free of all other influences.

Our behaviour is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.
Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment.
Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values – carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.
The language of reactive people absolves them of responsibility. “That’s me. That’s just the way I am”

It is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.

A serious problem with reactive language is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Two ways to put ourselves in control of our lives immediately:
– We can make a promise – and keep it.
– We can set a goal – and achieve it.
As we make and keep commitments, even small commitments, we begin to establish an inner integrity that gives us the awareness of self-control and the courage and strength to accept more of the responsibility for our own lives.

It is possible to be very busy without being effective.
We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

Habit 1 says “You are the programmer”
Habit 2 says “Write the program”
Until you accept the idea that you are responsible, that you are the programmer, you won’t really invest in writing the program.

Writing or reviewing a mission statement changes you because it forces you to think through your priorities deeply, carefully, and to align your behavior with your beliefs. As you do, other people begin to sense that you’re not being driven by everything that happens to you. You have a sense of mission about what you’re trying to do and you are excited about it.

When people seriously undertake to identify what really matters most to them in their lives, what they really want to be and to do, they become very reverent. They start to think in larger terms than today and tomorrow.

Research shows that almost all of the world-class athletes and other peak performers are visualizers. They see it; they feel it; they experience it before they actually do it. They begin with the end in mind.

An effective goal focuses primarily on results rather than activity. It identifies where you want to be, and, in the process, helps you to determine where you are. It gives you important information on how to get there, and it tells you when you have arrived.

Without involvement, there is no commitment.

The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. they don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.

Organize and execute around priorities.

“Time management” is really a misnomer. The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.

Effective people are not problem minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.

Pareto Principle – 80 % of the results flow out of 20 % of the activities.

Quadrant II criteria
– Coherence
– Balance
– Quadrant II focus
– A “People” dimension
– Flexibility
– Portability

Habit 1 says “You are the programmer”
Habit 2 says “Write the program”
Habit 3 says “Run the program”

Effectively delegating to other is perhaps the single most powerful high-leverage activity there is.

Stewardship delegation is focused on results instead of methods. It gives people a choice of method and makes them responsible for results.
– Desired Results
– Guidelines
– Resources
– Accountability
– Consequences

Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people.

6 Major Deposits that build the Emotional Bank Account
1. Understanding the Individual
2. Attending to the Little Things
3. Keeping Commitments
4. Clarifying Expectations
5. Showing Personal Integrity
6. Apologizing Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal.

I suggest that in an interdependent situation, every P problem is a PC opportunity – a chance to build the Emotional Bank Accounts that significantly affects interdependent production. When parents see their childrens problems as opportunities to build the relationship instead of as a negative, burdensome irritations, it totally changes the nature of parent-child interaction.

Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions.

Win/Win or No Deal: No Deal basically means that if we can’t find a solution that would benefit us both, we agree to disagree agreeably.

to go for Win/Win you not only have to be nice, you have to be courageous. You not only have to be empathetic, you have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you have to be brave.

Abundance Mentality, the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.
Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.
The abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

The amateur salesman sells products; the professional sells solutions to needs and problems.

What is Synergy? Simply defined it means that the whole is greater than the sum of it parts.

Insecure people think that all reality should be amenable to their paradigms. They have a high need to close others, to mold them over into their own thinking. They don’t realize that they very strength of the relationship is in having another point of view. Sameness is not oneness; uniformity is not unity.

Valuing the differences is the essence of synergy – the mental, the emotional, the psychological differences between people. And the key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.

When you only see two alternatives – yours and the “wrong” one – you can look for a synergistic 3rd alternative. There’s almost always a 3rd alternative, and if you work with a Win/Win philosophy and really seek to understand, you ca usually find a solutions that will be better for everyone.

Four Dimensions of Renewal
1. Physical: Exercise, Nutrition, Stress Management
2. Social/Emotional: Service, Empathy, Synergy, Intrinsic Security
3. Spiritual: Value Clarification & Commitment, Study & Meditation
4. Mental: Reading, Visualizing, Planning, Writing

The single most powerful investment we can ever make is in ourselves.

Almost all the benefit of the exercise comes at the very end.

As you increase your body’s ability to do more demanding things, you’ll find your normal activities much more comfortable and pleasant. You’ll have more afternoon energy, and the fatigue you’ve dealt that made you too tired to exercise in the past will be replaced by an energy that will invigorate everything you do.

There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit is reading good literature.
The person who doesn’t read is not better off than the person who can’t read.

The more proactive you are (Habit 1), the more effectively you can exercise personal leadership (Habit 2) and management (Habit 3) in your life. The more effectively you manage your life (Habit 3) the more Quadrant II renewing activities you can do (Habit 7). The more you seek first to understand (Habit 5), the more effectively you can go for synergistic Win/Win solutions (Habit 4 & 6). The more you improve in any of the habits that lead to independence (Habits 1, 2, 3), the more effective you will be at interdependent situations (Habits 4, 5 ,6). And renewal (Habit 7) is the process of renewing all the habits.

To keep progressing, we must learn, commit, and do. Learn, commit and do, and learn, commit, and do again.

By entering our lives on correct principles and creating a balanced focus between doing and increasing our ability to do, we become empowered in the task of creating effective, useful, and peaceful lives… for ourselves and for our posterity.


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