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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People
by Stephen R. Covey
The Book in Three Sentences
1. Success encompasses a balance of personal and professional effectiveness.
2. Before you can adopt the seven habits, you need to change your perception
and interpretation of how the world works (see: paradigm shift).
3. Between what happens to you and your response to it is your freedom to
choose that response.
The Five Big Ideas
1. Proactive people work on the things they can do something about.
2. Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
3. A paradigm is a way to “see” the world.
4. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are conditioned to “see” it.
5. To make relatively minor changes in your life, focus on your attitudes and
behaviors. To make significant, quantum change, work on your basic
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think win/win
5. Seek first to understand then be understood
6. Synergize
7. Sharpen the saw
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary
“Leadership is communicating others’ worth and potential so clearly that
they are inspired to see it in themselves.”
The Character Ethic teaches that there are basic principles of effective
living and that people can only experience true success and enduring
happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic
To focus on technique is like cramming your way through school.
“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you
say.”—Thomas Edison
We have many maps in our heads and each can be divided into two main
categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way
things should be, or values.
“We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We
seldom question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware that we have
them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really
are or the way they should be.”
“To try to change outward attitudes and behaviors do very little good in the
long run if we fail to examine the basic paradigms from which those
attitudes and behaviors flow.”
“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or, as we are conditioned to
see it.”
“Our paradigms, correct or incorrect, are the sources of our attitudes and
behaviors, and ultimately our relationships with others.”
“If we want to make relatively minor changes in our lives, we can perhaps
appropriately focus on our attitudes and behaviors. But if we want to make
significant, quantum change, we need to work on our basic paradigms.”
“Paradigms are inseparable from character. Being is seeing in the human
dimension. And what we see is highly interrelated to what we are.”
“Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see
the world. The power of a paradigm shift is the essential power of quantum
change, whether that shift is an instantaneous or a slow and deliberate
On practices vs. principles: “Practices are situationally specific. Principles
are deep, fundamental truths that have universal application.”
“Principles are the territory. Values are maps. When we value correct
principles, we have the truth—a knowledge of things as they are.”
“Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.”
“The way we see the problem is the problem.”
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of
thinking we were at when we created them.”—Albert Einstein
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a
“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap
a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Stephen defines a habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire.
Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why. Skill is
the how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. To make
something a habit in our lives, Stephen explains, we need to have all three.
Effective Habits
“Private victories precede public victories.”
True effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden
eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to produce (the goose).
Effectiveness lies in the balance—what Stephen calls the P/PC Balance. P
stands for production of desired results, the golden eggs. PC stands for
production capability, the ability or asset that produces the golden eggs.
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man
to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”—Henry David Thoreau
“We are not our feelings. We are not our moods. We are not even our
thoughts. The very fact that we can think about these things separates us
from them and from the animal world.”
There are three social maps—three theories of determinism widely
accepted, independently or in combination, to explain the nature of man:
1. Genetic determinism. This basically says your grandparents did it to you.
That’s why you have such a temper.
2. Psychic determinism. This basically says your parents did it to you.
3. Environmental determinism. This basically says your boss is doing it to
you—or your spouse, or that bratty teenager, or your economic situation, or
national policies. Someone or something in your environment is responsible
for your situation.
Between what happens to you, or the stimulus and your response to it is your
freedom or power to choose that response.
“Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.”
“Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains
or shines makes no difference to them. They are value-driven; and if their
value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the
weather is conducive to it or not.”
“The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the
proactive person. 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.”
“Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical,
social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or
unconscious, is a value-based choice or response.”
“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that
hurts us.”
Victor Frankl suggests that there are three central
values in life:
1. The experiential, or that which happens to us
2. The creative, or that which we bring into existence
3. The attitudinal, or our response in difficult circumstances such as terminal
“What matters most is how we respond to what we experience in life.”
“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
The problems we face fall in one of three areas:
1. Direct control. Problems involving our own behavior
2. Indirect control. Problems involving other people’s behavior
3. No control. Problems we can do nothing about, such as our past or situational
“‘Begin with the end in mind’ is based on the principle that all things are
created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second
creation, to all things.”
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership
determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
“The two additional unique human endowments that enable us to expand our
proactivity and to exercise personal leadership in our lives are imagination
and conscience.”
“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.”
A good affirmation has five basic ingredients:
1. It’s personal
2. It’s positive
3. It’s present tense
4. It’s visual
5. It’s emotional.
An example of an affirmation: “It is deeply satisfying (emotional) that I
(personal) respond (present tense) with wisdom, love, firmness, and self-control
(positive) when my children misbehave.”
“The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.”
“You simply can’t think efficiency with people. You think effectiveness with
people and efficiency with things.”
“Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and
values and in no other way.”