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Jan 25, 2022

After 25 Million copies sold in 40 languages, this book has become an icon in the field of personal development and leadership.
More importantly, Stephen R. Covey has become well know for the lessons, thoughts and habits that he taught the world for transformation as a leader and increasing your effectiveness in life.
Today I want to do a high level review of the entire book for you in order to inspire you with ideas and potentially rekindle your interest in going back to this book for strategies to change your life.
Quote I love…
"People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. the key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value."
I think this is a premise of the entire book…
Covey created this entire book on the premise that INNER success comes before OUTER success.  He says “private victory” must precede “public victory”.  It’s basically PERSONAL Mastery first.
He goes on to talk about how Habits are the building blocks of the change you want to create in your life.
Real change is the result of slow development of character over time.  
Daily Habits of thinking and acting are what Greatness are built upon.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is not a get rich quick or a silver bullet to Greatness…
…its about slow, deliberate change over time to create your Destiny.
Quote for the book by Charles Reade summarized Covey’s thoughts…
“Sow a thought, and you reap an action; sow an action, and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
Another important note about the book before we cover the 7 habits is the distinction that Covey draws between Effective vs Efficient progress.
So many of us are caught up in “time management” when Efficiency is not the primary objective we should be chasing.  He says…
“Think about what is most important to you and see if it is the center around which your life revolves. Don’t worry about efficiency.  There is use being “efficient” if what you are doing lack’s meaning or an essential good.”
Bottom line…Effectiveness trumps Achievement all day long…
So let’s get into the Habits now…
Habit #1 Be Proactive
"Your life doesn’t “happen”.  Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you.  The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness.  You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness.  You choose ambivalence.  You choose success.  You choose failure. You choose courage.  You choose fear.  Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.”
Being proactive in life (this habit) is all about “Being responsible” for your life. 
The way we are responsible is by being proactive.  
Proactive is your ability to respond to situations (good and bad) in a way that accepts responsibility for choosing the direction and course you will follow…
…the decisions you will make that affect how you respond to any situation.
Proactive people take responsibility for their lives and actions.  
Proactive vs Reactive…what is the difference?
Proactive people choose their behavior
Proactive people take control of their own emotions
Proactive people direct their intentions and actions toward what they want.
Reactive people let others choose their behavior
Reactive people believe others control their emotions by giving away their power
Reactive people let other people direct them and tell them what to do
Bottom line…Reactive people are affected by and react to their environment…
…which is giving up responsibility for the outcomes they have in life.
…they shift blame, have shifts in attitude and emotions, and don't take responsibility.
Covey suggests that one of the best ways to become proactive as a person is to control and watch the quality of your LANGUAGE.
…your language creates the quality of your life (he says)
…learn to use phrases like “I can, I will, I prefer…not I can’t, I have to, if only”
He also drops one of the most important lessons of the book, I have used throughout my life.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
2 Key points
1-you have a point that determines your power to choose response
2-most important thing you can “choose” is what you say (language)
This habit is truly the core of the principles and habits in the book, so I have spent more time on it in general.  But an additional thought I want to bring out is this…
The problems, challenges and opportunities we face fall into 2 areas…Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.
To become a Proactive Person…focus on your efforts within your circle of Influence…things you can do something about.
To avoid becoming a Reactive Person, don’t waste your time on things you can’t influence…environment, weather, Covid, etc.
Habit #2  Begin With the End in Mind
“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.”
This principle is much like the carpenters rule of Measure twice.  Cut Once.
You have to figure out what you want in life or you will end up with something that you may not want.  So what do you want?
Best way to do this is to Create your destiny through the exercises of developing a Personal Mission Statement, Goals and Milestones to guide you on your journey.
This will allow you to Begin with the End in Mind and make Daily Decisions that align with your Purpose, Passion, and Destination you are seeking.
Habit #3  Put First Things First
Covey says, “Habit 1 says, “You’re in charge.  You’re the creator.”  Being proactive is about choice.  Habit 2 is hthe first, or mental creation.  Beginning with the End in Mind is about vision.  Habit 3 (this one) is the second creation,  the physical creation.  This habit is where Habits 1 and 2 come together.”
This habit is about setting priorities and executing daily on those priorities that will take you closer to your goals and dreams.
Priorities fall into 4 quadrants…
  1. Important and urgent
  2. Important and not Urgent
  3. Urgent but not Important
  4. Not Urgent or Important
The goal is to spend as much of your time in Q1 and Q2.  Live in these quadrants.
Avoid was much as possible Q4 (not urgent or important)…which many of us spend time in.
Habit #4  Think Win/Win
"Most people tend to think in terms of dichotomies.  Strong or weak, hardball or softball, win or lose.  But that kind of thinking is fundamentally flawed.  It’s based on power and position rather than on principle.  Win/Win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody,  that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense of exclusion of the success of others.”
This is a habit that is all about learning to come from a place of Abundance and not Scarcity.
There is always a win/win in business, relationships and life if you are open to it.
Habit #5 Seek to Understand, Then to be Understood
This one is a tough one for those A type personalities like me…
This habit speaks for itself but it really focuses on the ideas that we all need to develop Empathy and a sense of caring around what other people are communicating in our lives.  
When we seek first to Understand, then we are much more effective communicators and leaders.
Habit #6 Synergize
This habit is something that happens when all the other habits are being applied..  
Synergy is created when people and teams are working together in a spirit of cooperation.
Much like the power of the mastermind, synergy creates a result greater than the sum of its parts.  1 plus 1 equals 3.  
This generally happens when you are working (as a leader) in a way that helps create an openness for ideas, solutions, and input from others in your Circle of Influence.
The key to this is being open to ideas, diversity, mental and emotional differences…etc.
Getting people to “agree with you” is not the objective.  Collaboration is the key to this habit.
Habit #7 Sharpen the Saw
One of the areas we (as drivers) tend to forget…
Renewal of the four core areas of life:  physical, spiritual, mental and social.
Sharpening the saw is about regularly renewing and recharging these key areas of your life.
Time to rejuvenate yourself and allow for growth and recovery.
Physical:  developing a send of well-being, health…the Body
Spiritual:  developing your sense of peace through meditation, inner reflections, etc…the Spirit
Mental:  developing your mind, learning and mastery of your skills…the Mind
Social:  developing your relationships and people in your life…the Social
Sharpening the saw (in my opinion) is so critical because without Recovery and Core Development of Self, your ultimate potential will not be created.
This book is definitely a classic and it deserves your time and attention to review when you have the chance.  Covey does a great job of making the case for developing HABITS that will allow you to create lasting change in your life.  
He says that modern day personal development can bring awareness, but that lasting change only comes from developing these habit and developing your “character” from the inside out.
I hope this is information that has brought you value.  My goal with reviewing books (summaries) is to help save you time, while also building curiosity and awareness for great resources of knowledge and learning like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.