Jan 25, 2022
25 Million copies sold in 40 languages, this book has become an
icon in the field of personal development and
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
I think this is a premise of the entire
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
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
“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
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
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
Proactive vs Reactive…what is the
Proactive people choose their
Proactive people take control of their own
Proactive people direct their intentions and actions
toward what they want.
Reactive people let others choose their
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
…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
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
The problems, challenges and opportunities we face
fall into 2 areas…Circle of Concern and Circle of
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,
Habit #2 Begin With the End in
“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
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
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…
Important and urgent
Important and not Urgent
Urgent but not Important
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
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
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
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
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 #7 Sharpen the Saw
One of the areas we (as drivers) tend to
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,
Spiritual: developing your sense of peace
through meditation, inner reflections, etc…the
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
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.