Book Review The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen Covey
This is a book review of Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. This book has sold over 15 million copies. It’s seven principles are timeless – unchanging to events – which make the book one of the all time personal development best sellers. THE BOOK This book describes the seven habits of highly effective people and the techniques for adopting these seven habits. It makes clear that an individual must make a paradigm shift before incorporating these habits into his/her own personal life. A paradigm is essentially the way an individual perceives something. It emphasises that if we want to make a change in our lives, we must first focus on our personal attitudes and behaviors. SUMMARY This book strikes a nerve because it shows us what genuine responsibility is about. To blame “the economy” or “my terrible employer” or “my family” for our troubles is useless. To have fulfilment and personal power, we had to decide what we would take responsibility for, what was in our “circle of concern.” Only by working on ourselves could we hope to expand our “circle of influence.” You need to think about what is most important to you and see if it is the center around which your life revolves. The books draws a distinction between the “personality ethic”—the quick-fix solutions and human relations techniques with the “character ethic”—which revolved around unchanging personal principles. The author believes that outward success was not success at all if it was not the manifestation of inner mastery. Or, in his terminology, “private victory” must precede “public victory.” The book emphasises habits as the basic units of change. Real greatness is the result of the slow development of character over time; it is our daily habits of thinking and acting that are the ground on which that greatness is built. The 7 Habits puts effectiveness at a higher level than achievement. Achievement is hollow unless what you achieve is actually worthwhile, both in terms of your highest aims and service to others. The Seven habits are: 1 Be proactive. We always have the freedom to choose our reactions to stimuli. Covey states that we are responsible for our own lives; therefore, we possess the initiative to make things happen. He also points out that proactive people so not blame various circumstances for their behaviors but they realize behavior comes from one’s conscious. Covey also explains that the other type of person is reactive. Reactive people are affected by their social as well as physical surroundings. He also explains that all problems that are experienced by individuals fall into one of three categories, which are direct control, indirect control, or no control. The problems that are classified under direct control are the problems that involve our own behavior. The problems classified as indirect control encompasses problems that we can do nothing about. The problems classified as no control are those that we can do nothing about. 2 Begin with the end in mind. What do I want people to say about me at my funeral? By writing our own eulogy or creating a personal mission statement, we create the ultimate objective or person first, and work backward from there. We have a self-guidance system that gives us the wisdom to make the right choice, so that whatever we do today is in line with the image created of ourselves at the end. think about the words that you wish to be said about you; it can help the individual visualize what you value the most. To begin with the end simply means to start with your destination in mind. That gives an individual a sense of where he/she presently is in their life. One has to know where they are going to make sure that they are headed in the right direction. Covey also mentions that the most effective way to begin with the end is by developing a personal mission statement. After doing that, you should identify your center of attention. Are you spouse centered, money centered, family centered, etc. The he tells you depending on you core of interest, your foundation for security, guidance, and power. 3 Put first things first. Habit 3 puts into daily action the vision of habit 2. Having that ultimate picture in our mind, we can plan our days for maximum effectiveness and enjoyment. Our time is spent with the people and the things that really matter. 4 Think Win/Win. One person’s success doesn’t need to be achieved at the expense of the success of others. In seeking Win/Win, we never endanger our own principles. The result is a better relationship— “not your way or my way, a better way”—created by truly seeing from the other person’s perspective. Win/win is a situation in which everyone benefits something. It is not your way or my way; it is a better way. Win/lose declares that if I win then you lose. Simply put, I get my way; you don’t get yours. Win/lose people usually use position, power, possessions, or personality to get their way. The win/lose type of person is the person that feels that if I lose; you win. The win/win or no deal person means that if there is not a suitable solution met that satisfies both parties then there is no agreement. 5 Seek to understand, then to be understood. Without empathy, there is no influence. Without deposits in the emotional bank account of relationships, there is no trust. Genuine listening gives precious psychological air to the other person, and opens a window on to their soul. Most people to not listen with the intent to understand but with the intent to reply. The act of listening to understand is referred to as empathic listening. That means you try to get into the person’s frame of mind and think as they are thinking. 6 Synergize. Synergy results from the exercise of all the other habits. Synergy means that the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Possessing all of the habits will benefit an individual more than possessing one or two of them. Synergism in communication allows you to open your mind to new possibilities or new options. 7 Sharpen the saw. It deals with renewal in the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Just as a blunt saw becomes tiresome for a woodcutter, so does a failure to renew in these four dimensions result in unproductive – and sometimes destructive – living for the exasperated individual. When these four dimensions are renewed, the seventh principle of “sharpen the saw” is followed to encapsulate the other six principles. It is in such ways that all the principles feed off one another. Taking the time to regularly renew ourselves both our physical, spiritual, mental, and social dimensions of life and increases our productivity.
The integrated, principle-centered 7 Habits philosophy will help you find solutions to your personal and professional problems, and achieve a life characterized by fairness, integrity, honesty, and dignity.