Title: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Year: First published: 1989; New edition published: 15/19/2015
Length: 432 pages
Genre: Self Help, Personal Development, Leadership
Get a copy: 1) Search in local bookstores to support small business 2) Amazon
Short Description: Full of passion and energy, this book will leave you breathless. The principles Mr. Covey discussed in his book can literally change your life. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is something more of a book, is a tool that will help you examine, fix yourself and become a better and much more productive human being.
Since its release in 1989, this book sold millions of copies. Becoming a must-read for leaders and entrepreneurs around the world. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is one of the best books about personal development, period.
Inspirational, developmental, and practical. The principles of behavior covered in this groundbreaking and long-respected book are of great worth to anyone seeking success in career, family, or any other aspect of their life. You can change your life if you don’t first change the way you think. The 7 habits explained in the book are enough, for a person to transform his life into a positive direction.
The author starts his book with a topic so powerful, yet so neglected by people – changing yourself from within. You simply can lose weight – or make any kind of progress in your life – if you don’t first change the way you think about food and regular exercises. Quite often, books and other influential people offer quick fixes or shortcuts towards success, which are only a temporary solution. If you really want to change your life into a positive direction, you first need to change the way you think. This is exactly what you will first master in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
This was probably the first books I’ve read about personal development and to be honest, the feeling and the things I’ve learned from the book are still not surpassed by the other self-help books I’ve read so far – and I do read a lot them. This book is a mixture of the personal life of the author, the stories of his acquaintances and friends, and essential takeaways from the years of experience of the author. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People includes the basic principles of human productivity. They will help you build the foundations of your own success.
Full of examples and stories, this book is easy and fun to read. But there is more to that. Stephen Covey will ask you difficult questions and will leave you with a lot of exercises for you to complete. Ultimately, the author’s main idea is to help you build positive habits in your life.
Beware though. There is something I must warn you about. Don’t think that once you read the book you will magically become successful or more balanced guy or girl, no. You must commit, think, do. Thankfully, the book offers a lot of practical advice.
Notes, thoughts, and essential takeaways that I want to remember from the book. My main goal is to leave you with curated content, to which you can easily return to in the future for reference, that’s also holding the main insights of the book without spoiling what the book is all about:
You can’t skip steps onwards
Our life is full of stages that we mustn’t skip if we want to truly learn something. For example, you can’t start running before learning how to walk, first. The previous is valid for everything. Each stage is important if we really want to build a lasting habit in our lives. Unfortunately, some don’t really understand this simple process. A lot of people start projects without examining what are the essentials first. No wonder these people fail miserably short after they’ve started.
And of course, when they do fail, they never blame themselves, because they’ve also missed this step.
Let’s just say you get yourself involved in a race. A street race. You start the engine, shift the gears like Vin Diesel in the famous movie Fast and Furious and let just say, for the sake of the example, that you do win your first street race. That’s great. You’re probably a born racer. But on the inside, you probably just got lucky. If you don’t really know the dynamics of the car, what happens when you shift gears, why street racers use NOS, and don’t take the needed time to learn all these details and more, you will inevitably lose in the long game.
The same applies to our relationships with each other. We can all imagine a beautiful girl attracted to a millionaire. Over time, we all know what happens: the beautiful girl escapes with the gardener. Why? Because, like we’ve all heard, money can’t buy happiness. Since the relationship with the rich guys was only superficial, without rooted feelings, it didn’t last long.
So, don’t skip steps when you’re building something, whatever it is: relationship with someone or a business. If you want to make it last and worth it, take the needed time.
As Albert Einstein put it: “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” The author talks a lot about the inside out concept in the book. In short – is a concept that makes you look inside yourself when tackling a problem or facing an obstacle.
Let say you want to lose weight. 20 kilos to be more precise. Obviously, your current lifestyle led you to a point where you want to lose weight, meaning, that if you continue to do the same things you will: 1) Not lose any weight; 2) You will probably gain even more weight over time. So, something must change in order to reach the desired kilograms. A diet and a gym membership will surely help, but if you don’t change your mindset, your eating habits, the way you perceive your health, things will be the same.
In order this change to be lasting, it has to first start from the inside. Once you really know how important is to have a good health, then, you will really do the necessary things and start living a healthier life.
I quit smoking more than 20 times in my life until I finally stopped. I failed so many times because I was so focused on the outside factors when I tried to stop: I didn’t buy cigarettes; I was avoiding going out and drinking because these two things made me wanna smoke more; chewing gum; eating more. Not even once I thought about the real reason I wanted to stop smoking. Namely, smoking was really bad for my health. But the main reason I wanted to quit is because I was so addicted. I was craving for a cigarette when I drank or I saw someone else smoking. It was becoming too much of an obsession. Finally, at the age of 25, after 7 years of smoking, I quit. I finally realized, in my mind, that I cannot leave something so small to have such an enormous impact on my life.
I changed within, which changed my external way of doing things.
To maintain the P/PC Balance, the balance between the golden egg (production) and the health and welfare of the goose (production capability) is often a difficult judgment call. But I suggest it is the very essence of effectiveness.” Stephen R. Covey
In short, what Covey wants to say with P/PC balance is this: you must pay equal attention to both the process that helps you earn money and the actual object that enables you to earn them. If by writing you’re making a living, then writing is your P (production) and your laptop is part of your PC (production capability). In the previous example, there are other things involved in the PC: your mood, your health, your inspiration. You can’t write a novel if your hands are tied or heavily injured.
Often we neglect one of the two: either the production or the production capability. We regularly work late nights which will supposedly increase our production but decreases our production capability over time. Or, the so-called work overburn. When your prime focus is towards your work, you neglect other two important aspects of your life: your health and your relationships with others. The same two are part of your production capability. If you don’t mind what you eat because you are constantly working, this will eventually influence your health and will threaten your capability of actually working.
The above applies to the material things we use in our every day lives. We rarely take care of our shoes, for example, which are in a way a production capability. They help us move from place to place, thus helps us make a production.
What is your core?
Asking yourself, “what is at the center of your life” is crucial for becoming a fulfilled person. Sometimes, this is not an easy question. Nevertheless, it’s a question that will help you find your true meaning in life.
Often our core or our center is one, or a combination of the following: partner, family, money, work, material possessions, pleasures, friends, enemy, church, yourself. As you can see, some of the things from above aren’t quite admirable to be your core principles in life. I’m mostly referring to money and material possessions. However, whether we like it or not, a lot of people find happiness only when they purchase stuff. Hopefully, the book will help these people shift their center to something more valuable (or this article about consumerism).
Ideally, you will want to clearly understand your core, what drives you, no matter what it is. Only by knowing what you currently value, you can change it, if needed, or embrace it even more.
God created 10 commandments for us to follow. Even though we should all be aware of these rules, and try to pursue them, it will be even better if we create our own principles in addition to the above 10. By basing our lives on principles, on the right principles, we will create a favorable environment for us and for all the people around us.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Below I will describe in short the 7 habits highly effective people have adopted according to Stephen R. Covey:
- Be proactive – A must-have ability for anyone who wants to progress in their lives. You just can’t move forward if you don’t take responsibility for your actions, or inactions. Finding a better job, a spouse, losing weight, writing a book, are only a few of the things you won’t achieve if you don’t get up your ass and start doing. Remember, you’re responsible for your own life. Be proactive and live it the way you want.
- Begin with the end in mind – The easiest and the cruelest way to understand this model is by embracing this idea for a moment: imagine that you will die after one year. What will you want the people who walk in your funeral to speak of you when they arrive? When you imagine the end goal, it will be much easier for you to pinpoint the steps to get to that goal, instead of walking around not knowing where you’re going and just hoping that something will happen.
- Put first things first – This habit is about prioritizing. About starting to act upon what you’ve come up with in the previous habit. It’s about self-management. Controlling your actions towards what you want to achieve. Put first things first, and remove the unnecessary things from your list to make room for what truly matters.
- Think win-win – As social beings, we’re eager to communicate. However, as humans addicted to consumerism, we’re more focused on winning more money than helping the fellow citizen. Adopt the win-win way of thinking. In short, this means that you’re looking for mutual benefits in your communications with other people, not only satisfying your own needs. Is something really powerful for building long-lasting relationships with people.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood – Communication is the most important skill in our lives. We spend most of our conscious life communicating with other people, but we tend to condemn people before we even hear them what they have to say. “Don’t judge others,” is one of my key takeaways from the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, for a good reason. Before you judge try first to understand what the other is trying to say. A fairly simple thing to do that will help you gain more people to trust you and like you.
- Synergize – In short, synergy means that the whole is much better than the sum of the separate things/tasks (e.g. 1+1=3). Put into context, it will mean that we should work together with others in order to achieve better results. When you’re working with someone you both have much better chances of succeeding, than if you work separately on the same task.
- Sharpen the saw – This habit refers to the importance of regularly checking these four things: physical health; social health; spiritual health; mental health. Regularly sharpening the saw is the most important thing you can do in your life. To be effective in life, to live a good life, you should not neglect any of the above. If you’re ill, you won’t be effective, therefore you won’t be happy.
Making the above things your habits will surely influence your life in a positive way.
Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase. Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.” Stephen R. Covey
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