Habits of successful people

By Stephen R. Covey
The Summary in Brief
Named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century,
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey became a
blueprint for personal development when it was published in 1989. The
'Seven Habits' are a remarkable set of inspirational and aspirational
standards for anyone who seeks to live a full, purposeful and good life. As
the business world becomes more attuned to humanist concepts, it is
Contents essential for all professionals to recognize the importance of identifying
About the Authors Page 2 Application Page 2 Summary of Key Points Page 3 Discussion Page 21 their personal values in their mission statements and of acquiring the
habits of thinking about the creative cooperation in their interpersonal life.
This summary includes all the 7 habits and important concepts presented
by the author, allowing the reader to learn all the major points of the book
within a much shorter period of time.
What You’ll Learn in This Summary
After you study this summary, you will learn
The essence of proactivity;
The essence of effective time management;
The essence of empathic listening;
The essence of win/win solutions;
The essence of synergy;
The essence of principled negotiation;
Based on The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Copyright © 1989 by Stephen R. Covey.
Summary Copyright © 2012 by ACE Group, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited.
The Complete Summary of The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People 
The essence of the family relationship;
The principles of the first creation;
The principles of personal leadership;
The principles of creative communication;
The principles of balanced self-renewal; and
How to apply the 7 habits in everyday life.
ACE Group, LLC. About the Authors
Dr. Stephen R. Covey is perhaps best known as the author of The 7 Habits
of Highly Effective People, which is ranked as a No. 1 best-seller by the
New York Times, having sold more than 15 million copies in 32 languages
and 75 countries throughout the world. He received an MBA from Harvard
and a doctorate from Brigham Young University, where he was professor of
organizational behavior and business management. He has dedicated his
life to demonstrating how every person can truly control their destiny with
profound, yet straightforward guidance. With his pioneering work in
Principle-Centered Leadership, Dr. Covey is widely acknowledged as one of
the world's leading authorities on empowerment.
As you read, stop frequently to ask yourself how you can adopt each habit
and implement changes within your own life and business. We encourage
you to apply these principles at every opportunity, using this book as a
working handbook to help you solve daily problems as well as to ensure
lasting success. This is copyrighted material. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited. Page 2/22 The Complete Summary of The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People ACE Group, LLC. Quotes
Summary of Key Points
“If I really want to
This book is written in four parts: Paradigms and Principles, Private
improve my
situation, I can
work on the one
Victory, Public Victory, and Renewal. It explores strategies for helping
people prioritize responsibilities and manage a myriad of tasks, and
thing over which I
teaches you the 7 habits that differentiate effective people from others. The
have control -
principles contained in the book are helpful not only in the your
professional life, but also in your personal life.
Table of Contents
The Seven Habits – An Overview
Habit 1 Be Proactive
“Sow a thought,
Habit 2 Begin with the End in Mind
reap an action; sow
an action, reap a
habit; sow a habit,
Habit 3 Put First Things First
Habit 4 Think Win/Win
reap a character;
sow a character,
Habit 5 Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
reap a destiny.”
Habit 6 Synergize
Habit 7 Sharpen the Saw
Inside-Out Again
Appendix A: Possible Perceptions Flowing out of Various Centers
Appendix B: A Quadrant II Day at the Office
Problem / Opportunity Index
“Admission of
ignorance is often
the first step in our
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“We see the world,
not as it is, but as
we are ─ or, as we
are conditioned to
see it.”
The Change Starts from Within
While working on his doctorate, Stephen Covey reviewed 200 years of
literature on success. He noticed that the success literature of the last half
of the 20th century largely attributed success to personality traits, skills,
techniques, maintaining a positive attitude, etc. This philosophy can be
referred to as the Personality Ethic.
However, during the 150 years or so that precede that period, the
literature on success was more character oriented. It emphasized the
deeper principles and foundations of success. This philosophy is known as
the Character Ethic, under which success is attributed more to
underlying characteristics such as integrity, courage, justice, patience,
Covey points out that the elements of the Character Ethic are primary
“Two people can
traits while those of the Personality Ethic are secondary. While
see the same thing,
secondary traits may help one to play the game to succeed in some
disagree, and yet
specific circumstances, for long-term success both are necessary. One’s
both be right. It's
character is what is most visible in long-term relationships.
not logical; it's
Covey reveals that the problem with relying on the Personality Ethic is
that unless the basic underlying paradigms are right, simply changing
outward behavior is not effective. You see the world based on your
perspective, which can have a dramatic impact on the way you perceive
The Character Ethic assumes that there are some absolute principles
that exist in all human beings. Some examples of such principles are
fairness, honesty, integrity, human dignity, quality, potential and growth.
Principles contrast with practices in that practices are for specific
situations whereas principles have universal application.
“The way we see
the problem is the
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People presents an “inside-out”
approach to effectiveness that is centered on principles and character.
Inside-out means that the change starts within oneself. For many people,
this approach represents a paradigm shift away from the Personality
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Habit 1: Be Proactive
“The ability to
subordinate an
impulse to a value
Principles of Personal Vision
Being proactive means, as human beings, we are responsible for our own
is the essence of
lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We
the proactive
have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen. Covey
contrasts being proactive or having a proactive mentality with being
reactive. Reactive people, he says, are resigned to believing whatever
they do in the present will have no effect on their circumstances.
Proactive people, on the other hand, will believe there are always options
to change their current condition, whether it is an unreasonable boss or
the events of daily life. Through their responses to others and the
decisions they make, proactive people can and do affect the future.
To have this effect, Covey points out there is only a subset of events in
“Our behavior is a
each person’s daily life that should be of concern to us. These could be
function of our
described as our "Circle of Influence". In contrast, things we have little or
decisions, not our
no control over fall into our "Circle of Concern". The author states,
worrying endlessly about things outside of our circle of influence isn't
particularly productive. Therefore we must use our resourcefulness and
initiative to accomplish our personal goals. In doing so the more effective
we become, the more our circle of influence will expand.
A simple example would be waiting for an important email. Some people
may stress out waiting for the email. These individuals behave reactively
because the arrival time of the email is not within our control. On the
other hand proactive individuals would spend their time finishing other
tasks while they wait, which increases an individual’s effectiveness.
“Highly proactive
people do not
At the heart of our Circle of Influence is our ability to make as well as
keep commitments and promises. Our integrity in keeping commitments
and the ability to make commitments become the clearest manifestations
conditions, or
of proactivity. Being proactive is grounded in not only facing reality but
conditioning for
also understanding we have the power to choose a positive response to
their behavior.” our circumstances. How can we achieve that? Spend a day counting the
number of times you have focused on things you can’t alter the outcome
of. Do you daydream about unachievable things? Do you worry about stuff
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can affect. By focusing on what we can do rather than spending time on
“Happiness, like
unhappiness, is a
proactive choice.”
events we can’t control, we can become more proactive individuals
embracing our personal visions.
Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind
Principles of Personal Leadership
There are three major aspects of our personal and business management.
First is leadership - what do I/we want to accomplish? Second is
management - how can I best accomplish it? Third is productivity - doing
it. According to Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis, "Management is doing
things right; Leadership is doing the right things."
“If the ladder is not
Covey says that many people climb the ladder of success only to find the
leaning against the
ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. He writes, "We may be very
right wall, every
step we take just
busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only
gets us to the
when we begin with the end in mind." When we begin with the end in
wrong place
mind, we have a personal direction to guide our daily activities, without
which we will accomplish little toward our own goals. Beginning with the
end in mind is part of the process of personal leadership, taking control of
our own lives.
For many people, however, it is not just that they did not begin with the
end in mind; they never defined the end itself which prevented them from
beginning with the end in mind. Since the end represents the purpose of
our lives, by not defining that we cannot direct our lives in a manner that
would bring us the greatest satisfaction.
There are no shortcuts here. To engage in this habit, you need to have a
dream, define your own vision and get into the practice of setting goals
which will allow you to make measurable progress toward the dream. If
you practice a faith, then you will want to consider how this affects your
purpose in life; if you do not, you will still need to get involved in deep
self-examination to find out exactly what it is that will bring you
The most effective people shape their own futures. They benefit from
defining and keeping the end in mind in all areas of life. Instead of letting
other people or circumstances determine their fate, they carefully plan
who they want to be, what they want to do, and what they want to have,
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for their life's purpose expressed in written form is called a mission
To help you develop a mission statement, Covey starts this chapter
literally at the end: imagine your funeral and what others there are saying
and thinking about you. What do you want them to say? The things that
you want them to say are the real core values that you care about the
most, and thus they should be the ones that you focus your life’s work on,
“People can't live
with change if
there's not a
changeless core
inside them.”
both personally and professionally.
If you find your actions aren't congruent with your mission statement, you
can create affirmations to improve. An affirmation should have five
ingredients: it should be personal, positive, present tense, visual and
Mission statements can also be made for families, service groups and
organizations of all kinds. A family mission statement is an expression of
its true foundation, its shared vision and values. Organizational mission
statements should be developed by everyone in the organization, because
if there is no involvement in the process, there will be no commitment to
the statement. The reward system must compliment and strengthen the
“The most effective
stated value systems.
way I know to
Additionally, if the mission statements of your family and or organization
begin with the end
dovetail with your personal mission statement, and you use those
in mind is to
develop a personal
mission statement
statements to keep your end in mind, you will accomplish your goals more
quickly and easily.
or philosophy or
Once you have a mission statement and use it to guide your decisions,
you will live in harmony with your self-determined purpose.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Principles of Personal Management
Habit 3 is Personal Management, the exercise of independent will to
maintain congruence with your values, goals and mission. Management
then develops the specific application of the ideas. In unison, this concept
ultimately helps us produce ideas and plan out how to apply them to
achieve our end goals. Time management is an essential skill for personal
management. This chapter teaches you all you need to know about time
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All things we encounter in life can be classified into one of the following
First things are
always important,
but are not always
urgent.” 1. Important and urgent
2. Important but not urgent
3. Not important but urgent
4. Not important and not urgent
An activity is important if you personally find it valuable− if it contributes
to your mission, values, and high-priority goals. An activity is urgent if
you or others feel that it requires immediate attention.
First things are always important and are sometimes urgent. They are
things we find most worth doing. They move us in the right direction and
help us achieve our principle-centered mission statement.
Covey stresses that you must balance Production (P) with Productive
Capability (PC). You must keep the engine producing, but also maintain
the engine. You must allocate time to improve your Productive Capability.
In any case, you shouldn't spend time doing unimportant things. The
author says that all time management can be summed up by one short
“Quadrant II is the
heart of effective
line: "Organize and execute around priorities." He illustrates this insight
with the now famous Time Management Matrix.
Time Management Matrix
Not Urgent
I. (Manage)
II. (Focus)
decide what your
crisis, pressing problems,
preparation, planning,
highest priorities
deadline-driven projects,
prevention, values
last-minute preparations
clarification, exercise,
for scheduled activities
III. (Avoid)
IV. (Avoid)
interruptions, some calls,
trivia work, junk emails,
some emails, some
time wasters, escape
meetings, responding to
activities, viewing
some enquiries
mindless TV shows
“You have to
are and have the
to say ‘no’ to other
Not Important
This is copyrighted material. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited. Page 8/22 The Complete Summary of The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People ACE Group, LLC. This matrix plots the concepts of urgency and importance against each
other; and represents where you should be spending your time. To really
understand and apply this habit, you need to complete Habit 2 firstdefined what is important to you. Without it Habit 3 has no power,
because there is no separation between what is important and what is
not. In other words, you first need to have developed the priorities, which
allows you to be able to say no to demands on your time that fall into
“Effective people
Quadrants III and IV; and you also need to have defined what importance
are not problem-
means for you - otherwise the Quadrants do not exist.
minded; they’re
The Time Management Matrix shows four categories of demands which
can be made on your time. Quadrant I consists of activities which are both
urgent and important - in other words, things to which you must
absolutely attend. Their priority stems from their importance- meaning it
contributes to your mission; and their urgency - meaning there is a
deadline associated with them.
Personal choices about where to invest your time are made in the other
categories; and most people - driven by the concept of urgency – are
drawn into Quadrant III; doing things that consume their time but do not
“While you can
contribute to their goals. If
you spend all your time doing things in
think in terms of
Quadrants III, you will realize that you are not progressing. On the other
efficiency in dealing
hand, some people, especially good employees, focus on things in
with time, a
Quadrant I. In the eyes of their boss, they may be a good worker.
However, a problem arises as there is a limit to what you can achieve by
person thinks in
focusing on things in Quadrant I only. Effective individuals
terms of
effectiveness in
that the high leverage activities are in Quadrant II - important but not
dealing with
urgent. Planning, preparation, prevention, relationship-building, reading,
improving your professional knowledge and exercise are all examples of
Quadrant II activities. In our lives, we wish for the things we do to be
important, but we’d also like for them not to be urgent, because urgent
things cause stress. So, ideally, an effective person will focus on things
that are important but not urgent (Quadrant II activities).
Covey goes a long way with this central idea here, pointing out that we
should strive to do this in all aspects of our life, no matter what our role is
at the moment: worker, parent, spouse, volunteer, etc.. Within each of
those roles, we should define specific, important, short-term goals we
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goal of helping the shelter an extra day this week.
“The key is not to
The essence of time management is to organize and execute around
prioritize what's on
priorities. Methods of time management have developed in these stages:
your schedule, but
(1) notes and checklists - recognizing multiple demands on our time;
to schedule your
(2) calendars and appointment books - scheduling events and
activities; (3) prioritizing, clarifying values - integrating our daily
planning with goal setting; (4) managing ourselves rather than
managing time - focusing in preserving and enhancing relationships and
accomplishing results, thus maintaining the P/PC balance (production
versus building production capacity).
The second critical skill for personal management is delegation. Effective
delegation to others is perhaps the most powerful high-leverage activity
there is. Delegation enables you to devote your time and efforts to high
importance activities in addition to enabling personal growth for other
individuals and organizations. Using delegation enables the manager to
garner more results as opposed to being a "producer."
There are two types of delegation: Gofer Delegation and Supervision of
Efforts (Stewardship). Gofer Delegation involves dictating both what to
do, and how to do it. The supervisor then must function as a "boss,"
“Trust is the
micromanaging the progress of the "subordinate." The supervisor loses
highest form of
much of the leveraging normally gained in delegation because follow-up
human motivation.”
consumes much of his time. An adversarial relationship may also develop
between the supervisor and subordinate.
More effective managers use Stewardship Delegation, which focuses on
results instead of methods. The main distinction being “Subordinates” who
may choose the method to achieve the results. While it may take more
time up front, it has greater benefits.
Stewardship Delegation depends on trust, at the expense of time and
patience. The people may need training and development to acquire the
competence to rise to the level of that trust. Stewardship Delegation
requires a clear mutual understanding of and commitment to expectations
in the following five areas:
1. Desired Results - Have the person see it, describe it, make out a
quality statement of what the results will look like and by when
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2. Guidelines - Identify the parameters for the individual to operate
responsibility for results with the person delegated to.
3. Resources
organizational resources available to accomplish the task.
4. Accountability - Set standards for performance to be used in
evaluating the results and specific times when reporting and
evaluation will take place.
5. Consequences - Specify what will happen as a result of the
evaluation, including financial or psychic rewards and penalties.
Using Stewardship Delegation, we are developing a goose (to produce
golden eggs) based on internal commitment. We must avoid Gofer
Delegation to get the golden egg.
This approach is a new paradigm of delegation. The steward becomes his
own boss governed by his own conscience, including the commitment to
agreed-upon desired results. It also guides his creative energies towards
doing whatever is necessary in harmony with correct principles to achieve
“One of the most
those desired results.
important ways to
manifest integrity
is to be loyal to
those who are not
present. In doing
so, we build the
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Principles of Interpersonal Leadership
trust of those who
Think Win-Win. This habit is again an attitude of mind. It concerns
are present.”
fostering an attitude that is committed to always finding mutual benefit in
your interactions with others. Solutions do not, of course, exist in
themselves; they must be created. And, even if we cannot see the
solution to a particular problem, it does not mean that no such solution
exists. The win-win idea is not based upon compromise - that is where
most disputes naturally end. But compromise is the result of not properly
perceiving the possible synergy of the situation.
Covey points out that many people think Win/Lose. They internally
believe, "If I win, you lose." Such people focus upon power and
credentials, but have trouble building meaningful relationships. Such
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Win/Win is one of six total philosophies of human interaction.
1. Win/Win - People can seek mutual benefit in all human
“Private Victory
precedes Public
Victory. Algebra
comes before
2. Win/Lose - The competitive paradigm: if I win, you lose. The
leadership style is authoritarian.
3. Lose/Win - The "Doormat" paradigm. The individual seeks
strength from popularity based on acceptance. This leadership
style is passive and permissive.
4. Lose/Lose - When people become obsessed with making the
other person lose, even at their own expense. This is exemplified
by adversarial conflict, or war. (If nobody wins, being a loser isn't
so bad.)
5. Win - Focusing solely on getting what one wants, regardless of the
needs of others.
6. Win/Win or No Deal - If we can't find a mutually beneficial
solution, we agree to disagree agreeably - no deal. This approach
is most realistic at the beginning of a business relationship or
enterprise. However, it cannot be sustained in a continuing
relationship. Essentially, if both people aren't winning in a
relationship, both are losing.
The most appropriate model depends on the situation. In most cases
when relationships are paramount, Win/Win is the only viable option.
Other occasions may tend towards a competitive situation where
appropriate. However in the majority of instances, Win/Win is desired.
To achieve a Win/Win scenario, we must understand the five
Partnership Agreements, Reward Systems and Processes.
1. Character is the foundation of Win/Win. A Win/Win person
possesses three character traits: integrity, maturity, and an
Abundance Mentality. People of integrity are true to their feelings,
values, and commitments. It allows them to establish trust in the
relationship and to define a win in terms of personal values.
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courage and with consideration for the feelings of others. Another
key trait is the abundance mentality, believing there is plenty for
everybody (instead of the scarcity mentality). The abundance
mentality flows from a deep inner sense of personal worth and
2. Relationships are the focus on Win/Win. Whatever the orientation
relationship is the key to turning the situation around. When there
is a relationship of trust and emotional bank account balances are
high, there is a much greater probability of a successful,
productive interaction.
3. Partnership agreements give definition and direction towards a
Win/Win situation. They shift the paradigm of production from
vertical (Superior : Subordinate) to horizontal (Partnership :
Team). The agreement should create a standard by which people
“Treat them all the
same by treating
them differently.”
can measure their own success.
4. The Reward System is the key element in a Win/Win model.
Talking Win/Win but rewarding Win/Lose negates the Win/Win
paradigm. If the outstanding performance of a few is rewarded,
the other team members will be losers. Instead, develop individual
achievable goals and reward people upon the completion of team
Competition has its place against market competitors, last year's
performance, or another location or individual where cooperation
and interdependence aren't required. Nevertheless, cooperation in
the workplace is as important to free enterprise as competition is
to the marketplace. The spirit of Win/Win within a company cannot
survive if it is an environment of competition or contests. All of the
company's systems should be geared towards the principle of
Win/Win. The Compensation system of the managers should be
based on the productivity and development of their people,
5. The Win/Win process has four steps that must be followed:
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and concerns of the other party.
b. Identify the key issues and concerns (not positions) involved.
c. Determine what results would make a fully acceptable solution.
d. Identify new options to achieve those results.
The more you practice this habit, the more committed you will become to
find solutions which truly benefit both parties. To be successful you should
learn to leverage the strengths of others. To do this effectively involves
being able to find Win/Win deals. No deal is better than any non-Win/Win
deal. In recent years, Covey also amended the wording of this habit
slightly to read: Think Win-Win or No Deal. This attitude works well
because it liberates individuals concerned
of trying to persuade the
opposite party to shift ground or compromise by offering an alternative.
Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then Be Understood
“Most people do
not listen with the
intent to
understand; they
listen with the
intent to reply.”
Principles of Empathic Communication
Covey observes that few people have training in listening. Most people
wait to talk. So he emphasizes “Seek First to Understand” in the fifth
habit. Unfortunately when involved in some type of discussion, meeting or
dialogue, most people do the reverse - they seek first to be understood.
As such, many people tend to filter the information they receive through
their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people's
lives, or projecting their own home movies onto other people's behavior.
Covey writes, when both parties are trying to be understood, neither
party is really listening. Therefore, he calls such an interaction, “the
dialogue of the deaf”.
When another person is speaking, we usually "listen" at one of four levels:
ignoring, pretending, selective listening, or attentive listening. However,
we should be using the fifth, highest form of listening - empathic listening.
Empathic listening is listening with intent to understand the other person's
frame of reference and feelings. You must listen with your ears, eyes and
heart. Covey points out that empathic listening is a tremendous deposit
into the emotional bank account, because it gives a person "psychological
air." Empathic listening feeds into a person’s need for psychological
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This habit is an important key to interpersonal relationships and it seems
to be almost magical in its ability to transform the course of discussions.
Why? Because by simply investing the
time and effort required to
understand the other party, the dynamics of the interchange are subtly
affected. For example, an effective salesperson seeks to understand the
needs, concerns and situation of the customer. An amateur sells products,
the professional sells solutions. You will never be able to see the world as
another person sees it until you develop the pure desire, the strength of
personal character, the positive emotional bank account, and the
empathic listening skills to do so. Emotional statements require empathic,
and emotional though logical responses. Essentially, well-meaning advice
is not effective if it does not address the real problem. Without reaching
another’s point of view, we'll never come to understand someone else’s
main concern.
This habit is not just about letting the other person speak first; it concerns
actually making the effort to understand what is being said. It is about
understanding that our natural habit of mind is to misunderstand. When
we are engaged in conversation, error is always present. Neural linguistic
programming tells us that we simply make our own meaning based on our
own experiences and understanding of life. Subsequently we frequently
construct the wrong meaning. When we listen with the intent to
understand, our interpersonal communications improve significantly.
Seeking to understand is a common denominator principle, which has its
greatest power in the area of interpersonal relationships. By seeking first
transformational opportunity. We can get on the same side of the table
looking at the problem instead of staying on opposite sides staring at each
other. By understanding the other person, we can learn their paradigms
through which they view the world and empathize with their needs. We
can then try to resolve our differences to work together.
On the other hand, knowing how to be understood is as important as
seeking to understand in reaching Win/Win solutions. This process
requires courage. Most people go straight to the logical side without first
establishing their character and building the relationship. When you can
present your own ideas clearly, specifically, visually and most importantly
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and concerns - you significantly increase the creditability of your ideas.
Habit 5 is powerful because it focuses on your circle of influence. It's an
inside-out approach. You are focusing on building your understanding. You
allow yourself to be influenced, which is the key to influencing others. As
you appreciate people more, they will appreciate you more.
Opportunities to practice this habit proactively occur every day with your
co-workers, customers, friends, and family. When we really deeply
understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions and third
communication and progress. Instead they become the stepping stones to
“Ineffective people
live day after day
Habit 6: Synergize
with unused
Principles of Creative Cooperation
Covey writes, "What is synergy? Simply defined, it means that the whole
is greater than the sum of its parts." In mathematical terms, synergy
means “1+1>2.” Synergy is everywhere in nature. The essence of
synergy is to value differences - to respect them, to build on strengths,
and to compensate for weaknesses. The best way to achieve synergy is
through the creative process.
Synergy can be found in many forms, from synergistic communication to
business collaboration. Synergistic communication is being open to new
possibilities. It may seem counter to "beginning with the end in mind,"
but synergy actually fulfills
Habit 2 by clarifying goals and discovering
better ones. By using synergistic communication, taking the time to build
a team, and creating a high emotional bank account, a very cohesive
group can be formed. The respect among members can become so high
that if there is a disagreement, there can be a genuine effort to
High trust could lead to high cooperation and communication. The
progression of communication is from defensive (win or lose/win), to
communication must be achieved to develop creative possibilities,
including better solutions to the
original proposals. If synergy isn't
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Synergy in business activities could lead to a third alternative instead of a
compromise. By mutually seeking to understand and be understood, the
participants pool their desires. They work together on the same side to
create a third alternative so that each participant gets what they really
want, and in the process they build lasting relationship for further
The key to interpersonal synergy is intrapersonal synergy - synergy within
ourselves helps us achieve synergy with others. The heart of intrapersonal
synergy is the first three habits, which give the internal security sufficient
to handle the risks of being open and potentially vulnerable. In addition,
by learning to use the left brain, logic, with the right brain, emotion, we
develop a psychic synergy that is suited to reality, which is both logical
and emotional.
In this chapter, Covey uses a force field analogy to analyze the
equilibrium between the driving forces encouraging upward movement
and the restraining forces discouraging it. Driving forces are positive,
personable, and conscious. Restraining forces are negative, emotional,
unconscious, and psychosocial. Both forces must be considered in dealing
with change.
Increasing driving forces may bring temporary results. Eventually,
restraining forces will act like a recoiling spring and bring the level back
understanding and seeking synergy are used to work directly on the
restraining forces. By involving people in the problem, they understand it,
make it their problem. and become an important part of the solution. As a
result, shared goals are created, enabling the entire enterprise to move
Legal processes should be a last, not first, resort because it
polarizes the parties thereby making synergy practically impossible.
psychological differences between people. The key to valuing these
differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as
they are. The person who is truly effective has the humility and reverence
to recognize his own perceptual limitations and to appreciate the rich
resources available by interacting with the hearts and minds of other
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For example, two people can disagree and both be right may seem
illogical Nonetheless, it can be interpreted psychologically as we see the
same thing, but interpret it differently because of our conditioning. Unless
we value the differences in our perceptions and understand that life is not
always a dichotomy, and that there are almost always third alternatives,
we will never be able to transcend the limits of our conditioning.
Synergy may be achieved within yourself as well. You can value both your
own analytical and creative sides. There may also be situations where you
can seek a synergistic third alternative by sidestepping negative energy.
This habit involves both parties creatively brainstorming a synergistic
solution to a problem i.e. to find a solution that contains win-win benefits.
Such a solution can only be found if both parties truly understand the
other parties position - the fruit of Habits 4 and 5.
Putting Habit 4, 5 and 6 together, we have a perfect model for human
interaction. Put simply: first be mentally committed to the idea that a
solution that will benefit all parties may be constructed; next invest the
necessary time and effort to really understand the other party and do that
first; finally creatively brainstorm a synergistic solution - a natural product
of mutual understanding and respect. This can only be done successfully if
you have first practiced habits 4 and 5.
The Seven Habits are interrelated and are most powerful when used
together. Synergy is the crowning achievement of all the previous habits.
It is effectiveness in an interdependent reality.
Part Four – RENEWAL
“We can't live
without eating, but
we don't live to
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal
The final habit focuses on the need for individual renewal on several
different fronts: physical, mental, spiritual, and social/emotional. Quite
often, we get too caught up in the day-to-day business of life that we
rarely step back to spend time on taking care of ourselves. In this habit,
you are the saw; and to Sharpen the Saw is to become better, keener and
more effective.
This is copyrighted material. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited. Page 18/22 The Complete Summary of The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People ACE Group, LLC. The physical dimension involves caring for the physical body - eating the
right foods, getting enough rest and relaxation, and exercising on a
“At some time in
your life, you
probably had
someone believe in
you when you
didn't believe in
regular basis. A good program builds your body's strength and durability.
It helps you avoid health problems and allows you to function at your
highest ability.
The spiritual dimension is the leadership center, or your commitment to
your value system. It draws upon the sources that inspire and uplift you.
When you take time to draw on the leadership center of your life, you can
take account of the aim of your actions. This is why a personal mission
statement is important.
The mental dimension involves the intellectual enrichment of the mind.
It's important to stay sharp through reading, writing, organizing and
planning. By reading broadly, you expose yourself to new ideas and
The above three dimensions make up the human condition, the body,
mind and spirit. Covey then adds a fourth dimension, the interpersonal,
i.e., social/emotional dimension. your emotional life is primarily developed
“Writing is another
from and manifested in your relationships with others. Renewing your
powerful way to
social/emotional dimension requires focus and practice in your interaction
sharpen the mental
saw. Keeping a
with others.
journal of our
Of the dimensions discussed, physical, spiritual, and mental aspects are
closely related to Habits 1, 2 and 3 (personal vision, leadership and
insights, and
learnings promotes
personal management, respectively). The social/emotional dimension is
the commitment to approaching inter-personal relationships through
mental clarity,
Habits 4, 5 and 6 (the principles of personal leadership, empathetic
exactness, and
communication and creative cooperation.)
context.” Self-renewal must include balanced rejuvenation in all four dimensions.
Neglecting any one area would negatively impact the rest. One of the best
ways to put this into practice is to try and achieve a "Daily Private Victory"
by committing at least one hour to renewal in the first three dimensions
(physical, mental, and spiritual.)
Covey ties this final habit in with the third habit (Personal Management)
and encourages the reader to identify ways to renew themselves in each
of those areas, then make a schedule and stick to it. Remember, while
self-renewal is not necessarily urgent it is certainly important. For
This is copyrighted material. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited. Page 19/22 The Complete Summary of The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People ACE Group, LLC. example, if you are being held back physically in your job (i.e. some extra
“A long, healthy,
and happy life is
the result of
contributions, of
having meaningful
projects that are
personally exciting
and contribute to
weight or general malaise), schedule time to get some exercise two or
three times a week and stick with it. If you’re feeling mentally drained,
take time to relax and think about something other than work by reading
a book, watching a movie or even meditating.
As you balance and sharpen all four dimensions, you improve your
effectiveness in all of the habits. In doing so you grow, change and
and bless the lives
of others.”
The same concept also applies to organizations. The process of continuous
improvement is the hallmark of the Total Quality movement and a key to
continued economic growth.
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ACE Group, LLC. Discussion
Although first published in 1989, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People is
still one of the most popular self-help and personal improvement books. This
book is very well organized. The author presents an “inside-out” approach to
effectiveness that is centered on principles and character. The first part
provides all the necessary background information and advice on how to use
this book. The second part introduces the first three habits, moving from
dependence to independence. The third part concentrates on three habits
related to interdependence. The last part devotes a chapter to self-renewal,
promoting a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle.
Mentality - the
In this book, Covey also presents two important concepts. The first one is
the term Abundance Mentality or abundance mindset, a concept in which a
paradigm that
person believes there are enough resources and success to share with
there is plenty out
others. It is commonly contrasted with the scarcity mindset (i.e. destructive
there for
and unnecessary competition), which is founded on the idea that, if someone
everybody.” else wins or is successful in a situation, that means you lose. To create
Win/Win scenarios or become true team players, we must have an
abundance mentality.
The second concept is about the “Upward Spiral”. Covey explains the
“Upward Spiral” model in the sharpening the saw chapter. Through our
conscience, along with meaningful and consistent progress, the spiral will
result in growth, change, and constant improvement. In essence, one is
always attempting to integrate and master the principles outlined in The 7
“Moving along the
upward spiral
development on any habit will render a different experience and you will
requires us to
learn the principles with a deeper understanding. The Upward Spiral model
learn, commit,
consists of three parts: learn, commit, do. According to Covey, one must be
and do on
increasingly educating the conscience in order to grow and develop on the
higher planes.” upward spiral. The idea of renewal by education will propel one along the
path of personal freedom, security, wisdom, and power.
This is copyrighted material. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited. Page 21/22 The Complete Summary of The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People "Treat a man as
ACE Group, LLC. he is and he will
Overall, with sincerity and passion, Stephen Covey is able to use "Inside-
remain as he is.
Out" approach to articulate the timeless principles and embed them into the
Treat a man as he
seven habits. This book is indispensable reading for anyone who wants to learn to can and should
be and he will
become as he can
and should be."
focus on the important things and become more effective in work and in life. This is copyrighted material. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited. Page 22/22 
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