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Book Summary – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Book summary

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey presents a holistic and principle-centered approach to achieve success through positive change from within. Covey’s 7 habits are defined based on a review of some 200 years of success literature, and his ideas still form the foundation for many personal development books and programs today. In this free version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary, you’ll learn the 7 habits and explain various powerful management and productivity tools from this book.

Fundamental Change from Inside Out

To become more effective, you need to increase your Production (of desired results) and Production Capacity (the capacity to deliver such results). A central idea of his book is to improve P/ PC from “inside-out”, i.e. start with change within oneself. This goes beyond merely improving one’s skills or knowledge, but deals fundamentally with who you are, or who you become as an individual.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary_change from inside-out
The habits are progressive in nature, though there’s no need to perfect one habit before moving on to the next. Each habit sets the foundation for the next level:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary_progression
Dependence => Independence: Habits 1-3 provide your “Private Victories” as you develop your character and self-mastery.

Independence => Interdependence: Habits 4-6 shift how you interact with others, to form trusting relationships with healthy emotional bank accounts. These are your “Public Victories.”

Renewal: Habit 7 creates an upward growth spiral as you continually renew and grow yourself and hone the 6 previous habits.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Here’s an overview of the seven habits. Please refer to our full 9-page version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary for more details.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

This essentially means to take full responsibility for your lives and choices. To be proactive, you should take the initiative, choose proactive language and focus on your Circle of Influence.

Habit 2: Begin With The end in Mind

This is the habit of personal leadership. It is about having a clear vision in your mind on your end destination and goals. This is important because everything happens first in your mind before becoming reality in the physical form. To get started, you’ll need to start by examining your center and developing your personal mission statement.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

With clear priorities identified and created mentally (Habit 2) , you move into the habit of personal-management. This is where you exercise willpower and discipline, to organise and implement activities that translate your goals into reality. Covey shares the time-management matrix and how to effectively manage your time using 6 key principles.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

This is the habit of interpersonal relationship. Win-win is a mind-set and philosophy built on an approach of achieving mutual benefit for the parties involved. Where a win-win solution cannot be reached, consider agreeing to disagree amicably, rather than “force” a deal. Check out the 5 dimensions to achieve win-win highlighted in our complete summary.

Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood

This is the habit of communication, and it is built on emphatic listening. Emphatic listening represents an entire paradigm shift because it is not about applying listening skills, but “listening with intent to understand”. This is opposed to how most people listen – with the intent to speak or respond; They are still in their own frame of reference, not that of the other person’s.

Habit 6: Synergize

This is the habit of creative co-operation, where “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. It’s about acknowledging that people are all ‘correct’ in their different perspectives, and are prepared to “value this difference”, you gain new knowledge and understanding of reality, and open up Third Alternatives.

Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw

This is the habit of self-renewal, and has a synergistic impact on all the other habits. All 4 key dimensions – Physical, Spiritual, Mental, Social/Emotional – are interrelated and must be renewed in a balanced way. In fact, when we sharpen the saw in any one dimension, it creates positive synergistic effects on the other dimensions and all seven habits.

Getting More From The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Ready to dive into each of the 7 habits above? More insights, tips and examples can be found in complete book summary bundle. This includes a one-page infographic summary in pdf, a 9-page text summary in pdf, and a 27-min audio summary in mp3.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary - book summary bundle

You can purchase the book here or get more resources at the official website.

In a separate book, Covey goes beyond the 7 habits of highly effective people to explain The 8th Habit which brings you beyond effectiveness to greatness: do check out The 8th Habit summary!

About the Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, was written by Dr. Stephen R. Covey–an American businessman, educator, author, and keynote speaker. Besides The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, some of his more popular books include First Things First, Principle-Centered Leadership, The 8th Habit, and The Leader In Me.

Covey was one of the most influential thought leaders on leadership, strategy and individual effectiveness. In 1996, he was named one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans. He founded the Covey Leadership Center, which later became FranklinCovey Co., after a merger with Franklin Quest in 1997.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Quotes

“Change – real change – comes from the Inside-Out… It comes from striking at the root – the fabric of our thought…which give definition to our character and create the lens through which we see the world

“Response-ability (is) the ability to choose your response.”

“Most people say their main fault is a lack of discipline… I believe that is not the case. The basic problem is that their priorities have not become deeply planted in their hearts andminds.”

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”.

“Win-win is not a technique; it’s a total philosophy of human interaction”.

“Realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”

Click here to download The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People infographic & summary

One Comment

  • Manas Pruthi says:

    Stephen had a tremendous impact not only on my life but through me, on the lives of those I had the privilege to lead. It started indirectly, when, after a period of reflection and tough going I discovered the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The overall approach of private victory then public victory, describing our growth as proceeding from dependence through independence to interdependence struck me as incredibly simple yet powerful. I applied what I learned to my life immediately.

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